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Craft, Design, Design, Interviews, Kiss House, Kiss House Team, News  |  17 September 2020

Emma Bradbury on design, her career to date and knitting.

Emma at Jelly Open for Art Festival
Emma at home with her daughters
One half of Emotional State with Lisa Marie Gibbs
Rag rug primary school project
Emma at the Sheila Hicks exhibition, Hayward-Gallery

With her keen eye for exquisite design, pattern and colour Emma provides art direction for Kiss House.

We discover Emma’s passion for the visual arts and find out more about her fascinating community project with UNESCO and her early career as a florist.

We started by asking Emma what she does at Kiss House.

Emma, tell us what you do?

I provide Kiss House with art direction in all areas of design. You can usually find me on field trips to design fairs, discovering the latest trends, materials and products.

“I am always on the lookout for designers and like-minded organisations we can collaborate with.”

Emma Bradbury

I am also a designer having studied at Winchester and later the Royal College of Art. I deliver community arts projects with Reading based arts charity “Jelly” where I am an arts educator. I help to organise events which improve public access to the arts. I provide art workshops for children within the community and run arts award projects for schools to promote understanding and learning about the creative processes.

Can you give us an overview of your career to date?

I worked as a florist in my home-town of Reading for many years before changeling my love of pattern and colour into studying Knitted Textiles at Winchester School of Art. Next stop was the Royal College of Art and after graduating from there I worked in the design team for high-end British heritage fashion brand, Daks.

Please share some career highlights?

A career highlight for me was receiving a travel bursary to go to India to work on a design project with UNESCO-India and the Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust during my Masters at the Royal College of Art. The aim of SLC-IT is to support the village communities who live within the snow leopard habitat.

“I spent 6 weeks in Ladakh in the Himalayas, to train and inspire local communities in handicraft skills such as knitting.”

Emma Bradbury

The knitted products we created would be sold to tourists on the Himalayan trekking routes generating income for them. It was a very rewarding, enlightening experience that has since inspired other like-minded community led projects.

Find out more about this project here.

What are you passionate about?

Art and design in all its forms. I love learning new art techniques and also passing on my skills to younger generations through my work with arts charity Jelly.

What makes Kiss House a special project to work on?

Kiss House is exciting, and doing something new and different. I’m seduced by the passion, design ethos and creativity.

What is top of your bucket list?

To take my daughters to India or to visit the Fogo Inn Hotel on the Fogo Island, Newfoundland.

What was your first job?

Working in a florist. 24 years later, floristry still plays an important role in my life. I am one half of Emotional State and we create pop up plant shops and art installations within our hometown Reading.

What makes you laugh?

My dad’s terrible jokes.

What do you do to relax?

Knitting, painting and my new obsession macrame.

What makes a home?

Home is the place full of the people and things you love that bring you joy.

If you could live anywhere where would it be?

The Shetland Islands. I’ve been obsessed with Shetland since I was 7 years old. I finally got to visit when I was 22. I had just completed my Masters in Knitted Textiles at The Royal College of Art when I was selected as a speaker at a knitting conference at the Shetland Museum and Archives in Lerwick. I even spent a month living and working there whilst I taught Knitted Textiles at Shetland College in 2011. I felt so privileged to be welcomed by Shetland’s creative community.

“I just love Shetland’s wild landscapes, inky blue lochs, white sandy beaches and russet brown peat fields.”

Emma Bradbury

I look forward to taking my girls there to visit.

You can read more about Emma’s experiences in the Shetland Islands here.

What did you dream of becoming when you were growing up?

I wanted to be a fashion designer.

What designer or artist inspires you and why?

I love Patrick Heron for his use of colour. I’m so pleased that I got to see some of his work up close at the Turner Contemporary last year.

What does quality mean to you?

Something done well with integrity, longevity and purpose.

How did lockdown affect your creative practice?

I lost all my creativity at the start. It was difficult to focus and I felt distracted. As we started to find a routine, I could start to work on new things and found joy and comfort from my creativity.

“It turned out that I had spent all my adult life preparing for isolation — I had hoarded enough art materials over the years.”

Emma Bradbury

My family and I made so much art together from textiles, printing, painting and sewing. We all enjoyed and benefitted from the simple pleasures of creating and making together.

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