Interview : Bert Fowler of Bert & Buoy

BERT&BUOY_Nautical inspired Devon Cushions

As you may or may not know, I’m not actually based in London like many other interiors bloggers. I live right down here on the gorgeous South Devon Coast in a quaint little town called Dartmouth. I’d always planned to live in London though and it wasn’t until my third year at University, which I spent living in Paris, that I realised that city living just isn’t for me. So instead of heading for the bright lights of the Big Smoke after graduation, I packed up all my things and headed straight back down to Devon with a renewed appreciation for everything that the laid back, charming, rural lifestyle that this part of the country has to offer.

Don’t get me wrong though, being based in Devon certainly has its drawbacks when it comes to blogging. All the big events and trade shows take place in London so I don’t get to attend that many of them as it’s quite an expensive trip once you’ve budgeted for travel and accommodation. This has always lead to me feeling a little bit isolated and pretty held back when it comes to blogging. I’ve never really felt the buzz and energy that you get from the design scene in London down here in Devon.

Although I have to say, I feel like something is changing. I’ve discovered a lot of great design that is coming out of Devon at the moment. I’ve read articles about the fact that London is currently experiencing a creative exodus so maybe that partly explains it. Maybe the creative community is leaving London or not heading there in the first place. Who knows?

But what I do know is that it is very exciting to see some fantastic new design talent right here in Devon. Over the next few weeks I will be featuring just a few of the fantastic companies I have discovered recently, right here on my doorstep.  The first is a wonderful new start-up that launched in August at Dartmouth Regatta.

Bert & Buoy is a home and lifestyle brand pioneered by British designer and illustrator Bert Fowler. In his words: “It captures the quintessential charm of a life lived and loved on the Devon coast.” I fell in love with the products as soon as I saw them and I’m sure you will too. So let’s find out more about Bert and his lovely new brand.

 

British Designer and Illustrator Bert Fowler

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

Bert & Buoy is the label of me – British designer and illustrator, Bert Fowler. This is my launch collection – it aims to capture and share the place I live and love with the world.

For the past 15 years, as a designer, illustrator and Creative Director of a renowned design agency, I’ve created work for major museums, art galleries, theatres, cinemas, heritage sites, festivals and visitor attractions across the UK. My work is recognised for modern twists on classic styles, bold compositions and beautiful illustrations.

Bert & Buoy Mug Collections

When did you first discover your love of design and illustration?

When I realised I loved film titles by icon Saul Bass more than the films themselves. And would re-design my bedroom with my older brother every other month. And use pictures more than words to communicate.

Bert & Buoy Tea Towels
Have you always lived in Devon?

After years up North, the love of a lass brought me to Devon. We got engaged in Dartmouth and the rest, as they say, is history. We now live in South Devon with our 14-month old baby girl.

We’re currently renovating our seaside home – with a leaky roof, howling windows, no central heating, dodgy electrics, damp, crumbling walls and asbestos – it probably would have been easier to knock it down and start again, but nine months on, the end is near and the interior mood boards for a contemporary coastal retreat are starting to become a reality.

Bert & Buoy Wall Art Collection

What is it about the Devon coast that you find so inspiring?

Never do I bore of the skyline, scenes and seas that fill a life lived on the Devon coast. Colours more vivid, objects more weathered, nature more prevalent, life more interesting, as the tide sweeps it in and out each day.

BERT&BUOY Cushions

You describe one of your aims as bringing “a little buoy-ish British charm” into the home. Can you explain this?

I wanted to be able to capture this amazing life in Devon in my illustrations, but in a distinctly Bert-way – modern, graphical, quirky, playful, striking – and then apply it across a wonderful selection of products for your home.

It’s ‘buoy-ish’ because it’s a coastal, quirky, Bert-style. It’s ‘British’ because of me and nearly everything we do is made in the UK and where possible, made in Devon. It’s ‘charm’ because, we hope that our art and homeware fascinates and delights.

Bert & Buoy Textiles Collection

Can you tell us a little bit about the production process of your products?

All of the pieces in the collection start off as original artworks by me – Bert, which are then applied onto handpicked fabrics, papers and ceramics. Wall art and stationery is printed in Devon – we work with local screen and giclee printers in Topsham and Torquay.  Our homeware products are all made in the UK by small manufacturers who really care about every detail from the colour of the print to the stitching of the hems and the hidden extras like quality zips.

Bert & Buoy Screen Printing

Where can people find your products? Do you have plans to open a shop?

Following our official launch and success at Dartmouth Regatta, we’ve just created our online store – this is the main place to see and order all of the very latest Bert & Buoy art and homeware.

We’re actively seeking retailers to become stockists of Bert & Buoy across the UK. We’re in-discussions with several retailers right now and you can already find Bert & Buoy in stores locally in South Devon, like Distinctly Living in Dartmouth.

BERT&BUOY_CARDS

What is your favourite product from the launch collection and why?

I can’t choose… I’d have to say, that I’d like to sit back resting on a luxury feather-filled Great Gulls cushion whilst sipping tea from our bone china Ship Ahoy mug and being enchanted by the Dartmouth illustrated print, hung in my kitchen above a Line-Up apron, which sits next to a Twosome tea towel. Is that allowed?

Bert & Buoy Cushion Collection

What can we expect to see next from Bert & Buoy?

With inspiration from sunrise to sunset… even more modern classics to fill your home with buoy-ish British charm. And hopefully in more places, as we develop our stockists network across the UK. Our live feeds of inspiration and news are the best places to check-in with what’s happening at Bert & Buoy – see us, share with us on twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

Bert & Buoy Wall Art Print


 

If you are interested in stocking any of the delightful products from Bert & Buoy email bert@bertandbuoy.com

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3 Comments

  1. October 11, 2015 / 11:04 am

    What a lovely company, and blog post. The South West is the place to be! I think it is definitely looking up in terms of design. I really love the great gulls print – very modernist. Wishing Bert & Buoy best of luck with the business.

  2. Gabrielle
    October 5, 2015 / 7:53 am

    That’s a life story worth following. Stepping out from a big agency to launch own business and in design, that’s real courage. This man deserves following his path.

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