Father's Day + June Giveaway

Thursday 29 May 2014


Father's Day is just around the corner and in honour of all dads, we're doing a Dad themed giveaway this month!  

For your chance to win one of two Beardy Plates we're giving away, please share with us your favourite thing about your dad, or your favourite thing about being a dad.
Please share your answers by leaving a comment on this blog post, or by emailing press@donnawilson.com and we'll pick two lucky winners at the end of the month.

Good luck! We love reading all of your responses for the various giveaway activities we do - sometimes we read the answers aloud in our studio to share them with our entire team! :)

And don't forget to take a look at all the lovely gift ideas we've put together with our cool dads in mind!

p.s. The lucky winner of last month's giveaway is Emily T. from Leytonstone who did a lovely drawing of Belle Bird!

Donna, Jon, and Eli's new home in The Telegraph!

Friday 16 May 2014

Hi everyone,

We've got some exciting news - The Telegraph is featuring Donna, Jon, and Eli in their new home!

The issue will be in UK newsstands this weekend but you can get a sneak peek of the story by Rachel Leedham and the lovely photos shot by Rachael Smith below:


There are trays of seedlings sprouting in a corner of Donna Wilson’s bathroom: pea and tomato plants, and a third she cannot identify because she accidentally threw the packet away. ‘I am very excited about having a garden,’ she says. ‘I don’t really know what I’m doing, which is slightly embarrassing, considering that I grew up on a farm.’

It is Wilson’s childhood, living in a remote part of Aberdeenshire, that she believes informed her passion for colour and texture, both of which feature abundantly, joyously, in her work as a textiles designer. ‘I spent a huge amount of time outdoors, looking at nature,’ she recalls. ‘I was taught by my granny to draw and paint, and she was always into colour. She had these beautiful boxes of chalky pastels – they looked like sweets.’

Having graduated with a textiles degree from Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, Wilson studied mixed media and constructed textiles at the Royal College of Art in London. There she began to create knitted animals – curious creatures with strange proportions that ‘weren’t too pretty and cute, or too ugly and scary’. At her final show the entire menagerie sold. 

In the early 2000s, when interior design was emerging from a period of stark minimalism, Wilson’s vibrant, folksy cushions and blankets – instantlyrecognisable, shamelessly copied – heralded a new zeitgeist for pieces that were playful, homely and not beige. Sheridan Coakley, the founder of the contemporary design company SCP, had once vowed to his staff that he would never sell cushions, but Wilson’s designs won him over. She has also created pieces of furniture for him, including knitted pouffes, as well as Welsh blankets and a range of rugs. This year will see her first foray into fashion, with a childrenswear collection for John Lewis launching in August and her own range of women’s sweaters planned for autumn.

With all of this going on, it is perhaps unsurprising that it took a while for Wilson and her partner, Jon Almond, a furniture designer, to get on the property ladder. When they did begin scouring east London, in 2012, it took two years of ‘overwhelmingly packed’ viewings and gazumpings for them to find this detached Victorian house in a conservation area in Leytonstone. The property once belonged to a flower producer who grew his blooms in fields backing on to it. Under the Dig for Victory campaign of the Second World War the land was divided into allotments, which are still there today. ‘We couldn’t believe our luck,’ Wilson says.

The second piece of luck was that the three-bedroom house had been renovated by a developer with some semblance of taste: no shopping mall-style spotlights or penchant for chrome – the floor was even parquet. ‘I love the floor,’ Wilson enthuses. ‘And we have a proper hall! Who in London has a proper hall?’

As well as a ‘proper hall’, the ground floor has a sitting room, a study and a kitchen-dining room with a double-height ceiling. Upstairs are two bedrooms and a bathroom, with a third bedroom at the top, tucked beneath the eaves.

The project was essentially redecorating, and the space Wilson was most excited about when she and Almond moved in last October was their six-month-old son Eli’s bedroom. ‘I wanted to give him his own knitted world,’ she explains of the knitted trees that hang from picture rails around the room. Gaudy plastic is notable in its absence, although she confesses to having stashed one of Eli’s favourite toys, a plastic DJ booth, in the study before the photographer arrived.

