Nikki’s Sweet and Cheery Print Studio

Creative Studio Tour

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Name: Nikki McWilliams
Location: WASPS Meadow Mill Studios; Dundee, Scotland
Size: 200 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year; rented

Nikki McWilliams, famed for her fabulous biscuit-themed soft furnishings, is as sweet as the treats that inspire her work. After graduating in Fine Art from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in 2008, she started her own design business in 2009, with a thirst to make functional objects that have a place outside of a gallery setting and take up residence in people’s homes. Indeed, each of her pieces is a little work of art – a sculpture, a talking point, a cheeky statement full of personality. It surely takes a sort of (excellent) soul to have a large Tunnocks Teacake sitting proudly on their sofa.

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The studio is situated in an old jute Mill in Dundee (used to produce sacking and ropes) that had lain empty since jute became more commonly imported from India and the trade was lost from the city. The beautiful old building was leased by WASPS (an organization set up to support the artist community in Scotland) in 1989, and was reopened as studio space in 2012. Shortly after, having fallen in love with the big, old windows giving amazing natural light (slightly less romantic in the long, cold winters) Nikki moved in, promptly gave it a lick of paint, and rammed it to the rafters with all the things that stimulate her creativity. Inspired by British culture, contemporary Pop-Art, and her lifelong love of having a nice cup of tea and a biscuit, her work cannot fail to cheer you up. She says herself, “It is so important to be surrounded by objects in your home that make you smile. My biscuit cushions are a nostalgic, bright and fun tribute to the little things that make everyday life great!”

Every one of her cushions is proudly crafted by hand from the best cottons and linens and hand-printed using environmentally friendly inks here in her little studio in Dundee. Who wouldn’t want to sit upon a squishy Rich Tea or cosy up next to a stuffed Party Ring? No one.

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I like to keep things looking fresh and bright and usually mix whites and greys with pops of colour. I like to be surrounded by a mixture of old and new objects- as well as things that I’ve bought and things that I’ve made. My studio is a space that I need to be quite organised while allowing myself the freedom to change things up depending on whatever I’m working on at any time.

Inspiration: When I moved in to the studio I had visions of it being very coordinated and super neat and tidy all of the time. And it was…for a little while! I like to collect bits and pieces of things that inspire me, as well as experiment with how objects look in a space.

Favorite Element: I do like the mezzanine shelf that I have above my door- it is great storage!

Biggest Challenge: I think that it was creating a space that I didn’t feel too precious about. My studio is a work space- which sometimes means things can get messy! When I moved in, I spent a week painting the floor. I was so proud of it and vowed to keep it ink-free! The first day I used my space I accidentally covered a large portion of my pristine new floor in a mist of coloured spray paint. It was ruined- but I was relieved in a way. It was the studio equivalent of messing up the first page of a new sketch book- it allowed me to let go and relax in my space!

What Friends Say: Friends who visit my studio love the light and space. Lots of people have remarked that they wouldn’t mind living there! I’ve napped on my DIY Couch before and I can confirm that it is super comfy!

Biggest Embarrassment: Probably ruining my floor on my first day. I still can’t believe I did that!

Proudest DIY: It has got to by my couch. I looked around for some comfortable seating for the studio for ages and couldn’t find anything I liked. I spied a similar project on Pinterest and decided to adapt it to suit my space. A local business gifted me some pallets that were in good order and I had an upholsterer cut me some foam to fit. I found some beautiful grey Italian wool/linen that we used to make the covers- et voila! My next project is the chocolate Parker Knoll armchair that I got for free from an office clearance. 

Biggest Indulgence: My plumen lightbulb. I’d wanted one for ages so I was pretty glad that I had a dark spot in the studio that needed to be illuminated! Also- the fabric I chose for my couch had been on my wishlist for a while- I was pleased that I was able to use such a beautiful cloth in a practical way!

Best Advice:  Move things around- I like to play with how things work in a space.

Dream Sources: Eames back catalogue. In a dream scenario I wouldn’t end up with blobs of ink all over it also!

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Resources of Note:

PAINT & COLORS

  • Floor- Leyland: Floor Paint in Nimbus Grey
  • Walls & Mezzanine – Leyland: Brilliant White Matt
  • Spots on Door – hand cut Avery Vinyl in mint

FURNITURE

  • Work Bench – Ikea Vika Amon x3
  • Stools – IKEA Marius in Turquoise
  • Desk Chairs – Vintage, upcycled
  • Couch – DIY found pallets, custom foam and Italian Wool/Linen
  • Arm Chair – Parker Knoll (free from office clearance)
  • Tea Table – half pallet, found, free.
  • Print Trolley – IKEA Raskog in Turquoise

ORGANISING TOOLS AND ACCESSORIES

  • Wall Shelves – IKEA Ekby
  • Free Standing Shelves – IKEA Laiva
  • Wall Storage – IKEA Bygel Rail & Cups
  • Filing Cabinet – IKEA Helmer
  • Red Wire Paper Storage – Thrifted
  • Wire Storage Baskets – Thrifted £5

ADDITIONAL ELEMENTS

  • Picture Wall – collected ephemera & prints
  • Desk Lamp – IKEA (discontinued)
  • Rug – IKEA PS
  • Cushions – mine!
  • Tea Tray – IKEA
  • Custard Cream Biscuit Tin – M&S
  • Sandwich Board – DIY, £3
  • Print on Wall – Frightened Rabbit Highlands Tour Screen Print by Two Ducks Disco
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    Thanks, Nikki!

    (Images: Lizzie Ford )

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