Meet the Newcastle Maker of these Luxury Interior Products and Home Accessories
Inspired by the concept of biophilia, Shiori Naruse aims to bring the outdoors in with her luxury interior products and home accessories
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I always liked creating art and printing, so I decided to study Textiles and Pattern Design at the Northern School of Art in Middlesbrough. I’ve actually recently got a job back there as a textiles technician, working there part time alongside doing Naruse Design. In my spare time I’m quite active and love being outside, and go bouldering and rock-climbing about three times a week.
How did Naruse Design come about?
During professional studies at university we had to think about running our own business as part of one of the modules, and that’s where the idea first came from. Then I did some work experience at Baxter Fawcett in London and at Trend Bible in Newcastle, which were wonderful and really great experiences but I quickly realised it wouldn’t work for my designs. My work is very unique and not very commercial so it wouldn’t fit under big brands. I wanted to be able to have the freedom of creating designs using my own colours and my own patterns, so I started my own business instead. It wasn’t until lockdown, when I launched my website and started to sell my products online, that it really took off.
Since everything opened up again, I have done a pop-up in John Lewis and a pop-up in Fenwick, as well as two pop-up shops with Made up North. I have also run different workshops across Newcastle in schools and with charities, and most recently I’ve worked with Northern Print doing some mono-print workshops with them as their guest artist which has been really fun. I’ve also been working with Newcastle Cathedral doing a project on International Women’s Day and that’s with Changing Lives charity as well, and we’ll be exhibiting in September which will be nice. So I am lucky to be able to do a lot of different things as well as selling my own work online.
What inspires your work?
I’m heavily inspired by the concept of biophilia and nature. I’ll go out for a walk, take some photos and then I’ll refer back to my photos to draw from, or sometimes I’ll take a sketchbook out with me and directly draw from whatever I can find in the woods. I’ve got a lot of patterns that are inspired by Tynemouth and the North Sea because I really like going to the beach. Also because I’ve got family in Japan and I love the Japanese history and culture I think a lot of my work is inspired by Japanese philosophy as well. There’s a philosophy called ‘mono no aware’ which is about appreciating the transient things. So for anything short-lived, including plants such as cherry blossom, it’s about being in the moment and appreciating what’s in front of you. I’ve got some bouldering-inspired designs as well so it’s nice that wherever I go I can always find inspiration. I like the idea of encouraging my customers to be more aware of nature through my work. I think if they’ve got my patterns inside their house, they then become more aware and appreciate nature more when they go outside.
Talk us through the process of creating a design.
For all my designs I start with a concept and I’ll make up a mood-board. Then I’ll go out and do my primary research, which will be taking photos and getting different colour palettes from them. Then I’ll just do a lot of drawings in my sketchbook. I like to focus on hand painting using sticks. I’ve gathered sticks from lots of different locations so I’ve even got cherry blossom sticks from Japan and the Lake District and I’ll bring them back home and use them to paint with. Once I’m done with the painting or the drawing, it’s scanned in and put on Photoshop where I can create a repeat pattern. It doesn’t always have to be repeat but a lot of my work is so it can be made into wallpaper. I do like to ensure all my products are made in the UK so I’ve sourced lots of different manufacturers, with one doing cushions and tea towels and somewhere else does my wallpaper. I send my designs to them and they manufacture my products for me.
Up until last year I had a studio in Commercial Union House in Newcastle but unfortunately that’s been knocked down now, so sadly I don’t have a studio space at the minute, it’s all just in my bedroom which isn’t ideal. Luckily, a lot of my stuff is now made to order so I don’t have to store a lot of products and they don’t got to waste. Being sustainable is also really important to me so I try not to over produce and all my packaging is plastic-free and eco-friendly. I just want to make good quality products that are fair to people and fair to the environment as well.
Do you have a favourite product?
I’ve got two! One of my favourites would be Sakura Mankai wallpapers that were designed using collected cherry blossom sticks from Japan, and I’ve hand-painted the cherry blossom design. I created the wallpaper inspired by Hanami which is a traditional ceremony in Japanese culture where each year everyone goes to enjoy the full bloom of the cherry blossom to celebrate the transient beauty of Sakura. The activity encourages introspection and is based on the philosophy of mono no aware that I mentioned before. It’s all about appreciating the beauty of ephemeral things, and with the wallpaper I’ve got full bloom cherry blossom all year round.
The other one I like is my Summer Burst design which is quite an abstract piece inspired by a sunrise across Northumberland. It’s made up of lots of brushstrokes but I love the vibrant colours and I think it’s quite energising. I’ve got the cushions in my living room and it brightens up the atmosphere I think.
What’s the best thing about what you do?
For me personally it’s the process. I love designing and I just really enjoy the whole process from going out and getting inspiration, to getting different colour palettes, to drawing and painting, and then of course it’s nice when I’ve got the finished product. It’s quite nerve wracking taking it out and showing it to the world but I think a lot of people like the vibrancy of the colours and the nature-inspired patterns so getting good feedback is amazing.
Shop Naruse Design products at narusedesign.com, or keep up with Shiori and her work on Instagram @narusedesign