Meet Maude Smith - designer, illustrator and all-round arty genius


We chat to the extremely talented Maude Smith about her life, her love of making things, and her new range of children’s lampshades for Pooky...

Maude Smith is an artist and maker of a multitude of beautiful things. We knew she’d be perfect for creating Pooky’s first range of children’s lampshades as soon as we spotted her amazing home in World of Interiors, and she certainly came up trumps with three gorgeous, dreamy designs.


Empire shade with Maude's Flappity Birds design

So when did you first realise you were an artist?

I've always made, mended and decorated things, from an early age. Whether it be taking apart rag dolls and remaking them, or making space ships out of cardboard boxes, patchwork quilts from scrap fabric, or painting discarded furniture with left over tester pots of emulsion...I don't know if that makes me an artist!

Your work encompasses interior styling, fashion, children’s book illustration, furniture design and much more. How did you end up doing so many different things?

I like the idea of the Arts and Crafts movement and Vanessa Bell; of doing a wide variety of artistic pursuits and not being narrowed to one specialism. Turning away from fine art (which can be a bit pretentious, stuffy and elitist), towards craft and making the everyday beautiful. William Morris (my hero) designed wallpapers, fabrics, furniture, book plates, illustration, architecture.... AND he was a poet, writer, conservationist and socialist.

There’s quite a lot of folk art and medieval influence in your designs. Have you always been interested in those?… And what else inspires your designs?

Yes, I particularly love Medieval art and Folk art. It is again this concept of craft which I love. The tapestries and dark heavy furniture and architecture of the Middle Ages give me great joy. The purity, naturalness, earthiness, simplicity and usefulness of it are wonderful. It is not fussy and idealised, like some Renaissance and Victorian art can be. Also they are not particularly valued for their originality (which I think is overrated in art). Folk art is made in and for the home, and passed down from generation to generation, the same designs are used and repeated. I suppose storytelling is a big part of it too, tapestries and paintings tell wonderful stories, often religious or rural. I am also very inspired by the natural world, by going for walks and seeing grasses and leaves and flowers. God's creation is unbelievable. Man can never come close to making anything nearly so beautiful and lovely.


Straight Empire shade with Maude's Sunny Street design

For the Pooky collaboration you’ve created three designs ('Flappity Birds', 'Sunny Street' and 'Furry Folk') - all fab for kids’ bedrooms. What can you tell us about those?

I’ve been thrilled to collaborate with Pooky and see my drawings transformed into lampshades. Hopefully the lampshades will adorn lights in children's bedrooms and hint at stories, which a child could elaborate in their mind – feed their imaginations to dream of stories of the different characters who might live in the coloured houses, the places the funny looking birds are flying to and the mischief and adventure the woodland animals are getting up to. I think it is important for children to be surrounded by images and pretty things. I suppose one's taste is shaped at this age.

You have an amazing house in which you’ve decorated or handmade virtually everything in your distinctive style, from curtains to cork-covered kitchen walls. What has been the most fun thing to do in your home?

I love giving things a new life, finding abandoned furniture on the street, cleaning, sanding, painting and varnishing it and giving it a new home. I'm keen on recycling and reusing things, rather than buying things new. It's much more fun!

Do you have a personal favourite amongst all your designs?

I made an appliqué out of little scraps of fabric leftover from dressmaking, sewn on an old gardening sack. It hangs in my bedroom and is the first thing I see when I open my eyes in the morning. I think I like that best.

Finally, do you have a favourite Pooky lamp?

Pooky lights are all wonderful! I particularly love the marbled shades and the gathered fabric shades. It is a joy to look at them. They are elegant, fresh, generous and beautiful.


Straight Empire Shade in Maude's Furry Folk design

The Pooky x Maude Smith collection

In the collection are three designs – 'Furry Folk', 'Flappity Birds' and 'Sunny Street' – each taken from original drawings by Maude and inspired by her applique work and botanical painted tiles. The designs are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, making them perfect for mixing and matching with any Pooky table lamp. Options include 25cm and 30cm Empire, and Straight Empire and Drum shades with reversible gimbals that can be used with table lamps or pendants. Shop the Maude Smith children's lampshade collection here.