Studio Visit

Camille Walala

Lucy Feagins
Lucy Feagins
14th of March 2014
AMAZING wall mural on the facade of the new Third Drawer Down store in Greville st, Prahran (which just opened this week!).  Artwork by Camille Walala.  Photo - Eve Wilson.
Interior details from the new Third Drawer Down store in Greville st, Prahran.  Artwork by Camille Walala.  Photo - Eve Wilson.
Facade of the new Third Drawer Down store in Greville st, Prahran, featuring artwork by Camille Walala.  Photo - Eve Wilson.
Lots of amazing goodness at Third Drawer Down's new store in Greville st, Prahran (which just opened this week!).  Photo - Eve Wilson.
The amazing Camille Walala outside her mural at Third Drawer Down  in Greville st, Prahran.  Photo - Eve Wilson.
Third Drawer Down  proprietor Abigail Crompton with artist  Camille Walala outside the new Third Drawer Down store in Prahran.  Photo - Eve Wilson.
OK so our usual thing around here is to cover strictly Australian designers / creative happenings.  We're pretty consistent on that front... however, every so often we do break with tradition to profile someone from a little further afield, especially if they have gone to all the effort of getting themselves halfway across the world to visit us and create something AMAZING here. (For example, Confetti System, who we interviewed last year when they came to Melbourne to make that epic  installation for the launch of King Kong). TODAY we have another insanely talented globetrotting creative to introduce. Camille Walala is a truly amazing French designer who has been living in London for the past 15 years, but she's in Australia right now, having just completed one of her distinctive geometric murals for the facade of Melbourne's new Third Drawer Down store in Greville st, Prahran.  (I tell you what... those Third Drawer Down peeps really know what's what - proprietor Abi Crompton is always pulling off the BEST collaborations! I digress...) I had the great pleasure of meeting Camille in Melbourne last week to learn a little more about her work and her story.  As it happens I had been following her on instagram for some time, but nothing beats a face to face catch up - especially when there's a French accent involved.  It was amazing to hear how Camille transitioned from small scale textile design into HUGE scale interiors and installations.  She landed her first large scale design job doing the entire interior for London nightclub XOYO.  The response was unprecedented, and led to many other collaborations and commissions for carious UK venues, festivals and clients including Nintendo and cult UK retailer Darkroom London.  Camille's self initiated projects are also consistently awesome, I particularly love Georgina's Happy House - a cheerful home makeover for a lucky (and very open minded) little old lady! Camille's influences include the the art of the African Ndebele tribe, the Memphis Movement in Italy in the 1980's, and optical art master Victor Vasarely - alongside the simple desire to put a smile on people’s faces! It's kind of impossible to explain the true magic of Camille's work without sending you to see it in person!  Do check out her website, and follow Camille's hypercolour adventures on insta!  OH and if you're based in Melbourne, get on down to Third Drawer Down in Greville street for a closer look at Camille's awesome work...  A little piece of East London cool, right here in Melbourne. Third Drawer Down (on the Southside) 155 Greville st Prahran
Tell us a little bit about your background – where did you grow up, what did you originally study, what path led you from France to London over 15 years ago, and how did you get into design and art direction to begin with?
I grew up in South of France in a little tiny village of 300 people. I went to university and did a French Literature degree, but it really that wasn't my thing. I always wanted to do something creative but didn't know what to do (or have the confidence for it). During this time my father 'forced' me to go to London and learn English, thinking that would be 'helpful for my future'. I hated him at the time as I couldn't speak a word of English and was petrified to leave my comfort zone. I was suppose to go to London for three months only but never come back. That was 15 years ago! THANKS DAD, that was the best parenting move you did! In my twenties I had the best time in London. I learned English, worked in hospitality, felt free for the first time in my life, wore all the eccentric outfits I could possibly wear (the beauty of London), went raving, worked as food stylist assistant, and had a catering business for a little while. I slowly but surely started study again, initially doing a two-hour drawing class a week, and finally taking a big step to go back to uni to do a degree in Printed Textiles for Fashion. That's when I originally fell in love with Sydney, as I came here originally to do my work experience for Akira Isogawa. After Uni, I started my own brand and used my patterns by making garments, accessorises and homewares. But it's only been in the last two years that I have found what I really love doing, which is working on a BIG SCALE.
You have created some seriously amazing and very high profile work in the past few years! Did you ever imagine your business would take off the way it has? Was there a particular project that acted as a launch pad / turning point for Camille Walala?
