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Did you know maximalist art works great in kids’ rooms?
An Interview with Carol Maxwell
Did you know maximalist art works great in kids’ rooms?
We did and we’ve picked Carol’s brain to prove it.
With colour being the theme of Issue 13, as soon as we saw Max Made Me’s wallpaper launch we knew we had to interview Carol about her new collection, he love of art and design and to get a good peak inside her thoughts on kids’ bedrooms.
Carol Maxwell started Max Made Me after designing art prints for her friends kids’ rooms. Following 15 years of success designing for the fashion industry, Carol’s family began with the birth of her first child Max. Carol was inspired by all his cute toys and gifts, so much so that she started to sketch them and soon realised she had the beginnings of her first greeting cards collection.
This led to Carol designing her Letter Print range as the perfect gifts for her friend’s new-born’s, which now 6 years later continues to be her best-selling collection, proving that maximalist art works great in kids’ rooms.
With the opening of a new store, home to all her wonderful creations, from prints, cards and gift wrap to jumpers, t-shirts and baby-grows, Carol has recently launched her debut wallpaper collection with matching velvet cushions and aprons & tea towels in the same prints . With one of her first designs adorning the walls of a 7 year old girl, it is the perfect opportunity to find out more about Carol’s passion for design, how important nature is in her work, about her love of beautiful interiors and how important she thinks kids’ rooms are to their mini dwellers.
Everything you need to know about Carol Maxwell
RB – What was your journey in textile design?
CM – I went to The National College Of Art And Design in Dublin, thinking I would study Fine Art Painting, but my foundation year tutors encouraged me to try printed textiles as a module, I soon realized that Fine Art was a bit too conceptual for me and design was probably more my cup of tea.
Having said that, in Dublin at the time, there weren’t really any print studios where you could get work experience, so it wasn’t until I graduated and came to London, to exhibit in the New Designers Graduate show in Islington, that I realised a career in design was a possibility.
RB – Six years ago when you started sketching Max’s toys, if someone told you you’d have a fab store and a wallpaper collection along with everything else, what would you have thought about?
CM – There is no way I would have believed this, I never ever set out to have my own business. In fact, in my 20’s I used to think, when working for print studios, that I would not like to have my own business, because I saw first-hand the pressure and stress that running your own business can cause. But here I am. It’s funny how things can turn out, and now that I find myself on this path, I believe it was how it was supposed to pan out.
RB – What have the last few years been like, from designing cards and prints, to having your own store and seeing your first wallpaper collection being dispatched to very excited customers?
CM – The journey was very organic and slow at first as it was very much part time at the beginning, working around my job and motherhood. I think it’s only been in the last 2 or 3 years that things have suddenly really started to change and grow at a very fast pace. I still find it hard to take in that I now have a wonderful team to help me fulfil hundreds of orders to amazing customers each week.
RB – Was the wallpaper collection a plan for a long time or did it stem from customer demand?
CM – Before MMM a friend and I were going to start a wallpaper brand. We had started designing and had even begun to visit manufacturers here in the UK. However we both got pregnant 2 months apart (me with Max), so we put it on hold…. and well, we know what happened after Max came along!
So yes, I guess it’s always been on my radar to design wallpaper, and as MMM grew I knew it was something I wanted to do within the brand when the timing was right. We got a lot of messages and emails from customers asking/saying that we should do wallpaper, so customer demand also played a role.
“I think kids’ rooms are more important than people might realise.
I’m not sure people stop to think about the impact a child’s bedroom
and personal space might have on them.”
RB – Did you have an age range in mind when you were designing the wallpaper?
CM – Not particularly, age is just a number in my opinion and I think a lot of the designs work well in a variety of rooms, from kids’ to grown up spaces alike. Having said that I do very much have some ideas in mind for my second wallpaper which will be aimed more at kids’ interiors.
RB – How important do you think kids’ bedrooms are when it comes to design?
CM – I think they are more important than people might realise. I’m not sure people stop very often to think about the impact a child’s bedroom and personal space might have on them. I can remember my childhood bedrooms so clearly, and they evoke strong memories. For example, I remember studying the pattern of the floral wallpaper on my bedroom walls in great detail to distract myself, as I waited eagerly until we were allowed to get up on Christmas morning.
I was very much invested in how my room looked even as a child. I would spend hours rearranging the furniture, and would get such a buzz from my room refresh even at an early age. Now not every kid might care about their bedroom too much, but I think if it’s a colourful, inspiring space for them to feel secure and safe in, this is surely integral to a child’s happiness and wellbeing.
RB – How do you your plan your kid’s rooms? Do you mood board or do you start with the first piece of inspiration and take it from there?
CM – It is usually designed around something that I have already, or something I have found. For example in Max’s room I still loved the F&B wallpaper I had in there from when it was our guest room. I chose it knowing that one day it would probably become Max’s room, so I then built the rest of the colour scheme around that.
Max’s room has a more eclectic feel to it, and it has evolved as our house has changed over time, whereas Milo’s room was designed from scratch because it was a brand-new room, part of our loft renovation. So the design of his room was a bit more thought out and considered. I knew I wanted to paint a mural in it, so the rest of the room was designed around that.
RB – Whose idea was it to put the new wallpaper in IJ’s room?
CM – I knew IJ’s mum wanted to redecorate so I showed her my wallpaper collection. She instantly fell in love with The Palm Blush. I knew it was so important that the chosen wallpaper should last as she grows from a 7 year old girl to a tween and a teenager. So I agreed that the Palm Blush wallpaper was the perfect choice to do just that.
RB – What are your three must haves for kids’ rooms?
CM – Something bright and colourful, good storage, and something inherited or vintage.
RB – Where are your three favourite places to shop for kid’s interiors?
RB – For your stunning nature inspired designs, where do you look most for inspiration?
CM – Living in our little pocket of South East London, we are lucky enough to have lots of green spaces but sometimes it’s not quite enough. I love to look at vintage design for inspiration too, for instance I love vintage tropical barkcloth prints from the 50s.
RB – Apart from the wallpaper, what is your favourite thing about IJ’s room?
CM – I love the colours we chose from Pickelson Paint company to compliment the wallpaper. (Fresco Pink on the walls and Tequila Green on the ceiling) I also used this company to decorate my shop and studio. They have, in particular, the most beautiful selections of pinks to choose from.
RB – If Max could have anything in his bedroom what do you think it would be?
CM – This is easy, it’s something he talks about all the time and it is something I have been promising for ages. I said I would draw little Pokemon characters on the walls in secret places (e.g. hidden behind furniture and framed art) He would probably have loved to decorate the whole room with Pokemon posters and bedding and the like, so this was my idea of a compromise… I’d better get the pens out now and stick to my end of the bargain. I am actually planning a room refresh for him soon, so I will definitely get him on board to help choose some things, now that he’s 8 and has lots of opinions of his own!
There you have it, a full inside scoop on how the amazing Max Made Me brand was born, Carol’s personal thoughts on kid’s rooms and essential places to shop. For more inspiration from Carol and her creative mind follow her here. Just in case you wanted to know a few more intimate details about Carol, her top tipple is Vodka with lots of fresh lime and soda and she thinks the best boy band of all time is the Beatles!
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