When I posted on the father and daughter duo that make up the UK based funky wallpaper company Beware The Moon last year, I should have realised that their interview would be anything other than as colourful and fun as their work …. So grab a cuppa and sit back and enjoy…….
How would you describe your work and style?
John – Anarchic, perfectionist.
Louise – Erm… incongruous, lunatic, absorbing, mischievous
What, where and/or who inspires you?
John – Imagination and Nature
Louise – Ooh where to begin – experiences inspire me mostly, things we go through and feel, I’m seeking inspiration in the metaphysical all the time, in the way that there’s something going on back there and it’s gloriously chaotic and irrational. For instance, I’m loving the undercurrents of excitement, anticipation and anxiety that precipitate Spring here in Europe – people are bursting out of hibernation and declaring love left, right and centre! It’s been a long winter and we are soon to be blessed with vitality, it’s a palpable tension right now and inspires all sorts of crazy behaviour and ideas. I don’t know if it’s because of computer screens and all the endless advertising (and probably years of looking at the world through a lens as a photographer) but i find I’m not so visual anymore, I crave inspiration in things ‘further out of sight’. I walk a lot around the city and in the parks and I’m actively working on my ‘long–view’ (for the sake of my eyesight) and looking up: it’s amazing what you can see when you walk around a city looking up! And I’m especially into water and watery things lately – I’m taking my mum to Budapest this weekend (our first holiday together), and we’re going to spend all our time basking in the mineral thermal springs. I’m absolutely obsessed with feminine cleansing rituals.
Which is your favourite personal project and why?
John – Whatever’s on the drawing board – it might have something to do with a ‘Cross’ right now.
Louise – We did a bespoke colourway of the Ostrich design for a lovely lady – it came out beautifully in a subtle matte grey and I was really impressed with the whole process – and her conviction! It’s always inspiring when someone knows what they want and they follow through on a big statement – she put it all the way through the hallways in a Georgian house
Your mission statement says you are “taking over one downstairs loo at at time”. Who’s downstairs loo would you most like to take over and which wallpaper would you use?
John – The Queen’s
Louise – The Queen – the downstairs loo somehow epitomizes British culture (sort of closeted, private, occasionally cold but with a humorous disposition ) and I reckon the Queen would be grateful for a velvet skulls loo…although I doubt she has ever seen the inside of a downstairs loo to be fair
What has been the most exciting point in your career to date and why?
Louise – Well I’ve done so many obscure jobs I wouldn’t know where to begin in terms of my whole career (John hasn’t even attempted to answer this one!) but the highlight of Beware the Moon has to be the photoshoots we do – they are always a treat, pulling themes and friends together with no budget, shooting guerilla-style with massive time and location pressures (not something one would associate with wallpaper photography!) I tend not to think about it all too much until about a week beforehand, then I ring round ask if everyone’s free, find a date that works and make a nice lunch, see what happens. I particularly loved shooting the lovely Jude in the early shots of the Skulls, She and Ostrich design – he was a fantastic model, and the themes seemed to just unfold effortlessly – Denial (Ostrich), Desire (She) and Death/Rebirth (Skulls) and actually went on to shape the brand really.
And falling in love with a client, that’s a highlight – one who put Skulls all over his tiny flat – who knew wallpaper could present such stories !?
Do you have any major projects in the pipeline at the moment? Can you share these with us?
John – An animals wallpaper
Louise – We’re about to launch the wallpaper version of the Animals border . It’s pretty epic, it took John a year to design: 52 Animals in total, each one took about a week to draw by hand. It was a real challenge because he wasn’t sure he could even draw like that anymore, but it’s absolutely stunning, he’s a legend really. We’re using a new method to print it for Beware the Moon – gravure – which is exciting, we’ve just had the plates cut. It’s an old technique and as close to photographic as you can get with traditional rollers, which will help to keep the detail of the drawings. It’s been a long time coming this one !
If you could have your work displayed anywhere in the world, where would you like it to be displayed.
John – The Pentagon, because of those walls
Louise – Well it’s going to sound a bit cute, but to be honest I actually love to see our work in people’s homes, there’s just no greater satisfaction than that – I often ask people to send us pictures for the scrapbook and it’s my favourite gallery of BtM images by far It’s quite a privilege at this stage of the business – we’re still so tiny – that we get to have such direct contact with clients and their projects, and that we don’t have heards of PR to go through to see the end results of what we do. Residential projects (as oppose to commercial/designer projects for instance) are incredibly heartening.
