As part of London Design Week I had the opportunity to talk to the man behind Samon Yechi, the handmade lifestyle brand, discovered by John Lewis at New Designers 2014. Inspired by the African continent, he uses mixed material textiles to create his bright and colourful homeware products.
Me: Where did your love of textiles come from?
SY: Initially it came from my parents who are both artists / designers and they’ve always collected textiles and objects with pattern, and I’ve always been attracted to pattern as well so I’d say it’s been from there, everything I design incorporates African pattern. I used to be a screen printer and I was printing t shirts for brands but then I wanted to go a bit further and design the fabrics – so that’s how I got into textiles, through university.
Me: What drove you to create your own fabrics/materials?
SY: I think it was because I had an eye for fashion and was following certain brands, but I thought I could create something a lot better if I was creating the fabric myself – then I could get exactly what I wanted.
Me: How do you feel about the popularity of African and African-esque prints at the moment?
SY: Well to be honest it’s been making my life a bit easier as a designer! I’ve been able to see what other people are doing and get a bit of inspiration from them. I love looking at all kinds of patterns so I appreciate what other people do.
Me: What drew you to homewares from fashion?
SY: Well originally I started creating fabrics through recycling already used materials and I wanted to make protected products by using a combination of already existing protected materials. I wanted to use those materials of context and make other products such as iPad cases and things like that. I found a way of making the plastic that I use and at the time I’d wanted to stick to the fashion side of things but the results I was getting were so that I had to keep going with the plastic and that meant designing products I wouldn’t have usually come up with. Because I was stuck on ‘what can I use this plastic for’ I was coming up with all sorts of ideas and trying all these things out – the bowls and lampshades were the two things that worked really well with the plastic.
Me: How do you hope your pieces are received by the public?
SY: I hope they are really interested in the actual material. A lot of people like to talk to me about how they think I’ve done it and they come up with lots of different techniques that they think I might have used, and I hope that it excites people. The reactions I’ve had from the line have been great, I find it quite exciting as a lover of colour and pattern.
Me: Tell me some more about the John Lewis connection?
SY: It was kind of unbelievable to be honest, I wasn’t expecting it at all. I had been quite ill so was feeling tired and a bit emotional and I came back to the stand and saw a sign saying ‘John Lewis loves’ and it just brought me right back on top again. It was nice to talk to them about my work, it was amazing and really exciting.
Me: So what’s next for Samon Yechi?
SY: Getting the range out to more people mostly. I want to try and keep everything handmade so I’d to have a select amount of stores that I can work closely with so I can work within my own means, keep my range authentic and continuing to design with my African inspirations and influences.
Samon Yechi says:
A world without colour… is a world without hope.
Design is… creating your ideas.