Designer Sian Elin’s eponymous online boutique might be based in a relatively isolated spot – “in the countryside near Cardiff” – but her work is richly multicultural in its influences. This isn’t immediately obvious when you see the prints on her wallpaper (£90 per 10m roll), 100 per cent cotton fabrics (£60 per metre) and cushions (£48 each), since these are abstract. But Elin, who set up her company in 2012, can pin down her inspirations to specific places. For example, her Horseshoe Arch print (first picture, on chair and floor centre) is “influenced by the Islamic architecture of the Taj Mahal”.
Elin – who exhibited earlier this year at the event Tent London during the London Design Festival – began soaking up international influences while working as a children’s book designer for Oxford University Press. “I was commissioning illustrators from all over the world and travelled to India and the Mediterranean,” she recalls.
Another of her designs, Tress (second picture), is inspired by the tessellated, mosaic-like, Moorish patterns she’d seen on the Alhambra palace in Spain. However, Elin avoids making overtly literal references: “Tress is a bit removed from the Alhambra’s regular, geometric forms. I didn’t want my design to replicate them.” In fact, Tress creates the illusion of randomness rather than an ordered repeat pattern to mesmerising effect, as does another print, Chevrons, with its dancing, arrow-shaped motifs.
Unifying these designs – all digitally printed in the UK – is Elin’s highly individual palette of off-key hues, including mustard, salmon pink, pale turquoise and grey. Her work also recalls 1980s textiles, notably those by the Italian design collective Memphis.
These decorative prints have an unexpected depth, drawing as they do on cosmopolitan inspirations in a subtly lateral way.