Spotting a gap in the market, Vanessa of Copper Dust used her eye for interiors and gut instinct to start out in the world lampshade making. Inspired by the bold colours and stand out prints of her mixed heritage, she began creating gorgeous statement shades. From then to now, Vanessa has gone on to successfully develop her business by retailing a range of beautifully curated lifestyle products and offering first class interior design services.
In this month's Meet the Maker, we chat to Vanessa to find out more about the journey she's taken with Copper Dust and the influences behind her stunning shades.
How are you today and what’s on your to do list today?
Great thanks, I’m an early bird I write my ‘to do’ list the day before, currently on my list is:
Made to order lampshade
Follow up builders quote
Revision 2 design proposal
How do you start the design process for your lampshades and where do you get your design inspiration?
I take a lot of inspiration by what’s around me, and most definitely travel when I can. I usually have a concept in mind, then dig a little deeper and create a narrative around the concept.
How would you describe your style?
My style is African inspired bold vibrant colours, but as of late I want to look at the more earthy tones from Africa inspired by materials such as woven baskets and wicker.
We can see you love a statement lampshade. Do you follow trends or do you just go with your instinct on what will work for a lampshade?
I never follow trends, especially in interiors as it changes so fast, I like to see myself as a pioneer experimenting with textiles and different materials.
Which part of your background or training has prepared you most for making lampshades?
I would definitely say my degree in Interior Architecture & Design played a major role, in understanding the scale of design.
When and why did you start making lampshades?
In 2014, after working in Design & Build, I wanted to be in a more creative environment. When shopping with a friend I realised there was gap in the market for beautiful African inspired lampshades. I wanted to bridge my British and Ghanaian heritage, so I quit my job to pursue my passion. In between that period I was signed to a modelling agency which allowed me to travel the world and experience different cultures. I loved modelling, but I wanted to follow my passion and find more stability which began the journey of Copper Dust.
What’s your favourite part of the lampshade making process?
Seeing all the different steps come together.
In the online Copper Dust shop what’s your most popular selling shade?
Copper Dust follows the philosophy of #slowdesign. How is this integrated into your products?
I strongly believe in investing in design for quality and sustanability, I take care in the fabrics I source, our entire range is limited edition, once it’s sold out that’s it. I limit the amount of collections that are released, investing in one statement piece will last ten times over than a fast item product.
We couldn’t help notice your love of tiered lampshade, especially with a tasselled layer. How did the tiers and the tassels come about?
I always knew I wanted to create something unique, so the designer in me couldn’t help playing around with materials and sketches. I’ve had an obsession with fringing for as long as I could remember, so I decided to bring the two together, and it’s been a bestseller ever since.
Any tips for new lampshade makers in business?
Research, research when you feel tired of research, research again!
How do you fit in your shade making around the other services you offer at Copper Dust?
Keeping organised is the key to success I have a number of apps that I use, and always create a priority list of what needs to be done. When I have larger projects on, I work with a team of freelancers.
When are you at your most productive?
In the morning.
And your favourite sustenance when you’re working?
Not a sustenance, but I love to have a documentary on in the background.
Could you let us take a peek at your workspace?
Where would you like to be in 10 years time?
To have a larger studio/workspace for people to come and visit. To have opened an Copper Dust division in Ghana. To work with the hottest up and coming interiors, and collaborate with household names.
What have you learned that’s been invaluable to your creative process?
Preparation is key, the more you prep and stay ahead of the game, the easier your creative process becomes.
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