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Ask the Expert: Roddy Clarke

Journalist and stylist Roddy Clarke gives us an insight into what he does, his inspiration and top tips on how to be more eco when buying for the home. Trying to break the cycle of fast fashion in interiors, we couldn’t wait to sit down with Roddy Clarke.

Hi Roddy, tell us about you and what you do!

I am a journalist, editor and stylist focusing on the social and environmental impacts of design. Contributing to various titles including Forbes, the Weekend Financial Times and Hole and Corner magazine, I also work on a variety of projects around restoration and the circular economy.

How did you get into what you do?

I grew up with a family background of restoration and after five years of managing multiple restoration projects I decided to embark on my own career which led to becoming a freelance interior stylist and journalist. Through working on a variety of creative projects I realised there was an urgent need to re-think the way we design spaces and shift the mindset of consumers. Using my own attitude of restoration, repurposing and re-use, and building on my Sustainable Business Management course at Cambridge University’s Institute of Sustainable Leadership, I now explore the way we can still maintain a beautiful design aesthetic without adding to rising levels of consumerism, closing the loop on production cycles.

What does good design mean to you?

Today, I encourage designers to challenge themselves before embarking on their journey. With so many products already in the world, good design today has to have a strong purpose, it has to re-think existing systems and it has to leave a positive footprint. Whilst negating the damage of rising consumerism, designers have to look at ways they can simultaneously add to an environment or society. If every brand and designer adopted this strict mentality as part of their creative process perhaps we could change the outlook of our future.

Who are your go to eco brands for interior/homeware buys?

If purchasing an item for the home is a must, always challenge yourself first. Don’t be fooled by brands who claim to be ‘eco’ as essentially there is no such thing. If a brand is truly sustainable it shouldn’t have to shout so loud about it and their attitude towards sustainability will be inherent and evident for all to see.

A sustainable purchase isn’t necessarily something just made from waste, it is also about the production behind it and the length of time it will last. There are so many facets which feed into a conscious mindset. And remember buying vintage or second-hand is a good option, helping to make use of items already produced. There are many brands and designers providing great solutions such as Vinterior, Harth, Sebastian Cox, Benchmark, One Nine Eight Five, Kana London and of course yourselves!

Can you tell us who to follow for swoon-worthy interiors on instagram?

Instagram is often my nemesis as I think whilst it obviously connects the industry and gives us a platform to discuss important topics, it can also breed bad habits and lure people into short-lasting fashions and trends. Personally, I love the work of Sella Concept which is always an aesthetic delight! Also, if you like seeing furniture design transformations, follow the upcycling duo Patience & Gough. For beautiful furniture pieces and art, and an interior style I relate to personally, I love the feeds of Modern Art Hire and Beton Brut

A retail pop up space styled by Roddy.

Photography: Julian Victoria

blue ceramic plates and homeware blue kitchen and shelves kitchen appliances

Roddy’s styling work for Kana London (left) and a recent residential design project in East London (right).

Photography: Natale Towell

What's really exciting you at the moment in interiors? Do you have any tips for interior trends?

I am encouraged by the number of designers rethinking systems and seeking to close the loop on their own production systems. While this has to become the norm, all brands should be challenging themselves as to what they can do to make a valid difference with the platform they have. Regarding trends, my advice is to avoid them! Most trends are discussed and created by brands themselves to encourage consumer activity and with a commercial motive behind it. I believe an interior should reflect who you are personally and should represent your own tastes and preferences. Don’t be swayed and lured into following trends. Just have trust in your own style and create a space which will be timeless, lasting for generations to come.

What are your top tips for Stitched customers who are looking to be more eco with their homeware/interiors buys?

Ask three questions before any purchase. Do you really need it? Do you need to buy new or can you buy a preloved item? Can you see the item staying with you forever? Always challenge the brands you buy from. For example, can their materials be traced back to source and do you know where the item has been made?

Also, purchase with a circular mindset. If you fall out of love with the item or it gets damaged, can it be re-used, repurposed or restored? Find voices in the industry you can trust to help guide you in the right direction.

Try and buy local if you can. Especially for Londoners, the city is awash with independent design studios where you can meet with makers directly.

Can you choose five Stitched fabrics that define your style and tell us about your selection?

I personally enjoy a classic interior and something more minimal as I like my home to be a haven I can relax in. I collect items which have a personal meaning to me and remind me of special memories or places I have visited. If I had to choose five fabrics, these would be my selections:

Flax in Seashore. I love incorporating natural materials within the home such as flax and hemp. Many people have preconceived ideas about these materials as they think it brings a certain aesthetic to the home but, thanks to brands like yourselves, a wide colour option is now available and it suits a contemporary interior perfectly. I like the subtle tones of the Seashore colour way which also references the fact I live not far from the sea!

Upcycled Silk in Antique Green. Incorporating recycled silk into this fabric adds to the conscious nature of its production. When adding colour, I like to use richer tones such as this green.

Revive in Inspire. Made from entirely recycled plastic bottles, this showcases the level of quality and finish which can be achieved from using a waste source. I like the texture of this fabric and the Inspire green also brings a subtler pop of colour.

Linton in Washed Teal. I love the feel of a linen/cotton blend and this soft tone would be perfect for a calming interior palette.

The Nudes Vintage in Oatmeal. I love neutral fabrics when used with a minimal interior aesthetic. This linen has a timeless feel about it and would compliment my love for natural woods and graphic monochrome wall art.

Roddy Clarke: Website & Instagram

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