Interiors Little Black Book: Caroline Downing

Frustrated by a lack of original, high-quality design options when it came to decorating her own home, Caroline Downing Nadel launched Wicklewood in 2017. Today, most pieces are designed at her London Studio, before being brought to life by artisans and different design partners around the world. No wonder her address book is bursting with talented creatives. Here are the names and places she relies on time and again…
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Ceramics

My latest ceramic obsession is Andrea Kashanipour – a Canadian artist based in Tucson, Arizona who makes whimsical clay pieces, each with a distinct personality. After partnering with her at the beginning of the year, we can’t keep her pieces on the shelves. 

We launched our first dinnerware collection after I visited Vietri, Italy. The town has produced ceramics since the 1600s and everything is 100% handcrafted according to the ancient tradition of Vietri sul Mare. It’s a technique handed down from generation to generation. 

I also can’t get enough of vintage ceramics, either, and my favourites include Heron Martinez’s white period works and Bjørn Wiinblad’s horsemen. To find further inspiration, I regularly visit the V&A. Their ceramics collection is unrivalled – it feels like you’re stepping back in time. I draw of a lot of inspiration for the Wicklewood collection from historical motifs, before bringing them back to life in a more modern way.

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Glassware

I’ve recently discovered Keith Grinter. Based in New Zealand, he developed the shard technique to create unique and interesting abstract art with blown glass. We have a selection in our shop in Kensington, London. 

I love colour, and it doesn’t get much more colourful than Paul Arnhold.  His organically shaped pieces are works of art; I recently treated myself to these tumblers. Asp and Hand also has a fantastic collection of glasses – they’re almost too beautiful to drink from.  

Antiques

When it comes to finding the best pieces, you often track them down in the most unexpected of places, so it’s worth keeping an eye out wherever you go. Recently, I discovered The Vintage Look in Henley-on-Thames and always love a trip to Baileys in Oahu when I’m there. They have the world's largest collection of vintage shirts. I recently bought some pieces from Anemone Interiors and Charish – both have a wide selection of vintage items. 

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Textiles

Design is in my DNA — our family legacy spans three generations across interior design, textile design and fashion, and the matriarchy is our main muse. Wicklewood’s original designs pay homage to many strong women, including my great grandmother and prolific Guatemalan textile collector Lilly De Jongh Osborne, as well as the duo behind the iconic British fabric and wallpaper brand Blithfield – Liz Downing, my mother, and her business partner Anne Dubbs. 

I recently bought some Mallorcan ikat fabrics from Artesania Textil Bujosa for my own home. These designs are classic yet contemporary and I really enjoy the different colour combinations. 

Un huipil al día’ is one of my favourite places to find textile inspiration on Instagram. I’ve recently purchased five new huipiles (Central American blouses) – they are so comfortable, colourful and intricately detailed. 

I also get a lot of textile inspiration from Selvedge Magazine – Polly Leonard, the founder and editor, is a genius. I really enjoy how the magazine acknowledges the importance of textiles within the global economy and throughout history by celebrating ancient techniques and artisanal craft. At the same time, they’re also good at shining a spotlight on the lastest innovations within the industry.

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Furniture

Sunbury Antique Market (Kempton) is brilliant for finding great antique pieces which you can then reupholster. My co-founder Rosie and I are often found there, stuffing slip chairs and cane benches into the boot of our car. 

David Seyfried’s range is without fault. You can find a selection of his upholstered ‘Wave’ sofas and ‘Editor’ chais, all in bright and bold Blithfield fabrics, in our shop and online.  

I’ve gotten to know the wonderful Tess Newall over the past year, as we’re collaborating on a range of lampshades (they’re launching soon). I love her painting and colourful folk aesthetic paired with Alfred’s (her husband) iconic bobbin furniture making – together they’re the perfect match.

Decorative Items

As soon as we’re able to travel, I’m heading straight to Mexico. My latest obsession is Perla Valtiera, who creates hand-thrown vases and pieces that are both formal and fun all at once. 

I also enjoy Hilario Alejos Madrigal’s work – he’s a Mexican potter from a small town in the state of Michoacán. Known for his ‘pineapple’ ceramic wares or Piña Pottery, most of his pieces are finished with a beautiful green glaze. 

I love having flowers in my home but always forget to throw them out when they are past their best, so have chosen to decorate my home with flowers by Erbavoglio Art instead. They’re ornate metal flowers from Milan, while Livia Cetti’s paper flowers help you achieve all the colour and freshness of real flowers, without the time stamp. Whenever I’m in New York, I can’t help but pop into John Derian to buy one of his whimsical trays.

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Art

We collaborated with Willemien Bardawill during lockdown as I was drawn to women she uses as her muses. Her  ‘Flores Bellas’ collection for Wicklewood tells the story of female artisans working together. Her watercolours also draw inspiration from modern and traditional Mexican art, while expressive Guatemalan textiles accentuate the movement of her female figures. 

My most recent art purchase was a piece by Adam Graves from the Wilson Stephens & Jones Gallery in Notting Hill. I really enjoy learning about new artists through them. 

I’m also fond of prints and find Japanese woodblocks very calming. I have the four seasons by Kazuyuki Ohtsu in my home. Artist Pegge Hopper is also a firm family favourite; she reminds me of my family in Hawaii and our time spent exploring the islands.

I also discovered Felicity Buchanan during lockdown when we ran our ‘At Home’ initiative, with the aim of partnering with creators and makers who were suddenly looking for a new outlet for their work. Her quirky bug prints are the perfect gift for a godchild.   

ANDREW GRAVES

Shopping Abroad

If you’re ever in Guatemala, then head to Colibrí in Antigua. Artisanal craft is synonymous with the area, and I love soaking in the colour and textures of the textiles sold there. 

My colleague and founder of Directorio Deco, Gloria Gonzalez taught me everything about where to go in Madrid. One of my favourite places is 'El Rastro', in La Latina – Madrid's most famous flea market. The actual market is on Sunday morning, but there are lots of small independent shops dotted around the area which are open every day. The atmosphere is brilliant – the stalls are packed with everything you can imagine and you can find some good quality pieces which are very affordable. Refuel with churros from Churreria Santa Ana – a traditional ‘churreria’   founded in 1895.

Around the city there are so many wonderful stores – Pequeña Inglaterra for one-of-a-kind home décor, El Almacen de Loza is tabletop heaven and Gonzalez & Gonzalez has a wonderful selection of curated ‘everyday’ products – it’s slow living at its very best.

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