MEET the DESIGNER - House of Clouds
posted on November 27 2014
Designers behind HOUSE OF CLOUDS
Gemma Lawon (35) and Angela Puentes (34)
Name and age of your children
I'm married and have two daughters Esme (4) and Naomi (2), yes terrible 2! A: I'm married too and our son, Lucas (2) joins Omi in most shenanigans...
Where are you from? And Where are you based?
G: We're both based in a small village just outside York. I sadly grew up there and have returned to my roots! Unlike Angela…A: I'm also come from a sleepy place, just in the other side of the world! I'm from Colombia and it's just a massive coincidence we both live in the same place.
Describe your neighborhood.
G: Very quiet and idyllic, hence the pull. A pretty village, it even has a maypole!
How do you see the world changing around you? What trends are you noticing?
G: I think everything is becoming more accessible, everything is more interlinked with the use of social media and the internet. It's easy to buy from any country, any person and anything. A: Which is great, isn't it?! It also it feels that there is not great distances between anybody and anywhere. You can feel really close to home or to the things you like, even if you are miles away from what is familiar to you. I think there is a thirst for originality and craftsmanship. G: There is a definite shift towards homemade and something different trend wise.
Who are you?
A: I 'm a sun-loving, friendly, anxious and energetic mother /wife/friend/daughter/sister.. I also love smoothies! G: I'm a creative, smiley (most of the time!) mum/wife/friend/daughter who loves being with friends and family.
How do you feel about inspiring future little citizens of the world?
G: I am really pleased we've produced several products that children and adults will like A: And it feels great to create stuff that can be part of the imaginative world of children. G: To think of their little faces looking at our products makes me smile :)
How did the idea for your business come about?
A: The idea landed on our dining table from a portuguese blue sky during a holiday with our families. We'd been for years making stuff for ourselves and other people, sharing crafty tips and admiring each other's work. And liking the same things, it was slightly scary. G: So we decided to take the plunge and start making together. It's great because our ideas develop naturally between the two of us and we love it.
What were some of your biggest challenges in starting your business?
G: Time! With a young family it's hard but we're so passionate about it we find it somehow. A: Also, we didn’t realize what a big leap it would be from imagining a product to translating that into something that looks great but also adheres to all the many product safety standards.
What’s innovative about what you do? In terms of your craft, design or sourcing?
A: We've tried to apply great craftsmanship to products that are not normally handmade, particularly our lamps. We've gone back to our workshop to work with great quality wood in order to create a collection of wall lights that have been designed, built and embroidered by two busy pairs of hands. G: We're constantly adjusting our products and designs for the better, which is exciting.
How do you get the word out to get more fans?
A: Instagram is great.
What’s the best compliment you have ever been paid?
A: When other people see what we do, and want our products. G: I'm really pleased by the positive feedback we've had, that's the biggest compliment for me.
Managing a business and having a family is a lot of work, what’s your secret for staying organised?
A: A lot of work! And night-work. Once Lucas is asleep I normally become a busy-bee G: Me too! You have to be quite methodical in your processes otherwise things can get out of hand. Luckily I have a very tidy husband!
What’s the best part of being your own boss?
A: The drive you have when you are working for yourself is incomparable. G: I agree I've had many jobs over the years but never felt quite fulfilled. It gives you a good work life balance and there's no company politics!
How do you feel about motherhood?
G: Sounds cheesy but it's the best thing in the world A: It is! It's the happiest, dreamiest and most tiring time of my life. G: Haha totally agree.
How have you changed since you became a parent?
A: I've realised how self-centred my life was before becoming a mum. I feel a more generous and selfless person. And instead of partying on Friday nights we find ourselves dancing to the Jungle Book Saturday mornings in our living room with our toddler. G: I shout (!) and dance more, but yes, family becomes your centre.
What is unique about designing for children?
G: It opens up a world of possibilities. Colour, size, shape and play are all important A: Yes, it’s a lot of fun. It brings out your playful and artistic side.
What are your future plans for your business / designs?
G: We'd like to develop our sleepy stars and happy houses into a bigger range to include fabrics and stickers A: And we have an iPad travel case up our sleeve.
What is your favourite smell?
A: Cut grass after the rain G: Sweetpeas and a good homemade pie!
What’s your most treasured possession?
A: I think my photos, the printed ones. G: Well, and digital. And my precious stash of fabrics.
Where do you find inspiration?
G: Everywhere, the outdoors, my kids, my friends A: Also when I'm working, that's when ideas start to flow...!
How do you relax?
G: Drinking and eating with friends A: Yes, love that and a good book...but not at the same time!
Name other designers who you love and are inspired by:
A: It's such a hard question, there are so many talented people out there. I recently came across Miga de Pan, an Argentinian illustrator and embroiderer, she's got magic fingers. And I love Takashi Iwasaki's work, he is amazing with thread and fabric! G: I really like Heather Moore (Skinny Laminx) and Jane Foster, they're inspiring because you can see how they started and how they've built up their business to be a great success.
What single thing would improve the quality of your life immensely?
A: Having my Colombian family close by. G: I'm very lucky to have my family close by, on both sides. A cleaner would be nice!
What is something you have thought of which really should exist but it doesn’t yet?
A: Four-day weekends. G: Oo yes, good one! And a really good iPad cover (watch this space!).
Out of all the things your child has now what will you save for the day they become parents themselves?
G: Sock-ons! Ha only joking. A: Yes, earplugs and white noise! G: There's a few things, I'm a bit of a hoarder. I have a blanket that my great grandma crocheted and some dresses I wore when I was a child and my daughters wear now. A: Isn't that lovely. I might pass on an outfit my mum crocheted for my son before he was born...
What does a family heirloom mean to you? Can you give an example of something your family holds dear to their heart?
G: Something that has been loved. Again my blanket but really people are the most important thing A: For my family it’s a place - my grandmother's house in the countryside. With lots of fruit trees and all year round sunshine.
Recommend a piece of art that everyone should see because it can change your life: