Creatif Conversations: 10. Charlotte Jade

Bright, bold and botanical; a Charlotte Jade design can be spotted a mile off. Charlotte Jade is a luxury interior design brand that’s made its mark by specialising in beautiful, highly detailed, hand drawn artworks.

Fully embracing biophilic design, Charlotte focuses on incorporating lush foliage, exotic creatures and rich patterns to make spaces feel more welcoming – whether that’s in a residential, hospitality or workspace environment.

We caught up with Charlotte to discuss her organic approach to design and the experiences that provide so much inspiration for her work.

Creatif: In a technology-driven world, where we can get machines to create for us, why did you decide to go back to basics and hand draw your artwork?

Charlotte Jade: I’ve always loved drawing; it’s been my passion ever since I was a child. There’s something incredibly satisfying about hand drawing your own designs, watching the plant or animal come to life on paper, and then using digital technology to add the final flourish – colour.

When I was younger I wanted to be a cartoonist, and was always drawing cats and dogs. I was fascinated at how we can see something in front of us and then translate it to something someone else can see.

When I was at secondary school, I followed various mainstream illustrators having a career in something I absolutely loved, which inspired me to continue drawing at university. There, my passion for vibrant pattern design grew and it was in my final year that Charlotte Jade all began.

Creatif: Nature features heavily in your designs, specifically tropical foliage and larger than life animals. Why do you think there is a niche for this particular style, especially contrasted against the ever-popular minimalist Scandi-inspired look?

CJ: I think nowadays people are more willing to take a risk. Design trends go in waves but people will always gravitate towards pictures of the environment – we’ve been drawing animals and trees in caves for over 20,000 years – and biophilic design has many proven health benefits, so it seems like the right time to blend a bit of bravery with boldness.

Tigers, jaguars, elephants, lemurs and zebras all have really big personalities too. So rather than soft muted colours, I’m finding people are drawn to bright, eye-catching colours and a busy background.

Creatif: Which particular countries’ landscape and culture inspire you the most and why?

CJ: South-East Asia definitely inspired a lot of my work. I visited Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam, and have encapsulated a little piece of all of them in my drawings.

Bali was my favourite place; it was just such a beautiful environment and I felt that I could stay there forever. I remember that was where I had my first encounter with the brazenness of monkeys who had no shame in reaching into my bag and stealing a packet of crisps!

Next on the list [for me] is the Philippines and China. I haven’t explored mountainous terrain or woodland scenery in my drawings yet, plus I’d love to draw pandas in the wild. Most of the animals I’ve encapsulated so far were inspired from an incredible safari trip I had in South Africa.

Creatif: How do you approach sustainability with your work?

CJ: All of my wallpapers are FSC registered and I’m looking into a sustainable fabric, perhaps made out of recycled materials. I do think it’s important to think sustainably when sourcing products, so it’s definitely something I take into consideration.

Creatif: Whether it’s at home or in the office, there’s no doubt that the environment we’re in has an effect on us. What’s the first thing you notice when you walk into a space?

CJ: It won’t surprise you that the first thing I notice is the greenery! Trees, plants and flowers instantly make you feel better, just like they do outside.

I visited *Oliver Heath’s studio in Brighton which was fantastic, simply because it was awash with greenery. There’s something about palm leaves too. They seem to symbolise summer for me, so a palm pattern will also attract me like a moth to a flame.

Creatif: The term ‘resimercial’ blends the boundaries between residential and commercial design. In what way have you noticed clients become more adventurous with their projects?

CJ: I’m getting busier and busier! The people I’m working with are more likely to have a funky chair or a really amazing bathroom wallpaper. Very rarely do I see people with bland, neutral tones. Instead, I’m seeing both homeowners and hotel designers selecting more outrageous aesthetics. And, with biophilia being more widely recognised, clients are especially inclined to select natural designs.

Whether it’s wallpaper, ceramics, or even cushions, you can see how people are wanting to have a naturally beautiful decorated space. Thanks to Instagram, many places want to be seen as an “Instagrammable space” and will invest in attractive design that gets the public’s attention.

I’m currently working with Slug & Lettuce and these guys have especially changed their design model to feature an abundance of memorable interiors. In fact, it’s my commercial and hospitality clients that are more inclined to take a risk – which is fantastic! – and I’m hoping to work with more hotels in the future.

Creatif: Your website states that all products are manufactured and made in Britain. Why have you decided to go down this route?

CJ: British manufacturing is important to me and as I’m a British designer, I wanted to keep everything in the UK.

I also believe in supporting our local manufacturers where possible and it’s great to know that if I want to I can work face to face with the people making my products.In terms of my patterns, I remember feeling particularly inspired in both Ibiza and Dublin.

Creatif: When you’re in need of an inspirational boost, where do you go to fuel your creativity?

CJ: My studio is in North London, in Hertfordshire, so when I need a boost I’ll go for a walk in the countryside. I’ve got a soft spot for Kew Gardens and I want to visit the botanical gardens at the Barbican. Occasionally, I’ll go to the Natural History Museum, and I recently popped into the Sky Garden which is simply stunning.

Creatif: You’ve worked on a number of exciting projects including Universal Records, Topshop and in Heathrow. Which project has pushed your creativity in new directions that you hadn’t previously considered?

CJ: The Clip ‘N Climb mural in Ipswich was incredible. I’ve never created such a technical design before and I’m so pleased with the result.

Clip ‘N Climb is an adventure climbing experience, so I knew right away that I’d be creating a playful design featuring monkeys. I was given free rein too and as soon as they described the type of environment they wanted; I just knew what to create. It definitely stretched my creative muscles!

Creatif: If you had to choose 3 words to sum up your distinctive style, what would you select?

CJ: Detailed. Vibrant. Textured.

If you’d like to find out more about Charlotte, visit her website, or follow her on Instagram.

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