Yesterday, the Covet Garden team sat down for a delightful conversation with Fiona Douglas, the Glasgow-based designer behind Bluebellgray—a company best known for its painterly, floral print bed linens, pillows and furniture.
We've been following the five-year-old textile company through British design mags and blogs for a while now, so we were thrilled to learn that the Hudson’s Bay Company has brought the brand to Canada in an exclusive partnership—and to get the opportunity to meet Douglas and members of her team in person.
Why do we love Bluebellgray so much? It makes us happy! “I want to give that little bit of happiness to people,” says Douglas. “It’s hard to be sad when you’re surrounded by flowers and colour.”
One of Douglas’ earliest memories is a teacher telling her to colour within the lines, which of course, she did not want to do. While she was studying painting in art school, she found the fine arts department drew a similar line between art and craft. “A friend was in the textile department and said, ‘Fi, you’re a textile artist, I just know it.’”
Douglas’ friend was right. “For me textiles is a way to take painting and pattern and colour and interpret it in a different way,” she says. At school, she was also able to experiment with the modern medium of digital printing, which allowed her to bring her delicate watercolours to life on traditional materials such as linen and wool. “It’s freedom! It allows so many possibilities because there are no restrictions in the form or the process.”
Douglas gets so much joy from bringing happiness to others. But she also loves to travel, create DIY projects and spend time with her husband Phillip (who helped her start the business at their kitchen table) and 14-month-old son, Archie. Where does such a busy lady get her inspiration? “Open your eyes and take things in and appreciate them,” she says. She uses Archie as an example. “He loves to walk down the driveway and pick up every pinecone and examine it. He gets this expression on his little face that’s pure amazement.”
Another reason that Douglas is such a kindred spirit to us is that she believes that people are happy when they surround themselves with things that have meaning. Every Bluebellgray print or pattern starts out as an original painting. The things the studio creates aren’t meant to be seasonal or trendy, she says, rather “it’s about mixing them in with what you already love and then building up over the years.”
We also love the fact that even as Bluebellgray spreads its recipe for cheerfulness globally, they have made an effort to be conscious locally in their collaboration with The Hudson’s Bay. For example, the cushion designs are printed in the UK and are sewn locally in Canada. The two furniture pieces in the exclusive Hudson’s Bay collection, a tufted headboard and accent chair (pictured at top), are also manufactured in Canada. The Bluebellgray line is available online and in stores now at the Hudson's Bay.