AW20: Our Creative Direction

AW20: a creative direction

At the turning of September, each year we present a new seasonal collection to take us through to March. As ever, our assortments share many points in common, be it the hope of achieving timelessness or the level of quality that you know you can count upon, but there is always a distinct direction that guides and unites our newest assortments. Here, we talk to our founder Lucy about the creative path the just-revealed Autumn/Winter 2020 collection follows.

Is there a single point of inspiration behind the new collection?

“As always, every collection is an evolution for us. We take learnings from what we witnessed from seasons gone by and we like to ensure also that there is an easy transition so that the new pieces sit well with those who are building their version of a Rowen & Wren home. In terms of a story or such that inspired the collection, there never is just one. There are a couple, such as the notion of being frozen in time which influenced our festive pieces that launch towards October. But the strongest story for AW20 has to be craft. Artisanship runs deep in all that we do, but it truly is at the heart of our new assortment, especially in the UK, which has turned out to resonate in a way far greater than we could have anticipated.”

There appears to be more pattern in the new collection. Was there a particular influence behind this?

“Not especially! That sounds awful but we design as a collective and so everything comes together very naturally and gradually. Colour certainly impacted our patterns this season as we were keen to elaborate on our warm neutrals and metals that have proven so very popular. Similarly, the check and stripe in our new linens are an evolution of a pattern tried and tested in spring. It’s another example of a natural evolution for us. And with the papers that you’ll see in our Christmas collection, you’ll find new patterns there too though from the same maker with whom we’ve worked for many a season now. We just adore them and the entire R&W team came together to make our selection for the final four. I believe that our collections are at their strongest when everyone is involved.”

What about materials in the new collection – are there any new matters with which you’ve not worked before?

“Yes certainly. We’ve never had natural beeswax before and it’s even lovelier that it’s from British bees too. You’ll see that being used in our new collection of beeswax candles. We’ve used wicker more cleverly too. Basketry has been a trend for as long as I can remember but it’s wonderful seeing it presented in more creative ways so I look forward to our community seeing those British-made pieces when they arrive at Christmastime. On top of that we have never had glass from the UK either and so it is really very rewarding to find a homegrown glass maker.”

In light of the current climate, did you have to change course for the new collection?

“We’ve been incredibly fortunate that by chance, our focus was already on local, British makers and thanks to them, we are able to still deliver the collection as intended. How thankful we are for that and what great comfort we take in knowing that a lot of these smaller, local businesses need us now more than ever. It’s wonderful that we can support one another through this. For one particular maker of ours overseas, there has been some difficulty in getting our pieces shipped but we believe in patience and not taking the designs elsewhere to be crafted. That is why you shall see some items such as our Bilton bathroom additions are arriving in October instead. It is so important to help everyone whom you are able, but we truly believe in this extended neighbourhood notion of supporting one another.”

Is there anything that the new collection has taught you? Or that you’ve discovered thanks to it?

“When I look at the collection as a whole, I realise and reflect on two things in particular. This is the first collection that we’ve designed where I’ve been living in the countryside and I can’t tell you how lovely it was to forage for props for the shoot that I found on my doorstep. It really has influenced how we styled things, such as my favourite find – old man’s beard. As well as this, I think about what our team has brought to the collection. We’d grown in the run-up to our AW20 shoot and we’ve been able to do so much more by way of storytelling, propping and furthering who we are and what our collections can bring to your everyday. We’re not a one-man band anymore and I’ve discovered more than anything just how much more we can do together.”

If you had to choose one piece in the entire collection to have at home, which would it be?

“In all honesty, the piece I will pinch first are the handmade glass icicles for my Christmas tree (arriving in October when the Christmas collection launches). But if I’m allowed to pinch one other bit it would be the stoneware jug that’s handcrafted on the British coast.”

And what would you say makes the perfect gift?

“Lots of things! If I hadn’t already gifted Graeme [Lucy’s partner and co-founder of Rowen & Wren] a spoon rest, I’d be getting him one. Maybe I’ll get him another with the amount of mess he still makes. I have a number of friends who are forever cold-handed and so the mittens will be a very good gift for them. And I know my mum will love the handmade stone bell which also launches as part of Christmas next month. She’ll find it too precious to use outdoors and will love showing it to the grandchildren.”

What one word would you say summarises the new collection?

“Comfort. Be it the woollen blankets, the cosy socks or the warming beeswax candles, everything is so comfortable and comforting. Even the ceramics are comforting; you’re not putting a poncy salad in that bowl, but a comforting stew or a big serving of soup. The collection is sensory. We’ve thought about look, feel, taste, smell in every piece, and that’s what makes everything feel so wonderfully homely. I so hope that everybody else feels the same way.”

Peruse the entirety of the Autumn/Winter 2020 collection here.