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Q&A with Zoe Murphy

Furniture and textile designer from Margate

I'm Zoe Murphy - a furniture and textile designer from Margate in Kent. I work with second hand furniture pieces, restoring them, sometimes remodelling them, and screen printing designed patterns and illustrations all over them. These are often based on my home town of Margate, or are all about the travels and trips I take with the studio.

How did you start your journey in furniture and textile design and shape your early career?

I had studied printed textile design at university and was always preoccupied with rejuvenating unwanted things. I found that print was a great way for me to cover damage and make unloved items something that people could connect with again. I based my final year project on my home town of Margate as a place that also needed loving and attending to again. The furniture that I printed with images of the British seaside and amusement culture proved very popular and my job was born out of that collection.

Was your graduate program in Loughborough University really suitable for you? How did you shape your skills while studying?

I found the course that I was studying was ideal for me, as it focussed mostly on the creative and conceptual side of design and wasn't geared towards teaching you how make or run a business. Those elements I picked after university either from experience or from help from others. When studying my BA in Printed textile design we learned how to print onto fabric, design like professionals, and how to have great ideas about our work. This was invaluable to me because I think it's that kind of brain stretching isn't as easy to do on your own outside of the university environment.

What helps you to keep things fresh and the creative process invigorating?

I love what I do very much, and every day that I get to print or draw or build is a delight for me. It's still exciting making work about Margate, partly because the town is changing so much around me. I make sure to take a trip away every year for new inspiration. A few years ago we went to Mexico for prints and patterns, and this year a trip to California is evoking lots of new design ideas.

Who are your favourite local or international designers whose work you are interested in?

I have always loved the photographs of Martin Parr for showing the humour in the everyday of certain cultures. I also have a soft spot for any furniture that is playful or exaggerated so always enjoy pieces like the 'wrongwoods' drawers by richard wood, or a lot of the seating and storage that was designed by the Memphis movement in the late eighties.