Drawing on creative inspiration: Designer, lecturer and founder of ‘Clover Rua’, Anita Elliott

Design life with Anita Elliott: designer, lecturer and founder, ‘Clover Rua’.

Drawing on creative inspiration: Designer, lecturer and founder of ‘Clover Rua’, Anita Elliott

By Aileen Lee

Design life with Anita Elliott: designer, lecturer and founder, ‘Clover Rua’.

What’s your background?

I studied textiles at the National College of Art and Design. In my final year, I designed and created a collection of textiles inspired by Dublin City architecture.

A tiny mention in a review landed me a dream job in the textile industry. I got to travel to trade shows in London, Paris and Germany. My role was to grow the fashion side of the business, find new customers and design collections. I had a wonderful boss and worked with amazing people, but I really wanted to travel, so after seven years, I said goodbye and headed for Australia.

There I found a shared studio space with local creatives on Sydney’s Oxford Street and so began a more artistic expression of my textile work.

Talking to design students led to a part-time lecturing post. I worked with interior designers and architects on commission pieces including a collaboration with Pike Withers for the luxury Bedarra Island Hotel.

The pieces were seen by Australian Vogue Living and I was lucky enough to be interviewed at my studio for the magazine.

I started to feel the pull of home, and in Dublin, I set about recreating a similar spread of work. I was busy, and it was a fantastic time – juggling lecturing and a studio practice suited me.

After the birth of my daughter, I stepped out of lecturing and answered the persistent, niggling call to create my own Irish gift wear brand.

Clover Rua was born on my kitchen table in 2013. Martin Gleeson and I are business partners – he came on board a few months after I set up.

What’s a typical work day like for you?

I’m reconnecting with morning yoga, so after a cup of tea I hit the mat for 20 minutes. Then it’s time to get my daughter up and off to school. From there I head for the studio, unless I have meetings. Screen printing days are a favourite, my textile heart is in its happy place mixing inks, preparing fabrics and watching the magic of printing.

Tell us about a recent project or design you have worked on?

I’m very excited about a recent commission from Harrods to create a new design for their own brand gift wear collection.

We loved researching Knightsbridge and the opportunity to study London’s architecture. The final design will be printed across a collection of products and sold exclusively by Harrods.

The latest project is the exciting opening of Clover Rua’s studio shop in Marlay Park’s newly launched craft courtyard.

From this idyllic location, we have the opportunity to meet customers and be a part of a newly-emerging creative hub.

What’s your design style?

The theme of my work had become increasingly influenced by my Irish heritage. I also love the combination of clean line drawing and bright colour.

What/Who inspires your work?

Walking, architecture, bridges, travel, all sorts of everyday things. Getting orders from around the world and receiving letters from customers about how much they love their pieces is the very best inspiration and motivation.

What’s your favourite trend at the moment (if you have any)?

Vivid colour and bold prints are so cheerful, I love them, from fine art to fashion they seem to be everywhere this season.

What’s your most treasured possession?

A patchwork blanket knitted for me by my Grandmother when I was about seven. She died many years ago and it’s a beautiful comforting connection to her that lives on.

Who would be your favourite designer, or style inspiration?

Watching the phenomenal success of designer Tamara Ralph of Ralph and Russo, a former student from my Sydney lecturing days, has blown my mind. Her use of traditional textile embellishment through the label’s collections is breath-taking. The attention to detail is reminiscent of François Lesage, my first textile love.

What would be a dream project for you to work on?

We have a few exciting projects in development, working large scale is a new departure that I’m very excited about.

Have you any design tips for us?

Find what you love and don’t be afraid to override a trend if it doesn’t make you happy.

Instagram: @cloverrua; Twitter: @CloverRua; Facebook: /cloverrua

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