If you’re after beautiful, locally produced fabrics, you can’t go past the work of Ashley Valmadre. Since establishing her home textile business Cherry Cherry Bim last year, this dynamic Subiaco designer has been on a roll, with clients across the globe. We met up with Ashley at her block printing studio to see what’s new in the fabric world.
What’s the story behind Cherry Cherry Bim?
It all started early last year, when Perth was first in lockdown. I had been exploring a few ideas for fabric design, then when the kids came home for home schooling, I felt the need to focus on the family. But I just couldn’t help myself! I kept drawing new motifs and using any spare time to draw and plan and create. When we started exploring block printing, it all fell into place.
The name, Chery Cherry Bim, is a bit madcap. It stems partly from my childhood when we lived on a cherry orchard in Northern Michigan for many years – a fabulously free childhood with the space to explore and imagine. My parents are both very creative and my mum has a fantastic eye for interiors. We were always surrounded by artists and other interesting, creative people in great homes. Also, my grandfather, Pop, was a big boisterous man who was a big part of our lives. He used to do funny things and he was extremely deaf so everything he did was at full volume. He used to sing a song with the lyrics Cherry Cherry Bim – I don’t think they were the right words of the song – but we loved it and the name just felt right for my business.
So you’ve always been interested in quality fabrics?
Always. Even as a child, I had a love of home, colour, pattern and design. I would design things for my trendy little doll’s house, and later I chose textiles for my TEE art medium at MLC. In my 20s I travelled a lot, taking in all the glories of design including a stint working in Chicago at the buzzing Apparel Centre, where I came face-to-face with many exquisite fabrics and finishes, and later I explored pattern and textures in creating my own home. I’m continually fascinated by how beautiful textiles and homewares have the power to transform a house.
What are some of your most popular designs?
Our Falling Leaves pattern has been very popular for interior projects and lampshades, probably because it’s an enduring design that fits in anywhere offering both European and Australian chic. We create this pattern in a number of different colourways and depending on which colour is chosen it takes on a different feeling. It can feel light and soft and also strong and elegant. I love this pattern.
From our tableware range, the patterns we print in our bright ‘Pink Pop’ colourway have attracted lots of attention. Particularly our Oaknote design as it is all over colour. The softer tones that we’ve recently introduced are working well to reflect the character of a home without shouting. But colour is definitely back, so I think it’s really all about layering the colours and patterns together to complement a wide range of furniture styles that people are responding to. And our patterns in blue and white are ageless and always popular in any company.
How has the pandemic affected your workload?
Because our products are made here in Perth by our company, we are fortunately not beholden to overseas manufacturers and their distribution problems too much. For me it’s not so much the pandemic that affects my workload, as the need to hold myself back from working on too many new designs. I’m very excited right now about our new ceramic ware, hand painted in our studio providing bright and gorgeous bases for our lampshades and platters for walls and tables. These will be launched on our website soon. This is another way we try to keep our manufacturing local, by doing as much as we can here in Perth.
Have you noticed any new trends emerging in this time of lockdowns and staying at home?
Like everyone, I have noticed that people are more focused on their homes. I find there are people who enjoy using pattern and colour and there are people who really run from it. I’m somewhere in between. I like colour and pattern in wild abandon and also in elegant simplicity. I think it’s okay to enjoy a little and a lot.
Individual style dictates the look and feel of our homes. Colour is back enlivening our homes, with pattern as endless inspiration and that’s being explored now by people who have more time to be at home and create their individual nests. But everyone’s eye is different, and all interior designers will pull their rooms together in different ways. It’s a joy to see how Australians choose to define their spaces and to learn what they want in their home today.
Have you found yourself drawn particular colours, and designs in this time?
I find most of my designs are inspired by my travels and my background. Some of the weave patterns I have created – like Cane Weave and Basketweave – are really an attempt to recreate textures I saw a lot when we lived in Malaysia.
I don’t think I have consciously been inspired by anything that has been as a result of the pandemic but I do find my patterns are joyful, fresh, happy-making and I guess that is something that I hope people will feel when they are in their home.
What trends can we look forward to this summer?
I think the trends for the summer are bright, fresh and multilayered. As we move into warmer months here in Australia I see people looking to dress their tables with bright pattern and informal ceramics, whether dishes are colourful or bone coloured, allowing the fabrics to do the work to impress guests. Our tablecloths and napkins are perfect team-mates for this because they all work together and our new Tiolo outside lights with hand painted shades introduce a European ambiance that’s hard to resist.
Where are most of your clients based?
We get a lot of clients here in WA, also Singapore and surprisingly, over in Brisbane. I’m hoping to engage with local interior designers so we can collaborate on bespoke designs for homes and hotels. It’s something we can create right here, working together to get just the right look and feel for some of our fabulous WA venues.
How often do you come up with new designs?
I never stop! I have some great new block prints I’m trialling and some exciting big and bold gingham and gestural florals are in the works. I love all the designs we have in our collection but there are more good things to come. My plan is to release a new range each year, in the Spring.
As a graphic designer I am always exploring interesting new ways to bring a brief to life but Cherry Cherry Bim gives me the opportunity to really explore what is inside me and what I want to offer clients, and use in my home.
To check out Ashley’s designs, visit Cherrycherrybim.com.au
Photographs: Peter Rigby