Interview with Jo Littlefair of Littlefair London
Whilst we often get excited when discovering new suppliers non so have got us quite so hot under the collar as Jo Littlefair who have recently relaunched as Littlefair London.
Their products created by British craftsmen are something unique and unexpected in the accessory market yet work in a multitude of different design aesthetics. We caught up with Jo to find out how it all started.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and what it is you do?
I was brought up on a farm in the north-east of England and, although a far cry from the heart of London where we are now based, it ingrained in me a deep love of nature that continually inspires me. From organic lines, diverse textures, the juxtaposition of contrasts or the subtle layering of colour, we try to filter it through our work here at Littlefair London.
How did you get into this area of the industry? What attracted you to it?
I was very fortunate to have an inspiring textile design teacher at school. I fell in love with 3D art and the touch and feel of fabrics. Even though I started with an arts foundation course, I found my way back to textiles and ended up doing my degree in textile design. I’ve also always been a very curious person and I wanted to see the world, so, after my degree I travelled and worked abroad for 18 months, including a stretch on a super yacht in the Mediterranean, which made a huge impression on me. I was fascinated by the yacht’s interiors; by the perfection of the bespoke furniture that fitted exactly into each space and the sheer quality of the fabrics and finishes. Once I got back to the UK, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in design and fell almost immediately into the world of FF&E, which brought furniture, textiles, layouts, style and styling all together in one place.
Can you describe your furniture and accessories in three words for us and where do you think it fits into in the industry?
We hope that people find a simple yet layered elegance to our designs. We want to create things of beauty that hold value in the eye of the beholder for their craftsmanship as well as their aesthetic. Apologies, that’s more than three words!!
Where does the design of a piece start? Is it with you or with the maker?
The process is a collaborative one and usually it starts by finding an artisan whose work inspires us to develop pieces in the spirit of our collection. The artisans know the constraints of their craft but our design process sometimes pushes them to create new ways of working or developing new treatments to layer into their designs.
What is your favourite piece in the range? You can have one accessory and one piece of furniture!
My favourite accessory piece would have to be the Dipped vases because they are so simple and yet so distinctive. We often see them as a standalone element on a console, for example, or part of a more layered look in a shelving unit.
The Saunton cabinet is one of our new pieces and it is such an elegant, understated piece which was inspired by the soft ripples on Saunton Sands, a stunning north Devon beach.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
The whole process, from designing to marketing, has been a highlight! Selling our pieces is one of the most uplifting experiences, it’s confirmation that others like our aesthetic and want to realise them in their own schemes.
Who’s work or collections are you loving at the moment? Is there anyone new you have discovered that we should know about?
Fashion has always been an inspiration and I’m afraid I am a die-hard Chanel fan which may well be a cliche but it is the truth. Coco Chanel was an inspiring woman and her elegance has endured. I also love Karl Lagerfeld’s take on a Parisian woman this season with silhouettes and proportions that have all the hallmarks of traditional Chanel design but the new proportions deliver a little edge.
Is there anything you would love to bring into the range in the future?
We’re always looking for inspiration and new ways to develop our collection and we cast the net wide, especially for UK based manufacturers which we feel strongly connected to and it is a pleasure to support. There will be new additions coming soon which we hope will beguile our clients! Keep a look out on our social media feeds as we may show some sneak previews.
What advice would you give to aspiring makers and people wanting to break into the industry?
The drive for authentic stories and interesting narratives is behind everything we do and are asked for at the moment and I can’t see that going away. Everything has to contain at least some filtered sense of history and context and that can only be a good thing. Craftsmanship is another key driver. People really like to see and know about how furniture, textiles and accessories have been shaped by the human hand.
Finally, you’ve recently relaunched from Jo Littlefair to Littlefair London. What prompted this?
We are a collaboration of makers and designers and to have this company relating to just one person was at odds with our ethos. The change of the name was a very natural development. We all contribute to the processes and we wanted that to be recognised in the brand itself.
Thank you to the Littlefair London team for taking the time to speak to us!