It’s about time we bought you another talented artist and Emma Britton, entrepreneur and glass designer, certainly fits the bill.
After graduating in Printed Textiles from Loughborough University, Emma worked in the glass industry. She saw the potential to create something different by applying pattern to glass for splash backs, just like wallpaper or fabric. Emma’s unique splash backs now bring colour and personality to kitchens and bathrooms across the UK. Unsurprisingly it’s the floral and botanical ones that caught our eye.
There’s gorgeous glassware too and floral inspired homewares; I suspect Emma has other ideas up her sleeve — her creative mind always abuzz — anyway, below, a thoughtful and revealing interview with a true creative who takes her inspiration from nature.
Your three favourite flowers?
Foxgloves, Hydrangeas and Sweetpeas. These are also the flowers that appeared in my first designs.
Tell us about your childhood garden?
I had a swing and steppingstones to play on, it wasn’t very big but it had a gate at each side of the house so as children we could run in and out and play. Throughout the course of my childhood it evolved a lot as my dad was always redesigning it. Now it looks amazing but started life as a suburban 80’s house with a square of grass. There were lots of fuchsias that were grown by my grandfather and I used to pop them open, which I now know is very naughty! I was very inspired by the shapes of fuchsias, I think this was my first connection with flowers as an artistic subject matter, that they were something to be appreciated.
Who or what inspired your career choice?
I knew I wanted to do my own thing, I worked first and got experience but I wanted creative freedom and not to conform to trends. When I was at university, I read wallpaper and textile designer profiles in magazines and thought, that’s what I want to do, and now I’m that woman in magazines, hopefully inspiring others! I’ve just ended up working in glass instead. If I had to name someone it would be Sir Paul Smith because he is original, authentic and also from Nottingham!
What is a typical day in the life of Emma?
Everyday involves making things come to life, be it a product, an event or a meeting. Self-employment gives me great variety and not every day is the same, which is why I like it. I have different kinds of ‘typical’ days. Sometimes I leave the house at 6am to go and install my glass splashbacks on the south coast or in Scotland with one of my glass fitters. If I am in the studio, it’s a mixture of designing, painting, making and checking on production. I could be at an event, like the Chelsea Flower Show where I’ll be chatting and meeting customers.
No garden is complete without …
a tranquil place to sit and contemplate or admire.
Something we’d find:
On your bedside table: A radio, mostly radio 4 these days, must be an age thing!
In your flower arrangement: At the moment I have a subscription to Freddie’s Flowers, I like arranging them when they arrive.
In your garden shed: Spiders probably, I prefer not to go in and just poke at my garden tools and entice them out on their own.
The flaw you wish you didn’t have?
I worry too much.
What would you be in another life?
Well, now I have spent so much time exhibiting at the RHS shows, a garden designer of course! Although I’d have to get over my fear of spiders I imagine. I love history too so maybe a British social historian. Sometimes I wish life was like sliding doors and you could go back in time and choose a different path and have many lives. I love what I do now so I wouldn’t change it in this life.
Integrity and having a sense of purpose, I value creativity every day and find it fulfilling. Family time is important to me. A strong work ethic balanced with time to unwind and think and I love doing that on seaside walks, hot baths or reading on the chaise longue on a Sunday afternoon.
Who is a botanical hero? Or a naturalist you admire?
Matt Biggs, he is so lovely, knowledgeable and has been really supportive of my career.
What is the one flower or plant you’d never plant in your garden, but don’t detest when you see others plant it?
That is a really difficult question. I like ferns, grasses and palms collectively and I think they look really cool and urban but don’t think they would work in my garden as it is a bit more traditional. That said, we are currently renovating the back garden so I’m going to ask the garden designer about blending the traditional flowers I like with the contemporary ones too.
If there was a fire, and you could only keep one book on plants and flowers, what would it be?
The Diary of an Edwardian Lady. It’s flowers and history!
For posterity, what would you like your work to be known for?
Being original, the original floral glass splashback designer.
Facebook. Emma Britton Decorative Glass Designer
Quick fire: some favourite things
Book (fiction): Anything by Victoria Hislop
Film: The Edge of Love
Painting or paint (by) Colour Makes Me Happy https://colourmakespeoplehappy.com/
Smell: The English Seaside
Meal: A home cooked one with wine
Travel Destination: French Alps
A cause near and dear to me: Alzheimer’s Society
Place to go for inspiration: Too hard, inspiration is everywhere.
A great walk near where you live: By the River Trent
Thing to collect obsessively: Coloured glass
Museum: National Trust, Mr Straw’s House
Favourite person to follow on Instagram: @EllenMarygardening
Garden in the UK: The Weleda Field
Garden anywhere else: The Hobbit Set in New Zealand, it’s amazing.
Images of Emma by Elly Lucas