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Interview with Naomi Sisson, founder of sustainable fabric and wallpaper brand Seed Home Designs

We were blessed to get a peek behind the scenes of the Cornish sustainable brand Seed Home Designs recently. We thought we would share this fascinating insight into the world of founder Naomi Sisson, and hope you find it as inspiring as we have.

Tell us about Seed Home Designs – How do you define your brand?

Colourful coastal meets country cotton and organic, eco-friendly print fabrics and wallpapers, designed in Cornwall and printed in England.

Tell us about your journey – What led you into designing fabrics and wallpapers?

I always loved textiles as a child, experimenting with layering, collage, colour, pattern, and texture. Even at school I wanted to become a textile designer. I enrolled onto a Surface Pattern course which led to a degree in Multi-Media Textiles. After graduating I freelanced for fashion and giftware agencies for some time alongside teaching art and design at a 6th form college. Prior to my youngest daughter beginning school and with the potential of extra time on my hands, I sensed an opportunity to create my own collection of nature inspired designs and to see what happened. The response to the designs was so positive that I made the decision to commit to it as a business venture. With my growing inspiration from nature and love of homemaking, the words Seed and Home seemed a great fit, hence the name Seed Home Designs came about.

There is a strong focus on sustainability and eco-friendly products and methods for Seed Home Designs – Was there a specific reason or event that made these principles so important to you?

When I began designing, I was inspired by a strong connection to nature and exploration of my own spiritual journey. I wanted to offer excellent quality products that were either locally or British made and printed. I was drawn to organic fabrics and began to consider more about caring for the environment. It felt quite a natural thing to make those choices and grow a business that places a high value on sustainability and environment.

And what measures have you specifically taken to make your brand ethos a reality in practice?

All our fabrics and wallpapers are printed to order, to minimise waste. Manufacturers are UK based and use 100% renewable energy. Seed Home Designs chooses to use cotton or GOTS certified organic fabrics as the processes use no water and produce less than a thimble of ink waste per 100 metres printed. As a business we are committed to re-use and minimise plastic waste and, where possible, swap out for alternatives such as vegetable based packaging or recycled paper and sustainable card. It is tricky when sending out lovely white fabrics as we really don’t want them to arrive marked or dirty as that would be wasteful in itself! We are always careful not to use unnecessary packaging. We selected a local company to print our wallpapers. These are sustainably made and printed using water-based inks that do not use many of the chemicals typically found in the manufacturing of wallpapers today. Our printer is also committed to planting a tree in a UK forest for every roll sold.

Your designs are firmly nature based with a charming playfulness to them – How did your style come about, and how did it develop?

I have always produced work by creating drawings from themes that interest me. I am aware of current trends, but I am careful not to be too swayed by these in order to keep what I do completely original. I have lots of feedback that my work is fresh and different and other designers love the work I produce. Using colour trends and knowing what sells best from my collections helps to set the direction for my work. I also absorb my local environment. Cornwall is rich and unique and has a beautiful way of doing laid back luxury. I hope that this will become a part of my brand and be increasingly reflected in my work the longer I live here!

Tell us about your creative process – Where do you find inspiration, and how does that translate to the finished product?

I find drawing and painting very meditative and enjoy the moments of getting ‘lost’ in the process. I keep sketchbooks and create drawings while out and about in nature or from photographs that I take. Sometimes I use watercolour paint, sometimes just simple drawing media such as pen and pencil. I then scan the drawings that have potential for a design and play around with them using digital media to create seamless repeat patterns. I think one of my favourite parts is sending a design for printing and seeing samples come back as fabric or wallpaper. I order test prints before launching a new design. This is especially important with fabrics as colours can vary on the journey from the computer screen to the cloth selected for print.

Tell us about your experience setting up a business – As a British fabric designer, what is it like to run your own small business rather than work for one of the international design houses, especially through a pandemic?

I love the flexibility in working for myself which means that I can work around my family and create the time needed for them. I am also self-motivated and generally work better going with my gut feeling rather than being over-analytical or being directed by someone else. However, there are days when it’s hard working for yourself and being the one making what feels like very big decisions! Years ago, I worked for a greeting and giftware design company, but the hours were demanding, and design work was dictated by larger businesses with unreasonable deadlines. I do not thrive in this kind of environment. Churning out designs ‘to brief’ is not my cup of tea! I have been running Seed Home Designs for over 6 years, building slowly. I need my business to make space for my personal life and family. I hope that this will give my business longevity. The pandemic was a huge challenge but there is often something cleansing when things are out of control, and you have no option but to surrender to it. I had plenty of space during that time to re-think what I really wanted my business to become and to turn my focus onto eco fabric and wallpaper. I believe my business came out stronger because of that time.

Tell us what you’d do differently, or what you wish you had known – If you could offer one piece of advice to your younger self, what would that be?

I wish I hadn’t been so stressed preparing for my first trade show. I had a knot in my stomach for months and my poor family had a lot of burnt fish fingers for tea due to my epic multi-tasking! At the time, taking part in a trade show was a massive thing for me and the long-term financial investment meant there were certainly moments of imposter syndrome. In the earlier days I spent way too much time on social media which didn’t help my stress levels! Social media is an amazing tool but it’s important to remember to take days off and be strategic on how you use it to prevent wasting valuable business time.

What advice would you offer to aspiring fabric and wallpaper designers?

Get yourself a business mentor! I was fortunate to receive a mentor grant from Cultivator Cornwall, so was privileged to have a very successful interior designer and coach mentor me once a month for a year. Her advice was so valuable, and it prevented me from making many mistakes, helping to increase sales of fabrics and now also wallpapers.

Tell us what’s next – What can we look forward to seeing from Seed Home Designs?

This spring I am about to launch two new designs inspired by Cornwall. Cornish Meadow which comes in four beautiful colours, inspired by earth and sky. I have already launched Cornish Meadow as a sustainable wallpaper and the related fabrics are coming soon. I have been working on some new illustrations inspired by the coast. These are taking more thought as I work to produce something unique and maybe more grown-up, especially as coastal themes have been well used in fabric design. I have a feeling that interior designers are beginning to tire and move away from overly obvious seaside fabrics so it’s another tricky one. Still, I am enjoying the challenge! Alongside my own design collections, I have some exciting bespoke project commissions coming up which I absolutely love working on. I can’t give away anything at present, but if you follow me on social media I am sure you will get a peek before long!

Zenterior are proud to supply Seed Home Designs fabrics and wallpapers. Check out the latest collections here:

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