The Hemingway Design by Royal Doulton collection marries distinctive design with commercial style. Fusing form with function, it introduces aesthetic beauty into the everyday in a mixture of matte and gloss finishes and statement colour contrasts.
Wayne and Tilly talk to us about colour harmony, big dogs and chocolate.
Drawing back the curtain on Hemingway Design is a little like stumbling across a modern-day Eames studio. Their signature style blends unbridled originality with affordable design. Their ethos – design for the common good.
It’s perhaps unsurprising then that their latest collaboration with Royal Doulton is infused with mid-century inspiration.
At twenty eight years young, Tilly Hemingway, the second child of Wayne and Gerardine, has fashioned an exquisite collection of retro-inspired pieces. Growing up in an environment where creativity was currency, her eye for design comes finely honed.
(Wayne and Gerardine spawned the designer fashion label – Better Red Than Dead.)
Each piece fuses function and form, a defining philosophy of Hemingway Design. The studio is focused on “improving the things that matter in life” beyond the value of the purely ornamental – a sentiment handed down from Hemingways past.
“I don’t really have anything at home that I don’t use, or that I wouldn’t touch,” Tilly says. “I think that’s the whole thing about the mid-century as well. Nothing was overly decorative and just sat there, it had a use. There’s a big throw-away culture now. In the UK, at Primark, you can get a cardigan for three pounds. That shouldn’t exist. I’d never buy anything with a view that – yeah –that’ll do me for the next four months – I’d always want to have it forever if I could.”
Wayne agrees. “It’s not that we’re raving eco-warriors,” he says. “It’s just common sense. There’s two sides to it. Sustainability is really important, but not wasting money is also really important. Money is not easy to earn and it makes life a lot easier.”
This affects the kind of projects the agency takes on. “Number one, we’ve all got to want to do it. Number two, it’s got to add some value above income-earning. And then, we don’t just jump into things – it’s about teamwork. This particular project – yes – Tilly’s designed a great range – but Royal Doulton have managed to get the pricing right, everything’s right. We can’t do that on our own.”
The collaboration has been hugely gratifying, and, the success of the partnership, self-evident. “They’ve been working with us throughout the whole process,” Tilly says. “Testing shapes, making sure everything’s right, making sure the palette’s right.” The yellow of the jug, nesting bowl, candlestick holder and stem vase is a case in point.
“It’s amazing how many people don’t get that final colour harmony right,” Wayne says. “The yellow had been mustard, it had been… It kept coming in wrong, but when you get it right, you just know it. In theory, oranges, blues, yellows, whites – not everybody can do a collection and make those colours work. It’s quite easy to make a tonal collection work – say grey, black and white – but this is a lot harder.”
When asked about the benefits of being a family business, the Hemingways tout honesty, respect, and, of course, chocolate. In the Hemingway office, this represents a food group in itself.
Wayne: She has a drawer.
Tilly: I eat three to four chocolates a day.
Wayne: I know where it is as well.
Dangerous. “We get on really well,” Tilly says. “I think it makes it easier almost when you do disagree about something, because there are no hard feelings.”
Any obsessive rituals to spur your creativity?
Tilly: I have to run on my lunch break. I run every day at lunch.
Wayne: Stroking the office dog.
Us: Is she mini?
Tilly: She is mini – she’s some kind of cross between a Labrador and a springer spaniel.
Wayne: But she’s not a small dog.
Chocolate and running. And patting the office dog. It’s all about creating the right balance. Thanks, Hemingways. It’s been a pleasure chatting! 🙂