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The Art of Play with Camille Walala

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 Combining bold patterns and bright colors, London-based artist Camille Walala aims to make her striking designs playful and full of joy.

Born in the south of France, Camille moved to London in her early twenties after studying textile design at the University of Brighton. Since then, she has worked on projects all over the world, ranging from clothing collaborations, to hotels, to creating murals for 40 feet high buildings. MiND had the opportunity to speak to Camille about her work.

Walala X Industry City for WantedDesign.

After finishing university, Camille took up as many opportunities as possible to learn more about textiles and develop her brand. “Eventually I got an opportunity to design a nightclub, which was a great chance to do interior design. I also created a lot of street art at the start. I think it’s all multidisciplinary, I try to apply patterns as much as possible.”

Though different to the world of textiles she was used to, she saw the nightclub as a great way to explore new possibilities and develop her style. “I just love learning; it’s always good to push yourself to learn something new or to work with different materials and techniques.”

Camille Walala

It’s clear to see how this approach has led Camille to where she is today. Going from textile design, nowadays she is working more and more on three-dimensional projects, such as architectural projects and designing interactive spaces, like at the NOW gallery in London. This exhibition, fittingly called ‘Walala X Play’ was a new concept for Camille. Not knowing how to design it, she approached the project like many of her others – by playing. Through experimenting with cardboard and creating mazes and different set-ups, she eventually came up with the concept, which was an interactive maze, bursting with color and fun.

“It felt like I was 10 years old again and could just play around.”

Walala X Play exhibition at the NOW Gallery.

In all of her work, there is always some kind of playful element, whether it be the colors, the patterns or the space that she uses. Inspired by the world around her, she begins with an idea and explores that: “A lot of my inspiration comes from going to museums or taking photographs in the street – for example of patterns I see on the floor or on walls. I love details of architecture as well, and my ideas grow from that.”

Though her designs often have a digital feel, Camille prefers to work on paper, filling pages of sketchbooks and then transferring her designs onto the computer at a later stage. The starting point is often a pattern or a simple collage, and she explains that she loves just experimenting with different compositions without knowing where it’s going to take her. “When I look back through my sketchbook, I can see concepts and designs that I could use again and it’s nice because I didn’t feel any pressure to start with an idea. I just want to create things, and then I can use them later for some other projects.”

“Not doing it with a purpose but just doing it because I enjoy it.”

Camille Walala’s design for the SALT of Palmar Hotel in Mauritius

Since she started out, Camille’s studio has grown, and now includes producers and architects, who help her to transform her bold designs into reality. “I started by myself years ago and now I have all these people working in my studios who can help me produce the ideas that I have and then push them to the next level. I guess it happened gradually, and it’s really to do with opportunities and people that I met. I think that people trusted me and trusted my faith and they gave me the opportunity to do something a bit bigger than I had the possibility to do.”

One of these instances was for the ‘Dream Come True’ building in London, which Walala worked on around three years ago. Camille states this was her favorite project that she has worked on so far, as it was the biggest project she had done at the time. “It was a huge step up in something I really wanted to do – art on a really big scale.”

‘Dream Come True’ building in London.

The building was previously standard and grey, but Walala transformed it into an unmissable statement that jumps out of the surroundings thanks to the vibrant design. “I just love that I actually finished a building. It was quite an ugly building and I was really excited to make it better using bright colors and the beautiful architecture as the starting points of the design.”

“It was really nice because other people reacted very positively to it.”

Although every project brings its own unique set of challenges, she admits that these recent architectural projects are the most challenging because of the scale and elements involved. “For me to work in 3-D was a big challenge, I never thought I would do something like this, because I have more of a 2-D style.” However, she confirms that despite the challenges, they are some of the most rewarding projects.

Model for the NOW Gallery exhibition.

When asked about the best piece of advice she has ever been given, she responded instantly with “persevere”. Walala admits that she wasn’t fully satisfied with her work when she started out because everything was centered around textiles, she felt as if it just wasn’t good enough (though we doubt that!). The one golden piece of advice that she still follows was from her father: to persevere.

“After 10 years I have finally got to the level where I want to be and it’s been really rewarding.”

By: Isabelle James