Stuart Gardiner Design – The Graphic Guide
It was William Morris who said “have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” and we fully agree, so it’s even more satisfying to discover artistic home accessories that are both.
Step forward Stuart Gardiner who uses graphic design to create pictographic guides to all manor of things, from coffee, tea, and wine, to which vegetables and fruit are in season.
Stuart produces tea towels, trays, aprons, art prints, and mugs featuring his signature graphics with handy information. Beer, wine, gardening, and seafood are just some of the topics Stuart covers with his expanding range of infographics.
Take the Classic Cocktails tray for example – a practical item for ferrying drinks but also useful as the perfect graphic guide to make cocktails including Whisky Sours, Mojotios, Old Fashioneds, and Pina Coladas.
We caught up with Stuart Gardiner to find out more:
Who’s the person, or who are the people, behind Stuart Gardiner Design?
“I’m Stuart and I started off on my own 5 years ago. My wife Sam then joined me part-time 2 years ago, though she’s been creatively involved since the start. We have 2.5 year-old, so she’s busy mothering her when not in the studio.”
How did you get started? What made you want to create and launch your range?
“It all happened by accident, I’d never intended to start a home ware brand. I was working as a freelance graphic designer which was going OK. In that role you’re constantly compromising your work in one way or another to the client’s whim – just ask any graphic designer and they’ll emphatically agree. This is all just part of the job, but after a while (12 years in my case) it can be frustrating, as your initial concept gets watered-down, tampered with and often designed by committee.
I decided it would be more much satisfying creating products I could sell, and it is! It all started with an idea to do some kind guide to seasonal food which was just starting to get more awareness at the time. I decided that a tea towel would be the best vehicle for it, so had 500 made. They sold well, and I got lots of encouragement from shop buyers, and that was that – my first product and a niche in producing info graphics on home wares!”
What’s the creative process for you? What inspires/influences your work?
“It starts with a subject matter to thoroughly research, which can take a long time. I need to feel confident with the matter at hand to be able to produce an info graphic in whatever form it may be. Once the research is done, I then start on the design, initially creating a scrapbook of visual reference from past and present as a starting point. I don’t have a structured method to my design work, it’s quite a meandering organic process which gets sparked off by the scrapbook. It could be some vintage type, an illustration or a particular colour palette which gets me going. I then work away until I’m happy with the final design. Or tired of looking at it, and need to move on.”
Are your items screen printed or digitally printed?
“My fabric and print items are always screen printed. You can’t beat the quality of colour achieved from mixing specific inks. It also suits my graphic style well.”
Where are your items made? Do you make them yourself?
“My screen printing skills are a tad basic to be churning out 6 colour prints, so they’re mainly made in the UK by very skilled and pleasant people in the countryside. Sounds very twee, but it’s true! I want to keep my products UK manufactured and ecologically sound.”
Do you have any collaborations on the go?
“Yes, I’m in the middle of one with London’s most iconic shop. I’m not at liberty to mention who!”
How do you see the range developing? Are there any goals you’re aiming for in 2014?
“We’re going to keep expanding our product ranges for both UK and international markets by producing more complete collections across varied home wares. Now, a new design won’t consist of a single tea towel, it’ll be spread across aprons, trays, coasters, ceramics etc, depending on the subject matter and which product it suits.”
What do you hope people feel when they see your work or bring it into their homes?
“I’d like to think that they do actually use the informative aspect of the product, whether it be pairing a particular wine to the food they’re cooking, or learning a thing or two about the subject matter on their tea towel while they’re absorbing wetness, bringing a little pleasure and knowledge to the masses!”
Finally, are there any events coming up in 2014?
“There’s going to be a new market at Leyton Technical pub in east London on June 28th which I’m involved with. Lots of very talented designer makers are setting it up at the moment. It’s also an excellent pub, so should be well worth attending for that alone. It’ll hopefully become a regular market.”
For more info and to see the full range, visit Stuart Gardiner’s website.