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December Featured Designer: Leigh Bagley

Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be a surface designer. I developed an eye for colour and interest in design from an early age. I began my design career shortly after graduating the Royal College of Art in London in 2000. I worked as a freelance knitted textile designer selling to Calvin Klein, Levi, Nicole Fahri, Eddie Bauer, Milk, Woolmark, Baruffa, to name just a few. Alongside my textiles design career I share my passion for colour and textiles as a lecturer at the renowned Glasgow School of Art. In 2012 I decided to launch my print company, eager to develop my interests in rich abstract graphic print design I produced my first collection of Limited Edition Prints. My design work was instantly coveted by leading architecture and interior design companies and much sort after by private clients. Design Milk a leading online design blog described my prints as "some of most fun and vibrant geometric prints I’ve seen” whilst other press described “ in all seriousness, the colour palette, the lines {and in the flesh they are totally stunning} the sense of drama that you get when you view the designs, lend themselves perfectly to the male interiors and gift market, that oh so tricky present now becomes less so..”

Your work is predominately geometric in shape, what influences the geometric, modern aesthetic? Colour, the whole creative process for me starts with colour - I’m slightly obsessed! I’ve always been interested in how other people perceive colour and use it in their own environments. My prints explore interactions of colour through geometric composition, each one meticulously planned, every hue, proportion, saturation and opacity of colour is considered. I’m constantly capturing colour references on my iPhone from nature to architecture, food to packaging. Surrounding yourself with unusual and unexpected colour proportions and compositions is very inspiring. I don’t however look at colour trends, or buy into the notion of ‘colour of the year’! I believe colour is a personal, emotional connection with an object, surface or product and should reflect your aesthetic taste and emote feeling and expression. Covering your walls for instance with ‘today’s must have colour’ to me seems pointless and lacks integrity. Other influences come from the everything! Shadows, the built environment, a skyline, technology, archives, permanently having a camera with me on my iPhone enables me to capture anything I see that inspires me. I have a big love of modernism, the Bauhaus, minimal ceramics, architecture and interiors.

Have you always been drawn to past designers or architects whose work also leans toward geometric shapes? In short yes. I’ve always been drawn to the work of Alessi, Marimekko, Philippe Starck or Marc Newson, whilst some of my design heroes are Charley Harper, Hella Jongerius and Dieter Rams. I take huge inspiration from Brutalist architecture and post war design.

Your work is also very strong with color. With digital printing, do you have any difficulties getting a proper color profile on different substrates? Being fanatical about colour the matching process on all the substrates I use takes the longest time, but I just couldn’t accept a close match, it has to be exact! The printers I work with who produce my wallpapers and equally obsessed with colour so it’s nice to work closely with them on perfectly matching colours. Producing wallpaper has its challenges due to changing light conditions in client’s interior spaces, we test colour extensively to minimise Metamerism. Metamerism is when two colours that are not actually the same (they reflect different wavelengths of light) appear the same under certain lighting conditions. Colours that match under some lights but not others are called metamers. With my Limited edition prints again the matching of colour from screen to paper is equally challenging, calibration between screen and printer is essential. I’m also trying to educate the galleries and other artists and designers about Giclèe printing. Many galleries don’t consider Giclée printing as an original form of artist printing and here’s why: A giclée print is a term for an ‘inkjet’ print. It derives its name from the French verb for ‘squirt, spurt or spray’, as generally giclée prints are produced with an inkjet printer (where the ink ‘spurts’ through a nozzle). You will often come across “limited edition giclée” copies of paintings and prints – it’s always worth remembering that these are reproductions – not originals. However, there are a number of artists producing work for which the digital print IS the finished result – and that’s me! For me it’s simple, I define all of my prints as an original artwork that has been printed by me. It is not a reproduction or printed on our behalf. I have chosen the paper that the image is printed on and have determined the dimensions and edition size of the print (the number of copies printed). Once printed I then number and sign each of the prints. Once I have sold all the editions of a particular print I cannot and will not print anymore.

Tell us about your work with Newmor Wallcoverings and how you first became introduced to their brand. Newmor first saw my work in 2018. I had been commissioned by NHS Forth Valley for an innovative project to design 21 ‘Artwalls’ for a new 116 room Intermediate care facility ‘The Bellfield Centre’ and GP minor Injuries Clinic, in Stirling, Scotland. The project involved the design and installation of nineteen new art walls and three large scale murals in the Bellfield Centre. These high impact and decorative interiors were designed to evoke freshness, wellness and familiarity to the corridors, giving a sense of emotional comfort through colour. During the design process I aimed to create environments that are both uplifting and soothing, which in turn aid in decreasing frustration and boredom in people with dementia. Through a highly contemporary approach I hope I have demonstrated how pattern, print and colour can be transformative and uplifting for both patients and visitors, challenging traditional approaches to art for public healthcare buildings. Newmor loved the NHS work so much that they approached me in 2019 to expand the NHS work and design a collection suitable for commercial interiors. The large scale abstract geometrics in dynamic colour palettes work really well and have been a big part of the Newmor collection for a number of years. It’s lovely that every few months new images arrive in my inbox of interiors around the world with my wallpapers enhancing beautifully designed environments.

With interiors fashion trending in much the same way as apparel fashion, how do you think your style will adapt, if at all, to some of the more traditional, floral interior trends on the horizon? I’m really not a trend follower so I can’t see my style developing a more traditional or flora motifs. There are designers and companies who do floral exceptionally well, Sanderson and Liberty to name just a few. I think it’s important to continue to develop aesthetically but not re-invent yourself for the sake of trends. Clients buy my wallpapers and prints because they like a geometric aesthetic, it’s what I do and what I’m known for.

What's next for you in your artistic endeavors? Are there any other companies or designers you would like to collaborate with? In September I launched a new mural wallpaper collection which I’m really excited about. What’s lovely about the mural collection is the scale in pattern that can be achieved. Each 70cm width is half of the pattern repeat so it enables me to add real impact to an interior space. Alongside this I have another NHS commission currently on hold during the Covid19 Pandemic so I’m hopeful that this will restart in 2022. I would really love to continue to work within the Healthcare sector sharing my love of colour and pattern. I believe that any interior environment that supports health and wellbeing should be a homely comfortable space where patients can recover and feel protected. Hospitals should be no different to a luxury hotel, art gallery, wellness centre where you go to recharge and replenish. Inspirational spaces where you can escape. Hospital should not be defined by having to look like a hospital. Hospital interiors should be bright uplifting taking elements from modern home environments and celebrating them within the hospital context.

Learn more about Leigh and his work by visiting:


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