Melissa Bamber is a textile designer with a sly sense of humor.
Slipped into her traditional-looking designs are some very untraditional figures.
Like burlesque dancers in French damask. Laughing skulls in patterned linen. And tiny skulls on the wings of butterflies.
It’s whimsical, and it works.
“They make you smile,” the British-born designer says. “It’s an interesting conversation-starter in a pillow.”
She got her start studying graphic design at Saint Martins in London, then spent time in branding agencies. Travel took her to Qatar and the I. M. Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art.
“I was looking at ceramics, tiles and textiles, and said ‘I think I’m in the wrong field – I want to do textile design,'” she says.
So now she works from her New York studio in Chelsea, silk-screening on linen and velvet with an assistant.
“We do everything – the two of us, so I have control over the colors,” she says. “You get your hands dirty but you see the results right away. I can work with clients to match colors to their walls.”
The idea is to provide her clients with an alternative to the hundreds of pillows with subtle or bold designs. “This is an accent with its own flavor – it can blend in or it can be combined among others like it,” she says. “It’s something that might put a smile on your face.”
Like the laughing skull?
“It’s one of my more dynamic designs,” she says.
And an unexpected one, at that.