Christmas is fast approaching, and local businesses are going to need our support more than ever this year. Christmas shopping just wouldn’t be the same without the small local businesses who pour their heart into their work and create truly unique gifts and experiences. We sat down for a chat with Alice Witheridge, an experienced textile designer, who launched her own range of products this year through her business House Alice. House Alice sells lampshades, wallpapers, notebooks, sweatshirts and more, all with Alice’s original designs that are created by hand.
How did you get involved with textile design?
Since an early age, I have been influenced and inspired by colour and pattern. As a child, I was always making things, building things, and experimenting with different art mediums. Textiles were something I was particularly drawn to; I love the fact that you can apply art to a functional piece of fabric. I studied Textiles and Art Printing for two of my A-Levels. After leaving university with a degree in Fashion Design, I began my career as a Design Assistant for Jigsaw. From this, I moved to work for Helena Gavshon Studio, a leading London design studio. I worked part-time in-house as a Studio Coordinator which involved travelling around the world, selling, sourcing, curating client collections and working with designers on briefs. I also freelanced designed for Helena alongside this role. After having my daughter in 2014, I went fully freelance for Helena, who is still my agent today and took on other clients. This year saw me start my own extra products-based online business House Alice.
What brought you to set up your own business?
Having designed so many prints over the years for other peoples brands, I really wanted to be able to put my name to some physical products. I love freelancing for other people and watching what they do with the designs I create, and I will continue to do this, but I wanted a little something just for me, to be able to design a product from start to finish.
I missed designing for a product and seeing the end design, so founding House Alice was the natural next step for me. As for taking the plunge in 2020 of all years, Covid 19 has had a huge impact on projecting forward online retailers. Companies that have an online presence are going from strength to strength, and so this to me felt like a platform I wanted to get involved with.
Where do you source your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from a love of ethnic prints, patterns and colour; I take my influence from all around the world. I’m the daughter of hippies, so I’ve been heavily influenced by other cultures and travel, and this has always come through in my work. I spent a year at age three living in India, and I think all the colour and pattern there must have seeped into my bones early on! My work is a mixture of classic and trend-led prints, so my designs will evolve over time by exploring some new cultures while still having that classic grounding. I believe that art is just so important for the home, it’s uplifting at this time, it really raises spirits, and so I will continue to create for years to come!
What is your process? Do you have a studio?
My studio is in Worplesdon; it’s a lovely countryside studio in my garden. Everything starts from hand; I mainly use watercolour and a variety of techniques that lead to an assortment of styles. I experiment with traditional textiles like Shibori, batik, tie-dye, silk painting and anything I can learn to do! Once I have a hand-made piece, I scan it in and use Photoshop to finish off the designs, by putting them into repeat and tweaking elements. I then get my prints digitally printed.
You’re a Surrey-based designer, where do you recommend people visit?
I’m always inspired by Watts Gallery, I love the shop and the exhibitions they hold, I always come away inspired to create something, and there are some lovely walks in the vicinity. They also make the absolute best French Toast! Other than that there’s One 40 in Cranleigh, it’s an independent shop with a real collection of women’s wear and stationery. I feel the High Street lacks these destination stores; they’re a real hub of the community. If we are to bring back people to the high street, we need to be able to make them not so formulaic; independent shops spark curiosity, and a reason to leave the house! I also am slightly addicted to any garden centre, Secrets is a great place to spend an afternoon, and meander around the shop there as well.
Where can we find your work?
I work a lot with social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook.I’m going to be featured on kissedbybetty.com soon, and I plan to start approaching local businesses. For now, if you’re looking for Christmas present ideas, then the best place to purchase my work is on my website www.housealice.com and House Alice on Etsy.