Zoe Bradley: Paper Artist
PAPER SCAPES WITH
Designer ZOE BRADLEY has mastered something aesthetically rewarding that beautifies visual communication in the commercial sense.
Her hand-sculpted, paper installations are attracting global attention with luxe brands infusing the retail market with her intoxicatingly beautiful paper scapes. A designers dream.
curator BRISEIS ONFRAY | DESIGNER ZOE BRADLEY | PHOTOs Contributed by ZOE BRADLEY DESIGNS | COUNTRy WALES
YOUR FLORAL WORK IS INTOXICATINGLY BEAUTIFUL AND THE VOLUME OF COMMISSIONS YOU HAVE UNDERTAKEN SO FAR IS OUTSTANDING. HOW DID THE ART OF HAND-SCULPTED PAPER DESIGN BECOME YOUR TRADEMARK STYLE?
I was creating a series of showpieces for photo shoots and started working in paper as it could be formed instantly. I went on to produce a series of paper showpieces for Michiko Koshino which were recognized by the London store Liberty. They commissioned me to bring a sense of theatre to their Christmas windows in 2005. I made a series of paper showpieces. This really was like a gallery to the world and marked the beginning of my trademark work in paper.
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WANTED TO PURSUE DESIGN AND WHERE DID YOU STUDY?
I was creative from a very young age; my mother would encourage us to create something from nothing! I went to a non-conventional Catholic school Trinity school in Leamington Spa which encouraged curiosity with a philosophy of inquiry-based learning and the ability to freely study the arts, theatre and music. This experience encouraged my artistic outlook from a very young age. I studied fashion design at Middlesex University then went straight into an apprenticeship with Alexander McQueen in 1997. My role was design assistant but it developed very quickly into showpiece designer as he realised I had a talent for creating the unexpected from unconventional materials.
THE INTERPRETATION OF A CREATIVE BRIEF WILL VARY DEPENDING ON THE DESIGNER BRAINSTORMING THE CONCEPT. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT THE DESIGN PROCESS? AND WHAT DO YOU THINK IS MOST IMPORTANT TO MAKE A CONCEPT SPRING TO LIFE?
The most enjoyable part can be creating the initial mood boards and developing a concept from the client’s initial ideas. To make a concept spring to life you need an element of theatre and spectacle. My trademark has become oversized silhouettes of highly crafted headpieces, dresses and sets commissioned for advertising campaigns, editorial, catwalk shows and window installations. Our attention to detail is what makes us stand out from the crowd.
WHERE ARE YOU FROM ORIGINALLY AND WHERE ARE YOU BASED NOW?
Warwickshire, then I studied and lived in London. I now live and work in rural Wales.
FROM LIBERTY (LONDON) TO LOUIS VUITTON, YOUR DESIGNS ARE NOW SOUGHT AFTER BY HIGHBROW AND LUXE BRANDS WORLDWIDE. YOU RECENTLY WORKED WITH PANDORA (LONDON) TO CREATE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WINDOW INSTALLATION. WHAT IS YOUR DESIGN TIP FOR ALLURING THE CROWDS?
My starting point is always the silhouette which is driven by the surroundings I see my work in. Symmetry plays a big part in my work. It is important with the piece to find an emotional connection a sense of theatre to create a talking point for the client’s customer.
SO INTRICATE YET OFTEN SCULPTED TO LARGE SCALE. WHAT IS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE INSTALLATION SO FAR?
A recent collaboration with Brazilian shoe label Melissa in the heart of Covent Garden. Galleria Melissa was the perfect venue for this floral spectacle, which was once home to the original flower market. Celebrating the spirit of Melissa’s AW17 FLYGRL footwear and accessories collection that champions femininity, we
created an exotic garden, focusing on the feminine, architectural forms of flowers.
From the piazza, a large suspended lotus sculpture hung in the entrance surrounded by a kaleidoscopic floral animation of our flowers coming to life in 3D. As the viewer continued their journey downstairs, they entered into a psychedelic neon garden where the walls and floor were covered in a printed floral landscape surrounding a large central lotus sculpture slowly rotating in the centre of the room.
NATURE IS A CONSTANT SOURCE OF CREATIVE INSPIRATION. IS THERE A PLACE IN THE WORLD YOU LOVE TO GO TO RECHARGE YOUR CREATIVE MOJO?
Mauritius, I have family there so it’s a chance to escape and also recharge. I like the contrast of the tropical plants and flowers; the light is so dramatic, the environment exotic, and the weather sometimes challenging which adds a sense of theatre to the landscape.
DO YOU THINK HANDMADE ART IS BEING APPRECIATED MORE IN A DIGITAL WORLD?
Yes, as there is a desire to work with something tactile and develop a skill that requires your hands.
FROM YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE, WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU PROVIDE TO INSPIRE BUDDING YOUNG DESIGNERS TO JUST GET OUT THERE AND GO FOR IT?
My advice is to gain knowledge from a creative company that inspires you, be persistent and be inventive about getting a foot in the door as you never know where it will lead!