Textile designer Jan Milne is pushing the boundaries of modern day design with her fabric and furnishing ranges says Jennifer Harper.
Mention the words Formica, plastic, laminate or acrylic in terms of household furniture and many people will throw up their hands in horror. Add a spattering of vibrant flower heads, stripes or geometric shapes to the image and they will guffaw as the Ď60s springs to mind.
But this isnít a scene from 40 years ago, it is 21st century Scotland, where translucent acrylic tables and fashionable room dividers bearing colourful designs are being used to inject individuality and a sense of fun back into homes. And the lady behind this phenomenon is Glasgow textile designer Jan Milne.
On graduating from Glasgow School of Art with a degree in textile design in 1994, Milne naturally set about creating her own distinctive fabrics. Having succeeded in upholstering some of the top hotels and restaurants in America with her citrus fruit and exotic flower fabrics, she decided to research how she could apply her designs on to the furniture on a more permanent basis.
The results were her printed acrylic tables and screens which, as well as being functional, are now also sought after as works of art in their own right.Jan has since taken this one step further and has added acrylic dining tables and chairs to the collection. Naturally, the hard wearing and wipe clean surfaces are also appealing to homeowners.
"I worked on the printing process for about a year " she admits. "Laminates were big in the Ď50s and acrylic was popular in the Ď60s so I decided to keep the retro shapes of the furniture with their radiused corners and soft edges but given it a 21st century look using modern technology to apply my designs and colour schemes. The translucency of acrylic appeals to minimalists and these pieces combine the minimalist look with vibrant colours. "
Interiors giant Linda Reid of Glasgow was one of the first to snap up Jan's tables and room dividers to sell through her store. But she was also the inspiration for the develpoment of the range.
"Linda asked me to design a dining table for her to sell," says Jan."It was such a success that I decided to launch the dining table range at the 100% Design show in September. I have now also designed chairs to match. They are heavy pieces of furniture and people can choose a print and colourway from my whole range of designs that they would like to match in with the rest of their interior."
The designs include everything from sensuous damasks and vibrant gerberas to fruit slices and spirals.The collection varies from cafe style kitchen tables with a choice of laminate or vinyl seats, to printed velvet or vinyl stools, and of course the striking round dining table with its translucent legs and printed top. Jan has also designed a range of placemats and coasters to match, as well as finishing touches such as cushions which come in exquisite, satin, silk and organza printed fabrics.
Experiencing Jan's work is like entering a magnificent colourful world that exudes a glorious mix of positive yet subtle designs that both enhance the mood and creat a welcoming interior.far from garish, the individual items such as cushions, look fabulous when mixed in with other household furnishings, while a stunning decor can be created when complete ranges are placed in a comtemporary room that has been painted in neutral shades.
While the dining tables retail from around £1500, with the matching chairs starting around £600 each, nests of tables can be snapped up for £500.Nevertheless, Jan's acrylic screens and room dividers also seem to be igniting the imagination of interior conscious Scots. As well as being used as functional pieces of furniture, some people have been inclined to hang the individual panels in front of windows or against walls, using them as alternative paintings. When stood or hung where natural light can illuminate the vivid colours, the screens take on a stained glass effect.
People are seeing these as pieces of art" smiles Jan."If someone chooses to separate an open plan living room and kitchen, this screen does not make the area feel blocked off because of its translucency."
Jan's international reputation now means that she splits her time between her studios in Glasgow and Barcelona. Her work is already prevalent in America, where she has helped shape the interiors of Gloria Estefanís Miami restaurant Bongoís and the Samba Grill in the Mirage Hotel, Las Vegas. Closer to home, she was commissioned to design laminate wall panels for a restaurant within the Home Office and also sells a range of soft furnishings through the National Trust for Scotland, and acrylic furniture through Fifi and Ally in Glasgow.
The diversity of her work is inspiring. Whether it is enjoyed simply as a small addition to the home or as the main focus within a room, there's little doubt thatguests will be enraptured every time they stepo through your front door.
* To discuss a commission or to hear more about the full range of acrylic furniture and soft furnishings, contact Jan Milne on 0141 589 1446 or visit www.janmilne.co.uk