That title may cause you to do a double-take? A Rare Radish? Beautiful Creations? What’s it all mean? Let me explain. The best designers and creators of soft furnishings, fabrics, cards, ceramics, and other creative items are, in my humble opinion, small independents. Not large art or fashion houses that buy in and “re-corporate” designers, but those genuine small craft workshops with just one or two people, who put their heart and soul into their creative creations, giving you something of exclusive beauty. Rare Radish is such a company.
Artist and designer Jo Allen is Rare Radish. She creates the most amazing digitally printed cushions, greeting cards and Perspex artwork. She says she will soon be adding bone china mugs to her mix of original work. How did it all begin for her? After licensing her art for several years she decided to launch her own brand. But Rare Radish? Really? How did that come about?
‘The name Rare Radish comes from the fact that radishes look pretty and pink but when you take a bite they are hot and peppery. I like using this element of surprise in my work. Rare are the treasures which have often been long forgotten and recently discovered.’
So how does Jo combine attractiveness and surprise? Her work displays nostalgia and some vintage themes, but is also cutting edge. She herself describes her work as ‘a mixture of Downton Abbey, Gothic and Steampunk all rolled in to one.’!
Where did such an interesting combination of influences come from? The answer was treasure hunting as a child. Jo says:
‘My mother and father had a love of antiques and I grew up in a house filled with quirky, interesting objects from all different eras, all with a story to tell. I love the nostalgia and romance of the past. When I find an object, I love to imagine the person that owned it and where it has been all these years.’
This means that the inspiration for each design comes from one such treasure, be it a Victorian photo in a frame, an Edwardian key, or some art deco knick-knack. For example one of her designs is on a coffee mug- a child on a beach writing a postcard following treasure hunting along the shore. The design was influenced by an old Victorian postcard that she came across in Bournemouth (South England).
Like many writers and some artists, Jo carries with her a small notebook to jot down words and ideas that blossom up in her mind from seeing things on her travels.
Recently she discovered a long forgotten leather suitcase full of treasures she’d collected during her childhood – an art deco pen, a gramophone needle tin and a 1930s dance card to name but a few. As you can imagine this fired up a geyser of creative juices that will no doubt soon be used to weave new stories and new items for us to peruse and possibly buy. You’re not just buying a cushion or a mug, you’re buying into a mini glimpse into someone’s childhood explorations as re-modelled by their adult imagination.