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magazine | Aug 2, 2022 |
How this British design duo channels nostalgia into of-the-moment home goods

After an Instagram meet-cute, Kierra Campbell and Whinnie Williams founded design brand Poodle & Blonde in 2018 and have debuted a series of collections that tap into childhood obsessions.

Kierra Campbell was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram one day in 2017 when she stumbled upon Whinnie Williams’s eye-catching feed. Williams, a pop singer turned location house designer, had posted that she was toying with the idea of launching a homewares line; Campbell, a freelance production consultant for interior brands, messaged her with words of encouragement. It was a social media meet-cute that would quickly change the trajectory of both of their careers. “Within 20 minutes, I decided I wanted her as a business partner,” says Williams.

How this British design duo channels nostalgia into of-the-moment home goods
Kierra Campbell (left) and Whinnie Williams of Poodle and Blonde with selections from the brand’s Appaloosa collection, including the Cliftonville Cowgirls Bandana wallpaper.Courtesy of Poodle & Blonde

Growing up in a small town north of London, Williams was enamored with arts and crafts. After studying set design in college, she scored a record deal under the alias Sunday Girl but continued experimenting with interiors on the side. “That’s when I discovered location houses, which are kind of like movie sets, but you don’t tear them down the next day,” she explains. “I transformed my flat, and eventually another house I purchased, into over-the-top 1970s-style spaces and rented them out for photo shoots and music videos.” The theatrical interiors quickly caught the attention of stylists, shelter magazines and design lovers—including Campbell. “I slid into Whinnie’s DMs to offer my consulting services, and we instantly clicked,” she says. “The rest is history.”

In 2018, the duo launched Poodle & Blonde (named after Williams’s beloved dog and hair color). Their inaugural collection, Wyndham, featured wallpaper, fabric, pillows and lampshades in graphic prints inspired by a memory of Williams’s grandfather throwing loose change at money trees. “Our designs almost always nod to our childhoods,” says Campbell. “We’re storytellers, and though our personal styles differ, nostalgia is where we connect.”

Each of the brand’s designs begin as tactile artwork that Williams paints or sews by hand. “It gives each pattern a sense of craftsmanship and authenticity,” she says. The process also offers an intentional departure from slick perfection: “In the digital age, objects with depth can be calming and grounding.” Once Williams settles on a motif, she presents it to Campbell for feedback. “Whinnie is the creative genius, but I help balance her,” says Campbell. “I pore over each print to decide how we can make it more marketable to the masses.” The duo’s latest launch, Appaloosa—a series that includes speckled bolster pillows, patchwork blanket–inspired wallpaper and 1950s cowgirl-themed upholstery—pays homage to their youthful fascination with horses and cowboys. “I stayed at a dude ranch in Arizona,” says Williams. “Then we discovered British spotted mini horses and the idea of the collection was born.”

Left: Money Tree wallpaper and Square Velvet cushion in Bamboo, and Chain of Fools Square Velvet cushion in Jade. Courtesy of Poodle & Blonde | Right: Food Babies wallpaper in Ivory and Tottenham Dalmatian Circle Linen cushion in Ginger Courtesy of Poodle & Blonde

In addition to five in-house collections and three limited-edition series—including a dinnerware line and a selection of vintage cushions—Poodle & Blonde recently collaborated with British appliance brand Haden on a dalmatian-print electric kettle and toaster design that sold out its initial run in hours. This summer, the brand will debut its inaugural kids collection, Storytime, complete with coloring books, floor cushions and pillows with pockets for storing tiny toys and worry pets. “I have a four-year-old daughter, so it was important to me to create prints with characters that represent real struggles for kids—for example, a giraffe that stands out in a crowd even if he doesn’t want to, or a tortoise who’s a loner at heart,” explains Campbell. “Children connect words and stories with imagery.”

The pair is also currently hard at work on their first furniture line, for British manufacturer Made. “In the past two years, we’ve grown from a two-person team to a staff of seven,” says Campbell. “I think it’s because we appeal to both sexy, classic aesthetics as well as wild and fleeting styles. We offer the magic middle ground.” 

Homepage image: The Margate toaster and kettle set in Tottenham Dalmatian by Poodle and Blonde for Haden | Courtesy of Poodle & Blonde

This article originally appeared in Summer 2022 issue of Business of Home. Subscribe or become a BOH Insider for more.

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