JR Artisan Spotlight

Richard Smith


What inspires you?


So much! l enjoy that nature and gardening encourage us to look outwards, whether through experimenting with unusual colour groupings, examining the fronds of a fennel or considering the shapes created in the gaps between. Classic and contemporary art, architecture and design are constant jumping off points to designs – in particular, wallpaper and textile documents. You name it and it’s been done before but I love the way you can look at a traditional damask and make something completely new and relevant from it.

How did you get your start in the industry:


I took a year out of my textile design course at art school to work for a small fabric editor so I could understand the business. I did everything I was asked to – working on exhibition stands, cutting samples, answering the phone to clients, and after four years I left to freelance as a designer. That’s when it got exciting as I found myself working with the most incredible creative directors in the business. They really told you what they thought, I lapped up every morsel (good and bad!). I sat next to an ex-client from thirty years ago only last week and reminded her of something she’d said to me back then, thankfully it was something positive! I was regularly contributing to 12 or more collections each year but as I got more established, I was asked to do more work for fewer clients. Nowadays I concentrate on a collection for Jim Thompson called No.9 as well as my own brand, Madeaux. The idea is simply to do things I love which could make it a little random, but I think/hope it holds together well. The result is a series of designs inspired by nature, travel, history, art and architecture, all with hand-painted appeal and a sense of playful unpredictability.


Describe your work in 5 words or less:


Playful, chic, hand-designed fabrics & wallcoverings.




What makes your brand stand out from the rest:


Almost every design we create starts as a hand painted sketch, and the painterly origin is often carried through to the final pattern to create a truly organic feel to the schemes they are used in. When planning new collections, we always consider what is missing, how the different elements sit together and the atmosphere the design will create, rather than aim for a specific “theme”. Fabric and wallpaper design is particularly challenging as the initial work is down in two dimensions, it’s not until it is printed or woven and a tangible piece of fabric in your hands that one gets an idea of how it will behave and look in a three-dimensional setting. For example, how it will look gathered at a window or upholstered on a chair.





Are you experimenting with any new techniques, mediums, colors, or aesthetics?


It’s an exciting time for Madeaux as I really feel like we have found our feet and this brings a renewed confidence – I have a lovely, creative team and I think this enthusiasm and joy shows in the colour palette, textures and variety of product on offer in our recent and upcoming collections. September will bring a fabulous statement embroidery, a classic document reimagined, plus some exciting drapery fabrics including a gorgeous antiqued, printed “faux-unis”. The collection is called “Petits Fours” and is loosely inspired by French decorative arts – an appropriate muse, as being on the south coast we are closer to France than we are to London!



Describe your studio/workspace:


We are a small, dedicated team working out of a former schoolhouse in the East Sussex countryside, close to the coast. As well as the natural world outside our windows, we’re inspired by our growing library of reference books and inspiration trips – the result is that we often creatively cross reference existing designs and conceive collections that have a natural sense of continuity, whether classic florals, geometrics or textured neutrals. The space itself has good light and lots of ceiling high boards that we can move around and cover – we work on several collections at a time so it’s quite useful to keep some things covered up so there is no cross pollination between the brands!