IN THE HOT SEAT: SUSAN COLLIER & SARAH CAMPBELL

It seems that this year, design sisters Susan Collier and Sarah Campbell have much to celebrate. Not only does 2011 mark their 50th year as textile designers – it also sees the launch of an exclusive new interiors collection for Linea at House of Fraser.

Last week, we caught up with the award-winning duo to talk design inspiration, working for Yves Saint Laurent and just what they get up to when they’re not elbows deep in paint….

How would you describe your Linea by Collier Campbell collection?

It’s vibrant, inspiring, confident and fun.  The four designs are classic, simple, charming and contemporary – lovely to live with.

Do you think there’s a typical Collier Campbell customer?

Our typical customer celebrates colour and pattern, is creative and has their own “point of view”. They transcend age, fashion and the norm – and they expect the unexpected.

You’re famed for your vivid floral prints – do you both have a favourite flower and if so, what is it?

So many favourites – English marigolds, deep red & orange nasturtiums, little Mexican daisies, morning glories, foxgloves and soft blue geraniums, deep pink lychnis and glorious eremurus to name a few.

How did you both get into designing?

Having worked for Pat Albeck and Peter Rice as a girl Friday, Susan married and pursued the idea of “painting for textiles” as her career – starting with scarves for Robert Allen and Jaqmar and on from there – Sarah came to help in the school holidays …

Do you think the fact you’re sisters helps or hinders your designing?

It’s worked well for the last 50 years!

If you could be anywhere in the world right now where would you choose to be?

Susan – in my garden surrounded by good friends and family.

Sarah – here and now.

Do you have any tips for anyone looking to brighten up their home this spring?

Clean the windows and let the sun shine in!

You’re celebrating your 50th year of designing, what have been your career highlights so far?

There have been so many …. being the first and only designers of printed textile to win the coveted Duke of Edinburgh’s designer prize, and the first women too in 1984. And as always with design – the best is yet to come:

We’re looking forward to our new Linea range for House of Fraser launching, as well as the re-launch of our own Collier Campbell brand this spring. In May, we’ll have our own exhibition at the National Theatre and will be launching a new decorative fabric collection …

What inspires your design now and what inspired it when you first started designing in the ‘70s?

Everything from ants to zebras, atoms to the zeitgeist.

In your Linea by CC collection, you’ve designed beautiful tea sets – describe your perfect tea party.

The Mad Hatters! With wonderful rich fruit cake and sharp cheddar cheese …

You famously worked for Yves Saint Laurent – how did you find it?

In the early ’70s one of our Liberty of London silk dress designs caught his eye … he wanted a range built round it, we had the most joyous time painting the sketches, singing and dancing, and the results were the two prints used in his first off-the-peg Gypsy Collection – we loved it.

When you’re not busy designing, what do you both like to do in your downtime?

Downtime? Now there’s an idea! We’d laugh, paint, walk, talk, cook, read, play, dig the garden, see the children & while the sun shines – make hay!

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