Meet the designer: Snowden Flood

Meet the designer: Snowden Flood

With Summer Solstice just around the corner, we thought we'd shine a light on our Stonehenge Cushion. Part of our bestselling Landmarks needlepoint collection, this iconic design has become a Fine Cell Work classic. We spoke to its designer, Snowden Flood, to find out a little more about its beginnings, and how she came to work with us.

Snowden, can you tell us about your background, and how you came to be a designer?

I’ve got a chequered background! I left school with no qualifications, after being expelled from several schools by the age of fifteen. I spent my time from early childhood being creative - drawing, painting, making clothes for my toys, building things and writing - but I believed my art teacher who'd said I’d never be good at art, and thought that the arts were only for people who could draw things ultra-realistically. But doing a Youth Training Scheme in an art school, I made friends with many artists, and moved to London with my boyfriend, a painter, age sixteen! While working various jobs I started designing and making clothes, and sometimes selling them at Camden Market. After a while, I built a portfolio and applied to do a foundation course in art at Sir John Cass. I then studied Fine Art in Hull, and won a scholarship to study for a Masters in sculpture at Parsons in New York City. I lived and worked in New York as practicing artist, working in the Brooklyn Museum's design department, as well as for five years as textile specialist for high-end architect Peter Marino, designing and sourcing textiles. Your London icon designs are particularly recognisable.

You're perhaps most recognised for your London landmark designs. How did these come about, and how did they develop?

My landmarks designs came about when I lived in New York, working at Peter Marino Architect! I’d visit the UK and everyone in my office would ask me to bring them back souvenirs. In the 1990s, the souvenirs were ugly, and cheaply made in the Far East. I started designing London landmarks with the idea of elevating the idea of a souvenir into something beautiful and special: really well-made, and supporting local traditional manufacturing.

Initially, I produced hand-stitched cushions, which were sold by Liberty. Then, after meeting someone from Stoke-on-Trent and learning about the legacy of fine bone china and making in Staffordshire, we produced some popular ranges together. I launched a collection in 2004 and they were immediately popular. People thought it was radical to be producing in the UK. My competitors at the time said they were making in UK, but were actually printing their designs onto Chinese-made imported bone china! 

I expanded my ranges into lots of other areas but, right from the start, everything was ethically made in the UK. I had a gallery and shop in London’s Oxo Tower until 2019, when I decided it was time for a change!

How do your designs come to life?

I love colour and pattern and I think it really affects how we feel in our bodies, so I choose colours quite instinctively, rather than planning them. All my works start with drawing in my sketchbooks and for these landmarks designs, then I’d adapt them digitally. Mostly I work in coloured pencil for design and gouache on board for my paintings. 

How did you come to work with Fine Cell Work?

I love textiles and stitching, and had developed quite a few stitched designs for my own range. I really admired Fine Cell Work's ethos, so when I met Clare Cowburn-Baker (Fine Cell Work's previous Commissions & Design Manager) at a show, I told her that I’d be happy to give you some of my design to develop as needlepoint - and so we did! Some of my designs had already been adapted for needlepoint by Plum Stitchery in the US, and I loved how they looked in stitch. The only challenge for me was keeping to a limited colour palette!

Do you have a favourite London landmark?

My favourite landmarks in London are probably Tower Bridge, which I never tire of walking across, and the Tower of London. I find it very haunting, thinking of Anne Boleyn being taken in a boat to be locked up there. I love Battersea Power Station too. My parents lived nearby when they first moved to the UK in the 1960s - my mum hated that her washing was always covered in pieces of black soot from the smoke! I have to mention Stonehenge too. We lived in the countryside, and that view of Stonehenge from the surrounding walks we did, or driving past on the A303, is truly an epic sight that I still love to see. 

Which landmark would you like to see added to Fine Cell Work's collection?

I think in the future, it’d be great to develop one of my Tower of London designs, or Hampton Court chimneys designs for a cushion. 

Explore the Landmarks collection, including Snowden's Stonehenge and Tower Bridge Cushions, here.
Learn more about artist, designer and maker Snowden Flood on her website here.


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