From the moment we stepped into Camille Walala’s flat, it was a feast for the eyes. A print lover’s dream but a minimalist’s nightmare, her whole abode was plastered in vibrant primary colours, clashing prints and positive mantras. From the clothing Camille wears to the work she produces, her eclectic style is prominent and easy to identify. We found a quote stuck to the wall which perfectly summed up her home and ideology, ‘Don’t think too much, sometimes it’s best just to play.’ No shrinking violet, Camille first moved to London 15 years ago to learn English and decided to settle. Having worked on some pretty impressive projects for XOYO, Nintendo and Koppaberg, we sat down with Camille to discuss all things design, inspiration and daily routines.
UO: What’s the story of Camille Walala – how did you get into design and art direction?
I grew up in South of France in a little 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 supposed 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.
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.
UO: You’ve worked with a range of incredible clients including Nintendo, Koppaberg and XOYO. Tell us a little about those experiences.
The owner of XOYO 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.
UO: What does a typical day in the life of Camille Walala look like?
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.
UO: Where are you based and how does the creative process unfold for you?
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!
UO: What or who do you look to for inspiration?
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.
UO: 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.