When we started, there were wallpapers for grown-ups and wallpapers for children. But there wasn’t really anything cross-generational. When people saw our designs, they’d say “That’s not really for children, because I like that”. But that’s the point, you’re both supposed to like it.
We don’t follow trends. It’s true, nautical is big at the moment. But we put our own slant on it. For example, our print Whitby from our new Daytripper collection is more working harbour and fishing boats than beach huts and sticks of rock.
As children, we both went on daytrips to Whitby and Filey. Keith grew up in Guisborough and Mark in Leeds. We can both remember a little boating lake in Filey. And we both had little red sailing boats, made of wood with fabric sails.
The Festival Of Britain really inspires us. It was a showcase for up and coming designers like Terence Conran and Robin and Lucienne Day and shaped British design over the past 60 years. There probably won’t be anything like it again, British design just doesn’t get that kind of acknowledgement by the Government any more. But the design industry is getting better at showcasing itself. We’re looking forward to the Home trade show at Earls Court 2 in January 2012, which will be a major and internationally-recognised showcase for design.
Blurring decades is good. Our Alice flower print was inspired by some fabric from Forties California. We gave it our own Seventies spin.
Mary, Mungo and Midge was a Seventies animation that we both loved. It’s about a little girl, her dog and her pet mouse. Each episode began with the line Do You Live In A Town? Normally, children’s television shows from the Seventies didn’t acknowledge children like us who lived in towns. Everything was very idyllic and countryside based. But Mary, Midge and Mungo lived in a block of flats and went on everyday chores like posting a letter. So it resonated with us. And we created our Do You Live In A Town Print? as an homage.
Cassettes are a conversation piece. Today’s children don’t know what they are, until their parents get their old cassettes out of the drawer and explain. With our C-60 wallpaper children can even enjoy colouring them in with their felt-tips – with their parents permission, of course.
Vintage Fisher Price toys are one of our passions. Our friends’ children always come and take them down off the shelves in our design studio. We have the Fisher Price Chatterphone – which our friend’s children recognise from Toy Story 3 – two farms, a medical kit, a tractor, a walk-along dog and a Two Tune TV.
Our background in branding has helped us to create a distinctive look. We started off running a design company called Absolute Zero Design. We know how Mini Moderns should talk and look, what kind of boundaries we should have. It’s starting to become a recognised brand. A well-managed and well-conceived brand gives you freedom rather than restrictions.
Feature walls aren’t for us. We think our wallpapers are nice when they’re completely enveloping and cocooning. By covering our hallway with paper, we turned it into a very rich and interesting space rather than a dull corridor.
We try to get the balance between interesting and calm. When we started, we did a lot of colour research and decided we didn’t want to produce wallpapers that were over-stimulating. They wouldn’t be so good for children at bedtime!
The soldier pattern of the bedroom curtains imprinted itself on Mark’s mind as a child. Keith remembers the intricate patterns of the hot air balloons on his childhood wallpaper. As a child, you can get lost in the details.
We used that vintage soldier pattern for some Mini Moderns cushions. They’re very popular with men of a certain age who remember the pattern from childhood!
The root system of an oak tree are so beautiful, it’s virtually the same as the branches. We loved the root system so much that we included it on an oak tree of our Moo! print.
Following your instincts is important in design. You’ve got to make decor personal or there’s no kind of soul there.
We start each season with about 50 ideas for things we’d like to do, but we can only ever produce about half of them. We always have to limit our enthusiasm according to our production budget. It will always be that way.
Mini Moderns were joint winners of in our Junior Design Awards category Best Interiors Collection (Decor)