The Colourful World of Luke Edward Hall

In our new film, we visit the sought-after British illustrator of all things bright and vivid as he designs his new Papier collection…





Entering Luke Edward Hall’s studio feels like stepping onto a film set. Jacques Demy’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg perhaps, or anything by Wes Anderson. In fact, even more than that, it's like you've stepped through the screen and directly into the actual film itself. Located at the back of Cob gallery in North London’s Camden, it feels a world away from the white walled space you walk through to reach it. And it is a very particular world: a world full of colour, romance and nostalgia that seeks to fill the everyday with the beautiful. In short, Luke Edward Hall’s world.

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From studying menswear at Central Saint Martins to falling in with an interior designer upon graduating, then going on to create his own illustrations and patterns for everything from tables to lampshades, Luke is a modern day Bright Young Thing. (Bright being the operative word.) Described by Vogue as a "design wunderkid", his aesthetic of relaxed glamour has led to collaborations with brands such as Burberry, Drake’s and the Parker Palm Springs Hotel. As he launches his second collection with Papier, we met to chat about his inspirations, processes and capture his saturated studio on film.

Watch The Colourful World of Luke Edward Hall below...

What’s a usual day in the studio like for you?
Every day is different but usually I come in and do a few emails and look through my list of things that I need to do, and then it can be anything from working on an illustration project to painting some ceramics that will go off and be fired. It could be working on an interior design project, so looking at fabric samples. Or just some drawing and painting. So every day is different which is nice.

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How do you set about working on a new illustration project?
I’ll usually start by looking through my collection of books. Some I have at my studio, some I have at home but that’s always my starting point. Looking through books and magazines, especially magazines from the past and then I’ll just start drawing, trying out different materials and see what works.

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You've got a lot of books then?
Books are probably my biggest extravagance. I’m always looking for books. Either online or in old book shops. Particularly, I love collecting old books. Especially ones with nice covers. And there are a few illustrators that I really love from the past so I collect their books or book covers that they've done. Its a mixture of stuff. Some interior design books, art books, photography books.

So who are the photographers and illustrators who've influenced you?
Well my favourite artists and illustrators are Jean Cocteau, I love Picasso’s drawings, obviously David Hockney as well, whose colour palette I’ve always really loved. And then Tim Walker has always been a big inspiration too. I love his photography. I’ve got lots of old magazines of shoots with [his work] in.

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A lot of Tim Walker’s work is about storytelling and a lot of your other influences, like Jean Cocteau, are also storytellers as well as artists. Are you’re trying to tell stories with your designs and through the characters that you draw?
There's not a particular story but I am interested in creating an atmosphere which I think is why I’ve always experimented with lots of different types of art and design. You know, I did fine art when I was at college, then I moved into graphic design and that’s what I wanted to do but then I ended up studying menswear at university. After that, I got into interior design and then set up my own thing doing my own illustrations but also doing fabric designs. I think for me I’ve always been interested in people like Cecil Beaton who have always done lots of different types of design but they've been very good at creating a kind of atmosphere and creating a vibe which is what I’m interested in as well.

"I think colour is one of the things that really always makes people happy."

So you’re creating more of a complete, consistent world or atmosphere rather than one singular story with each piece?
Yeah and that’s why I really like Tim Walker’s photography as well because when you look at one of his images it’s like stepping into a universe. I’ve also been really interested in that and I suppose that’s why I got into interior design because it’s about creating a world that you can inhabit.

I suppose that has influenced how you have created your studio. You’ve created a Luke Edward Hall world in this space here.
I suppose when I was thinking about decorating my studio and what I was going to have around me, it’s always been important to have my inspirations around me. So I have photographs from holidays pinned up on my board and I have bits of old furniture and stacks of books and magazines and piles of fabrics because it’s important for me to be surrounded by all of my things to draw inspiration from.

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How would you describe your style?
It’s extremely colourful. Probably the most important thing to me is colour, and pattern. And that kind of weaves its way into everything that I do from the interior design to my illustration, to my fabrics and ceramics. It’s all about colour and pattern really. It’s very romantic, it’s a bit nostalgic. I mean, I look to the past often for inspiration. I have lots of different inspirations from British folklore and the British countryside, which I love, but then also I love a bit of fifties Americana and Palm Springs. So yeah, it’s a bit of a melting pot of different inspirations.

