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Interview with Blackpop

Instagram: @blackpopuk

Website: www.blackpop.co.uk

Blackpop logo

There’s been a brand that we’ve just been dying to work with. Ever since we spotted their brave, vibrant designs we’ve been following their work and enjoying their truly creative and opulent designs – and we know you all have too. For me, Blackpop has challenged how we think about pattern in our homes. Bold with colour, punky and slightly anarchic, the award-winning Blackpop style most definitely stands out from the standard floral and geometric pattern book. Maxine Hall is the creative genius behind Blackpop and we were delighted when she agreed to an interview with us.

Vanguard Wallpaper. Maxine at home. Pic credit to James Balston

Blackpop is most definitely a part of Maxine. When you look at the work of artists, you can often see part of their character staring back at you, and this is absolutely the case here. Maxine is the founder and Design Director and leads all of the designs for collections whilst Paula Moss the Studio Director heads up their team in the UK. With her expert eye for detail, pattern and colour, Maxine excels in creating collections that transform the rooms they adorn. Having studied Fine Art Photography, the creative process begins offline; photographing and scanning-in objects and then continuing the process into digital.

Grand Reader Wallpaper. Pic credit to James Balston

Maxine’s career has followed the digital revolution as it provided new opportunities for her, using software to manipulate images and craft them into pattern for use on fabric, wallpaper and upholstered furniture. Print has only recently begun to deliver the quality and details she needed across some media; “I’ve was waiting for my moment” explains Maxine, “I was waiting for manufacturing to catch up with print production to allow me to do what I wanted to do”.

Eames chair upholstered in Blackpop fabric

Starting with ceramics, Maxine began experimenting with the print process and what could be achieved. “ At the time I couldn’t achieve the look I wanted on ceramics, it’s only recently that you have been able to get a high quality digital print onto wallpaper and fabrics. This possibility gave me my opportunity to move into this medium.”

The first big break came from Maxine’s confidence to go straight to the luxury market, “I entered Liberty’s Open Call event in 2014 and they took our Wallpaper on straight away – a first for them and us!”. Blackpop then went on to win ‘Best New Product in Show 2015’ at Decorex International for their ‘The Tudors – Deconstructed’ project in conjunction with the National Portrait Gallery. Paula met Nicola from the NPG the year before at Decorex and was instantly drawn to the project. “we chose to work with their world renowned Tudor Portrait collection. Winning Best Project in Show is one of our proudest moments so far and it’s still one of my favourite collections.” says Maxine. The collection was created by taking a closer look at the textures and brush strokes in the Tudor portraits. “The colours come from the hi resolution images sent from the NPG archive and these formed my digital palette” explains Maxine.

An anarchic pattern style is a popular current interior trend and predicting this is part of Blackpop’s success; “I think you just get an intuition for what might be about to happen if you’re into design. It’s in the air” explains Maxine. “When we launched ‘Homage’ inspired by the New York Abstract expressionists and then by coincidence the Royal Academy opened their awesome Abstract Expressionism show. My style is eclectic; a mix of the classics and risk-taking.”

Chair upholstered in Vanguard Vibe Velvet Fabric. Photo credit: Chris Webb

As we studied the Blackpop press images we spotted a recurrence of Vivian Westwood’s book in the background. “Vivian Westwood is such a heroine of mine. I love that she is still independent and in full control of her brand too.” Maxine is keen to keep trying new media and fashion is certainly an option for her wonderful prints; “It would be my dream to work with an iconic designer like Vivian or Paul Smith.”

Blackpop are delighted to be launching their new collection of Wallpapers, Fabrics and Furniture at Decorex in September 2018. The ‘Collector’s’ Collection is inspired by the Sir John Soane’s Museum, London’s hidden gem and treasure trove of antiquities and wonder. Collaborating with the museum and directly working and reworking architects’ drawings, paintings and objects d’art, Blackpop has undoubtedly created its most opulent & dramatic work to date.

Wallpapers from the new ‘Collector’s’ Collection

Hampton Gold Wallpaper, part of 'Collectors' Collection

In addition, Maxine has been working for the first time on a range of rugs as part of the ‘Collector’s’ Collection, which consists of 2 hand woven rugs, 5 new wallpaper designs, 3 new fabric designs, each with its own story to tell. “We’re just back from a nine-day trip to Kathmandu to see the rugs in production” says Maxine, “We met London-based contemporary producers Knots Rugs at Decorex last year and we were both very keen to work together”. Keen to mix business with the opportunity to take in some culture, the Blackpop team extended their trip, “We then went on a crazy cultural ‘Transformation’ retreat of dynamic meditation. I managed to get sucked by an enormous leech, spat at by a monkey and break a rib!”.

It’s not always been jet setting and holidays. Maxine has worked hard for something that she wanted badly and was determined to make her mark. “I left school without any qualifications except an O-level in Art and I didn’t feel like I had many choices. I went into hairdressing as I’d seen all the trendy haircuts with blue fringes in Vogue” laughs Maxine. After 13 years Maxine decided it was time for a change and got a photography portfolio together and a place at Westminster University on the Film and Photography course where she was introduced an Apple Mac and Photoshop 1. “I went into reprographics after graduating and worked creating digital illustrations for book covers”.

Bedroom wallpaper Bridland Faded

Now working in a job that dreams are made of, Maxine feels that belief in yourself is the key to getting where you want to be; “I went straight to Liberty’s because that’s where I wanted to be – you have a have confidence in your product and yourself. Be brave and let your passion shine through”.

Maxine Launched Blackpop at Tent in 2013 since then Blackpop has been featured in the likes of Elle Decoration, Living etc, How to Spend it, The Observer Magazine, Homes & Antiques and Fabric. There is surely a very bright future ahead for Maxine and Blackpop. We can’t wait to see it unfold.

 

Quick fire questions

Who are your heroines?

“Vivian Westwood of course and the wonderful Patti Smith.”

Where does the name Blackpop come from?

“We were thinking of moving to St Leonards at one point and we came up with Blackpop as the name of a make-believe pirate – it just stuck!”

Tell us what’s in your studio right now.

“There’s shelves of catalogued wallpaper samples, rows of hanging fabric samples, groups of inspirational postcards, Miro, kandinsky, Pollock and Bosch grouped and pinned like mood boards. In the corner is a cabinet of curiosities displaying birds sculls, butterflies and insects for inspiration all woven together by the background rhythms of jazz“

What are you favourite Blackpop pieces that you have at home as well?

“In our bedroom we have our Birdland Faded wallpaper and the kitchen/diner has our abstract Vanguard wallpaper, inspired by the abstract impressionists and the New York Jazz Clubs of the same name.”

What was the last gift that you gave someone?

“I bought a green carved skull necklace in Nepal for a friend.”

How would your best friend describe you?

“A handful.”

Competition!

Comment on this blog below with the answer to the following question to be entered into a prize draw to win a Blackpop silk notebook, one of our posters in A3 (of your choice) and some chocolates!

The question is: Where did the name Blackpop come from?

Competition closes Friday 20th July 2018 at Midday. The winner will be announced on Instagram over the weekend. This competition is not affiliated with Instagram. Good luck!

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Anna Tonkin

Anna Tonkin

I love interiors! I've always enjoyed styling my home and my husband will tell you I'm always moving things around and trying something new. My favs include Mid Century Modern and Ecclectic mixes of contrasting themes such as classical design and pop art.

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