Meri Meri Meets Molly Mahon

Molly Mahon is an acclaimed British designer renowned for her exquisite block-printed textiles and wallpapers. Self-taught, with a strong passion for traditional crafts, Molly has developed a distinctive style that blends vibrant colours and intricate patterns, inspired by nature and her love of travelling and decoration. Since launching her eponymous label in 2015, Molly has gained international acclaim for her beautiful designs. She lives is Sussex with her husband, Rollo, and their three children Lani, Algie and Orlando. Here she reveals what drives her and how she approached the delightful new collection for Meri Meri.

Shop the Meri Meri x Molly Mahon new collection here

Molly, how did your passion for block printing begin and how has it shaped your creative journey so far?

It started at my kitchen table with small babes in moses baskets and crawling around my legs. Having run an events company, I was used to ‘busy’ and needed something to concentrate the mind while at home with the new babies. Being creative was inherent in my upbringing, and so naturally turned to artistic outputs. I stumbled on block printing and it stole my heart, my imagination, sparking a remarkable feeling of personal elation.

We love your approach to colour and print! Could you share some of your guiding principles or theories when it comes to mixing and matching?

Listen to yourself. Go with your gut. Avoid any ‘rules’ you may have heard. I feel a freedom with my use of colour, somehow uninhibited by my surroundings. I choose colours that bring me feelings of joy and contentment. To me putting colours together feels natural and fun. We live in a world bursting with colour, endless opportunities an, I consistently capture and seize new colours, new ideas as my life unfolds.

Could you describe your studio in East Sussex? Is it truly your ultimate happy place, and how does it contribute to your creative process?

Turning our garage in to my very personal space for creativity was an absolute treat that I shall forever be grateful for. A space away from the kitchen, the internet and the forever turning circle of domesticity with a full family, it was a place I could go and breathe, reset, re-energise, be myself. The space was rustic and messy where I could experiment, print, create.

As my family and their needs have grown I have recently moved away from the space into a new studio near the office. The children need a space of their own now as they become teenagers to be themselves away from pestering parents! And I am ready for somewhere more professional, dare I say it more commercial. However, it is still very much my happy space, I am incredibly content when block printing. It stills the mind and calms the nerves, it feels wholesome and right to be creating pattern and I am eternally grateful that I found block printing, it has transformed my life.

You produce your designs in the UK but also have workshops in India. Can you tell us more about these workshops and what is produced there?

About 10 years ago I took myself to India to learn more about the art of block print. I fell head over heels in love with the people, the energy, the colours and the different way of life, it is full of hope, passion and true graft. I connected and have over the years built relations with a number of different print studios, makers, creators in a wonderful artisanal world. We now print all our fabrics by the metre from a new studio in Delhi, employing the very best printers we can find who have inherited the skills from their fathers, and beyond. In a world that seeks perfection we work towards the neatest prints, while celebrating and acknowledging the maker’s mark, we want perfect imperfections, for our fabrics to be a piece of art. We want to go steady on the planet, using water-based paints, wooden blocks, we dry the fabric in the breeze… very little technology is involved, the only sound is the thud thud of the wooden block and the pouring of chai to keep their energy up!

Since launching your label, you've achieved remarkable success, from YouTube tutorials to collaborations and a published book. What accomplishment are you most proud of, and why?

Ah, thank you, yes, it has been an incredible journey! My proudest achievement is perhaps the fact that this started as a hobby at my kitchen table and has grown into a family run business where life and work merge and exist as one. I hope my children appreciate how hard Rollo and I work, why we do it and how it makes us feel; proud and useful! The fact that I can now collab with brands such as yourselves who I have admired from afar over the years is quite something. These moments are what makes putting everything on the line for M Mahon feel so damn great!

What do you think draws people to your block printing classes, and what do they take away from the experience?

We are all creative. I really believe this and for some reason most of us move away from a life of art at a very early age. There is a problem with our education system I think for not realising the importance of making and creating with our hands and spending quiet moments in our minds while being busy concentrating on something gentle be it knitting, painting or printing. It is now ever more important to help balance time spent on screens. It is all about the rhythm, the focus, or I think we now refer to it as 'flow'. People love our classes because it takes them out of the everyday grind and into a magical place of creating, we come together as a community and share, chat, relax, have fun! It also helps that I tend to hold my classes in lovely locations, so it’s the perfect excuse to get together with a friend and have a fabulous day out. I loved meeting Meredithe on one of my classes last summer, we were printing and making lampshades.

Could you walk us through your approach to the collection for Meri Meri? How do you envision your designs being incorporated into summer celebrations and year-round interiors?

It was quite a team effort between the two brands to create a lovely mix and match selection of our fabric prints that worked together. We wanted to exude joy and delight, to brighten any picnic or party whatever the time of year. We like to think that our designs bring summer all year round, even in the darkest of winter months, especially in the UK! The items created are for multi-use, and I hope elevate whatever the special occasion or festivities being celebrated.

Travel seems to be a significant source of inspiration for you. How does your exploration of different cultures and landscapes continue to influence and guide your creative direction?

I don’t travel far and wide, but I do shuttle back and forth to India and yes, it has influenced my work enormously. I felt a real sense of importance to use joyous colours as much as I can as they do in India, on saris, lorries, buildings…everywhere you look there is colour, pattern and a great celebration of nature. I live in the Ashdown Forest in Sussex, south of London and my walks and time spent here is also marked in my work. My gratitude to outdoor space, nature and all the multitude of greens and pretty floral pinks; all of these things where I feel most content feeds its way into my patterns and prints. I want memories of these moments consistently in my house all year round.

Lastly, what are five things you are particularly excited about in 2024, whether they are personal or professional aspirations or new creative endeavours?

1. I always yearn for the two weeks on the Isle of Mull, Scotland where we take our family holiday.

2. Launching a collection with Meri Meri of course!

3. My workshops in beautiful locations across the UK.

4. Working on a new sustainable fabric collection, we are experimenting with hemp and banana fibre to complement the linens and cottons we currently print on. The patterns are all inspired by the precious woodlands we have here and all the pretty forest flowers like foxgloves and primroses, wild orchids and of course the trees.

5. Printing in my new studio space and opening our little showroom space to our customers. A step towards my dream of having a MM shop.

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