Showhome chat to Jan Constantine, to find out more about her design background, the importance of British heritage and her top tips for first time/new home buyers…
Jan Constantine has a design background in fashion, interiors and styling, and has gathered together her experience, her love of decoration and her Constantine drive to fulfill a lifetime’s ambition and produce her own Collection.
The Constantine Collection includes original, hand- embroidered designs that feature on exquisite textiles and home accessories that stand alone as unique speciality products in the interiors market. The Constantine Collection is designed for today, and reflects the great attention to style
and good taste that is lavished upon it. Each speciality item is destined to be an “heirloom of the future”.Jan said: “I want to create something that will bring joy to people and be handed down, just as the embroidery skills of my artisans have been handed down through many generations.”
One of her latest collections is the Olympics 2012, which is a striking collection of cushions that are being manufactured in Britain for the British 2012 Olympic Games by official licensee Jan Constantine. Jan, who is renowned for her hand-embroidered textiles, is printing the cushions with vintage posters from past Olympic Games, that are reproduced from the Historic Collection of the Olympic Museum. The most prominent posters in the range were originally designed for the previous 1908 and 1948 British Olympic Games. All products from this collection will be on sale at theOlympic Village Megastore at Games Time. Part of the funds raised from the sale of these products will be used to help stage the London 2012 Olympic Games which begin on the 27th July.
Ultimately, her plan is to continue finding ways of introducing her exquisite products into homes countrywide and abroad and she hopes that, with the passage of time, her speciality range will become a favourite household name. We chat to Jan Constantine to find out more…
How did you get into interior design?
Sewing is in my blood – passed down from my mother who was a tailoress and maternal grandmother who was a dressmaker and milliner! I have always loved to make things and learned from an early age to stitch, knit, crochet and bake. As children my mother sewed or knitted everything for me, my two brothers, two sisters, and my father made lots of our toys. When I was about six I got a little red sewing machine for Christmas so I was able to make clothes for my dolls. I won prizes for my art at school and loved making my own clothes from the age of ten. I wanted to be a fashion designer from then onwards.
What or who are your inspirations?
I was inspired by feedback from Christmas and birthday presents which I gave to friends and family. Also I’m very enthusiastic about new ventures and challenges which I seem to thrive on. The things that excite me are colour, travel, our (national) heritage and certain designers such as Chanel and also vintage finds.
How does the design process begin?
I draw tiny postage stamp size designs in my sketch pad and then blow them up to full size and embellish the detail accordingly.
With summer just around the corner, what tips can you recommend to update a home?
Always have fabulous fresh flowers which bring the spirit of summer into the house and if possible a lick of fresh paint always makes things feel and smell new!
If there is one trend we should invest in summer, what should it be?
The trend this summer has to be Britishness without a doubt.
What advice would you give to new home/first time buyers on how to start choosing interiors?
When I am planning a room I always think about the light first of all. Then I consider what the room will be used for and which colours will work best there. My top tip when decorating is to make a mood board and start with an image of something you really love that inspires you. It might be a particular colour, a picture, a flower or a fabric. Then keep adding more images and colours until you have a look or a plan that you’re happy with. You never know where your inspiration will take you!
Does your work have a signature style and feel?
My work is hand-embroidered in the old fashioned way and includes many iconic designs with a very British theme. And of course I have my signature heart in the rich Constantine red.
What is the most frustrating aspect of your job? And the most rewarding one?
What I love most is seeing the samples come in, it is so exciting (seeing my designs come to life) but the worst thing is getting the production in on time. Our most successful lines are a logistical nightmare, although it’s fantastic to get lots of orders we then have to manage production.
The press is the most rewarding thing because it’s an absolute must for the business and can bring massive success. We do our own PR and use a great photographer to produce images that jump off the page. So whenever we send out press releases we get a great response.
Tell me about your personal style?
I love fashion but like to mix vintage clothes with other designs. I buy Malene Birger and Alice Temperley when I can.
What is the style in your home?
It’s very eclectic with lots of vintage finds and strong colour.
Has the economy had an impact on your business?
Yes, as with all businesses! However, we have the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic collections to keep us up there!
What has been your most challenging project thus far?
Without doubt the Olympic collection because I have not had a free reign to design and am not used to having to work within such strict parameters.
What are your favourite shops in the London and South East?
Liberty has always been my absolute favourite but I also love Scandium at Selfridges, The Shop at the Bluebird on the Kings Road, Fortnum and Mason and Anthropologie.
For further information please visit:www.janconstantine.com