Join us as we meet Florence Samuarez of Inq in her studio in Bath to watch the marbled pattern maker at work and find out a bit more about the beautiful hand marbled papers she creates.
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I am a mum of two wildly different and wonderful teenaged boys. I have a degree in Architecture and have always had a curiosity about materials and how things are made. I really would like to own two dogs and grow my own vegetables in the near future. I’m a home body but like to go on a huge adventure with my boys every few years. I also enjoy the odd mini city break on my own as I am a massive introvert!
Marbling is such a traditional craft how do you add your own style and give your work a contemporary feel?
I don’t think it is a particularly conscious thing. I simply choose colours which please me and I feel work together. It is an iterative process which sometimes takes quite a long time and a fair amount of experimentation before I am happy with the balance of colours and pattern. Lately I have been favouring quite bold patterns in single colours which I think work in a contemporary setting but do not exclude themselves from traditional environments either, which is pleasing!
Tell us about your creative process…
The marbling takes place in a stainless steel tank which I had specially made for the job. It is filled with a solution made from carragheen which is an extract of seaweed. It is very slimy, as you might imagine, and allows the paint to float on the surface and for it to be combed into patterns without blending together. It is very clever! Once the pattern has been made, I roll a piece of paper onto the surface of the tank and the paint bonds to the paper as a mono print. With practice, a fairly consistent pattern can be produced over and over again but obviously, no two pages are exactly the same. I rinse the excess carragheen off the paper and hang them to dry overnight.
The mesmerising patterns and the endless colour combinations you create always feel very elegant, where do you get your colour inspiration from?
Ahh, thank you! I keep a little file of inspiring colour combinations, quite often from magazines or snippets of fabrics. The odd Picasso painting has been my starting point! My workshop guests are also very inspiring as they demonstrate a fearlessness with colour which encourages me out of my safety zone.
How do your beautiful papers get used?
I lot of my work is commission based, most often for hand marbled wallpaper, lampshades or for licensing projects which go on to become all sorts of things. Thinking of marbling as a surface pattern design means that it can be applicable to an unlimited number of things. I would be sad if I was simply at my tank all day and every day and did not get to experiment with the next phase of the papers’ lives.
You often teach marbling workshops, what do you enjoy most about those days and have you got any workshops coming up?
What I love about the day is that guests turn up prepared for sheer pleasure! I really admire that people will do that and invest in their friends and family for a session of experimentation and discovery. Not often as adults, do we get to throw paint around with abandon and to focus solely on what is in front of us. It also reminds me of the magic of pulling up the first paper to discover the pattern. It is still a craft which is shrouded in a little mystery so that moment when you realise how it all works and that it is possible for complete beginners to create really fabulous designs straight away, is so satisfying.
I don’t have any workshops coming up at the moment because of the answer to my final question but there will be more in 2023.
What new things are on the horizon for Inq?
Ahh this is my favourite question! As a designer and not a very good business woman, it is always the next thing which I am most excited about! I am working on a collection of printed marbled wallpaper, which is an absolute dream. I have managed to achieve some designs which to my eye, are indistinguishable from my original papers, but which have a perfect repeat and I cannot wait to launch them in January 2023. I am a little impatient as there has been an elephant’s gestation period of development, but I think it will be worth the wait! Also in development is a ceramic table lamp, a wall lamp and a mirror which are being made for me in Stoke on Trent. It is very exciting indeed to be working with experts in their field who will make my designs a reality with far fewer tears than I would shed if I was working on my own.
Describe your fashion style…
I spend 80% of my time in my wardrobe dregs as I don’t want to ruin everything I enjoy wearing but on rare days when I can wear my chosen unpainted clothes, I have a uniform of corduroy, cotton and wool. Natural fabrics is my first concern along with construction and longevity. My entire wardrobe is from Toast and eBay. I think my daytime wardrobe has an ‘hard working peasant’ aesthetic and then when I go out I love to dress up in silk jumpsuits or something metallic and textured, which is much more fun. I think the balance of these two styles allows me to make easy choices day to day but gives me a bit of pizzazz when I feel like it!
What do you admire about Chapter 2?
What I admire is that the designs of the boots and shoes are so carefully considered and constructed. With age, I know they will not lose their charm or function. I love that you are a husband and wife team who live and breathe the quality of your brand. It is the ultimate in wholesome slow fashion but with incredible enduring style. Also, I have big feet, but I still felt like Cinderella when I first tried them on! I would never wear shoes that I could not run in, should the need arise.
I like to think that shoes take you on adventures big and small, where will your Swift shoes take you?
My Swift shoes will be the first shoes to walk on the polished concrete floors of our self build home and studio. We have been working on it for nearly three years already and we hope to move in in the Spring of 2023. It is the most home-grown project with my brother and sister in-law having designed it for us and my partner project managing it and in a large part, building it also. I am designing our kitchen and bathrooms at the moment and doing the electrical layouts and so forth and many of our friends helped with building the roof over lock-down. I find it so moving to think of all the hands which have helped us craft such a wonderful building. We are definitely having the lows along the way but I think wounds are bound to form with such a large venture, but like creases on leather, they will add character and it will all be worth it eventually!
Florence wears Swift shoes in Fox.
Photos: Fay Murphy