Arren Williams is the name, and I'm a stylist, editor and trend reporter. You'll catch my work regularly popping up in print in the likes of the National Post, House & Home and elsewhere. I'm also a guest expert on Citytv's CityLine, and you can occasionally find me on HGTV as well as on ABC 7 News in Chicago.

To keep things fun I've tapped a couple of friends - Julia Black and Jenn Hannotte - to contribute their views on design too. Enjoy!


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5 quick questions: Alanna Cavanagh

I've had a bit of a design crush on the work of ultra-talented illustrator and printmaker Alanna Cavanagh for quite a while, so I'm glad to have cornered her into answering 5 quick questions. You might have seen her illustrations in the likes of Real Simple and the New York Times, but most recently I saw her work hanging in the home of Bev Hisey, where after years of looking at an - imho - awful painting of a blobby lifeless figure floating in the ether, I was happy to see one of Alanna's gorgeous Big Orange Scissors prints sitting pretty on the wall instead. And for that Alanna, I really really have to thank you.

Below you'll find shots of both Big Orange Scissors and Brook Brothers Suit (Green), plus a behind-the-scenes snap of Alanna tea staining one of her Penguin Books cover prints. Next, a peek at Alanna's own place, a shot of a space that currently inspiring her, and finally a super cute portrait photo/illustration mash up. Click here to read more 5 quick questions! [Portrait photo:Janet Kimber]

Arren Williams: What's inspiring you right now?

Alanna Cavanagh: Josef Frank Textiles, Illustrations from the 1950s, the colour limey green, swiss miss blog, springy tulips, Selvedge magazine, Graphic designer Paul Rand, Decoupage artist John Derian, The Workroom on Queen West and most especially: my new 'hood Parkdale.  

AW: Is there anything that drives you crazy when you walk into a space?  

AC: If it's too white and minimal I don't feel comfortable. For me I need to be surrounded by lots of warm wood, cozy textiles, and piles of books to feel at home. 

AW: What's the next thing you have your eyes on for your own house?  

AC: I would love a velvet tufted couch in a jewel tone like turquoise - I'm on the look out for a used one. In the meantime I have my eyes directly set on Benjamin Moore's 'Florentine Plaster' paint. It'll soon be on the walls of my bathroom.

AW: How would you describe your look, and has it changed over the years? 

AC: Fleamarket Chic with a dash of New Romantic! 

I absolutely love a MIX: of high and low, traditional and modern, and new and old. I also love to include whimsical pieces like old birdcages, and vintage signs to make sure the space never feels too serious.

In terms of colour I always paint my walls grey (Benjamin Moore Chelsea Grey is a fave) and then add lots of juicy tones like pink and orange which really POP off the grey.

And of course I love displaying a lot of art. I've always been a sucker for a salon wall. Every time I see one in a magazine I rip it out. My style has always been the same but happily these days I have a bit more high to add to the low. :-)

AW: What's next on the horizon? 

AC: I've just completed 3 new silk screen prints which you can find here on my website. I've also illustrated a campaign for Air New Zealand, and a book cover for Penguin books, and am now working on a tote bag design for Good Egg ( the wonderful food shop in Kensington market). Look out for it in June!

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Reader Comments (5)

Arren, thanks so much for sharing Alanna's work in this post and for the really interesting interview. I have to say that those prints are so much fun, especially the orange scissors. Scissors seem to be something of an interiors-led trend at the moment; look at this scissor decoration from Marks and Spencer (http://tinyurl.com/ykmulzr).

March 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWill

I love Alanna's work. So happy to see her here. Thank you to both of you!

March 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJane Flanagan

Thanks Will! V. cool find from Marks & Sparks!

March 17, 2010 | Registered CommenterArren

Wonderful post... Very informational and educational as usual!

March 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJay B.

Wonderful information. It is really useful to read your web.
The information among your blog is strictly wonderful, and your blog structure is Simple kind. It is not dazzled. So great.

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjeephenry2010

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