Designer Donna Wilson on why there's no place like home
Photography Seafield Street
Donna Wilson, renowned for creating imaginative worlds full of knitted creatures and fantastical textile creations, talks about finding calm in the nature of her homeland, getting the best business advice from her dad, and how she loves to see her creations come alive…
A ‘hole-and-corner’ is an old English term meaning a secret place: somewhere you go to escape the world, to be inspired, to contemplate and create. Where is your ‘hole-and-corner’?
It has got to be my homeland, the north east of Scotland. My most treasured place is a tiny fishing village called Pennan, which is where Local Hero was filmed. My grandma used to take me there and we’d walk along the seafront. Something about being surrounded by cliffs on one side and the open sea on the other makes you feel very small in the world. It feels like a million miles away from the chaos of my normal life in London!
What elements do you think make a perfect ‘hole-and-corner’?
Definitely nature: the elements, big skies and no traffic or shops.
Is it private to you or do you let other people visit?
It’s private but I like to share it with my good friends and family. I’d love it if it were a special place for my two boys too, but their childhood is so different from mine, so it might not make sense for them.
What do you like to listen to when you’re working?
We tend to listen to BBC 6 Music in the studio, but when I’m designing (normally in an evening with no distractions), I love listening to some of my old favourites like Jeff Buckley – if I’m feeling contemplative – or Paul Simon’s Graceland if I’m in a good mood!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
I listen to advice all the time, but I think the best I’ve ever been given came from my father. I had started running my own company and he said to me, ‘Donna, make sure you are selling something for more than it costs you to make it.’ The basic rules of business! I realised then that I’d been selling a knitted tea cosy and making minus £5 every time one sold.
Describe your most memorable performance and why?
We hosted a performance of Goose the Bear, which is a puppet show by In Ljubljana, the award-winning children’s puppet theatre. It was memorable because it’s so professionally performed with great sound, but also because I designed the puppets, scenery and set. It was amazing to see the creatures all coming to life and the audience so captivated by it. That was so incredible for me.