A flamingo flourish from design duo - distinctive new look at Hitchin gastropub is a showcase for work by local artists with a global outlook
PUBLISHED: 16:52 08 November 2015
There’s one question you can guarantee that new arrivals checking out the recent facelift at Hitchin gastropub The Radcliffe will be asking: “Where did you get that amazing wallpaper?”
But anyone who would like to transform their home with the bold flamingo design can’t just order a few rolls and get to work – it’s an exclusive design created by a pair of local artists with a global outlook when it comes to combining British eccentricity and Japanese ‘kawaii’ culture.
The result is quirky and contemporary designs for all ages, manufactured in the UK but already finding customers around the world.
The duo are known as Sas and Yosh – that’s Sarah Bellisario and Yoshie Allan who grew up on different sides of the world but since they met have been finding creative common ground which is also proving a commercial hit.
Sas is a published illustrator with an MA in children’s book illustration, while Yosh is also an illustrator and designer who studied fashion in Tokyo.
They began working together just over a year ago and have already created a homewares collection which includes wallpapers, textiles, mugs, aprons, tea towels, art prints and posters.
Sas said: “Limited print runs on our luxury wallpapers and a focus on quality for our modern home wares means you will always get something beautiful and exclusive for your home.
“We love to work with other businesses and creatives to produce designs, patterns and illustrations for fashion, textiles, magazines, websites and brand identity.“We also create exclusive bespoke digital designs for clients who want one-off wallpapers and textiles.”
Sas, who has also taught at both Princess Helena College in Preston and at North Herts College, decided on pursuing a design career after completing her MA.
“I decided it was time to turn my passion into something that I could do every day – and that’s when I met Yoshie!
“We had a mutual friend who thought we would get on well and introduced us early last year.
“We pretty much fell in love with each other’s work right away and started hanging out together. Four months later Yoshie suggested we start a business together, and Sas and Yosh was born.
“The idea was that every illustration and design would be a collaboration, drawing on both of our strengths and experiences, and creating our own unique illustrative look.
“The Radcliffe approached us to design the bespoke wallpaper – they wanted something contemporary and totally unique.
“It was really exciting to see our wallpaper up in a public space and on so many walls. Bespoke wallpaper is something we are interested in doing more of so this was a great opportunity for us.”
Yoshie added: “I started my illustrator career in 2006 and was lucky enough to be able to publish picture books in Japan.
“I enjoyed my work and travelling around the world to get inspiration, and then I met my husband, who is from the UK.
“I’m now here in the UK with my lovely family and enjoying my artist life – and working with my special design ‘other half’!”
The duo are keen to spread the word that quality design is a good investment for business.
Sas said: “Your brand is what you show to the world, it’s your public face.
“Good design can be the difference between a sale or a new client – although the best branding in the world has to be backed up by great people!”
Local businesses which have followed that lead include Letchworth-based children’s style house LittleFlea.co.uk and eclectic Hitchin fashion store Rosita Lollipop, but the duo have clients in New York, Berlin and Tokyo, too.
Sas said: “We enjoy working in a huge variety of areas.”
And the creative buzz of the North Herts business scene is a real draw.
“We have lots of friends who have small independent businesses around here and are doing really well,” she said.
“There are a lot of great entrepreneurial people in our local area doing loads of creative things. I think there is a definite interest from the public for bespoke, handmade, unique goods these days.”
The duo are also involved in a mural project at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital, creating an original 13-metre illustration by hand which will then be printed on vinyl wallpaper to brighten up the corridor leading to the neonatal ward.
Sas said: “The mural design has been created solely by us, the illustrative work is finished so we are now digitally colouring the final piece.
“This is the bit where it will really come to life and all the personal elements are added.
“We will be adding personalised flowers with names of some of the children who have been through the unit and wanted to be included as part of the design. “£5,000 has been raised so far by families who have made donations to have their child’s name featured, the money will help to create a small garden for families to use during their time on the neonatal unit.”
Find out more at www.sasandyosh.com