At home with Pearl Reddington: ‘I use clothes as decoration’

Pieces of Me: ‘I have a sarong and I have brought it everywhere with me’

 

Pearl Reddington is an up-and-coming young knitwear designer who won this year’s Design Award from the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland’s Future Makers programme and has also been shortlisted for this year’s RDS Craft Awards. Reddington is a graduate of NCAD whose degree show in 2016 was sponsored by Donegal Yarns. Her first commercial capsule collection of eight pieces in merino wool will make its debut in September in Made in the Powerscourt Centre. She lives in Raheny.

Describe your interiors style

A lot of people would say that it is cluttered, but for me it is the detail – everything has a meaning as I am a collector. Whatever catches my eye I take home, whether it’s sweet wrappings or broken belts. I use my clothes as decoration and believe that anything I have can be used as decoration. I re-created my room in two shirts for my first project in NCAD. I catalogued every single item in my room – 100 items or so – and then remapped them on the shirts, hand embroidering them with numbers and catalogues.

Pearl Reddington, knitwear designer, was the winner of this year’s Future Makers Award from the Crafts Council. Photograph: Alan Betson
Pearl Reddington, knitwear designer, was the winner of this year’s Future Makers Award from the Crafts Council. Photograph: Alan Betson

What room do you most enjoy?

I live in a wooden cabin in my parents’ garden. It is a studio and bedroom combined space that my dad helped to build. Only I know where everything is and because I sleep and work there it has to be a stimulating place. We are a big family – I am the eldest of five – so I need a quiet place to work. My knitting machine is there too.

What items do you love most?

Pearl Reddington’s Indian sarong on the ceiling of her cabin. Photograph: Alan Betson
Pearl Reddington’s Indian sarong on the ceiling of her cabin. Photograph: Alan Betson

I have a sarong that my grandmother brought back from India and I have brought it everywhere with me. It is my comfort piece. When I lived in New York, like a lot of students, the place was very crowded, so I used the sarong to create my own space as a divider. It’s over my bed now. I am not acquiring important pieces of furniture at this stage in my life but I have a National Geographic collection which is very dear to me. Last week my boyfriend gave me a handwoven blanket, which I picture as being a future heirloom. It is from the Slow Down Studio in New York and a collaboration with a print designer called Atelier Bingo. It was a limited edition and in a mix of colours and abstract patterns.

A hand-woven rug from New York takes pride of place in Pearl Reddington’s cabin. Photograph: Alan Betson
A hand-woven rug from New York takes pride of place in Pearl Reddington’s cabin. Photograph: Alan Betson

Who are your favourite designers?

I follow a lot of people like me, young independent knitwear designers, like Annie Lee Larson and Lindsay Degen – both are from New York – and like me they are trying to reinvent an ancient craft. They are modern knitters using really strong colours and bold prints and it is great to see knit elevated to the realm of contemporary fashion. Neon yellow is my signature colour and I try to include it in everything I make and they [Larsen and Degen] show that you can be bold in knitwear.

Pearl Reddington’s National Geographic collection. Photograph: Alan Betson
Pearl Reddington’s National Geographic collection. Photograph: Alan Betson

What artists do you admire?

I remember Rachel Whiteread’s ghost home of the '90s [a plaster cast of a Victorian living room], which had a big impact on me. It was about preserving space – that is what I do, so I connect with her. She wanted to mummify the space and at that time I was moving from my teenage bedroom into the cabin and I wanted to preserve everything about my room in a new space.

Biggest interior turn-off?

Glass dinner tables and any space that is cold and makes you feel uncomfortable. Dinner should be a warm, cosy affair and glass is cold.

Destination that stands out?

I went to Berlin for the first time this year and it is such a positive place for designers and artists where you could survive as an artist very easily. It was design-oriented without being pretentious. I am actually considering moving there.

Knitwear designer Pearl Reddington lives in a cabin in her parents’ back garden. Photograph: Alan Betson
Knitwear designer Pearl Reddington lives in a cabin in her parents’ back garden. Photograph: Alan Betson

If you had €100,000 to spend on anything for the home, what would that be?

Because I am 22, these figures don’t mean anything to me. But what I would love to do is to be able to buy my friends’ work. So many are not paid for what they do. My generation is struggling to find housing, so €100,000 would be a deposit on a house and that would be so farfetched for me.