Designer Camille Walala has teamed up with super-hot concept store Darkroom as part of the London Design Festival, creating a stand-out collection of Pop-tribal paintings, beadwork and textiles inspired by the South African Ndebele tribe. Wonderland caught up with Camille and Darkroom directors Rhonda and Lulu at the T-R-I-B-A-L-A-L-A launch party (ostrich stew and rum punch, anyone?) for a chat about the collection.

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Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself…

Rhonda & Lulu: We opened Darkroom in late 2009, and have since worked really hard to find unusual items that are not already represented in London. We choose by product, style and design rather than designer: we are rarely label led. We like to source our products from a mixture of established and up-and-coming designers so that they fit within the Darkroom aesthetic, which is very distinctive and often quite hard-edged and geometric.

Camille, how did your love of textiles and print begin?

Camille: I have been fascinated by bright patterns since my teens. I grew up with two different styles: with the Memphis-style design pieces in my Dad’s house in Paris, and my Mum’s Provence house which we decorated with warm, Mediterranean colours and African patterns. So in my head I think I’ve always mixed the two together.

Can you explain your interest with the Ndebele tribe in particular?

Camille: Funnily enough, I only really discovered the Ndebele tribe when I went to a talk which Rhonda did during David David’s pop-up last year. She talked about how African tribes influence fashion and textiles, and as soon as she started talking about the Ndebele tribe my heart started beating really fast and it was like love at first sight! The style really appealed to me. I love everything about it.

Rhonda: I've collected African fabrics for many years, and so it was something that we naturally brought into the Darkroom aesthetic. I like the way the vibrancy of the textiles and colour palettes found in Africa work so well alongside contemporary Western design. The contrast really creates a dialogue between all the products we present.

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Why did you choose to collaborate with each other?

Camille: I’ve always loved Darkroom, and then after I designed the bar at XOYO I got an email from Rhonda titled ‘we like your work’ and my first thought was ‘no, that has to be spam, this can’t be real!’, but it was real and the girls really did love my work and asked me to collaborate with them. So that’s how it all started…

Rhonda & Lulu: Camille seems to immerse her high-octane, colourful prints into every project she undertakes, and we love her on-going desire to put a smile on people’s faces.

Where would you most like to see your creations?

Camille: I would love to see my mix of patterns and colours on Brutalism buildings all over London. I’d like to brighten them up a bit! I love their shapes, but I think some of them could do with a bit of a Walala touch; especially when the sky is grey. One day…

Have you got any exciting plans or collaborations for the future?

Camille: I discovered these Slovenian designers recently (www.kitsch-nitsch.com) and have fallen in love with their work: they are doing things out there that I feel so connected to. I actually got so excited I sent them a Facebook message to let them know, and they said the love was reciprocal – hurray! So they don’t know it yet, but I can be quite convincing, and I want them to come over for a collaboration on some interior designs for bars and club nights in London. Watch this space!

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Darkroom will be hosting a pop-up store at Design Junction throughout the London Design Festival, in the 1960s Sorting Office in W1. www.darkroomlondon.com

Words: Samantha Southern


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