Emma Lycett launched her wallpaper brand Hibou Home in 2011. She says “I couldn’t find any wallpaper I liked for my children’s bedrooms. Everything I came across was just a bit too ‘childish’ and I didn’t like the garish primary colours.” It got her thinking about a gap in the market for stylish, sophisticated kids wallpaper and an idea was born. We caught up with her at her peaceful studio based deep in the beautiful Kent countryside, south of Tunbridge Wells, to find out everything from what inspires her to how her designs come to life.
What’s your design space like?
It’s a relatively small design space with a large blackboard filling one wall. I add any inspiring images to the wall so it’s a giant moodboard in effect and it’s constantly evolving. Sometimes my children will have an idea and add their own doodles and drawings to the mix which I love. It’s a small core team which I like as it means we can give personal customer service and then there is an extended ‘family’ so to speak of manufacturers, graphic designers, PR specialists, stylist and photographer. I’m very lucky to work with such a fabulous set of people.
What inspires you?
I get a lot of design inspiration from my childhood memories really. I had an idyllic childhood – building dens, riding ponies, playing in the countryside round my home and when I wasn’t doing that I was reading. The classic children’s books and fairytales I read then are a big influence on what I design now. As a designer, I’m subconsciously always on the look out for anything interesting and inspiring – a flash of colour, an unusual shape perhaps – I remember them and they get added to the design inspiration melting pot.
Emma in her studio
If you could describe the brand in three words, what would they be?
Fresh. Modern. Classic. Cool. Am I allowed 4 words instead?!
What’s the design process?
I always have a list of possible designs in my mind, the hard bit is cutting them down to a shortlist. Once that’s done, the design work proper can get started. Sometimes a design develops very easily in a few hours, sometimes it takes a few days. Very occasionally, I simply can’t get an idea to work at all and it gets binned. Choosing a colour palette is an integral part of the design process. Once a design is complete I make a conscious effort not to look at it for a few weeks and if it still excites me when I review it again, I know I’ve got it right. Then it’s sent to the manufacturer to produce samples for approval, perhaps some final tweaking and then it’s into production.
Do you have special considerations when designing for kids?
My main consideration is to create a design that will spark their imaginations and not be something they will grow out of too easily. Then it’s a question of finding a colour palette that will appeal to the children but also to their parent’s tastes and suit stylish interior design schemes. I love to use muted colours and shades that make the colours just that bit more stylish than usual. I think children can be a lot more sophisticated in their design choices than they are given credit for sometimes.
What made you want to design for kids?
I didn’t set out to design for kids per se. It was more of a question of spotting a gap in the market for stylish kids wallpapers and going from there. Designing for kids is such great fun though – I get to channel my inner child every day and call it work!
And finally.. what’s your favourite print from the collection and why?
I love them all for different reasons, but if you are going to make me choose, it would have to be Enchanted Wood. It is such a timeless design and appeals to all ages (children and grown-ups alike!) so it’s the perfect wallpaper for the nursery years and beyond. I would have loved this on my walls as a child.