Ella Doran is the founder of Ella Doran Design Ltd. Ella Doran started trading under her own brand in 1997 & in 2001 formed as a Ltd. company.
In collaboration with Made to Last Ella is kindly having a giveaway of 4 of her latest lampshades to Made to Last customers and friends. The details of the competition are at the end of this blog post.
But first – we want to tell you why you should be excited about winning one of her lampshades.
Hi Ella, please could you tell us a little about what you make and why?
I am a printed textile designer by trade, and create surface designs and apply them to everyday products for you and your home! I create collections every season, that are then applied to our current collection of products, such as lampshades, chopping boards, wallpapers, and aprons.
I launched my first product range, on the back of new digital technologies in the mid to late 90’s which shot my placemats and coasters to fame in the interior magazines with my images of African mangrove Leaves and Pebbles; back then I was dubbed the ‘Queen of tableware’ by the FT and I quickly won many accolades and awards which spurred me on in the early days of learning about how to run a business!
We know your products are great, you know your products are great but how can they know?
I am passionate about good quality materials, and products that age and last well. Being a fellow of the RSA, I recently attended a residency with The Great Recovery who were running a project to get Designers involved on a bulky waste project with a waste management group Sita. As Sophie Thomas of Thomas Matthews heading the project says, there is no better place to start than at the bottom of a massive waste facility!
I mention this, because it matters to me and my company that our products are ideally made in the UK, and of good quality, and that they will last, and don’t need to be tomorrow’s waste but can either be handed down, or passed on.
Whereabouts does your manufacturing take place?
Our manufacturers are mainly scattered around the North for my textiles and wallpaper, Cambridge for my placemats and coasters, and North Wales for a large range of our textile accessories, bags, tea towels and cushions and our lampshades are hand made in Somerset.
What is the toughest part of the product development process for you?
The toughest part is getting what you want with any given manufacturer, quite often I hit problems, because what I want to achieve is ‘too expensive’ or not possible due to a screen size, or training or a piece of tooling that does not exist yet – so I often meet resistance, which I gently pursue to achieve what I want. Sourcing can be tricky as I want to produce as close to home as possible, and to sit on as little stock as possible, which is why the lampshades, rugs, roller blinds and wallpapers are the growing markets for us as they are all made to order!
What is the most enjoyable part of the process of product development for you?
I love the whole process, when I graduated from my Printed Textiles degree I knew I wanted to be involved in the ‘production’ and overseeing from design idea and sampling, and then product, and now I am increasingly interested and researching the end of life, and above all, always aiming to design for longevity, not just for today’s fashion!
Do you have any new products/ranges planned for the next year or so?
I have some exciting new product lines developing in textiles, having now learnt so much about the cycle of textiles, you can watch a mini film here on something I helped develop with Camira Fabrics:
What products or people have helped to inspire you to create the products that you do?
My first European trade show back in the mid 90’s was the first big eye opener and inspiration for me to create my own products. In a lot of cases I have worked under license, I collaborated with Portmerion Potteries in 2002/3 and created several ranges of ceramics, table top and textiles, that they produced, sold and distributed and during that period I also had a worldwide license with a tablemat company based in New Zealand. So, the early years of learning so much about production, processes, and distribution inspired me to continue.
I also take huge inspiration from my every day surroundings for my designs, and often my work derives from cultural associations such as my Bikes of Hackney range developed over a few years of me photographing bicycles in my local neighbourhood, or Stacks and Stripes as were my African leaves from my time of living in Kenya!
Tell us something about yourself that not many people know
I have worked with some amazing brands, retailers and commissioners and feel proud of the awards we have won along the way, the Laurent Perrier designer of the year award for my work with John Lewis was one highlight, and winning 2 awards in one night at Grand Designs was pretty thrilling too for my Geo wallpaper design!
Which product in your range do you personally use the most and why?
Ha, well we use my mugs and placemats and chopping boards every day we live amongst a hotch potch of my cushion designs, and we are surrounded by my lampshades and roller blinds…..need I say more!
What environmental considerations have you enacted into your sourcing, manufacturing and packaging?
As I mentioned earlier I am actively involved in promoting the circular economy and our work became part of a documentary that is circulating the country with the Crafts Council, to help inspire the change we need, which more often than not is the designers job, the ‘thinkers and planners of things’ as we can start the questioning at the beginning of an idea, and ask how is this ‘product’ going to end it’s life? But the only way the real change can happen is if everyone engages more with it, the retailers, the waste managers and the consumers!
We are in the process as a company of going through each product to play out the scenarios of its life, for instance with our chopping boards, if you have used it and it no longer is usable as a chopping board, it needs to go into your wood recycling, not your general waste – as it will not decompose easily in landfill, but it can be recycled in the wood waste instead. I recently attended a conference focusing on the textile economy and circularity and all I can say is there are some exciting developments coming, that are going to transform the textile industry. Until now we have not had many factories that re-cycle our textiles into new yarns, you know this is happening with some plastic fibers and some cotton fibers, Patagonia for one is a massive driver for this!
See the full documentary here:
Why did you name your products as you have?
My product names always relate to the facts of what they are or the inspiration behind them, which in some cases may be a person such as my Isabel collection or Delhi Days from my travels to India.
MTL: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions Ella. To shop the full range of Ella Doran products on Made to Last please click here.
On to the competition
We have 2 each of these beautiful Geo and Tapias Ella Doran lampshades to give away:
Both are parchment shades on a polypropylene base and are 25cm high with a diameter of 48cm.
All you need to do to enter is complete the following 3 steps for either Facebook or Twitter before 7th March 2017:
1) Like Made to last on our FB Fan page https://www.facebook.com/madetolastuk/
2) Like Ella Doran on her FB Fan Page https://www.facebook.com/elladorandesign/
3) Tag a friend and share this blog post on FB – you could use this text: Made to Last are giving away 4 Ella Doran Lampshades. I just entered the competition here: https://www.made-to-last.co.uk/blog/win-ella-doran-lamp-shade/ #ELLADORANMTL