Meet the Maker: Phoebe Bell from Sage x Clare

Images and words from Sage x Clare

Bon here, I’m the Content Creator at Sage x Clare. And I’m lucky enough to sit directly across from our design team in action – Owner & Director of Sage x Clare – Phoebe Bell and Design & Production Manager – Jemma Bell (her twin sis!). Watching them design a new collection together is truly *mesmerising*. To see their creative process from start from scratch. From a mere idea, to choosing colours, to samples coming in, to an entire collection, to a photoshoot, to seeing it in YOUR homes… blows my mind.

I usually have a million questions for Pheebs about the design process and I thought you’d find this topic pretty interesting too. So I caught up with Pheebs to chat all things designing our latest collection – Celeste – inspirations, challenges and creativity. Enjoy x  

What is your process when choosing a colour palette for a new collection? And how do you know a colour palette is going to work across an entire range? Do you find this part of the design process nerve-racking or are you usually pretty confident in your final decision?

I tend to work pretty intuitively when it comes to colour! Unlike other design houses, we don’t really subscribe to trend/colour forecasting reports as one of my favourite parts of the design process is feeling into what simply resonates and just going with it. I wouldn’t say I’m really confident but equally I don’t spend a lot of my time doubting my colour choices either… I think I’m prepared to experiment and put some unlikely combos together, knowing that it’ll be quintessentially Sage x Clare as a result. Fortunately, our community are colour lovers and they’re happy to get on board with our bright pops as well as our more tonal colour choices.

When I walk into a store with Sage x Clare product.. I can pick your designs a mile away. With the rise of social media and emerging homeware brands everywhere. How do you stay uniquely Sage x Clare with each collection?

To some extent, I probably answered part of this question above. We don’t tend to look too closely at trends but rather develop our own unique concepts for each collection based on what myself and the creative team feel really drawn to. Really getting in touch with our own creative vision and process is a big part of it and, being the visual people that we are, we’re always picking up on small cues or inspirations both consciously and subconsciously. I love that the brand has developed it’s own signature aesthetic and that really only began to occur when I stopped looking and comparing the brand to others and starting reimagining our designs without limits or the pressure to conform.

What part of the design process do you find most challenging? (coming up with new ideas, the colour palette, developing a theme ect)

Usually the enormity of our collections… Our collections have grown significantly and that takes a lot of effort and discipline to show up and keep creating. The creative direction of the brand is not my only role, I wear many different hats and it can be difficult some days to switch on my ‘creative brain’ when there are so many other aspects taking up my attention and thinking space. It’s not hard to do it for a week or two but our collections now take months to design and some days I feel like I run out of steam and don’t necessarily create the right environment to be my best creative self!

You and Jem work so closely together to design collections. What’s it like to work with your sister on such a collaborative task? And what is your step-by-step method with Jem when designing a new collection?

Yes we work very closely on our collections, which is really special. We have also grown our design team recently and welcomed Emma, so it’s great to work with another super talented designer too. Jem and I are twins and have a special synchronicity to the way we design and work together. It doesn’t necessarily mean we always agree… we have very similar taste but we’re also quite distinct too – some products feel very Jem and others feel very me. I enjoy the differences though and I’m always keen to understand what the design teams thoughts are on each particular creation. 

We usually start with a concept board, which I’ll usually create and Jem and Emma will add too once they get a feel for the range direction. From there we move into colour – creating a colour palette for the collection. We then start to map out the core prints before building out each individual product line, taking into consideration the various artisanal techniques we use and how they’re rendered to breathe life into our pieces.

What were the key inspirations for Celeste… Landscapes, places, people, memories, fashion? How exactly was she born?

Celeste was inspired in part by the change to our lifestyle over the last two years as well as a distinct European farmhouse aesthetic that we felt particularly drawn to. If Celeste were a real character, she’d be both drawn to the culture and vibrance of urban life but very much loving her frequent escapes to the country… embracing the rusticity, the farmers markets and the big open fires that come along with it. She’s well travelled and has a love for collecting; scouring markets and bazaars around the world for those unique and soulful pieces to fill her home with. She’s her own woman in every way… her home, her fashion, her lifestyle is free-spirited and entirely unique.

If Celeste was a person… what part of the world would she live in? What music would she listen to? And what would she do in her spare time?

She’d probably live in a local village in countryside France, with easy connection to the city when she feels like stepping into some action. I’d say she’d have French Jazz Café mix playing in the background – soothing, soulful and homely. She’d love reading and learning… she’s a curious thinker and enjoys nothing more than listening and learning. She regularly takes short courses – anything from art through to cooking. She loves to travel but loves home just as much, continuously reshuffling and reimagining her spaces to suit her mood. 

Explore beautiful Celeste here.

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