Georgia Macmillan makes everything beautiful: whether it’s her children’s rooms or the way she decorates a tabletop for lunch, you can see her unique artistic touch on everything she does...
This week the Dubai-based Macmillan has launched her beautiful new range of linen and cotton textiles. The Bernalda Collection was inspired by a recent family holiday in Italy, where she stayed at Palazzo Margherita, a grand 19th century palazzo in Bernalda, owned and operated by Francis Ford Coppola and his family. You’ll love her new heavenly striped and spotted table clothes, napkins, cushions and more. Macmillan has also launched a dreamy baby bedding range, which consists of 100% cotton cot quilts in pink or blue with star cushions to match.
The entire range is hand painted by the talented Macmillan, who then digitally prints her divine watercolour paintings onto the linen and cotton fabric. We caught up with the gorgeous mother of two (who has recently gave birth to an adorable baby boy William!) to find out more about the inspiration behind her covetable new range, how she approaches styling children’s rooms and life in Dubai…
Artist Georgia Macmillan with her son William
What inspired the new Georgia MacMillan linen and cotton textiles range?
I sought great inspiration when designing The Bernalda Collection from a recent family holiday where we stayed at Palazzo Margherita – a grand and dreamy 19th century palazzo in Bernalda owned and operated by Francis Ford Coppola and his Family. Bernalda is a southern Italian town in the Basilicata region where days are slow, animated men sit outside and chat, and the gelato store is always open! A cinematic town – untouched and authentic – where little English is spoken and few tourists venture. And that is its charm.
Everywhere you look at Palazzo Margherita are Italian still life compositions — I loved the iron tables and chairs in the courtyard outside the stone kitchen with local ceramic bowls of walnuts and fresh fruit, small cups of strong espresso and an assortment of freshly baked biscotti. The beautiful overgrown garden of enormous cacti, bougainvillea and palm trees around the old fountain added to the tranquility. This is where the Coppola family holidays and they want to share this experience – the beauty and barefoot quiet luxury (my three-year-old daughter Olivia happily ran around the Palazzo without shoes everyday!). It was overcast when we stayed, which added to the allure – so I have worked with a watercolour palette of deep inky ocean blues and steely greys to represent the clouds rolling in over the village. A touch of peach and burnt orange was added to reflect the Palazzo courtyard colours. Inspiration can come from anywhere!
I worked with stylist Tory Waller and photographer Abbi Kemp to shoot the new season campaign – and they brought my brief of ‘celebrating the authentic’ to life. The wall in my studio was painted white with grey stripes to reflect the Charcoal Stripe pattern in my collection. Other set pieces included an enormous blue and white striped backdrop (which I also hand painted – I must stop painting walls!), together with stunning rugs on loan from The Rug Company at The Odd Piece; handcrafted pendant lights from Tribe Dubai, and special antique pieces I had at home. On the morning of the shoot I baked a Dolce del Tre (The Cake of Three) to pay homage to the Italian Basilicata region (total crazy lady with a three week old baby!).
What's new to the range?
This year I’m excited to introduce a baby bedding range, which consists of 100% cotton cot quilts in pink or blue with star cushions to match. The range was actually designed on a whim one day. I was painting a birthday party invitation for a client, which included lovely swishy swirls and stars. I also happened to be pregnant with my second child, and updating the children’s room was on my mind. I was keen to eschew the predictable pastel nursery palette and create something happy, bright and vibrant because the baby and Olivia would share a room. I thought a quilt would be gorgeous, and why not include a fun matching star cushion?! So the extensive sampling process commenced – perfecting imperfect swirls and stars with watercolour paints, digitally printing on 100% beautifully soft cotton (rather than linen) and sampling various cotton fills. I couldn’t be happier with the results. Olivia now insists on sleeping with three pink star cushions – she loves them – so I guess that’s a good sign!
How do you approach styling a nursery?
I just throw together all things I love and hope for the best! Happy making is key for me. We’re mad about the enormous wall-to-wall From Jaipur With Love dhurrie, various pieces of artwork collected along the way, fun pastel pink Muuto lighting, Like Butter boxes for storing books, and the eclectic collection of toys old and new – from my childhood favorites to Lucky Boy Sunday (which is very well represented!).
How would you describe William's nursery?
As it was originally Olivia’s room, the space is more grown up than a nursery. However since eight-week-old William moved in, Olivia will temporarily share with my husband and I until we develop a solid night routine for the baby. Incredibly, the sharing situation works. We’re lucky our Dubai villa has enormous bedrooms, so she’s more than happy in her special single bed, with gorgeous pink blockprint quilt from Shenouk (a favourite local supplier) and of course the collection of pink Starry Night Cushions!
I couldn’t find wallpaper that appealed to me, so I hand-painted the back wall in a floral design using colours suited for a boy and girl (I was heavily pregnant at the time of painting and balancing on a ladder probably wasn’t ideal!). It’s quite dramatic and makes the room sing. I actually wouldn’t mind developing it in to wallpaper one day. But one thing at a time! We used the wall as a backdrop to shoot the Baby Bedding range. William sleeps in Olivia’s former yellow Kalon Caravan Cot, which is made up with the Baby Boy Quilt from my new range and features a solid selection of Blue Starry Night Cushions. There’s also a queen bed in the room, which Olivia will eventually move back to.
How does living in Dubai influence your work?
Two things influence me – firstly, my girlfriends in Dubai. It’s the same old story… highly educated, worked their way to the top, left to have children, and went out on their own to follow a passion and make the career/family life juggle work. It’s inspiring and motivating. The same can be said for the majority of my friends in Australia. I always feel boosted and encouraged spending time together discussing work (and everything in-between!).
Secondly, from the exquisite tiles on the Iranian Hospital, to extravagant hotel designs, vast desert space and endless sky, the mayhem of Satwa, sunsets over the Arabian Gulf, abras on the Dubai Creek, the call to prayer, palm trees, endless rows of petunias lining streets, visual merchandising in the malls, Emiratis looking super stylish in traditional dress – EVERYTHING inspires me in Dubai. Plus given our proximity to Europe, travel is easier (and quicker!), so it’s also a major influence. Who doesn’t love discovering beauty around every corner? The lighter sunshine, scent of lavender in the air, chink of rosé filled wine glasses, olive groves, historic cities, buildings and monuments. I could go on… inspiration is everywhere and it usually creeps up when least expected.
Shop the new range at www.georgiamacmillanpaints.com