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Have you always been drawn to the bright and colourful and bold?
Yeah, I’ve always been interested in colour. Even when I was designing menswear at university, it was all very colourful with lots of prints and it’s always just been very important to me. I always wear lots of colour, my home is very colourful, my studio is really colourful, my work is very colourful… I think my work is about optimism and I want to make people happy I suppose, and I think colour is one of the things that really always makes people happy. You know when people come into my studio, the first thing they always talk about is the bright pink and I’m about to repaint my hallway at home a mustard yellow. So yeah, I think colour is a happy making thing.

"In this day and age when everything is email and websites, it’s just a lovely thing to get an actual, physical note."

Do you see creating ceramics, homeware, notebooks, etc, things that people use, as a way to bring that happiness of your work into people's home in a more accessible and practical way then? As opposed to a print that will live on a wall with little interaction.
Yeah, for me a massive inspiration has always been the Bloomsbury Group who very much believed in blurring the boundary between art and design. They believed that you should be able to live with beautiful things everyday and that’s kind of how I like working as well. I mean I really love painting and drawing but I also love working with ceramics where you end up with a physical object that you can use and is also a beautiful one-off painted object. And what’s really fun with what I do is that I collaborate with people like Papier on lovely, useful items.

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And so do you have a plan for the future or are you going to just see what happens next?
No, I don’t have a plan and I think that’s what’s really exciting about what I’m doing at the moment. You know I hadn’t planned anything up until now and it’s fun not knowing what I’m going to be doing next. I mean there are a few things that I’ve got in mind. I’m hoping to put on a sort of show of drawings later on this year or maybe next year. So there are a few things that I’m kind of definitely working towards but it’s also really exciting just seeing what comes up.

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You’re talking about being nostalgic for the past, you’re using pen and paper, people can use your art on Papier notecards and invitations to send through the post. What do you think is special, in this digital age, about the physical, such as receiving post and working with paper?
I just think it’s such a lovely idea to send an actual letter or a card. I feel like it is having a bit of resurgence of interest; people wanting to actually write notes and write things. And I think there’s nothing nicer than receiving a thank you card or a letter. I was just reading a biography of an artist, designer who in the 1920s, 30s, 40s, 50s was constantly sending letters to people and it’s just such a lovely idea. I think in this day and age when everything is email and websites, it’s just a lovely thing to get an actual, physical note.

Who was the artist whose biography you’re reading?
It’s a biography of an artist called Stephen Tennant. Who was… well, he didn’t really do very much. He was one of the Bright Young Things in the 1920s and hung out with Beaton and Rex Whistler — who’s another artist that I also really love. He wanted to write a book but never really got round to it. So the biography is him mainly talking in letters to his friends.

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Do you think that you would ever write anything?
Write a book? No! I would love to do a book. A book of illustrations and maybe inspirations, quotes from favourite novels. A bit of a scrapbook type thing. I’d love to do something like that. A sort of coffee table book but I don’t think I’ve got it in me to write a book.

That’s a nice idea. Any specific ideas about what you’d put in there?
I’ve got boxes of bits of notes and postcards and photos taken on holiday and things just picked up from places. I used to keep scrapbooks. Now I just have things pinned up and placed on the wall but it would be nice to put everything in a book with some of my own drawings and bits and pieces.

When you are creating a new collection, how do you decide what to draw and what colours you are going to use?
When I’m first thinking about working on a new collection or project I kind of just try things out. I use lots of different tools from watercolours to acrylics, chalk pastels, oil pastels. I tend to just try things out and see what’s working. With the Papier collection usually I get given quite a lot of free rein which is really nice. At the moment for the new collection I’ve just been drawing some of my favourite things. Some architectural elements, things from nature, flowers and trees and then party scenes with cocktails and lemons. There are motifs that I often return to. I test things out and see what works.

So these motifs are all elements from this Luke Edward Hall universe.
Yeah. Favourite animals, favourite flowers, some of my favourite things from my world I suppose.

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And do you have a favourite colour?
Yes, pink. Pink is my favourite colour and it’s a bit annoying really because of the whole millennial pink thing which is happening at the moment. And green. And pink and green together. And also orange. So it’s always quite hard to choose!

Unfortunately, Luke's Papier collection is now all sold out.