I can honestly say I don’t really have any ambitions outside of that – being on the walls of peoples homes is where it’s at. BUT actually, come to think of it I do agree with John – The Pentagon would be a dream job – pretty cool done entirely in 3D Jam Jars or Quantum Foam
What would be your dream commission?
John – An expensive one!
Louise – Ha, I love John’s answer to this one [he and I work at opposite ends of the country by the way so we don’t get to confer on much!]….my dream commission would be a Lincrusta version of the Skulls for an enormous lobby in a grand hotel somewhere by the seaside. It’s an elegant traditional technique that works a lot like plaster, is incredibly expensive but incredibly beautiful. And unbelievably to me, it actually originated – and is still manufactured – in a village, Heysham, where I grew up (and near to where John now lives) which I only found out recently when looking into Lincrusta after seeing it in a fancy restaurant in a New York magazine shoot !
If someone were coming to visit your home town where would be the must stop place or places to visit?
John – Morecambe promenade – on a fine day the view across the bay is the best in the world.
Louise – Walk everywhere in London – it’s actually fairly small in the centre and giving yourself an hour to get somewhere by foot instead of 20 minutes on the underground can be a real treat. Walk into Soho, have a nosy around, scan the guitar shops on Denmark Street, drop down through the West End and walk West along the river past Parliament and get on the water taxi at Vauxhall (much cheaper than a tour boat), go East to Tower Bridge and have a walk around the East End. If it’s a nice day and you’ve got kids go down to Brockwell Park in Brixton. Pass by the skate park on Stockwell Road whilst you’re down that way, and have a coffee and some toast at Rosie’s Deli Café – I worked there whilst I was setting BtM up and it kept me sane, I loved that job).
Brockwell is a wonderful real-life urban park with a great adventure playground, BMX tracks, tennis courts, green bowling, rolling hillsides and large lido (outdoor pool). For the ladies: something a bit more grown–up on a hot day head to Hampstead Ponds for a swim – words cannot describe the beauty and sanctity of the Women’s Pond there.
A walk with the oaks, deer and parakeets in Richmond Park in the South-West is breathtaking.
Describe your perfect day
John – One without worry
Louise – I’d sort of have a double life so…wake up to the sound of monkeys in the jungle at about 5am, make a coffee and walk round the garden watching things wake up and listening out for hummingbirds. Do a bit of work and get things wrapped up by lunchtime (close of business UK) and hitch to the beach for a swim, maybe a surf if the waves are small and forgiving.
If you were to board Noah’s Ark and were told that you could take three things with you. What would they be?
Louise – A guitar (some spare strings); a selection of delicious essential oils; a parsley plant.
Now as much as I love your work, I love to cook so what is your favourite recipe?
John – Chilli Con Carne (recipe is top secret!)
It’s my staple and really good for eating light in the evening, or for bulking out with ‘toppings’ at lunchtime. People pretty much expect it now when they come to my house. I don’t have a recipe as such, but you just sweat some chopped celery and a bit of something oniony (spring onions/red onion/white onions – whatever’s in the fridge), handfuls of fresh parsley (or coriander if you like) and then top it off with veg stock to suit the amount of people you’re cooking for (I usually use Bouillon powder) – so you’ve basically got a tasty watery broth. Spice it up with some chilli and slices of ginger if you like. Then finely shred some lettuce, add and simmer for 10 minutes – make it as thick/lettuce-heavy, or as watery/brothy as you like. Add finely sliced mushrooms too or anything else you want to see floating around in there. Meanwhile, prepare some individual bowls of toppings: I usually have yoghurt; fresh parsley/coriander/herbs; chopped walnuts or almonds; shredded carrot (in a bit of lemon juice); sliced red peppers; spring onions; sliced avocado; sometimes boiled black beans, whatever you like really. Serve the soup, and stack the toppings – finish with the yoghurt, nuts and fresh herbs. Bloody delicious
I hope you enjoyed… have a great weekend, meanwhile on with the colourful adventure…..