Bursting with colour and proudly showcasing the best of British, printed textile designer Laura Beirne creates homewares that are guaranteed to make you smile

We all know a thoughtfully decorated house can have a positive impact on our mood and wellbeing. After the unpredictable lockdowns of the last few years, the role of a home and the way it makes us feel has become increasingly more important.

From colours to lighting, décor choices to plants, our choices can influence our own emotional state. Whether it be purchasing a unique throw, or hanging up new wall art, being surrounded by beauty is something that can evoke optimism and happiness.

No one advocates for this more than printed textiles designer, Laura Beirne. Over the years, the Botley based creative has earned a reputation for her quintessentially British, eye-catching designs, bursting with colour. Exquisitely patterned cushions, lampshades, pouffes and placemats are just some of the products she sells online and at markets. She’s also stocked in ethical wholesalers, Wolf and Badger. All her designs begin by being hand-drawn and are traditionally made in the UK as environmentally friendly as possible.

Great British Life: Laura's designs are bold and vibrant, the perfect antidote to winterLaura's designs are bold and vibrant, the perfect antidote to winter (Image: Mattea McKinnon)

Uplifting and vibrant are words that not only reflect the stunning prints created by the designer but also her character. Laura is the sort of person that lights up every room she enters with her infectious zest for life and interest in others. She shares how it all started: ‘As a child I was actually really shy until I started drama school, and from there I found the confidence to express myself freely. Art was always a form of escapism for me and my bedroom was the place I liked to decorate the most. I would always tear up magazines and collage my door. The ceiling was head to toe in stars, hanging shells and just things I would see as magic.’

She continues: ‘I was very particular with my clothes - I saw them as a way of expressing myself, through colour and pattern. A way to make me feel better, clothing acted like a cloak of confidence.’

Coming from a single-parent home, Laura is particularly passionate about supporting other women in the industry and employs local seamstresses who she describes as being the ‘backbone of her business.’

Great British Life: Laura's rural home in Botley provides balance from the hype of her London dwellingsLaura's rural home in Botley provides balance from the hype of her London dwellings (Image: Mattea McKinnon)

She explains: ‘Growing up it was just me, my brother, and my mum. My mum worked very hard in the social care sector. We grew up in the quiet town of Highcliffe, so I had little insight into the creative industry. I struggled with this at first as I wasn’t aware of luxury brands and designers, but this quickly changed after university.’

In-between her studies at the University of Brighton, the opportunity arose for Laura to work for Mehera Shaw in India; an ethical and sustainable manufacturer that connects Indian handcrafts with the western market to help provide jobs and pioneer the block printing industry.

She remembers: ‘After a lot of psyching myself up I booked my plane ticket, aged 22, and spent my time curating my research in Jupuir in India. I worked alongside the block printers and designers and discovered how craft brought income to less developed areas. This was where I saw a huge benefit in the cottage industry way of working.’

Great British Life: Laura's country pigs design is one of her best-sellersLaura's country pigs design is one of her best-sellers (Image: Mattea McKinnon)

Laura appreciated that often within the Indian prints, there were symbolic meanings behind the fabric, each with its own hidden story. Her own designs now represent Britain, whether it be decorative patterns of the royal coat of arms or a rabbit and whippet playing in a field of acorns.

Laura returned home to complete her master’s degree which resulted in the beginning of her creating her own collection. She says: ‘I’d be drawing three to four designs every week. I’d then screen print each one in a range of colours and develop this into wallpaper and upholstery fabric.’

She initially looked for work in the textile industry but decided, ‘my style was too strong to fit into someone else’s handwriting, as I already had such a strong identity’ – a decision that would turn out to be a very wise choice.

Great British Life: Laura loves the variety of spaces Hampshire can provide, from forest to coastLaura loves the variety of spaces Hampshire can provide, from forest to coast (Image: Mattea McKinnon)

The business owner’s confidence in her own ability initially wavered: ‘It took me a while to realise I had my own brand waiting to be unleashed! I’m also extremely dyslexic so find certain aspects more challenging.’

Laura bases herself between picturesque Botley and the bustle of Stoke Newington in East London. A slice of city life, combined with more peaceful rural living for balance.

Inspired by Hampshire, Laura explains: ‘The beauty of the New Forest is that it’s so big that you can almost always find a new spot to escape to and explore. I adore animals and visiting Wilverley plain and Burley. Nature is like air for me, it’s my happy place. I enjoy early morning runs, taking in the tall trees and spotting deer, as well as watching the herds of horses cantering through the Forest. It’s that connection to the wild that excites me.’

Laura makes each moment count and travels all over the UK, displaying her work in Bournemouth and Winchester and is a regular at London’s famous Convent Garden market.

‘It’s so great to connect with people, especially tourists. There is such an array of individuals coming from different places and cultures. I like to share my expression of British culture so that people can take it away as something to remember a place or a holiday and just put a smile on their faces.’

Great British Life: Laura loves spending time in the New Forest sketching Laura loves spending time in the New Forest sketching (Image: Mattea McKinnon)

When Laura isn’t busy working on her business, she can be found exploring art exhibitions and paddle-boarding on the river Hamble. Like so many of us, she admits she is, ‘terrible at sitting still!

‘My favourite design has to be the country pigs; they’ve always been one of my favourite animals - they are just so hilarious and cute. I used to love visiting the farm shop with my mum as a child so I could pat the pig in the farm next door. I was horrified when I realise where the joint hung up in the shop was from and never ate pork again!’

For any budding business owner out there looking to take the first steps, Laura shares: ‘Be patient as it can be a slow process. Start by sewing the seed and seeing what opportunities come. Try to throw away any fear. The more you do, the more you discover and learn!’

For Laura, it is clear that her creativity is all about self-expression and translating it into something visual. Looking ahead, she says she hopes to keep crafting fresh collections and to visit India again to create more of a connection with the crafts industry. She smiles: ‘It would be a dream to be stocked at Liberty, so I may as well say it out loud just in case!’