Earlier this month I was lucky enough to spend an evening hanging out at the East London studio of WAFFLE Design, with Ciara (the owner) and the gang behind In The Window. We got to see Ciara’s workspace, which is housed in an amazing, multi-coloured building in Bow called Sugarhouse Studios, as well as finding out where the inspiration for her ‘waffled’ cushions and blankets came from and trying our hands at the technique ourselves.
[Above photo courtesy of Sugarhouse Studios]
WAFFLE’s name comes from the brand’s signature style of colourful threads embroidered onto ‘waffled’ monochrome fabric. The way the material is woven together creates a 3D, boxy texture with raised squares, the edges of which can be pulled upwards so that a piece of thread can pass underneath. Ciara landed upon the idea by accident when playing around with the fabric and a needle; little did she realise at the time that this small discovery would lead her to launch an entire textiles brand! Her first collection launched at the (now sadly closed down) shop Folklore, as a small collection of scatter cushions. From there Ciara slowly developed her brand, adding further cushion designs in new colour combinations and expanding into blankets, curtains and blinds.
The fabric itself is woven from cotton in rural India, where its production helps to support the small hand-weaving communities in the area. It is then shipped over to the UK in big, chunky rolls and coloured in Scotland using organic dyes. It then travels on to London, where it is cut to size and embroidered by hand using colourful British yarns. In the early days each piece of embroidering was done by Ciara in her studio, but as the business has grown it’s no longer feasible for her to do it alone. A firm believer in ethical and sustainable business practices, she now works with two charities, Working Well Trust and Fine Cell. These projects give paid work to marginalised groups, such as the mentally ill and prisoners, furnishing them with practical skills that they can use to gain stable employment in the future.
[Above photo courtesy of In The Window]
If you’re interested to see more of Ciara’s cushions, throws and blankets, go check out WAFFLE Design‘s website! And if you’d like to peek through the window to learn about more small design brands you might want to mosey over to In the Window‘s website, where there are loads of equally interesting stories to discover.