Our proud member, Milexa Group, are trailblazers in the surface design industry manufacturing bespoke wallpaper and flooring for homes and businesses across the globe. All their designs are manufactured in-house at their HQ in the heart of the Baltic Triangle, Liverpool. Their work has been recognised and featured in the likes of Elle Decoration, Livingetc, Design Milk and HouseBeautiful.
We wanted to share more about the innovative way in which they work with you, our community. So we headed over to Milexa Group’s HQ to speak to Kat a Senior Creative Designer.
Let’s start with a fun introductory questions – What’s an interesting fact about yourself?
Whilst I was travelling in Australia I worked in a not so nice hostel. We got the paper through one morning and one of the guests was on a list of Australia’s Top 10 Most Wanted for fraud! Luckily there wasn’t too much drama, the police arrived that night, arrested him and a bag full of fake IDs.
What is it that you do in your role at Milexa Group?
I am a Senior Creative Designer within the design team at Milexa. My main role is to research trends and develop innovative new designs for our three brands.
What led you to Milexa Group and what did you do previously?
I grew up in Norwich but decided to move cities at 18 to complete my Art Foundation at Manchester Met, it was a great year to explore different areas of design and work out what I enjoyed doing. After my foundation I took a year out to travel and see the world, something I’d definitely recommend. I then returned to study my BA in Graphic Arts at John Moores, I specialised in animation, but towards the end of my degree I felt that I was more interested in ideas and characters rather than the actual animating. I always prefered to storyboard and character design, rather than work on the technical side of animation.
After my degree I didn’t really know what I wanted to do and didn’t know how I fitted into the design industry so I moved to Australia and travelled Asia for 18 months. During that time I worked at Kikki.K, a retailer offering stylish gifts and stationery. Whilst working there I realised I didn’t have to take the freelance route creating designs for publications and agencies. But I could apply my illustrations, characters and designs to products for an in-house design team.
When I came back from travelling, I started working at Utility in Liverpool, it helped me to learn about the UK market for design led products and was a great job to have whilst studying for my MA in Surface Pattern and Textiles at UCLAN. During that time I started to research and design different products including interiors, homewares, stationary and 3D products.
During my MA, I was able to complete some work experience for Becky Broome who designs and manufactures bespoke gifts and home accessories. As soon as I finished the MA, I was invited to work full time at their studio. I learnt about the process of design concept to production and small businesses. My last employer before Milexa was Eurowrap, we created, party products, greeting products and stationery for our own brand and other high street retailers. During my two and a half years there, I gained good experience as studio assistant, artworker, designer and account manager. This gave me a great understanding of every aspect of a studio, but felt I was ready for a new challenge.
Milexa had been on my radar whilst studying so when the creative designer role was advertised I jumped at the chance. It gave me the opportunity to work within a new product and for a design led brand.
What made you want to work in the creative industry?
I’d always loved illustrating and making things even when I was a kid, so I knew early on that a creative role was for me. I just never knew how to apply it professionally. My part time job at Kikki.K sparked the idea to turn my education into a career. When I was in the shop unpacking the new products I knew I could create similar things. Surface pattern has really grown as a career since I did my masters and there is definitely more awareness of jobs within this niche design industry.
During university I didn’t know where to find a full time salaried jobs. Most of the illustrators felt we had to take the freelance route, which is not the case. Universities are out of touch with creative industries and I think students need more guidance on what types of jobs exist and how to get them. I knew that I was not the type of person who would like the freelance lifestyle. I like working in a team and having the security that a job offers. It is a very saturated and talented industry, there are so many illustrators, even in Liverpool, students just need the information to help take the best path for them.
What’s an average day look like for you?
Quite varied really. I can be researching new ideas, taking in information from magazines, pinterest, blogs and topical culture. We have a great studio environment where we can spend time illustrating in adobe suite or creating designs in a variety of traditional methods, such as painting and printing, which we then digitally manipulate later on. The reality of a design job is that there are some not-so-fun tasks that need to be completed to make sure products are ready for print etc, but the whole team takes on these tasks and we mix up what we’re doing to keep a good balance.
What’s your favourite thing about working for Milexa Group?
For us in the design team it’s the endless creative opportunities. Because we manufacture in-house we can put nearly anything and everything onto walls. Milexa allows us to have autonomy over our own work, so if there’s something we’re passionate about and want to work on they will let us run with it. These ideas usually create our best work too.
Who is your role model?
Professionally, there’s a few great women who inspire me at the minute. Kate Moross is one of them. She runs her own illustration and design studio in London but she also champions and empowers women. Doing a similar thing is Jessica Walsh, a graphic designer, art director and illustrator from America. I love that she uses her designs to speak about female issues and empowerment. She also runs a meet up called ‘Ladies, wine and design’, which is now being franchised in Liverpool.
What advice would you give to buzzing designers or those who want to change their career and go into design?
Create a portfolio that promotes who you want to be. Research the companies you love and want to buy from. What do they create and can you design your own?
If you want to design wallpaper and murals, design some. Learn how to mock your designs on to the products you want to create. I didn’t know what companies and products I was going to be designing for after my MA, so my portfolio showcased different styles and products so if the opportunity arose I had an example to show and an interest. In the surface pattern industry it’s great to be able to show diversity and show your skills are transferable between products and styles.
Find out more about our proud partner, Milexa Group, here.