Charlotte Raffo of The Monkey Puzzle Tree produces wallpaper,fabric and homeware in collaboration with Yorkshire artists. Here she answers our At Home with...Q&A
How would you describe your home? Colourful, eclectic and homely. I always have a few projects on the go and some food cooking so our house is definitely not a show home. I like to create a space that looks good even when it’s not perfectly tidy. We have lots of bold wallpapers and patterned carpets which bring colour and character. Much of our home is furnished with vintage items and pieces that have been given to us over the years, as well as my husband’s collection of daleks. When we buy new we buy the best we can afford and make it last.
Which household items could you not live without? I love my bath. My brother-in-law and sister helped me fit an extra bathroom into a box room a few years ago. We did it on a shoestring budget but I splashed out on some beautiful wallpaper, and now it’s my favourite quiet place to relax.
What is on your interiors wish list? I am currently on the lookout for a desk to share with my son. He wants room for a gaming PC and I’d like somewhere I can sit and work when I’m not at the studio. Like most design decisions it is a tricky balance of style, practicality and budget.
What is your favourite building and why? The Sagrada Família by Antonio Gaudí in Barcelona. It’s an astonishing building, so radically different and crazily ambitious in a way that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The fact that it has been under construction since 1882 is mind
boggling and a testament to perseverance. I last saw it in 2005 and would love to visit again, maybe by the time I get there it will finally be finished.
Is there anything exciting you at the moment in terms of design? The move towards more sustainable design and manufacturing locally is at an early stage but really inspiring. There needs to be more education and direction as how best to improve the way we live to have less impact on the environment. But it’s exciting to imagine how we might be living in a decade’s time, sometimes the best ideas come out of adversity and problem solving.
What and where is your ideal home? It might sound a bit sentimental but our house in North Leeds is my ideal home. It’s surrounded by a private garden with a vegetable patch and old fruit trees. We can walk to the shops and restaurants of Chapel Allerton, visit beautiful parks and still enjoy the vibrant multicultural feel of the city within easy reach of the countryside. One day I’d like to update the windows and decorate with some of our own designs but we’ll never move.
What are you most proud of? I’m finally becoming proud to have set up my own business. Like most people I underestimated how difficult it would be, but now the hard work is paying off it’s great to be able to support our local mills and pay the artists we work with their royalty. We were also awarded Highly Commended for Best in British Product Design for our real cork Hit the North wallpaper designed with Steeton-based artist Drew Millward.
Who would you most like a socially distanced drink with? I’d love to have a drink with Vivienne Westwood though I imagine it would be quite intimidating. Not only is she a style icon for the unconventional, but she has really stuck to her values through the decades. It has clearly not been a smooth journey for her though so I’m sure she’d have some good stories to tell and advice to give.
Pictured, Charlotte Raffo; Hit the North cork wallpaper and Metamorphosis linen union fabric on chair
Contact: The Monkey Puzzle Tree, fabrics, wallpaper and homeware, www.themonkeypuzzletree.com