The Idealist

Modern Heroes: Brennan & Burch

Brennan and Burch

Following our profile of ATADesigns, we’ve had a lot of requests to cover more visual designers and printmakers, so when Brennan & Burch caught our eye with their fantastically bright and punchy designs, we just had to find out more. They list amongst their clients and collaborations Paul Smith, Hotel Pelirocco and the Leather Satchel Co.

Brennan & Burch is a British interiors brand where Lisa Brennan’s fantastical, colourful illustrations and hand-drawn characters decorate wallpapers, furniture, rugs and prints. Her strong and thought provoking style is timeless, recognisable and unites everything Brennan & Burch creates.

Brennan & Burch co-founders Lisa & Majida have been friends since the 1980s when they met at school in Camden Town and were heavily influenced by street style, rockabillies, punk, casuals and acid house. They started their independent fashion brand specialising in limited edition streetwear in 2000 to celebrate popular culture. After 10 years of selling worldwide in stores such as La Foret Harajuku, Selfridges and Topshop, they turned their effort to the home and branched out into interiors where clients have included Heals, Paul Smith and Hotel Pelirocco.

IDEALIST: Can you tell us more about how you came to work with the Leather Satchel Co and about other collaborations?

We were exhibiting at a trade fair showcasing the best of British products. We are die-hard fans of The Leather Satchel Co.  so got chatting to the Managing Director, Keith Hanshaw, whilst deciding which bright creation to buy from his stand. Keith has a wickedly dry sense of humour and really picked up on our quirky design style. We kept in touch for a year or two and eventually we all pulled our fingers out and created a very exciting collaboration. The initial collection consists of two leather bags featuring our prints: Let the Music Play medium pixie bag and New Forest large tote bag.

The majority of the collaborations and projects we’ve worked on have come about through word of mouth, personal recommendation or through people seeing existing products or work.

IDEALIST: What’s been your favourite piece to make?

We enjoyed the bar project we did with Hotel Pelirocco in Brighton, which was a mish-mash of various Brennan & Burch wallpapers all over their bar and dining room area. We have done other bars but this is still our favourite as it is constantly updated by the art exhibitions, music events and photo shoots that take place in front of our artistic backdrop. The area recently got revamped with a few more of our new designs and it is like a patchwork that keeps evolving.

IDEALIST: And what’s your most popular range?

Affordable pieces of our artwork have recently gone on sale as limited edition signed and numbered fine art prints. These prints make Brennan & Burch more accessible to people that love us but want a taster of our style before committing to a whole room of our wallpaper. Large art posters are £20, and the limited edition art prints are £45 for small sized prints and £100 for medium prints.

IDEALIST: How did you go about designing it?

Lisa started to go back to doing single illustrations, after losing her way a bit with constant repeat designs for fabrics and wallpaper. We wanted to create something that you might put in your living room, kitchen or child’s room.

IDEALIST: Who are your design or illustration heroes?

Our heroes include Eley Kishimoto, Fafi, McBess, Miss Van, Pure Evil, Ryan Callanan, Timorous Beasties, Vivienne Westwood and Zakee Shariff.

IDEALIST: Are your homes as colourful as your work?

Well… Lisa’s previous flat in Islington, North London was featured in a spread in Glamour magazine after she had spent years doing it up to her madcap style and accumulating loads of treasured odd bits and bobs. We have both since moved to Essex and our new homes are a work in progress with lots of our art and signature style being added at the moment.

IDEALIST: How did you get into the illustration, wallpaper and prints business?

In our past life as a streetwear company, the clothing collections centred around Lisa’s prints on cut and sew fashion forward shapes… so it was a logical progression to start creating larger repeats for wallpaper and interiors. We decided to digitally print onto super-wide width textured vinyl wallpapers that are suitable for the home or commercial premises. This wallpaper has the look and feel of a traditional wallpaper rather than a typical vinyl feel.

IDEALIST: What are you most proud of?

We are proud of the fact that we are able to be innovative and as an independent design company are free to express ourselves through art.

IDEALIST: Can you tell us what it’s like to work with Paul Smith?

We were just taking our first baby steps in the interiors world having made the change from streetwear, so we were really chuffed to be approached by one of the buyers for Paul Smith when exhibiting our wide-width textured vinyl wallpapers and 3D shaped cushions at an interiors trade fair. They purchased our full range of 3D shaped cushions to feature in the Paul Smith Paris store during Fashion Week.

IDEALIST: And how was it being based in The Retailery?

It all started when our New Forest artwork was chosen to brighten up the urban landscape as part of Colour in Romford art project by Made Public. The artwork was graffitied onto a wall by Romford station. This then led to us being commissioned to do a large Christmas display window for the Retailery www.retailery.co.uk, a new creative business hub in Romford. The display had a giant boombox decorated with Swarovski crystals, a smiling clown rat king riding on two pink ponies, and flying owls in sunglasses. We had a pop up exhibition stand in The Retailery showing our vintage upcycled furniture and sample pieces. This exciting venture is in our local area so we look forward to being involved in future projects.

You can see more of their work at their website and can contact them at: Brennan & Burch, PO Box 3196, Romford, Essex RM3 3BN, +44 20 8144 9981, shop@brennan-and-burch.co.uk. All photos shown (c) and courtesy of B&B. 

  • John is a photographer and journalist from Manchester with a passion for street photography and modern art. When not taking photos, you can find him on a bike anywhere from Sardinia to Amsterdam listening to Zero 7.

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