Meet Textile designer Tamara Schneider of Funky Wombat Textiles
I first came across textile designer Tamara Schneider when one of her lampshades caught my eye online. It was so beautiful I couldn’t stop looking at it. Seriously. Gorgeous.
She owns the amusingly named Funky Wombat Textiles and her designs are far more sophisticated, beautiful and grown up than the name might perhaps suggest.
Tamara started off studying fashion in the nineties. But as much as she loved Westwood and McQueen, it was the textile designs and processes that really excited her. When she moved to Melbourne in 2006, she finally enrolled in a textile design course at RMIT and so it began.
Through one of her lecturers she met Paul Simmons, one half of legendary Scottish design studio Timorous Beasties. “He was out here doing a trade show and we got invited to meet him for coffee. It was truly one of those geek groupie moments, especially for me as I had known about Timorous Beasties for so long. Eventually I got over the giggling schoolgirl thing and had a really nice chat.” A year later, when she was looking for a work project to finish her diploma, Tamara booked a ticket to Glasgow.
“I could try to downplay it a bit and be cool or something but the truth is it was brilliant. The energy that Paul and Alistair [McAuley] bring to the design process is amazing. It really helped me focus the things I had learned at school and gave me a bucket load of confidence as a designer. It really opened my mind to the many ways of combining old and new technology.”
She got back to Australia in August last year and soon started up Funky Wombat Textiles. “Now I’m doing my own designs for my own label with my own customers, so yeah, pretty much living the dream. Was it always my ambition? I’m really not sure, but I know that I’m enjoying working in my own business far more than any job I’ve ever had.”
There’s a lot of Aussie flora and fauna in her designs and this wasn’t intentional, although she admits to loving “wildlife and all associated bush junk,” adding: “My dad is a mad bushwalker who used to drag us out every chance he got when we were kids, so I was constantly exposed to the beauty of the Australian bush. I guess wildlife seemed a natural place to start when I began designing.”
Being environmentally friendly is important to Tamara. “I’m constantly looking at ways to improve the sustainability of not just us, but of all the other parts of our supply chain. To that end the majority of our production is digitally printed. It’s kind of counter-intuitive but it turns out that the machines are better environmentally as they can actually do things far more efficiently than we can with hand-printing so there’s much less waste. Also all of our inks are water-based so no harsh chemicals and we are always watching for new innovations that might help reduce our carbon footprint further.”
Funky Wombat Textiles turns one next month and it has grown steadily. “We recently started to work with some interior designers but the majority of the business is still with people looking for something to lift a room or a nice gift. The custom side has been the real surprise, not so much for what the jobs are but rather where the clients have come from. We recently completed a wallpaper job for an office in London, and have just been contracted to design more wallpaper for an apartment in Stockholm. One of the best things I did was integrating the supply chain early in the piece so we can be really responsive to our customers’ needs and turn most of the custom orders around in a couple of weeks.”
Tamara says it’s increasingly hard to predict interiors trends and she doesn’t care to. “There are no longer two or three oracles of wisdom for trends, there’s probably 3000, and while I find it good to get ideas I find it really hard to say that this year ‘polka dot flamingos with flaming red beaks carrying orange shoulder bags’ will be the trend. When I want to see what is happening now I’m more likely to come to a blog like Interiors Addict, where I feel some sort of connection with the author because I liked the things I’ve seen there, rather than try to make any kind of sense of the other 3000 articles out there.
“I’m not so much into trends but rather assisting people to create a style that they can relate to and want to live with. To me that’s what interiors is all about.”