It’s Friday and time for another interview with one of the fab creatives that I have featured on my little blog. Mark Coulson and Hannah Macleod, AKA Coulson Macleod kindly agreed to have a little chat, so grab a cuppa and enjoy. Oh, and if you are stuck for what to cook for dinner then they have some fab recipes which are perfect for us Aussies just starting to come into Autumn!
How would you describe your work and style?
Simple design that reflects our own taste. We’re not into overly fussy stuff. We also love texture, hence why we use a lot of reclaimed wood. The gnarlier the wood the better. If you buy a Coulson Macleod don’t expect shiny & new (apart from our paper prints, which have to be presented in a neat & clean style).
What, where and/or who inspires you?
Inspiration comes from everywhere. Magazines (our office walls are lined with shelves & shelves of magazines), blogs, & books. We also try to visit as many interior/gift shops as we can to get ideas on packaging & display ideas. Obviously shops are the best places to see what is actually being sold to your potential customers. Blogs are a place to immerse yourself in design trends, but it’s the high-street shop that will stock our art. We try to travel to towns across the UK to visit shops & combine it with an overnight stay in a boutique hotel (all in the name of research of course!). Recently we’ve visited Shrewsbury (amazing architecture) & Brighton (amazing restaurants). Trade shows can also be inspiring as you get to be the first to see the latest designs & trends. Although this does mean that you lose the ‘wow’ factor when you go browsing in shops as we’ve seen it all before.
Hannah I read a lot of travel writing. Totally admire the explorer’s fearless approach to life & their level of curiosity.
Mark I alternate between fiction & business books. The only problem with reading a great book in bed is that I then lie there all night with my brain buzzing with either the story or business ideas.
What has been the most exciting point in your career to date and why?
Being awarded Creative Business of the Year was pretty exciting. Selling a print to one of the richest men in the world was a buzz too. Sadly his PA said we couldn’t name him. Boo! But this guy could buy (& does apparently) any piece of art he likes. And he bought one of ours. This happened in the early days of our business, which meant we knew we were on the right path.
Do you have any major projects in the pipeline at the moment? Can you share these with us?
It’s not so much a project, but an order from a large department store chain in Switzerland has given us a big morale boost. They describe themselves as the Harrods of Switzerland. With 14 stores we can safely say we have Switzerland covered. It’s been a steep learning curve – suddenly we realized how little we knew about exporting, pallet shipments, & all sorts of boring legal stuff. Another growth spurt for Coulson Macleod & our collective knowledge.
If you could have your work displayed anywhere in the world, where would you like it to be displayed?
We always joke that our art is far better traveled than we are & ends up in homes all over the world. Some of the addresses that we ship to are pretty fancy (sometimes we spot our prints on the walls of swoon-worthy homes that feature in the press). So our art goes to places that we’ll never get to in person. We could do with more stockists in Australia (at the time of writing we only have one) so if anyone reading this can help…
What would be your dream commission?
An order from Kate & William would be rather beneficial. Anything Kate (Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge) buys has a huge impact. She has to support British made, so surely it’s only a matter of time before she becomes a Coulson Macleod customer.
Describe your perfect day
We got married last summer; it was a perfect day. Wish we could recreate it every year. The sun shone (this in itself was pretty remarkable as it rained practically every other day). Surrounded by friends & family, eating amazing Italian food, drinking Pimms, crying happy tears & lots of dancing.
If you were to board Noah’s Ark and were told that you could take three things with you. What would they be?
Presuming our three children were already aboard then it would be
Our collection of magazines that we’ve flicked through but not had time to read
Suncream. We’re totally paranoid about burning & spend all summer slathering it over the kids. European kids are all bronzed & healthy-looking, ours are ghostly-white from being covered in titanium dioxide.
A Kindle. We don’t own one, preferring the look, feel, & smell of proper books lining our shelves, but seeing as we can only take three things.
What is your favorite dish to cook?
We cook a lot, so it’s hard to pick out just one recipe. We have favourite dishes for warm weather, but seeing as we mainly have cold weather here, it would have to be sausages & lentils. It’s one of those super easy one-pot wonders that everyone loves. Plus it uses bacon & bacon reigns supreme. Serves four…
Sausage Bacon and Lentil Hotpot
8 x sausages
250g smoked bacon
200g Puy lentils (we tend to throw in more than this)
1 clove garlic crushed
1 chopped onion
1 tsp tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 litre chicken stock
Brown the sausages, fry the bacon until crispy then throw into one pot & cook until lentils are soft. Better if you can simmer for longer as the taste improves. Serve with crusty bread.
For pudding it would be polenta cake (our recipe is scribbled on a bit of scrap paper).
7 oz butter
7 oz sugar
8 oz ground almonds
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz polenta
zest of 3 lemons
1 tbs baking powder
Dust your cake tin with polenta (use extra polenta, not from the 8 oz). Cream butter & sugar. Add almonds, vanilla, eggs & polenta. Mix with zest. Add baking powder. Bake for 45 mins on 180. Serve warm with a big dollop of mascarpone.
Want to see more?
Coulson Macleod are exhibiting at the following venues in the UK for 2013.
Pulse (London Earl’s Court) 12-14th May.
Home & Gift Harrogate 14-17th July.
Top Drawer (London Olympia) 15-17th September.