INTERIORS+DESIGN for architects
Naomi Paul, Winner of the WAN Furniture & Accessories Award 2012

This morning I met textile designer and winner of the WAN Furniture & Interior Accessories Award 2012, Naomi Paul in her bright and well-organised studio above the bustle of Ridley Road market in East London.

The space, which she shares with a fellow designer, is an industrious workspace full of multi-coloured spools of yarn, crochet and knitting instruments, wire frames and, suspended from the ceiling, examples of her award winning OMI pendant collection. We sat down amidst her designs to discuss winning the WAN Award and all things textile.

The OMI pendant collection features names such as GLÜCK and SONNE, meaning happiness and sun in German. I asked Naomi what influence, if any, her Germanic roots had on her textile design. "My Grandmother in Germany was an avid knitter and she really inspired me, but it was my mum who taught me how to knit." She explained that her Grandmother was an "underground knitter" who would never knit in public. "My mum taught me over the phone. I had a pair of chopsticks and that's what I learnt to knit on."

Knitting is an integral part of the OMI collection and through the use of handicraft techniques Naomi has created a signature aesthetic. Her love of knitting began at 17 years of age and as a student at the Chelsea College of Art and Design she studied weaving "to learn the routes of constructed textiles." She describes the process as "almost like painting", as a craft that allows you to "really mix the colours", but weaving is not fast enough for her purposes and so knitting and crochet techniques became her making method of choice.

The OMI collection makes use of surplus materials from British mills and recycling plays a major part in Naomi's work. Growing up on a farm in Sussex she explains that a "don't waste anything attitude" pervaded her childhood and naturally progressed to become the "backbone" of her work. "Sustainability is just about being really efficient in your making and it might not necessarily mean that I've used surplus or organic fibre, but that throughout the process the consideration of efficiency is there."

The OMI pendant collection incorporates traditional textures, bold colours and shapes. I asked Naomi how the consideration of sustainability informs her design process. "Crochet was the choice of craft [for the OMI collection] due to its finished knotted look rather than an obvious knit."

"The colours are dictated largely by what surplus [material] there is available, so I have a limited choice of what I can use." Most materials that Naomi uses are UK sourced, however future materials will also come from a family run supplier from Italy who produces low toxic dyes. "The problem of being a young business is that people don't want to sell in small quantities, so I've had problems finding suppliers who firstly, tick all the boxes for efficiency and eco-friendliness, and secondly will sell me less than a tonne!" Future projects will combine surplus yarns with virgin materials to produce interesting colour accents alongside a neutral palette.

When I asked Naomi how she felt having won the WAN Furniture & Interior Accessories Award 2012 she replied, "Brilliant! I was very surprised to have won because of the high calibre of the entrants, like Eric Parry Architects, who were all product designers and I am not, strictly speaking, so it felt good for the textile banner."

Will the award benefit you as a designer? "Yes! Absolutely. I've already had a massive increase in Twitter followers and lots of interest from contractors and architects which is my main focus now, working on different projects."

She continued: "Awards and press are my main source of advertising, and I don't seek out press coverage, so most of my exposure comes from high profile publications such as World Architecture News."

Future plans for Naomi Paul will involve further retail and bespoke textile design projects, including new shapes for the OMI pendant collection, and working on interior design projects alongside architects and designers.

The large scale Omi pendants will be on show at Design Junction as part of the World Interiors News showcase stand F60 and will feature brand new MONIKA pendant, an elegant sculptural lighting piece.

Sarah Roberts