London born, Gemma Shiel of Lazy Oaf is a busy lady. I had been trying to track her down for sometime – in fact she had only just got back from China a few days before we met, at her lovely North London home in Crouch End. Every bit as smiley and bright as her designs, Gemma greeted me at the front door with her super cute Miniature Schnauzer puppy, Bob.
Tell me about Lazy Oaf?
Lazy Oaf is a fashion label, I set it up nearly twelve years ago in my Dad’s garage. We design and create men and women’s street wear that is all heavily print focused. The label and designs are mostly inspired by my teenage years in the 90s; it is bold, bright, irreverent and stupid at times.
How long have you lived in your home?
I have lived here for eight years.
Who do you live with?
My Puppy, Bob.
What does your bedroom mean to you?
My bedroom is where I do my best thinking! I have the best ideas when I am in that waking up dozy state in the morning – everything is possible. It is my stress reliever and my dressing up box.
You mentioned that you're about to move bedrooms... Please tell me about the move?
I have just financially crippled myself by converting a loft and made an en suite bedroom (sounds so middle aged) but in order to make it all worth while I should really move in there and save myself from two flights of stairs to do midnight wee's.
I love the drawers that you have up-cycled ready for your bedroom move. Tell me about them?
I got the drawers from Ikea, and originally painted them a charcoal grey but it looked like a 1980s Hi Fi system, so I opted for the deep turquoise and bought some over priced draw pulls from Anthropologie. It looks a lot less Hi Fi now.
You're brilliant with colour, at home and in your designs, where do you draw inspiration?
I draw most of my inspiration from cartoon and pop iconography and always draw from my teen era in the 90s.
What is your favourite colour?
Pink. No black. No pink. Maybe red? That’s tough.
When did your obsession with Mickey start?
When I was too old. I love the different ages of Mickey and really associate it with trying to draw cartoons badly as a kid and all the really terrible renditions of him on ice cream Vans. His face is such a global image and yet there is really not much else to Mickey, I find it fascinating.
Do you have a favourite place to pick up all your home wares?
I love getting stuff on my travels, but then always have problems getting things back in my suitcase! I also have a bit of a cushion obsession, but they're all in my living room. My my non-blood sister Jenny Williamson who has her own label called Banderole designed the beautiful hexagonal patchwork cushion.
Fear not, you can see the cushions and the rest of Gemma's home over at Assemble Papers – info and link at the end of this post.
Tell me about an object in your bedroom that particularly means something to you?
I love my alarm clock. I have had it for fifteen years. It is a Japanese cartoon character and is the only thing that wakes me up with loud indecipherable rock music. You have to hit its head to stop it.
Tell me about the cute buttons on the collar of the shirt? They remind me of when I was kid and being in the haberdashery with my Mum.
Yes, that is exactly the thought process behind them. I loved those buttons and wanted to create something that felt nostalgic and showcased a collection of objects on a garment. I tried to source the weirdest and the most vintage looking ones to create this shirt.
If your bedroom were on fire, what would you save?
My alarm clock. Oh and Bob.
What music do you like to listen to when you're designing?
I like to listen to old favourites like Portishead Dummy, Nirvana Acoustic session New York, as well as a bit of old soul.
If you could dress anyone in Lazy Oaf clothing, who would it be and what would you want them to wear?
I would like to make Garfield and John matching T-shirts of each other and they can have a chat about it in their comic strip.
What would your super power be?
I would like to be able to change into different people and animals and spend some time being something else – a shape shifter. Dark.
Your parents were Publican’s, so that means you were brought up in pubs (like me). What was that like?
Ha ha, It was hard being different to everyone else, you kinda longed for a normal place, but then it was also really fun. Coke on tap/soda gun, when your nine that is soooo cool. Also I grew up in the very centre of London so that was good. Every time I go into a pub the smells always feel like home, even the weird gent's smell.
If you didn't do Lazy Oaf, what would you do? Run a pub?
I would like to have a cafe, but don't want to work the pub hours, thanks. I would probably be writing children's books.
Naked or bed clothes?
Very un-sexual bed clothes.
With a shared love of people and their homes, What’s in your bedroom… and Assemble Papers (an Australian online publication for small footprint living) decided to do a home swap of sorts. In October 2012 AP gave WIYB the bedroom of surfer chick, Gill living in Melbourne, in return for a London home to post on their site in the feature section, Living Not Decorating. So, some months later here I am extremely happy to be collaborating again, sharing not just Gemma Shiel’s bedroom, but her whole place that I photographed for Assemble Papers.