There could be many ways to look at James Dunlop’s Mokum Textiles—as one of Australia’s most original and highly regarded textiles brands, as a collective of some of Australia’s most innovative designers and textiles professionals, or as a textile house that celebrates Australian culture and lifestyle through elegant, high quality fabrics. But perhaps a more revealing way to look at Mokum is as an eclectic mix of inspirations and influences all finding harmony under the one roof.
Speaking to Sarah Fox, Mokum’s Commercial Manager for Australia, the latter becomes clear. When asked where she personally looks for inspiration, she replies with palpable zeal. “For me personally, I look at blogs a lot. Places like The Design Files are really great to see what’s happening contemporaneously. I also follow a lot of our clients online,” Sarah remarks.
Figure 1 Mokum Commercial Manager Sarah Fox reflects on her influences and inspirations.
“Our clients often have a different perspective or handwriting to us, so it’s really interesting to see what they’re doing and working on,” Sarah continues. “When that’s woven in with design blogs… you get a really great cross-section of commercial to residential, high-end to low-end and quite a variety of takes on contemporary design. This keeps us current.”
Figure 2 A client’s dream realised: wall curtain in Melbourne’s Monkhouse Design dress boutique, designed by Flack Studio and Lovelight.
This is something Lovelight, whom Sarah describes as “aspirational, creative and collaborative”, is all too familiar with. It should come as no surprise that the design world is intimately acquainted with social media and Lovelight’s approach to social is, as Sarah says, a way to offer a different perspective and contextualize what would otherwise simply be images floating around the web.
Clicking onto our Instagram and Facebook channels is, we hope, like accessing a portal where design, architecture, and construction are discussed, celebrated, and meditated upon. And of course, we are always sharing our inspirations: from the subtle texture of a Roman style dress, which we see one day transforming into tasteful S-fold curtains; to the steely colour palette of silk drapes from Studio David Thulstrup, which we can’t help but admire for their elegance and mystery.
Figure 3 Design and architecture inspiration from Lovelight’s Instagram feed.
Inspiration is at the core of design, and as Sarah argues, the reverse is equally true. “I think we are now so surrounded by design in our lives that we probably take it a little for granted,” she says. “But I think it influences a lot of our decision making. It influences the kind of wine you choose to buy, the restaurant you choose to eat at, the hotel you choose to stay in.”
“It’s a real consideration, not just when it comes to interiors but also graphics, packaging and wider merchandising. It’s really influential in our lives.” So, as one of Australia’s most esteemed textile houses, what inspires Mokum?
“Broadly, for us as a brand it would be quite varied,” Sarah says. “I know that Stephanie Moffat, Mokum’s designer, leans heavily on fashion for inspiration. She draws a lot from catwalk shows that happen in Milan and New York and follows a lot of those trend reports that come from the fashion scene.”
Figure 4 Fashion is an important point of inspiration from the textiles industry, says Sarah. Images from clockwise: @thesartorialist, @thesartorialist, @caroletanenbaum, @dior, @viviennewestwoodofficial and @ jpgaultierofficial.
“It does translate really strongly through to interiors. I think, as antipodes, we’ve got a real indoor-outdoor lifestyle and a lot of light. We actually create a lot of our own style in this part of the world. It’s heavily influenced by a lot of European and American influences, particularly mid-century, which has been hanging around for a really long time.”
Figure 5 Linen curtain in a natural tone from Mokum’s Utopia collection lends a natural backdrop and indoor-outdoor feel to this space.
Looking around the Mokum workroom, influence and inspiration are everywhere. As Sarah explains, look in one corner and you’ll see textiles being imbued with the spirit of the “late ’60s into the late ‘70s aesthetic”. Elsewhere, designers are taking their colour cues from our environment, weaving together “caramel and cognac and tan”. Patterns, on the other hand, are taking shape with “bold colours, floral prints and big-scale designs” inspired by the tropics.
Figure 6 Looking to nature for design inspiration: “We’re seeing a lot of movement with caramel and cognac and tan...” as well as “bold colours, floral prints and big-scale designs.”
According to Sarah, the global industry is seeing the influence of Australia everywhere they look. “People are turning to Australia and New Zealand to lead the charge for potentially a ‘new Scandinavia’, the Scandinavia of the Southern Hemisphere!” Sarah says excitedly. “Because of our location, we’re very free to experiment with design and trend because we don’t share borders with other people who have a long history of a particular look, feel or style.”
Figure 7 Lovelight and Mokum: Cementing Australia’s reputation as ‘the new Scandinavia’.
“It’s a very important thing for local product and textile designers to talk about how innovative they’re being and show it to the world so that people can start to look to us as design innovators in this region. We’re actually already doing a fantastic job of it!”
Now that’s something to make us all feel inspired.