12th January 2013


Q&A with Designer and Maker – Nikki McWilliams

Are you in need of some inspiration to beat those crafty January blues?

Well you’ve come to the right place. Nikki McWilliams is a 27 year old designer and maker from Dundee whose love of Pop Art and all things British including having a cup of tea and a biscuit have turned her passion into a business reality…

How did you get started?

As a child I loved to draw, sew and make. From an early age, my mum taught me to sew - she’s a very talented seamstress and maker and an excellent teacher! She’s taught me a lot and I think it’s probably where my passion stems from. I went on to study Fine Art at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Dundee. My practice at Art School was quite different to what I do now but I wouldn’t change it at all – it’s what drove me to set up my own design business in 2009. I really believe that everything happens for a reason and that the choices I’ve made led me to the place that I’m in now.

What inspired you to get into designing and making?

Making is something I do impulsively! I don’t think there was any other path for me.

Who inspired you?

My mum. We made all sorts of things together when I was little and she taught me to be confident in my own ability.

Where do you find inspiration?

I can find inspiration almost anywhere. I try to carry a little sketchbook and a pen around with me wherever I go to note down any ideas that come to me throughout the day. Inspiration can be fleeting, so I find it’s best to jot things down before they disappear again!

Describe your workspace? Is it filled with things that motivate you? If so - what?

My studio is bright and calm. It’s within a converted Jute Mill, which is really cool as Jute plays such an important role in our city’s (Dundee’s) textile history. I try to keep clutter to a minimum although I do have shelf space where I keep objects that I’ve collected over the years. These things vary greatly and are all things I have some sort of emotional or nostalgic attachment to. On the shelf above my desk, there’s currently an old wooden screen, a beautiful pin cushion, some Christmas cards from fellow makers that are just too beautiful to take down and a Troll doll that I’ve had since I was 10.

Tell us about your cushion range, which graced the windows of Selfridges during the Queens Jubilee?

My cushions are inspired by my love of British culture, contemporary Pop-Art and my lifelong love of having a nice cup of tea and a biscuit. I want to make things that have a place in everyday life. I’m proud to say that each cushion is printed by hand in my studio in Dundee - a city with such a rich history in textile manufacture. I was fortunate to have my cushions displayed in the windows of Selfridges for 10 weeks during the Jubilee - I never thought that would happen.

How would you describe your designs – in three words?

Witty, bright & fun.

What do you love about what you do?

I love experimenting with new ideas and materials. The most exciting part for me is when we finish a sample and I can see how my ideas have developed in three dimensions.

Is there anything that you don’t like?

Hmmm, that’s a tough one! If anything, I wish there were more hours in the day or that I had one of those time-freezing pocket watches from the 90’s CITV programme “Bernard’s Watch”. He could stop time and get all of his tasks done - that would be really handy some days!

Describe a typical day?

Every day is totally different to the next, so it’s really hard to describe a typical day! I always, always start the day with a cup of tea, though. That’s ingrained!

How did you turn your passion into a career?

I’m quite determined and I’ve always known that I wanted to use my creativity in everyday life. I explored lots of different avenues and went with what felt right for me.

What advice would you give to budding design people?

Learn to trust your own instinct and be patient. 

What does the future hold for you?

I hope that my future is one in which I can continue to be creative. New ideas come to me all the time and hopefully I’ll be able to explore them all at some point not too far away! Personally, I’d like to move to a new home. My partner and I currently live in a flat in the city centre, which we love but we’re starting to need more space. We’d like a nice big open plan cooking/dining area and a garden for a wee cat to run about in.

Where can we find out more about your products?

On my website

We’re hoping to speak to inspirational crafters/makers/designers who’ve turned their passion into a living. We feel that by sharing these stories - it will help inspire each and everyone one of you to keep going! If you’ve been on an inspirational craft journey - please comment on our Facebook page.