Adam Calkin is one of the UK’s leading decorative painters, with accolades that span three decades. Adam’s work has featured internationally on the covers of interior design magazines and he is also celebrating 10 years of creating wallpaper and fabrics with Lewis & Wood.
You’ll find Adam Calkin for Lewis & Wood’s designs in our schemes including here at Covent Garden Hotel, where this bedroom’s headboard is adorned with ‘Adam’s Eden‘ fabric.
Join us as we ‘Meet the Maker’ and chat with Adam Calkin to learn more about his work and creative process…
We love your ‘Adam’s Eden’ design with Lewis & Wood. Where did the inspiration for this come from?
At the time (and even now) I was very interested in the Gustavian design of 18th century Swedish craft. Back then they did a lot of decorative painting throughout their homes and I loved all of that stuff. I learn about the culture, arts, crafts and decor through books and imagery. Most of my drawn birds and flowers are somewhat fantasy. In my design process, I like to take different elements and put them together rather than depicting specific species or flora. Overall, it is part Indian chintz and part Swedish wall painting.
Where did your journey into the decorative arts begin?
My interest started at school, where I was obsessed with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the Arts and Crafts movement. My curiosity and passion for decorative things started there. It has also inspired me to try different techniques like woodblock, screen printing and things related to furniture. My father was a very good joiner and boat builder. My mother was very artistic as well, practising figurative arts, painting and drawing. In art college, I found my interest in fashion and after school, I went to London to open up a shop with a friend selling clothing. This led me to open up a print works studio, printing on textiles and branded printing.
Adam’s geometric ‘Jacko’ design was inspired by North African decorative art. In Apartment 22 at One Denman Place, we have used this design for the bed cushions and in The Soho Hotel’s Penthouse Suite, we have used the design for curtains.
Is there a space that you’ve painted which you are particularly proud of?
I did a lot of work in Switzerland working on some amazing houses. The homes were new builds, but in an old vernacular style. We did all of the interior surfaces and worked closely with wonderful craftsmen that would come from Paris to do the wood panelling and blacksmiths who did all of the railings and balustrades. That was a particularly good project because it was so complete. Other than that, I like my own house very much because I have been there for around 20 years and it was an ongoing canvas. I could do what I wanted to do rather than what clients wanted. That was particularly satisfying.
What are your favourite items you surround yourself with?
I do enjoy collecting things. For some reason, there is something about coronation mugs as well as blue and white willow pattern china. Over the years I have collected quite a lot of those. Otherwise, things like furniture fittings and old light fittings I like to collect to either incorporate into my work or just hang on to for the perfect home one day.
What is next for you and your career and what would be your dream project?
I have become kind of nomadic in the last couple of years and have been spending a lot of time travelling. I don’t currently have a studio so I am doing more and more stuff on site. I’d like to do more projects abroad again. In particular, I would love the opportunity to work in India. Goa has a lot of very nice Portuguese architecture and I’d like to start refurbishing some of those places by working with the local craftsmen.
We loved speaking to the maker behind some of our favourite designs and we’re glad you could join us. We’re looking forward to seeing what’s next for Adam and we are not shying away from incorporating his work into many more of our future schemes. Watch this space!