LIFE is never black and white for Glasgow designer Jan Milne. Famed for her bold prints in eye-popping colours, she is making the world a brighter place. She’s obsessed with colour – everything she designs, from cushions, curtains, tables, chairs and handbags to her latest venture, jewellery, is awash with colour in her trademark tropical shades.
She’s easy to pick out in the crowd. Naturally, her love of colour spills over to her dress sense, and while she’s wearing tight jeans tucked into brown leather wedge boots, she’s snug inside a long fitted cardigan in fuschia pink while colourful jewellery – her own – dangles at her ears and wrist.
She’s also toting one of her own handbags, a gorgeous gold design in the softest, butteriest leather.
“I always used to say I felt guilty if I wore black,” she laughs. “I dress to express my personality – I’m always attracted to the bright stuff.
” Jan divides her time between Glasgow and Barcelona, and her jewellery range has been picked up by Glasgow boutique Fifi &Ally and the Hillhouse.
Made from glass and resin beads and mixed with Swarovski crystals, it’s a fun, fashion range that came about by accident.
“There are some beautiful bead shops in Spain and I started making bracelets for myself,” says Jan.
“Friends commented on them and I was asked to make more, so I ended up making 200 pieces for a craft fair in Edinburgh and then I sold 600 at Christmas.
” Jan moved to Barcelona almost two years ago, and loves her dual life. In Spain, she focuses on the creative side, working on her designs or sitting on the beach stringing beads.
“When back here I work more effectively, and in Barcelona it’s a slower pace of life, the idea is to be more creative. I come home as and when I need to, but it’s funny, I’ve got more work in Glasgow since I left.
” Fruit, flowers and feathers dominate her distinctive designs which have gone down a storm in America, where she has designed fabrics for hip bars and restaurants, including a sushi bar in New York’s Fifth Avenue and Gloria Estefan’s Bongos venue in Miami.
Closer to home, she designed fabrics for the Reds Espresso Bar, in Glasgow Road, Paisley.
Her interiors products and handbags can be found in several Glasgow stores, including Form at the Lighthouse, Linda Reid+ and Hutcheson’s Hall in Ingram Street.
As well as fabrics, she also works in printed acrylic which has been used to make funky nests of tables, wall panels, room dividers and dining tables and chairs.
Born in Aberdeen, Jan trained at Glasgow School of Art and graduated with first-class honours in printed textiles.
She set up her own company in 1995, supplying custom printed textiles to architects and interior designers.
In 1996 she attended a trade show in San Francisco and that’s when things really took off.
Her first big contract was to supply fabric for the seating in New York’s Fifth Avenue Genki Sushi, then New York’s Rockwell Group commissioned fabrics for a restaurant in the Mirage Casino, Las Vegas.
Next on the list was Gloria Estefan’s Bongos in Miami, then fabric for one of New York’s W Hotels.
“I love what I do – I’ve never really looked at it as a job – I just try to apply myself to everything Ilike.”