Shades of Brilliance - bringing the decorative arts revolution into your home!

As the two winners of Pooky’s Shades of Brilliance design competition show, a print and pattern revolution is well and truly underway – and young designers are bringing wondrous decorative arts into our sitting rooms…

When we launched our recent lampshade collaboration with Liberty, which mixed contemporary reworkings of historic archive designs, Pooky’s founder Rohan Blacker said that he wanted them to ‘pave the way for a print and pattern revolution’ in interior decor.

Today, we can confidently say that the revolution is in full swing!

For our Shades of Brilliance challenge Pooky invited design students across the UK to create an original lampshade design, and we – and our panel of judges including interior design stars Matthew Williamson and Beata Heuman – were blown away by the quality and quantity of the entries.

There is a vast ocean of talent and dynamism out there in the UK’s great design colleges. It’s a movement that harks back to the golden age of the decorative arts, when creatives like William Morris and Charles Rennie Mackintosh were blurring the lines between art and decoration to bring striking originality and beauty into the affordable objects of everyday living.

And it’s exemplified by our two winners, who in their quite different ways bring genuine artistry to their shade designs...


Ellen Merchant - 'Poppies'

Poppies in green

Ellen Merchant’s hand block print Poppies, which came a very narrow second in the competition, speaks directly to William Morris and the British Arts & Crafts movement, yet at the same time its vibrant colour palette gives it a very contemporary feel.

The design was inspired by Ellen’s daily morning walks during the first Covid lockdown in London, when she would see wildflowers springing up from the ground.

It is a two colour print featuring a single Poppy and interlocking meadow flowers in a conventional repeating pattern, but the hand-carving and printing method, with its quirks and imperfections gives the design a lovely, playful charm.

Ellen's hand block printing process [Photo: Clementine Cusack] and above, drawings from Ellen's sketchbook



Tamar Kalif - The Dance

The Dance in minerals

Our overall winner Tamar Kalif also takes her inspiration from natural beauty - but in this case, the beauty that can be found in human movement.

In The Dance Tamar blends a series of individual scenes to create a whole that evokes ‘a dancing group caught in the middle of a performance’. As an artwork it looks back even further than the Arts & Crafts movement, to the Hellenistic period (think all those statues of Greek gods and goddesses in spectacular writhing poses) and to the melodramatic figures of Baroque painting. There’s also a lovely nod to Matisse, who was similarly inspired by the shapes of dancers.

But what really excited the judges – and us – was The Dance’s originality: it’s like nothing else in Pooky’s collection... or indeed, anything else we’ve seen on a shade!

Tamar Kalif - and above, The Dance detail and original sketches

Pooky are delighted not only to add such beautiful designs to our collection, but to showcase (and pay royalties) to young designers as they begin their careers. Vive la decorative arts revolution!

Read more about Tamar and Ellen, the Shades of Brilliance challenge and buy the lampshades here.