We had a chat with surface designer Frances White of Joburg-based company My Favourite Colour. We first spotted Frances at Design Indaba 2 years ago and were immediately drawn to her quirky and beautifully unique designs – all featuring gorgeous, proudly South African fauna and flora.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and My Favourite Colour…
I was born in KwaZulu Natal, grew up in Johannesburg and studied Fine Art at Michaelis at the University of Cape Town. I majored in painting, history of art and English. In my late twenties I started dreaming of printing patterns on fabric. I love mixing colours and painting, but the advantage of printing is that the same beautiful patterns can reproduced over and over, and the textiles can be used to make a wide range of functional products. In 2012 I launched my surface design company, My Favourite Colour, at the Design Indaba in Cape Town. The first range of textiles is a collection of fresh and contemporary South African floral patterns, inspired by Swedish design and the South African floral kingdom. Each pattern drew its inspiration from the flowers of a specific floral region, and is made up of drawings and paintings which have been scanned, collaged and digitally printed.
Q: I can remember being quite taken with your range of cushions at Design Indaba 2012 – especially the quirky “Picturebook” designs. How did you come up with that particular concept?
I enjoy the simplicity of colouring-in book images – they’re striking in a stark way. There’s also something magical about the feeling of nostalgia and innocence that coloured in pictures can evoke. I wanted to create a pattern in a style similar to children’s colouring in pictures, with the idea of colouring some pictures in, and leaving some blank or partly coloured in. I decided that the succulent imagery would best suit the strong, simple, graphic line style and made a series of drawings for the pattern. I made photocopies and coloured them in in a variety of styles, and though they looked fresh and bright, I wasn’t happy with the finished result. It was only after having dreamt about children colouring them in that I knew in my heart that they were going to work. I made a few colouring in books and handed them out to my friends children. I scanned in the drawings, made a digital collage which was one of the first test prints, and people’s response to the originality and fun of them was inspiring. I decided to pair the West Coast Succulents pattern with a Johannesburg Garden Birds version, and I they were by far the favourites at our launch at the 2012 Design Indaba. People who stopped to look at the cushions we had on display ended up either stroking them and smiling, or picking them up in exclamation!
Q: What was your experience of Design Indaba as an exhibitor? How do you rate it?
I *loved* exhibiting at the Design Indaba. I met such wonderful people, got amazing feedback on my fabric range, made great sales, met buyers from Weylandts, Mr Price Home, Trevyn Mcgowan from Source, Thessa from The Fringe Arts (now known as Kin), journalists, magazine writers and bloggers. I loved seeing the beautiful design on display and meeting the designers, and made lots of new friends. My cheeks ached from smiling so much and I may have shed a tear or two when it was time to pack down on the Sunday evening!
Q: Where do you draw inspiration from when designing?
I love all things bright and beautiful. My work is inspired by nature, landscapes, the South African floral kingdom, the animal and insect world, vintage Scandinavian textile design, folk art patterns, colour and light.
One of my favourite quotes is Goethe’s ‘We are shaped and fashioned by what we love’ which I believe wholeheartedly. I love and am inspired by mountains, art, swimming, painting, poetry, flower-filled meadows, collecting pictures and postcards, photographing snippets of life, day-dreaming, watering the garden, looking for treasure at second hand shops, romance and pretty much everything that shines or glitters.
Q: Is there a certain style you admire or aspire to?
I aspire to make things that are timelessly beautiful yet still modern and fun. It’s also important to me make things that have or tell a story. I want to make meaningful contact with people. I want to make them stop and admire nature or bring some loud colour into their lives. I want to decorate the world.
Q: Do you have a colour that you favour most?
I’ve always had a love affair with hot pink, but if I had to choose my absolute favourite colour, it would be sunshine yellow.
Q: Could you share your Secret Indulgence with us?
I’m in love with mini Liquorice Allsorts at the moment.
Q: What is your favourite current décor trend?
I quite like the tropical jungle theme, hot colours and big leaf patterns that seem to be trending in décor at the moment.
Q: Tell us five things on your Bucket List…
- To see my 100 year old grandmother in Holland again. I love her.
- To go swimming in waterfalls, rock pools and lakes in France and Corsica with my husband.
- To be a mom.
- To teach children art.
- To own and learn how to use a good manual camera.
Q: We understand you have recently designed some products for Mr Price Home – can you tell us more?
Mr Price Home approached me to design a range to be part of their South African-inspired Colab range. I had a lot of free reign creatively and was inspired by flower-filled spring landscapes, the West Coast, Silvertrees, succulents, vygies, Cape foxes and small South African mammals. The range includes a reversible duvet set in all sizes, a woven throw, assorted cushions, embroidered bath towels and a woven rug, and is available in stores now, or online: here
Q: Future plans – what can we expect from My Favourite Colour this year?
I’m starting a screenprinting course next week… I’m SO excited to learn how to print myself. I hope this means that I’ll spend more time creating this year and playing with colour, pattern and a brand new screenprinted range!
I’m also designing my existing patterns and ideas into matching fabric collections.
We’ve also started making melamine and paper products, and I look forward to marketing those and making more. I love stationery and themed kids colouring in posters.
I’d also really love to learn how to sew.
Watch this space!