‘Let nature be your teacher’ exhorts Wordsworth and there is no doubt that we can learn all we need to know about beauty from the sea, the sky, flora and fauna. But – sadly – contemplating daffodils is an impractical career choice. Textile designer Clarissa Hulse may possess a poet’s love of the great outdoors but she combines it with practical business acumen and reaps the benefits of both.
In the delicate, carefully traced lines of her botanical prints you can see that Clarissa spends plenty of time absorbed in the structure of leaf, stem and stamen. ‘I draw most of my inspiration from the countryside, where I walk, take photographs and collect interesting specimens,’ she explains. It’s also clear that translating her observations onto textiles comes naturally to her, while the ease with which she blends and matches colour is the hallmark of a Hulse design.
Born in Prague, Clarissa lived a nomadic childhood, spending time in Thailand, Spain, Italy and Greece. This eclectic background has had a huge influence on her approach to colour and design. From the moment she began commercial production Clarissa has insisted on the most beautiful fabrics, preferring to use tiny amounts of fine silk than masses of a less expensive substitute.
Clarissa’s design studio and shop in Islington is probably the only place you can see her full range of products in one place, from recently reintroduced scarves and tiny cloth dolls (fashioned from scraps by Laura Long) to cushions and bags. All those sumptuous silks, the contrasting patterns, the glowing colours; they could send you into poetic raptures.