Nature, pattern and strong detailing - exactly what you are looking for in an illustration you say? Well let me introduce you to Maria Sole Cortese of unique luxury illustration brand, Volpine. I've had the pleasure of chatting to Maria Sole on a few occasions over the last month and it's been lovely to have had the chance to get to know someone so involved in market stalls, pop-ups and generally just trying to become more established as a designer. You may remember I mentioned her designs after seeing them at the Makers & Friends event at the beginning of April and I've since caught her at The London Artisan with a rather beautiful looking stall capturing the crowds of Shoreditch.
I think one of the things that shines through from Maria Sole is her dedication to only bringing the best, be that in her illustration, the materials used or the meticulous branding of Volpine. Each scarf is hand illustrated, the colours have been carefully selected and the softest silk has been used, no corners have been cut in the design process. The end result - an incredibly vivid and intriguing object that looks just as wonderful as a centrepiece wall hanging as it does tied around your neck for a statement fashion accessory. Want to know more? Read below to find out more about Maria Sole's inspiration, design process and expectations!
What is your background and how did Volpine end up coming to life?
I studied costume and theatre design at Central St Martin’s but have always had a fervent love of illustration as far back as I can remember and I have always wanted to start my own business. Last year I really knuckled down and began thinking of a brand name and style and so the Volpine journey started. I worked at Liberty as part of their retail design team for a few years and that’s when I started falling in love with all things silk and pattern. How can you not become totally obsessed with scarves when each morning you walk through the scarf hall? Volpine is the culmination of a love of illustration, a passion for silk scarves and luxury accessories and an incessant craving to head up my own design house.
Can you tell me the inspiration behind the designs, they're obviously influenced by nature?
The first collection is all about Wondrous Beasties intermingled with Victorian encaustic tiles (a little obsession of mine lately). I love the unexpected, slightly macabre, but still feminine and I am fascinated by patterns that appear when playing with nature. The intricacy of the designs is subtle but if you look carefully you can discover unexpected layers that perhaps at first you hadn’t noticed. I like to create statement pieces that can be collected and that don’t necessarily follow fashion trends, unique and timeless designs to be cherished, gifted or passed down to a loved one.
Each illustration is extremely delicate and precise, how long does it take to complete each design?
Everyone asks me this question and I’ve never really timed myself properly to be able to answer accurately. The illustrations take much longer if I’m not inspired but when that wave of inspiration finally comes I’m done for, I almost detach from the world around me and delve deep into this other world of intricacy that literally draws me in. When I finish and look up, hours and hours have passed without me realising. So I guess the short answer is, a really long time!
You manage to provoke such a sense of luxury in your designs, is this something that is important to you?
Luxury is so important, it’s paramount, but I see luxury as perfection in the way you can choose to make something the best it can possibly be, in the finishing touches of the meticulous hand rolled edging, the brightest ink printed onto the softest silk, the copper thread in the Volpine label, the monogram on the lower right corner of the scarf.
That for me is luxury, knowing that no matter what, the best choices were made throughout the design process and nothing was compromised, ending up with a truly luxurious item, worth falling in love with.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
I’d like to continue to expand the collection and to grow the brand, possibly go into home-wares and soft furnishings. The culmination would be to become a covetable brand known for its quality, impact and slightly quirky designs. Certainly I will continue to strive to achieve the unexpected with each collection and hopefully the rest will follow.
Keep track of Volpine by following their Instagram (hello gorgeous feed) and Twitter and let me know what you think of the designs. Want to see more interviews like this? Let me know!