Name: Caro Ritchie of Corita Rose
Location: Shaftesbury; Dorset, UK
Size: 400 square feet
Years in business: 4 years
Caro Ritchie’s studio, located in the heart of one of Britain's most ancient towns, is an explosion of riotous color and bold prints. Stepping inside is a bit like cracking open a piñata and releasing the colorful candies and confetti in its centre. Her sumptuous silk, velvet, and linen fabrics, which she designs under the name Corita Rose, are adorned with heraldic imagery, gypsy hearts, and birds and insect life in eye-popping colors.
Caro, a former wildlife documentary maker, moved into fabric design after having children. "It started really when Josh, my husband, and I were picking up secondhand furniture for our house — mainly because it was all we could afford — and doing it up ourselves. Friends and family started asking us to do pieces for them and it grew from there."
After a couple of years working from home, Caro realized she needed her own space. When a cafe in a historic building with adjoining courtyard came available in the center of Shaftesbury, Caro knew it would be perfect. It is tranquil and private enough for Caro to work on new designs undisturbed, but is central enough to make it easily accessible to clients.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: I love strong, vibrant colors and bold patterns. I think it is a reaction against living in England, which has such a grey and grim climate.
Inspiration: My inspiration come from all over — travel, literature, folklore, tribal art, heraldry, music. My father published travel books, and I inherited his love of other countries and cultures. Josh (my husband) and I have traveled to Florence and Mexico a lot, and both places have influenced my work. My first collection was inspired by the coats of arms and banners of medieval heraldry, and I incorporated my grandfather's family motto "Fortune favors the brave" into the designs.
Favorite Element: It's the natural light that comes in through the roof. Josh put in skylights, which mean I can now accurately check the colors of my fabrics when they arrive rather than hauling them outside to view them in the daylight.
Biggest Challenge: Finding space for all the furniture I am working on is an ongoing challenge. I run out of space very quickly.
What Clients Say: They love the colors because they are so bright and saturated. They also like that everything is bespoke.
Proudest DIY: Josh took out the ceiling and put skylights in the roof. We were amazed that we got permission, because the building dates from the 1600s.
Biggest Indulgence: Just having a studio is an indulgence. Initially I was working from home, but as the business grew I needed more space.
Best Advice: Follow your heart and do what you believe in, and others will believe in you too.
Resources of Note:
- Charlie the Boxer: This larger than life-sized leather boxer is a family heirloom. It was made for the 1951 Festival of Britain on London's South Bank. Some of the leather was rotting away, so Caro created a Muhammed Ali-inspired "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" outfit in silk and velvet to replace it. A sketch of the original design for Charlie hangs on the wall behind him.
- All upholstery, curtains, cushions and lampshades are Corita Rose.
- Model Yachts: Caro's husband Josh restores vintage model racing yachts.
- All the furniture is second hand from charity shops and auctions.
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(Image credits: Rebecca Bond)