In the (Home) Studio
Liberty Design Director Holly Marler talks us through her creative inspirations while working from home
Liberty designs are dreamt up in-house, each capturing a different magic facet of our quintessentially British heritage – from characters redrawn from a 1930s booklet depicting the myriad fashionable uses for a Liberty silk scarf, to richly repainted Art Nouveau artworks evoking a ‘70s Gothic Revival flavour. Each seasonal collection is led by Design Director Holly Marler, who previously honed her skills at homegrown fashion houses including Alexander McQueen.
From heritage to humour, if a design or a piece of art is authentic and creates a conversation or evokes an emotion, then it is inspiring.
Marler works in a whirlwind of creative references. “Stories and story-telling inspire me just as much as beautiful images do,” she explains. “I like all my drawings to be informed by a story or a moment in time.” When gleaning inspiration for future collections, Marler likes to visit the National Art Library at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London’s Knightsbridge: “It is steeped in heritage and the room looks completely magical, like it is waiting for you to discover something. It is full of people and very busy, yet really quiet and dark, lit with Anglepoise lamps. It’s so different to my normal surroundings, and it really gives you space to think.”
When researching a new collection, the full dynamic force of London’s cultural and creative hub is key, its wealth of art galleries, libraries and theatres playing a powerful role. When the city locked down earlier in the year, Marler realised that even seemingly mundane daily routines within it can act as a source of inspiration. “I thought I hated my commute to work, but really getting on the tube and walking through Soho was energising and uplifting,” she explains. “It would give me time to think about what was important, pull together ideas and get inspired by something or someone around me.”
Since making the move to working from home, Marler has infused this imaginative mentality into her new normal. “My creativity has been ignited by forcing myself to do things in different ways,” she notes. “To force myself not to be wasteful, to use the paper or art materials I had in my house, rather than buy new – and then to apply this mindset to the bigger picture. It affected my decision-making for everything I designed to be important and authentic.” Taking a creative approach helps to entertain other members of the family too: “My children and I were making and decorating cakes for their grandparents and great-grandparents, and we also made teddy bears out of scrap pieces of fabric as part of the #LibertyCraftClub. I have tried to teach them some photoshop and painting techniques too, as I wasn’t so good at the other subjects in home schooling!”
Marler finds that she tends to end up painting late into the night while working from home, as that’s the most peaceful time. “I enjoyed painting at home during lockdown as I am in the countryside surrounded by fields, lakes, flowers and nature,” she says. “It was lovely to be able to enjoy this, rather than rushing around…. Being at home surrounded by your books and your own precious objects can be refreshing.” She listens to podcasts from Tom Allen, Suzi Ruffell and Katherine Ryan while she works, as well as an eclectic playlist ranging from ‘90s hip hop to musical theatre: “I have to keep changing it, as I tend to paint for hours and hours at a time. My daughter watches a lot of theatre events online too, which I then end up listening to while painting.”