The owner of the famous club XOYO in London contacted me and asked me to decorate his new venue. I had never done such a large scale project before and was very excited. He gave me complete 'carte blanche' and trusted me from the start to the end. The biggest challenged was to mix all those patterns, colours and scales and to get it right! I absolutely loved the result. It was so nice to see the buzz and energy it gave to the place when the night came! That was IT, I found my purpose in life – making people smile and happy by creating colourful, bold and joyful surrounding environment. Since then I feel so lucky be able to work on such amazing projects and be able to push myself, making sure my works gets better every time, and that I am learning something new along the way. Camille-XOYO
XOYO nightclub, London - amazing interior by Camille Walala! (Sorry not the best pics but I had to include these!)
Abigail Crompton of Melbourne retail institution Third Drawer Down recently brought you to Melbourne to create a graphic façade for her new store in Prahran. How did this commission come about, and what inspired your design for this?
I discovered Abi's shop a while ago, as she was the one and only working with my favourite textile designer of all time Nathalie du Pasquier from Memphis Group. It was amazing to see Nathalie du Pasquier's prints from the 1980's brought back to life again on homewares. When Abi originally contacted me about doing the exterior of the new Third Drawer Down shop, it was the kind of email you just don't say no to! It made me so happy to learn that someone I admired seemed to like what I was doing!  JOY! Camille_AustraliansDelights
Camille Walala's sketchbook - 'Australian's Delights!".  Photo - Eve Wilson.
Can you give us a little insight into the inner workings of WALALA? Where are you based, how does your creative process usually unfold?
I have a studio in East London that I share with some lovely creative people (from a jewellery maker to an illustrator). I work a lot on the computer, creating patterns or doing mock ups for various project. I spend a lot of time also trying to find colour combinations that work well together by looking at paintings or other imagery. I also take a lot of pictures myself of everything that inspires me (patterns tiles, buildings, street signs) that I can recreate or use as part of my work. But the real pleasure comes when I am done with the design on my computer screen and I have to recreate it in the real life at a super enlarged scale. That makes me feel especially good! Camille_overhead
Camille Walala's colourful sketchbook of ideas!  Special thanks to Oscar Cooper cafe in Prahran who kindly let us shoot Camille at their tables on Greville street!  Photo - Eve Wilson.
What does a typical day in the life of Camille Walala involve?
I love waking up early. I go on my bike to my local cafe, look at Instagram (I can't help it, I think I am addicted to it), plan my day and do a list (I love doing a list, the joy of crossing off each task with a fluoro pen after completion is priceless!). Then I will go to my studio, work all day on some designs, and will go for a run afterwards, before eventually going out again.
Which other creatives are you inspired by / loving at the moment?
At the moment I am really inspired by optical art and artist as Victor Vasarely and Bridget Riley, but also art by South African tribe Ndbele. Camille-artdirection
'Optical Trickery' set design by Camille Walala in collaboration with photographer Jess Bonham.
Can you list for us your top resources across any media that you tune into regularly?
I love the blog and especially the Instagram of Appetite for Decoration. She has an eye like no one else, with a very strong sense of style or very 'tropical pop' as she would say. I also love the It's Nice That, which features amazing articles on new creatives, the French graphic magazine étapesVogue Living and Le Gourmand.
What would be your dream creative project?
My ultimate dream project will be to paint over some ugly building estates. They can be so depressing, and I would love to be able to paint bright bold graphics patterns on them and make them alive. Camille-darkroom
'Tribalala' Window installation and product collaboration for super cool London store Darkroom, by Camille Walala.

London Questions

Your favourite London neighbourhood and why?
I love East London, as it feels like a small village with a huge amount of creative people.
What and where was the last great meal you had in London?
I actually can't remember my last great meal in London as I have been in Sydney pretty much for the last three months! But what I can tell you is where I had my best meal here, and I must say it was one on my top five restaurant experience of all time! The place is called Russo & Russo, it's in Sydney and serves modern Italian food – you must go! What I love here in Sydney too is all the amazing cafes, there is one that I love the most called Fleetwood Macchiatto in Erskineville, the best coffee and breakfast.
Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?
I'll usually go a run first thing in the morning, then meet friends for coffee in East London around Broadway Market. Camille_door
Detail from facade of the new Third Drawer Down store in Greville st, Prahran - artwork by Camille Walala.  Photo - Eve Wilson.

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