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houseof x Katie Gillies

For our blog series brands we love, houseof are introducing you to Katie Gillies who specialises in beautiful Terrazzo surface design and products.

Brands We Love
by Florence
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We are so excited to have you feature on our blog! Tell us a little bit about yourself as a designer and how it all started.

I am a surface and product designer from Nottingham with a passion and skill for creating slow design products. I create trays, coasters, plinths, mirror frames and more. I’m always pushing the boundaries of what I do and testing new ideas.

I set up my studio from my parents’ garage back in 2015 where I began delivering both personal design projects and commissioned work for clients. Later in 2016, I moved into a professional studio in Nottingham’s city centre, where I am still based today. It’s a small studio where I work alongside my small team.

I specialise in using Jesmonite to create my colourful terrazzo surfaces and products. Every piece is carefully cast by hand and is completely unique in its colour and design. As well as creating bespoke surfaces and homeware products, I also hold casting workshops, where attendees can learn and create their own pair of terrazzo coasters. Sadly, these have been on hold over the past year, but I’m hoping to start teaching again as soon as I can.

 

You create such beautiful terrazzo products! Has this always been your style?

Thank you so much! I’ve always loved terrazzo and it’s always been a style I’m drawn to, however, I used to create much more minimal and neutral designs. Since I left university my style has developed a lot, when I first started I was more experimental with processes, changing how I worked with Jesmonite and also using varying materials such as concrete and metals, of course, this was often on a smaller scale creating one-off pieces. 

Katie Gillies Mirrors

 

What’s it like to work with Jesmonite? Are there any other materials you use or would like to use in the future?

I really enjoy working with Jesmonite; it's versatile, fantastic for colour-matching and dries quickly. Its quick-dry time is both a pro and a con though, as when I’m teaching classes it can be tough for people to keep up with!


There are two different types of Jesmonite I work with, one is granite-based and provides a more traditional terrazzo look, while the other is great when it comes to playing with colour. While I have worked with other materials in the past, I am actually very keen to branch out into collaborations of new products rather than working with new materials myself. I love the idea of collaborating with designers and brands I respect to bring my colourways and style to new and different products. 

Where do you find your inspiration?

Colour itself is really inspirational, I find myself drawn to colours in the strangest of places. Recently I was watching a 70s documentary about space and in the background, there was this striking shade of blue – as soon as I saw it I became so inspired and knew I had to get into the studio and create something. I really do follow my gut when it comes to inspiration, when I see a certain colour I can create a full palette in my mind straight and run with it.


Another place I draw inspiration from is flowers – I love their organic shapes and colours. They are a great source of inspiration to me, so much so I have just bought a book on floristry!

Katie Gillies Mirrors

 

What has been your biggest achievement or ‘pinch me’ moment to date?

Recently I would have to say being stocked in Liberty was a big moment for me alongside my pop-ups held in collaboration with H&M Home last year. Both are surreal moments, knowing someone could step into a store on a high street and buy my work or visit a hugely respected website such as Liberty’s and shop my products there.

 You’ve done a lot of cool commissions! Do you have a favourite bespoke project so far?

To be honest, my favourite bespoke projects are the things I make for myself! My new coffee table was such a joy to make, I knew I could go into my studio on a weekend and just create something that excites me with no pressure. It’s my favourite thing I’ve made to date. Eventually, I will make some bespoke work for friends and family, and then maybe a wider audience, I like to have full control of the process when it comes to larger, more complex pieces. 

Katie Gillies Mirrors

 

2020 was a tough year! How did it impact you and your business?

It’s been a strange time for us all, for me during lockdown I saw sales soar across the board, in fact, we experienced a 150% increase in business over the past year through online sales.

We get a lot of interaction and interest on Instagram and 2020 was no exception, so much so, I have struggled to keep up with orders at times but it’s a very welcome challenge. Up until last year, I never thought I’d be in a position where I’d be hiring people, and I’m really proud to have created a more sustainable and robust business model during 2020.

What’s your personal favourite ‘ready to buy’ product that you’ve designed?

I think the Midi Mirror is my favourite item – I really like the dimensions of it – it’s a fun item to craft, accessible and it’s become really popular. I think I may make a slightly bigger version of the Midi in the future too, to bridge the gap between the Midi and the Maxi both in size and price. 

 

Katie Gillies Mirrors

 

Finally, if you had to pick a houseof light to pair with one of your designs what would it be?

I’ve been drawn to the Coral Diffuser Lamp for quite some time. It’s a beautiful light; I love the tones it can create and also its powder coating. I would pair it with my new coffee table which has blue ombre legs – I think it would really complement the colours in my living room as a whole and sit well not only next to my own table but also the items I’ve curated in that space. 

Coral Diffuser Floor Lamp
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