Nestled in the idyllic Herefordshire countryside you will find Sunny Todd; a refreshing textile company brought together by husband and wife team, Sunny and Emma.
With patterns characterised by bold, clean, graphic shapes that are fun and dynamic, Sunny Todd is breathing new life into the textile world. Though young, the dynamic duo have certainly made an impact already, with their patterns spotted in Heal’s, Le Bon Marche and Liberty. The future is certainly looking as bright as their prints so we decided to catch up with Sunny to find out more.
Tell us about Sunny Todd and how it came about
After graduating from the RCA with an MA in printed textiles, I spent time as a freelance designer in London customising garments using silk screen prints. I really enjoyed this period but the turning point came when Topshop commissioned me to design wallpaper and furnishing fabric for their stores; I realised that my prints were well suited to interiors and the longevity that comes with creating patterns for this market really appealed.
Emma and I have always worked really well together, we love discussing ideas, drawing and printing but having a young family and demanding teaching jobs meant that we had little time to pursue freelance work, especially living outside of London. We knew that the work we were making was getting stronger and that it was unique; we decided to take the plunge and set up Sunny Todd Prints in late 2013.
Have you always been drawn to bold, bright art and design?
We both love the unique shapes and palettes of artists such as Matisse, Heron & Hodgkin and believe that everyone should embrace more colour; as much as we adore Scandinavian simplicity we think that it is only enhanced by great colour and pattern!
Do you find your idyllic location in Herefordshire inspires you?
Living in beautiful Herefordshire gives us a fantastic quality of life which affords us the energy and breathing space to pursue our love of design. We do long for the excitement of London from time to time and love visiting, but it’s always good to drive over the stunning Malvern Hills to our home town.
Your signature style is very distinctive; tell us about the story behind it and the process of creating each motif
The process is incredibly important to us; we draw and cut each shape and then arrange into a pattern or repeat by hand. We don’t use computers and this gives the finished print beautiful irregularities. Our patterns are characterised by bold, clean, graphic shapes that are fun and dynamic. Our signature ‘offset’ gives our patterns extra energy and makes the shapes take on a 3D appearance.
Some designs have evolved over years whilst others come about through happy accidents whilst we are drawing or even experimenting. We work together on each stage of the process, from initial designs right through to colour selection and printing; ideas move on so quickly as we can bounce off each other and be completely honest, because we know each other so well we can work in a very harmonious way. Once we have an idea we will cut out the shapes from black paper and lay them out over white paper on the print table. The selection of colours is as important and this is a real labour of love. We mix pigment inks by eye and create a range of colour swatches to explore how their tones work together.
You have produced swatch books for Le Bon Marche, Liberty and Heal’s; is this something you ever thought you’d go into?
We never dreamed that we would have so many incredible experiences so early on in our business, the support we have received from the design industry has been overwhelming and we feel incredibly proud that we have had the opportunity to work with such exiting partners. Heal’s have been particularly supportive, they chose to upholster some of their instore furniture in our ‘Floral’ fabric and we are going to be working with them on a very exciting project this October.
You’re partners in business and in life, do you feel like you’re never away from the business?
We love what we do so don’t feel the need to draw a clear divide between our business and family life; our children are growing up listening to us discussing design at the dinner table, they often draw and offer up their own patterns for us to use and they absolutely love spending time in the studio. The difficult aspects are having to juggle child care (we have Rosa who is five and Lucian who is two), at the moment we do most of our work when the children are in bed as we teach during the day and we want to enjoy time with our children in the evenings and at weekends. It is such a joy to work with my best friend, we have the same energy, drive, enthusiasm and vision for where we want our business to go and it is incredible to enjoy the highs of success together and to be there to support each other when things don’t go to plan.
You’ve recently started taking workshop classes, what can we expect from these?
We have both taught for 10 years and are hugely passionate about teaching and love to share the highly addictive process of silk screen printing at our studio. The evening classes and workshops have been enormously popular with people from all backgrounds and with all levels of experience. The best thing about screen printing is that it is completely accessible and instantly rewarding. We love to see people transformed as they rediscover their creativity and leave the class buzzing with inspiration.
What does the future hold for Sunny Todd Prints?
We are exhibiting for the first time this year at London Design and we are excitedly awaiting the arrival of our stunning second collection of hand tufted woollen rugs in collaboration with Floor_Story and gorgeous knitted lamb’s wool blankets with Studio Roam which we will launch at LDF. We have some incredibly exciting projects for the New Year, they are yet to be announced but include bedding, wallpaper, and a fashion collaboration.