Launched in 2006, Mini Moderns is the brainchild of designer duo Keith Stephenson and Mark Hampshire. Applying their fabulous patterns to a range of homewares and stationery their beautifully considered lines have become must haves for lovers of mid century stylings.
Currently on the shortlist for the Elle Decoration British Design Awards, and busy preparing for Tent London, pattern booth managed to grab a minute with the busy but lovely Keith.
pattern booth: With two designers working together, where do you get your inspiration from?
Keith: We inspire each other - we have such a close design aesthetic that we are in tune visually with what we are thinking. We draw on a variety of inspirations from collective memories of popular culture.
pattern booth: You've had great success with the designs you have released to date. What was the best design advice you were ever given?
Keith: The best design advice we have ever had was 'keep your overheads down' which may seem a little dry - but it has allowed us to grow our business at a rate we are comfortable with, and is totally financially independent. If we can't afford to produce it - then it doesn't make it into the collection, which at times is frustrating - but as we don't tend to follow trends, something we visualised 3 years ago can still be relevant for us as a brand. We also have no external warehouse costs as we moved to a space which accommodates the studio , our home and warehousing.
We have also been careful not to take any design advice - as no one knows our brand as well as we do or where we intend taking it in the future.
pattern booth: You have been nominated for the British Design Award this year. What do that mean to you?
Keith: Being nominated for the British Design Awards is amazing for us. The quality of British designers included increases every year so the competition is pretty tough. It is an incredible boost to us as designers seeing us in a list with people who we either know - who we are also proud of - and designers that we greatly admire. Last year we were in the Best British Design Brand category - up against people like Tricia Guild who is greatly admired and so well established so that was unbelievable that we would even be in the same category. Naturally we would love to be in the final six winners - but the standard of the other nominees is probably the best collection of designers there has ever been in the awards... so fingers crossed.
pattern booth: You are exhibiting at Tent London this month. For those who haven't been, what is Tent like?
Keith: Tent is a great show as it is a great balance of up and coming designers and more established ones with a cooler edge - a great mix of innovation and commercial design.
pattern booth: You are veteran exhibitors; how would you describe the exhibiting experience?
Keith: Every time we do a show - we always think that we have done it before and so it should be fairly straightforward - then we suddenly realise that we have almost double the amount of products to show than at a previous show - so then panic sets in. Shows are a pretty big commitment in terms of cost and time - and so the pressure is on to get it right. Mark is usually calm in these situations, I on the other hand find it too much!
Once you are set up there is the first day of worrying that you may not be presenting yourself as best you can - but then it feels comfortable and you want it to be a permanent shop - then you tear it all down - its a very unusual experience.
pattern booth: If someone is considering their first show as an exhibitor what advice would you would give them?
Keith: Only one thing we would say at a show and that is do not skimp on lighting.
Light seems to totally be absorbed by the atmosphere - and you really need people who are visiting to focus on your work. Oh and try to keep calm and enjoy the experience of meeting other designers, buyers and the public.