Designer Spotlight: Claire Henman
October, 2013
Designer Spotlight: Claire Henman

I am thrilled to have been asked to be the official blogger for a fantastic new Home and Garden Festival, decorfest, which is taking place on Sunday 23rd March in South-West London. The event is being hosted by the wonderful decorcafe and will be all about inspiring and helping people to create a more personal home and garden. 
Over the next few months I will be featuring a hand-picked selection of designers exhibiting at the show in my Designer Spotlight section of the blog. First up is the incredibly talented Claire Henman
Claire makes exquisite handmade lampshades and other accessories using British game bird feathers sourced from local game-keepers. She will be exhibiting her gorgeous collection at the decorfest on 23rd March 2013.

Please tell us a little about your background and why you do what you do.
I have always been creative and enjoyed making, painting and drawing from a very young age.  I studied Art History at university and have worked as an art teacher and in an auction house, surrounded by beautiful items every day.  It is only since becoming a mother that I have been able to immerse myself in the more practical side of designing and making.  I had always dabbled in pottery, but began to spend time really improving my skills and developing my own style.  Over the years I developed an interest in interior design, and have enjoyed renovating several homes and filling them with lovely furniture and objects, paints and textures.  The idea of using game bird feathers to make attractive lampshades came to me one afternoon, and the moment I started experimenting, I knew this was meant for me – I even used to collect feathers in jam jars as a small girl, so have always harboured an appreciation of the natural beauty of feathers from our native birds.

Where do you live and work and how do you balance the two?
I live in the Oxfordshire countryside, so my inspiration is luckily all around me, all the time, as I also have my studio at home.  I love being in my studio making, whilst listening to Radio 4.  Putting domestic duties to one side and getting on with creating new lampshades and other decorative objects is never a chore, always a pleasure.

What (or who) inspires you?
The feathers themselves, they are so beautiful.  Interior magazines, interior shops, I love rummaging around antique markets etc.  Ultimately, though, the countryside around me, which I get out into every day with my dog.

What’s your greatest achievement/what are you most proud of to date? 
Aside from my family, I would have to say presenting clients with a completed commission, and seeing the smile on their face and hearing their words of appreciation at something I have hand made for them.

Where’s your most inspirational place, home or away? 
I am a very domestic person so home is always an inspiration, and I enjoy changing and improving my home’s interior, which all feeds into what I do in my studio.  I also love very wild, unspoilt places, such as the Isles of Scilly and Mull.  I find the sea very inspiring, but also being surrounded by mountains.  I have also always come home from African trips feeling full of renewed creativity, I think the big skies there clear the mind and renew energy.

What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
Cook!  I love food, am very interested in health and nutrition and I like trying new flavours and nourishing my family.  Walking with the dog is very relaxing, and I keep fit and stretch the muscles with pilates and yoga.  I try to grow my own veg, and always have home and garden projects on the go…

What’s your favourite space in your home?
Our sitting room has a ceiling full of beams which I laboriously hand painted, and it took days and days, but has resulted in a very calm and tranquil room, which is lovely to sit in.  It also has sea grass on the floor, and I love the aroma this gives the room, very natural.

What’s your most treasured belonging?
Probably my green Landrover Defender!  My dream car.  The Aga might come a close second!

What is your favourite thing about living in the UK?
The seasons.  I just love that first foggy morning, first frost, the snow, first signs of spring and long hot summer days.  And the fact that you don’t have to travel very far here to see very different landscapes, the sea, the hills and wonderful views.  I also love a good British woodland to walk in.

What is your top tip for creating a lovely home and garden
Don’t rush, take your time, collect beautiful things, move things around and experiment with different combinations, using old and new.

{Images via Claire Henman}