April 2016

So often is the case that great art stems from a very personal experience and this is certainly true for Josh and Lisa Robinson, founders of Inigo Scout.

Based in Winchester, Inigo Scout is a textile company with a rich story and an even richer product; beautifully crafted blankets designed by working artists and created for decorative use. Whether hung on a wall to showcase its full design or used more simply as a comforting blanket, every textile strongly resonates within its surrounding. But Inigo Scout goes deeper than aesthetics too with its charitable side scheme; charity really does begin at home with Inigo Scout. We caught up with Josh to talk a bit more about the company's story, the artists involved and what the future holds for such a refreshing brand.

Inigo Scout has a wonderful story behind it, would you mind telling us about it please?

When our twins Inigo and Scout were born, they were premature and not very well. They spent a couple of months in intensive care under the watchful eyes of an inspiring collection of consultants, doctors and nurses. My wife Lisa and I were pretty helpless. In the corner of the intensive care unit was a box of locally knitted blankets. Like all the parents, we would move these on and off our children’s cots. The blankets were physically important to the kids and emotionally important to us! We left the hospital with two healthy children - we were so lucky. We promised each other we would do something to help children less fortunate than our own. Something to do with blankets!…

Do you both have design backgrounds?

I grew up surrounded by art, design and interiors! My dad is a fine art restorer, artist and contemporary art collector. My mum is an artist and ran a fabulous vintage furniture store, now managed by my brother and his wife. It’s funny how you see your parent’s influences play out in your own life. Lisa and I met at work. She is a brilliant project manager – great with numbers – and has a keen eye. We felt we had the skills between us to make Inigo Scout work.

You work in partnership with Johnstons of Elgin, how did you settle on them?

When we first started exploring the idea of a social enterprise that made ‘blanket art’, there were two key things we needed to know. Firstly, how could we get the blankets to the children that needed them most? The answer was Knit For Peace, who became our charity partner. Secondly, could we weave beautiful contemporary art in wool? We toured the country visiting mills and finally found Johnstons and their jacquard looms. We were committed to making the most beautiful blankets in the world - the quality had to be world class. Not only did Johnstons offer this, they also believed in our vision.

Tell us more about your artists you’ve commissioned for the blanket designs? Will you start working with different artists in the future?

Kimvi Nguyen is a very talented British Vietnamese artist. She creates simple, graphic work that translates brilliantly in wool. Tim Fishlock is a master of colour and composition whose work always tells a very honest story. In this case, his inspiration came from the beauty of wool fibres under a microscope. And finally, Tim Robinson is a brilliant painter and collage artist who relished the opportunity to do something different. He is also my dad! We will work with other artists in the future - we want to support artists and offer a wide choice to suit all tastes.

Do you see your blankets more as pieces of artwork or as a practical yet beautiful blanket?

Our blankets are limited edition textile art, signed by the artists. Like artist-designed rugs they are made to be hung on a wall or used day to day. They are very easy to hang and bring real impact and warmth to a room. If you choose to use them as a blanket they take on an ever-changing sculptural form. Every time you look at them they paint a different picture, depending on how they are folded, thrown or dropped. Inigo Scout blankets appeal to people who value art, invest in quality and also want to give something back to the world.

For every one blanket sold, you give back ten blankets to children in need. Tell us more about your charity trust?

Knit For Peace is a fantastic charity run by Dame Hilary Blume of The Charities Advisory Trust. We found them after a long search for a partner who would help us get blankets to kids in the right way. Funds from Inigo Scout sales go to the Cape Flats project in South Africa, where local people are taught to knit and paid to make blankets for children in their community who are in need of warmth at night. It’s the right way to deliver aid as opposed to shipping in blankets made elsewhere. We’re very proud of the good we do. And we hope to inspire other luxury brands to do more good too.

What does the future hold for Inigo Scout?

Our story resonates very strongly with people and there is no doubting the quality of our craftsmanship. We hope to grow, provide a platform for more artists and channel more and more funds into new projects like our inaugural project in South Africa. We are very new and are looking for retailers, be that luxury home interiors stores or art galleries, to help us sell our beautiful product.

All photography © David James Clark