A Conversation With Natasha Hulse


Natasha Hulse

Natasha Hulse is a bespoke Fabric Artist for Interior Design. Hulse specializes in designing, three-dimensional appliqué artworks. Once the artworks have been constructed they are then upholstered onto pieces of furniture, such as headboards and lampshades. All the fabric artworks are constructed by hand; products are designed by a small skilled team in the U.K. that use a variety of fabric manipulation techniques to create one of a kind, interior products. Each new design draws inspiration from the natural world.

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How did your journey into fabric art begin? Was there a particular moment or experience that sparked your passion and drew you towards pursuing this as a profession?

As a child, I can barely remember painting on paper. My parents were very liberal and encouraged painting on the walls of our room! I decorated lampshades and lampstands and painted patterns on my clothes. I loved the way fabrics felt. However, I disliked some textures as a young child and would only wear the ones I liked the feel of. Once I learned how to use the scissors as a way of drawing, I would cut patterns out of a fabric I thought would be good to reinterpret into a new applique pattern. I would then apply that to a piece of old clothing to reinvent it. I didn’t know how to use a sewing machine at that point so I would glue them on! The same was true for handbags and accessories. I was given a sewing machine when I became a teenager and I started making clothing for friends. They would commission me to make them ballgowns or fun items of clothing. Many of them still have these pieces and cherish them, which is lovely to hear.

I did a BTEC diploma instead of my A-levels, which included studying twelve different art subjects from metal welding to shoe design, it was a real eye-opener, and I couldn’t stop! I was told that textiles was a degree at university by my print design teacher, who told me that I should apply. I went to Central Saint Martins in London for my foundation degree and then applied to Chelsea College of Arts where I studied for my degree in womenswear print design. At home, I continued to make my origami botanical fabric artworks, and by day, I would design print designs at university that would be sold to Donna Karan and Diane von Furstenberg to help fund my degree. I then left university and started my own clothing business where I was stocked in boutique shops in London and New York. After a few years of doing that, I went to work for a textile company in North West London selling digital designs to other designers. The itch to start my own company started again so I quit my job and started my business making applique artworks but this time for interior design. I liked the concept that I could create something layered which ties back to the fabrics found within a room.

Your work is incredibly detailed with an array of techniques required for each piece. How did you learn and hone your craft alongside the many methods needed to achieve your intricate designs?

I am self-taught when it comes to applique. My process comprises a few traditional techniques which combine to create my aesthetic. When I started to learn how to push different boundaries within textiles I was intrigued by the idea of making something new that no one else had, and I wanted to continuously innovate. I sought to make something that I hadn’t seen before and explore multiple possibilities, this remains a driving force behind my work. I have found I naturally communicate through touch and texture, I would say I have a stronger vocabulary through this sense than anything else, and I find that my work is my way of communicating with the world.

I am fascinated with colour and that is integral to my work too. I find that colour evokes such emotion and memory that it can transport me to where I have seen a certain type of blue, pink or white. Detail is a way of me adding myself to the piece. I see so much botanical art in watercolour and oil paints so I wanted to create a new take on botanical art. This allows me to almost collaborate with the species of plant, grass or tree I am drawing and create something mythical. I also love how you can change a perception, depth or feeling towards a piece by adding detail. Some textures I am so sensitive to that I find it hard to look at or touch them, whereas others I find pleasing and intriguing and I want to touch them. In all, I think that detail plays into my creative process.

Explain the process of identifying the projects you choose to pursue – how do you decide which opportunities align best with your artistic vision and style, and are there particular types of projects or materials that you find especially compelling to work on/with?

I love to react and connect with the person I am making something for. If I feel that there is synergy and I can create something beautiful for that person whilst working in alignment with my aesthetic, I will. Sometimes, it might be driven by a desire to push myself and try something new beyond my comfort zone. I particularly like this and want to create more work on walls and larger installations. I think a core part of the process of working with others is that I am fascinated by attention to detail and what other people’s visions of that detail are. That’s why I love bespoke luxury interiors. One person’s green might be different to yours and it creates a challenge, the same can be said for texture and composition. I would say that most people who I work with have a love for handmade skills, so that is always a good place to start. I believe that handwork softens a space and makes it feel bespoke. I also really enjoy collaborating with other creative minds because you can start to stretch different perspectives and enter a new vision of what might be achievable.

You provide bespoke commissioned pieces. Can you share how you navigate the creative and collaborative journey with clients from initial concept discussions to the final design? Could you also elaborate on your method for illustrating the design to clients before bringing it to life on fabric?

When I first meet a client, I will have a conversation with them about the feel and direction of the project. I will get to know the colours they like, what textures they gravitate to, and get a sense of their personality. I think that is important as you can create handmade work that is very fine or that has more of a naive playfulness that suits some clients, yet not others. So, it’s important to read and gauge who will live with this work. I love that it can be such a sensitive process. I will then collect all the information I need to create a visualisation in Photoshop and present the client with a few different options. Sometimes, there are adjustments to make after that, thereafter I can fine-tune the design to the client. Once that is signed off on, I will put it into production. I will rarely create a sample of work before the original piece as it is so time-consuming. However, I will show past work from my portfolio so that the client can get a sense of the texture and process.

Imagine the ultimate creative endeavour within the realm of your craft – what would it look like? What elements, themes, or challenges would make up this dream project, and how would it showcase your vision?

I would like to work on more large-scale projects, including fabric walling, large panels, murals and installations for hotels and public spaces. I enjoy creating one-of-a-kind artworks that can’t be replicated, so that is important to me. However, that being said, it is important to have a commercial side, so I am looking into a collaboration of silkscreen and applique. Something I am looking to develop with clients is painting a mural on the wall and then adding a three-dimensional applique that can be attached to the wall so it adds a three-dimensional style, which is such a luxury element. I also have started thinking about how things can be attached and moved so you can have pieces that dance around the room with you over the years. I want to create a harmonious moving room that is layered and goes beyond the headboard and over and up the sides, so things continue to be fluid. This could be done by murals, applique, and some metalwork.

Looking forward, can you share a glimpse of any highly anticipated projects on the horizon, and how do you envision these ventures shaping your journey as a fabric artist?

I have some projects that have started to become layered and more in the realm of installation work, such as creating a moving room. I am currently pitching some ceiling work and looking into movable panels to play into achieving this ever-changing space. I am also working with Pelican House, a specialist design studio, on a rug and wall hanging collaboration which will be designed by myself and made by the artisans within Pelican House. This is exciting and it will be interesting to see how my work translates into rugs.

I am also currently in the middle of printing and designing fabric which will have some of my three-dimensional flowers added to them!


Soane Window display: Photographer, Patrick Williamson
Green Tia headboard: Photographer, Boz Gagovski
Savoir Beds: Photographer, Jack Davolio
Chelsea Flower Show: Photographer, Jack Davolio
Curator and Maker: Photographer, Tara Rowse

Our Awards & Affiliation

  • Eu property awards 2021 winner
  • EU Property Awards 2020 winner
  • BHA finalist 2020
  • United Kingdom Property Awards SALIC Winner 2018-2019

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