Wilson’s designs are dotted around the house, as are pieces by Almond. ‘Jon loves a rummage and he’s always picking up things from the street or a skip,’ she says, pointing out the coat stand in the hallway which incorporates antique wooden doorknobs salvaged from a building site.

There are also pieces by Wilson’s designer-maker friends: beautiful handblown glass pendant lights by Michael Ruh, whimsical prints by Rob Ryan and a lace-like lampshade by Tord Boontje. Almost everything in the house is British-made, something Wilson is passionate about, particularly when it comes to her own work. ‘I outsource manufacturing around the country. My creatures are made by a knitter in Orkney, the cushions and blankets are produced by a lady in Galashiels, and the ceramics are made in Stoke-on-Trent,’ she says. ‘Many of these skills are dying out, so if I can do my bit to keep them alive, that’s wonderful – but I know I’m a small drop in the ocean.’ Albeit a quirky, multicoloured, ever-so-playful drop.

By Rachel Leedham
Photographs by Rachael Smith

A very very big thank you to David Nicholls, Rachel Leedham, and Rachael Smith! xxxx

Update on Vital Arts + Royal London Hospital Commission

Tuesday 13 May 2014

Hello everyone,

Here is a little update on the Vital Arts + Royal London Hospital commission that Donna Wilson and her team have been working on!  In case you missed it, click here to read the original entry we posted about this project a few weeks ago.

To summarize, Donna and the team have been commissioned by arts organization Vital Arts and The Royal London Hospital to create an installation in the children's intensive care ward at the Royal London Hospital in an effort to create a positive environment and to help make things feel a bit brighter for all who visit the ward.

The finishing touches to the installation are now being installed and here are some photos of the tree and caribou sculptures that were installed just yesterday: 


We will continue to post more updates in the coming week- stay tuned!  And a big thank you to all of our friends out there who have sent us so many kind words of support with regard to this project! x 

Toy Story, an exhibition at the Bluecoat Display Centre in Liverpool

Thursday 8 May 2014

Hi everyone,

If you're in Liverpool, please visit the Bluecoat Display Centre's 'Toy Story' exhibition which opens tomorrow (with a late night preview tonight!). We are proud to say that our very own creatures are included in the exhibition!


'Toy Story' features the work of toy makers who employ traditional techniques which encourage children to engage and interact with toys and to use their imaginations. This exhibition celebrates the golden age of handcrafted toys, and aims to provide inspiration for adults and children alike, which defies the throw away aspect of our society. 


As you know, at Donna Wilson we have always believed in producing quality, long lasting objects that help cultivate a culture of cherishing and long-keeping, rather than one of instant gratification and disposability. This exhibition helps to embody those principles and showcases some great examples of how mindful design and production can be so inspiring and enriching to both kids and adults.


For more information about the exhibition please check the Bluecoat Display Centre's website, and below:

Friday 9th May 2014 - Saturday 28th June 2014
College Lane Entrance, Liverpool, L1 3BZ
+44 (0)151 709 4014
The Bluecoat Display Centre is a nationally and internationally recognised contemporary craft and design gallery that has been established since 1959, and is a haven for enthusiasts of everything exquisite in the field of contemporary craft and design. 

We hope you can make it if you are in Liverpool! 

Happy Start of May: Acorn Plate + Mug Giveaway!

Friday 2 May 2014

Hi everyone,

We have been so very busy these days developing new products for our autumn collection but our hard work is paying off as we've got some very exciting things on their way and lots of new product collaborations too! 

In the meantime, Spring has arrived and we'd like to celebrate the start of May with a giveaway:  

To enter for your chance to win our Acorn Plate and Mug, please submit an illustration of your favourite Donna Wilson creature with a few lines about why this creature is your favourite.  Please email your illustrations to press@donnawilson.com. We can't wait to see them! At the end of the month we'll pick one lucky winner. 

Also, stay tuned for updates on the Royal London Hospital commission we wrote about a few months ago --  the project is nearly completed and we will soon have photos of the finished work! 

Have a lovely bank holiday weekend all!