We asked the Mokum studio to start at the beginning, to explain how they go about sourcing inspiration for their thematic collections. Mokum launches two thematic textile collections a year, designed from scratch within the Sydney based studio that are then produced by the finest mills from around the world.
Behind the Style | An insight into the design process with Mokum
Over the next couple of months, the Mokum studio is going to regularly connect with the market via weekly IG live sessions, streaming every Tuesday morning at 10am AEST on @mokumstudio. Here they will share their textile industry knowledge and lift the curtain on the brand’s bespoke design process, which is often a hidden part of the business. They will discuss all aspects of their design and development process; from initial concept stage, through the various stages of developing original drapery, upholstery and wallpaper designs, right through to the final marketing. In doing so, we hope that both the specifier and consumer can better understand, and speak to, the true bespoke nature of the Mokum brand’s development process and better recognise the value of their artisan product.
Check out our Instagram Live Series on YouTube.
Firstly, we just want to recognise that this week we would have been on our way to Italy to visit with our key Mokum suppliers at the Proposte Trade fair in beautiful Lake Como. We have been working with many of these suppliers for decades and wanted to reach out to our friends around the world and in particular Northern Italy, where the majority of Mokum upholstery designs are woven, and let them know that we are thinking of them during this difficult time and look forward to visiting them and developing new collections with them as soon as we are able to.
When we start to form a new collection idea we tend to have two other collections also in progress; one about to launch and in the marketing phase, the other still in design development, and at the same time we are researching future themes and construction ideas for the next collection.
Of course we work to financial parameters; working within defined SKU and sampling budgets and constantly analyse historic sales data to drive future development direction, but for this article we are going to focus on sharing our creative process.
Our three main forms of research, and source of inspiration are visual, conceptual and construction.
When researching the visual aspects of a possible new theme we normally start online using image rich platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram. Pinterest is a fantastic research tool for pattern and colour ideas, especially as it allows you to drill down into other inspiring sites like the Met and Cooper Hewitt museum archives.
We research competitor products online and in the market, and constantly look to high-end fashion for inspiration of both colour palette and motif references.
Seasonal fashion trends are often braver than the interior industry, so we reinterpret trends seen in high-end fashion to suit our industry and the Mokum brand philosophy. When travelling, we always try to visit luxury fashion flagship stores as not only does it allow you to view and touch the beautiful textiles but it also provides an opportunity to see these textiles in the context of luxury fit outs, mixing with hard surfaces, accessories and other mediums, which is how interior textiles are used within a space.
We create vision boards to pin various images of inspiration, as our ideas evolve so too do our boards. We’re constantly refining, resolving and curating the key messages and themes of the collection. The vision boards are also a critical working tool for our development process, they keep us focused and we constantly refer back to them especially when we’re working on colouring the designs.
The La Primavera collection was inspired by the feminine design movement which we're seeing heavily influence both fashion and interior design. It’s important to note that we when talk to ‘feminine design’ we’re not referring to gender specifics, but instead conceptually through embracing femininity via shape, texture and colour. We’re seeing this with the abundance of curvaceous furniture, the return of archways in architecture and the growing popularity of feminine colour palettes. Pink has dominated global colour forecasting the past 3 years, no longer confined to the little girl’s bedroom, pink is now widely considered to be a warm neutral.
As evident on our vision board we were really inspired by fashion’s floral fixation and knew we wanted to include at least one decorative floral pattern within the range. And so came the creation of our Peonia and Papillon watercolour prints, available in both drapery and wallpaper substrates.
The other key theme that has been inspiring our development process the past 12 months is the concept of Visual Optimism - this is whereby joy is created through your visual environment, be it through colour, shape, pattern and/or texture. It’s a key trend many fashion houses and high-end editor brands are adopting. You'll see our colour palettes of late have become a lot more saturated, more decorative, more joyful and our upcoming collections will be an evolution of this.
An important source of inspiration for us comes from researching cultural and lifestyle trends via the global trend forecasting agency that we subscribe too.
Using a forecasting agency delivers insights into future trends and lifestyle movements and also helps us cultivate a sophisticated language for the collection themes. We also pull thematic ideas from social media, print media, art and architecture as well as our observations whilst travelling. When we travel, we always try to make time to visit museums and major gallery exhibitions for inspiration as well as doing so locally.
This next vision board is a sneak peak of our upcoming Ikigai collection, which is due to release in the next 6 months, so this is very much a working board that we’re currently using. The Ikigai range is really an evolution from the La Primavera collection - adopting many of the same key themes but taking on much more of an Asian aesthetic. Given our close geographical proximity to Asia, we share an inherent love of simplicity, quality and craftsmanship. This was a key source of inspiration for the range which includes lots of gorgeous linen textures and organic wabi sabi weaves which celebrate beauty in imperfection. When researching this range, we started with Japanese antique screens as they have a modern simplicity that we wanted to capture in our hero design. The range includes a gorgeous (very over scaled) watercolour oasis scene featuring Japanese crane’s and pulls motifs of wisteria and peonies from the La Primavera collection. The colour palette elicits a sense of nostalgia as we see neutrals warming up. For the past decade, monochromatic, grey based neutral tones have saturated the market, but we now see a return to warmth as people seek comforting colours within the home. Expect tones of parchment, calico and cream as well as a resurgence of brown within the interior space. The Ikigai collection also focuses heavily on green hues, in line with seeing green sit at the fore of colour trend forecasting. Greens are natures neutral, and Mother Nature is the ultimate design. Green elicits a calming energy in interior spaces - creating a sense of bringing the outdoors in, and encouraging us to slow down and become more mindful. You can expect to see all shades of green in our upcoming Ikigai collection.
Last but by no means least, is the inspiration found in researching new textile constructions via our supply chain. This is a critical element of our development process as what we are seeing within the textile industry at a construction level also influences the theme of our upcoming collections.
We visit two key trade fairs annually, Heimtextil in Germany and Proposte in Italy, where we meet with the majority of our key suppliers. We also love to travel to our mills around the world, as textiles are so influenced by their rich history and cultural location. During mill visits we work on current developments in person and review the mills extensive archives. Working with our mills is a true collaborative process where we share intellectual property to get the best possible design outcome.
We create a separate vision board of our favourite constructions, qualities and pattern ideas. These boards are a source of continual inspiration and a critical communication tool for our stake holders.
Initially, the chosen theme can be quite loose, with a simple working title. The theme then evolves as we move through the development process and as the range takes shape, we hone the design aesthetic and also fine tune the key messages we want the collection theme to convey, from a visual perspective and also a cultural/ lifestyle perspective. Our thematic collections always need to link back to how we live in Australia and New Zealand which sits at the core of our Mokum brand philosophy.