Julie Kouamo describes herself as a travel-inspired print designer, a fabric and wallpaper business entrepreneur and a chocolate and volleyball addict. Growing up in Lille, north of France, where there is a strong textile tradition and history, it should not come as a surprise this French Cameroonian designer decided to pursue a professional career in the textile industry.
Kouamo first arrived in London to study at Central Saint Martins, one of the better-known public art schools in the capital, and where she worked as a print technician after graduation. She also worked as a freelance designer for Designers Guild, Robert le Heros and Atom Designs.
In 2011, she founded Kouamo, the business that allowed her to make her passion a reality. And now, her colourful cushions, wallpapers, lampshades and home accessories bring her warm memories and fragmented dreams from distant lands into our house.
Kouamo launched its first collection five years ago and today, your designs are sold internationally online and through selected stores in London and Paris. Yours is a story of success.
After launching my first collection, I exhibited at ICFF in New York in 2011 and I got my first commission with ABC Carpet and Home in Manhattan. In 2012 I got into Cockpit Arts in London, amongst a community of artists and makers and where I learnt a lot about business and creativity.
Kouamo is definitely a creative brand. What makes your designs different?
I think each person can travel either to a destination he/she has been to or dreamt of and I think there is no other brand that does that.
In fact, when one sees your cushion designs, it is easy to be virtually transported to a foreign, exotic place.
Each collection is based on a destination that I travel to. The first collection was based on my dad’s village in Cameroon and the second collection is Cuba. The next collection will be based on the trip I took to Indonesia and a little island called Lombok.
They feel very connected to nature.
Nature is a big part of my designs. I think nature does things perfectly and I want to report it. I love quirky angles and zooming into leaves and textures.
Other than natural elements, what are your style influences?
I am influenced by artists like Rothko or Monet, who were using colours to express their own emotions. I love the work of the photographer William Klein, which show the city life. Also, I am interested in working with traditional printing techniques from far away countries in order to understand how they use the print and in what capacity.
What is your creative process then?
I usually start with looking back at the pictures and the sketches that I took and did during the trip. Then I decide on a colour palette, and choose which elements I want to show within each collection and I draw, use printing techniques like lino printing, monochrome, and retouch the pictures… Once I have all my elements ready, I create the pattern using a digital software.
At Space and Shape, we believe in the importance of handcrafted designs as opposed to mainstream furniture. Your artisan collections will definitely fit in our online store.
We work hard to ensure that everything we do is as ethical as it can be and to make our customers happy. As well as designing and sampling new prints in the studio, we are proud to work with HEBA, a London based social enterprise who assists with producing our cushions. We also work with small independent family businesses such as Autumn Down and Stanley James Shades.
Our customers will definitely find beautiful materials and fine detailing in your cushions designs. What else can you offer to their homes?
My designs will offer colour, stories and something unique and exclusive to their interior.
Buy Kouamo’s designer cushions here.