Interior designer Claire Williams is on a mission to champion Lancashire’s textile industry through her award-winning business - AIRE.
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Claire launched her wallpaper and fabric design studio two years ago and has already won an award through Country Homes and Interiors for her wallpaper brand.
She has now been shortlisted in the surfaces product of the year category for her Papillon Collection at the Mixology Awards. The final takes place in London on June 21.
Claire says she is delighted with the nomination, celebrating what it will mean for the textile industry in Lancashire.
She says: “I am thrilled to be shortlisted, especially as I am against some really well established brands such as Style Library and Panaz.
I am so passionate about Lancashire. I come from Blackburn, where there is a huge amount of heritage in the textile and wallpaper industry.Claire Williams
“To be nominated with these brands with only 18 months under my belt is an experience. It is really nice to be recognised at a national awards ceremony, especially when I work by myself as you can often harness in self doubt. But with that kind of reassurance, it is very encouraging.
“I also like the fact I am representing the north. I am so passionate about Lancashire. I come from Blackburn, where there is a huge amount of heritage in the textile and wallpaper industry.”
Not content with cracking the big capital, Claire will be launching her brand in America next month and she has been in talks with hotel chains in Dubai for them to use her designs for their interior work.
She adds: “I hope to expand and get into commercial outlets. Dubai had a really positive vibe about British decor.”
Claire, who has more than 18 years experience in the field, studied surface pattern and print at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College and completed a masters degree in interior design at University of Central Lancashire. She then went on to teach BA textiles design at Blackburn College for 11 years after finishing a teaching qualification.
The 37-year-old also did some freelance printwork, before finally launching a full brand AIRE.
She does her design work from her home in Helmshore, Rossendale, and then proofs and produces wallpaper samples at Surface Print Company in Clayton-le-Moors and goes to the Art of the Loom in Clitheroe for her textiles work.
She adds: “The industry rapidly changes and so I relish the challenge of seeing how a small business like myself can take on more well established brands in the country.
“I have built up a lot of contacts in the manufacturing industry through teaching and I wanted to practice what I preached. I sell online and e-commerce, through Wallpaper Direct and also through interior design boutiques in the Ribble Valley and north of England.
“My work is split into two. I hand paint floral artwork digitally, manipulating fabrics and wallpaper prints. When I am designing my collections I am doing practical work, researching, drawing and reworking techniques. When I am happy with my art work, I spend a few weeks in my studio in the wallpaper or textile factory proofing and resampling designs. I am passionate about Lancashire and love working with local manufacturers.
“The other part of my work is to promote my brand more, using social media, brand building and marketing. I am working with a graduate from Lancaster University to work on my branding.”
Claire adds her designs are mainly inspired by floral patterns.
She says: “I go for the floral approach, with a water colour tone, reminiscent of flowers in the Lancashire countryside and moorland. I am not trend-based because by the time the pattern is made, it has moved on. I don’t want throw away designs. My clients tend to be people who have a good eye and appreciation for wallpaper designs and people who want something a bit different.”
For more information visit www.airestudio.co.uk