An interview with surface designer Sarah-Jayne Guest

I met Sarah-Jayne Guest at this year's 100% Design and was bowled over the bright, sunny, optimism of both Sarah and her work! She's a lovely, lovely lady and I'm very pleased to have interviewed her for Heart Home.

Sarah-Jayne Guest lamps

Here's what we talked about...

What’s the most important thing to know about you?

I'm much older than I look - when I answer my front door and am asked if my mum is there it all gets a little awkward!

Describe a really good day and a really bad day in the life of Sarah-Jayne Guest.

Well, a really good day is filled with plenty of drawing and design. The sun is shining and I take breaks outside enjoying views of the Essex countryside and hanging out with my pet rabbit Brucey pretending to be a modern day Beatrix Potter!

Bad days don't really exist but I am pretty sure the day I've just described only happens once a year.

Sarah Jayne Guest stack of cushions

What inspires your ideas?

I tend to draw things I like - from random bootsale finds to garden flora, and then mix them up. I try not to think too carefully about what I am doing, and mainly just have fun.

Describe the process you go though to turn your ideas into products.

First I draw lots and lots, then I work the drawings into interesting compositions and add colour on the computer. These get sent to the fabric printers. Once the fabric is back I will make some sample products up. I pick the ones that work best and then these are manufactured in the UK. Sometimes prints and products will need more tweaking, but in short that's how it works.

Sarah Jayne Guest pigeon cushion

What advice would you give to an aspiring surface designer?

I would let them know first and foremost that this is REALLY HARD WORK; you have to take the rough with the smooth. If you want to be a product designer, go and work for a large company - I only spend about 1% of my time designing and the rest is filled up with promotional work, sales, admin, manufacturing, finance etc.

But on the other hand - it's incredibly rewarding and varied; and I have lots of fun!

Which three items could you not live without?

My black fine liner pen, my Apple Mac and chicken tikka korma.

More Sarah Jayne Guest lamps

What are you most proud of?

I honestly don't know... I guess I am proud of the progression the company has made since launching with some amazing highlights like being stocked by Selfridges, having products featured in some major newspapers and media publications and collaborating with Ercol.

What’s next for you?

I have been working with Italian restaurant chain Zizzi lately, doing bespoke illustrations for their new restaurants. It's been great fun and certainly gives me new challenges - I am hoping to do more projects like this in the future.

Sarah Jayne Guest Poppy Mix cushion

And, finally, what’s your favourite colour?!

Ooh this is a tricky question! I love grey, and wear it all the time, but at the moment I am having a bit of a love affair with 'Christmas pink.' I think I lack colour commitment!