Friday Five with Ella Doran

For this week’s Friday Five, we check in with British designer-entrepreneur Ella Doran, who set up shop in East London in the early 90s after graduating from college. In the beginning stages of digital printing technologies, Doran spearheaded the creation of photography-based images and patterns to be used on everyday products, like placemats and coasters. Over the years, her surface designs have covered everything including home accessories, stationery items, wallpapers, and posters. More recently, she’s branched out to work on custom work with architects and interior designers, which was inspired by the commission of artwork for the new pediatric ward of the Royal London Hospital. It’s no doubt that Doran’s picks all come with a creative spin – take a look…

Joe Tilson, LOOK!, 1964 \\ Courtesy Walker Art Center

Joe Tilson, LOOK!, 1964 \\\ Courtesy Walker Art Center

1. The 1960s Pop Art movement is a big influence on me and the work of British artist Joe Tilson encompasses what I find special about the period. I love his graphic sensibility and how he used big carved out letters and close up images – drawn, carved, photographed, sketched & screen printed – such as his sketched eye L O O K !.

The Barbican Art Gallery shows a wonderful mix of the exuberant and colorful Pop art and furniture from the period in its current exhibition Pop Art Design on until 9th Feb 2014.

2. I am passionate about artwork and uplifting designs being used in hospitals and other healing spaces. In that context I was happy to see this commission piece of lighting designer Stuart Haygarth for the Macmillan Cancer Hospital in central London. For this amazing installation Haygarth collected debris washed up on beaches along a walk he took from Gravesend in Kent to Land’s End in Cornwall and reformed those discarded objects into a piece of beauty that is also full of story.

Sam by Abby Ross. Taken at the ‘Fashion Etcetera’ exhibition in NY, 2009.

Sam by Abby Ross. Taken at the ‘Fashion Etcetera’ exhibition in NY, 2009.

3. Photography is central to my work and I love Ludwig Haskin’s Blog that is dedicated to his father, the photographer Sam Haskins. A friend first introduced me to Sam Haskins’s photography in the late 90s. The composition and grouping of images in his book “African Image” has inspired me particularly and one of my cherished possessions is one of his tribal swords photographs with his signature grainy exposure and sharp black and white contrast. Ludwig Haskins vividly spoke about “African Image” and his father’s work overall in a lecture he gave to photography students in Coventry. It’s available as a podcast on the blog and well worth a listen ☺


4. Recently I find myself very excited about Kickstarter. I have backed a few projects so far and I am thinking of using it for one of my own projects. Why do I love it so much? For many reasons: its focus on and purpose to back creative projects, that the internet and its global reach mean that someone from San Paolo to Seoul can find your project and be inspired to back you… For me, it gives the word CROWD a new meaning of empowerment and support for creative projects…


5. As my inspiration number 5, I have picked Instagram – as one of those great social media tools we have these days for connecting with like-minded people all over the world. I use Instagram a lot as it is a wonderful barometer of how my own creative ideas resonate with other people and a great way of experiencing other people’s visual worlds. One of my favorite profiles is peoplewalkingpastwalls. Today’s display is beautiful – so take a peek and share it with your friends if you like!

Caroline Williamson is Editorial Director of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.