Behind the Scenes: Original design

The Mokum design studio take us behind the scenes, unveiling the bespoke design process involved in creating the original prints from their latest La Primavera collection, Papillon and Peonia. We also gain further insight into the source of inspiration for these two beautiful designs.

The Peonia and Papillon designs set the tone of the La Primavera collection, embracing feminine form and a romantic colour palette inspired by fashion's floral fixation. Both of these original surface patterns were designed in Mokum’s Sydney based studio, then hand painted in Europe and printed in England, to create the exact aesthetic that we envisioned for this collection.

"Design is thinking made visual"

- Saul Bass

For Papillon we started our research with Japanese antique screens as they have a modern simplicity that we wanted to capture within our watercolour painting. We researched motifs, then created our desired textile repeat system within the Sydney studio, at the appropriate scale for the final print. The next step was sending this repeat system to our watercolour European-based artist, whom illustrated both Magnolia and La Palma and is regarded as one of the best textile watercolour artists in the world. From our detailed Papillion brief, she hand painted a stunning design at an enlarged scale, so that all the beautiful watercolour subtleties can be captured via digital print. Back in our Sydney studio the colour development process for each custom colourway is designed.  Finally, in this case, both Papillon and Peonia designs are printed in England with one of the oldest and most reputable printing mills in the world.

Papillon specifically is printed on a soft cotton chintz and is Mokum’s ode to classic English textiles; reinterpreting a traditional floral chintz and modernising it through scale and colour.

Every year the Mokum studio travels to Lake Como in Italy for the renowned Proposte tradeshow. Every year we marvel at how the blooming wisteria so elegantly frames the gorgeous Italian villas, a source of inspiration for our Papillon artwork.

Peonia underwent the same design process as Papillon but in this case our original artwork was initially scaled at half the final size. When the first trial arrived into the studio we felt it wasn’t quite right, it didn’t feel like Mokum. We decided it was too tight and that it needed a lot more negative space to suit a more relaxed and modern space. So we doubled the scale, making it more appropriate to our Australasian design aesthetic. Peonia is digitally printed in England onto a fine 100% linen base and tumbled to create its divine soft handle.

Peonia was inspired by the stunning artwork of Japanese artist Suiko Fukuda's, this particular woodwork 'Peony and Bee' dates back to 1936.

SUIKO FUKUDA - Peony and Bee

Save the Bees!

Both Peonia and Papillon feature playful insects, which is very much in line with fashion's current love of insect embellishment especially seen in jewellery, hand bags and shoes.

Gucci bag, Peonia Bee detail

The presence of our whimsical bumble bee in Peonia also provides an opportunity to recognise and speak to the important ecological issue of rapidly declining bee populations. The bee’s biggest contribution to the ecosystem is their ability to pollinate plants and flowers. 85% of plants exist because of bees and a third of the world’s food source is pollination dependent, however due to factors including urbanisation, loss of natural habitat and pesticide use, the global bee population is in serious danger.

We can all do our part to help ensure the survival of the bee population, we encourage homeowners to plant bee friendly floral plants and to remain pesticide free. At our company’s distribution centre in Auckland we have set up our very own bee hives, home to more than 90,000 honeybees throughout the year - and growing! We highlight this important ecological issue via our collection, as it’s an initiative that is very close to the heart of our company. Everyone needs to be talking to it and spreading the word – everyone needs to know how critical the survival of the bee population is to our ecosystem. Without bees, our future will be far less colourful.

We love working with the passionate team at Cult and were excited to have the opportunity to talk to them about Australian design, the creation of NAU Design and what not to miss at Denfair this year.