BEHIND THE DESIGNS: Cath Kidston X Peter Rabbit
Beatrix Potter, author and illustrator of the most cherished of British stories, The Tale Of Peter Rabbit, was also a natural scientist. With an avid interest in landscape, flora and fauna, she carefully studied and painted nature alongside her infamous furry friends. It’s no surprise, then, that her most loved illustrated characters partner so well with our traditional archive florals.
Our print team were inspired by Potter’s original line sketches and drawings. Pulling the blue of Peter’s jacket to sit as the main ground colour for the collection, they gently married her artistry with the soft blooms of our classic prints for a beautiful collaboration with a soft, nostalgic feel.
All our collaborations are special, but there was something about Peter Rabbit that captured the hearts of our creative team as the collection came to life. To take a look behind the scenes of that process, we caught up with Christine, our Design Director, for a look at what it took to partner two famous heritages.
When it comes to collaborations between two iconic brands, where do you start? And how do you get the balance right?
We always start by looking for collaborations with brands that make products which enhance our seasonal storytelling, and offer products with end-uses we don’t sell in our own range. Brands whose ethos we share, whose prints, illustrations & product evokes happy memories, or that offers a new, surprising take on our prints.
When we collaborate by using another brand’s illustrations, it’s key the final designs feature a good balance of recognisable Cath motifs. As a print house, it’s important we keep an essence of our heritage, and make it fun and unexpected with how we choose the mix and layer prints and brand icons. This offers something unique to the consumer, a little treasure that captures a moment in time. We know from previous collaborations that our customers love it when the final result has a strong blend of the two brands, offering them something they can’t get anywhere else.
Sometimes we choose complementary drawing styles and other times we explore the tension between a sketchy style and a cleaner style of drawing for example, but the key element is that the final result has to story-tell the idea of the collaboration on its own when the print is on the product.
Beatrix Potter's work is a staple in British heritage, how did the characters, story and illustrations inspire the prints?
We started by talking about our childhood memories of Peter Rabbit. Everyone in the team had such fond memories and recollections of items they had grown up with. So that became the starting point for the designs. We looked at our own vintage books, family heirlooms such as old needlepoint artworks and china. The gentle colours, soft and happy, the playful placing of the characters in the Cath florals are all derived from these memories. As a child, I used a Beatrix Potter porcelain cereal bowl that’s now been used by my own children, and has been through the dishwasher for as many years. Those washed soft colours in it were great for the palette as a starting point.
The print features florals from way back in our archive, what made you go for those?
We wanted something very recognisably Cath, as well as a smaller scale floral that had a soft, nostalgic feel that sat nicely with the Beatrix Potter illustrations. Our florals were originally hand painted in gouache, which gave them a slightly softer feel, and we think this technique perfectly complements the gentle quality of the original Peter Rabbit artworks.