Lights, camera, action…
From paint to lamps, Charlotte Pearson finds out more in Rustington.
Being creative has always been a big part of Miranda Law’s life.
It has seen her go from being a scenic artist at theatres to working on daytime television shows and has resulted in her setting up her own business.
“I studied design at university,” explains Miranda. “I initially did work experience at a theatre in the costume department and always thought I would do that but then I started to design props and sets and just really loved it.
“I enjoyed being part of the process,” she adds. “I also did painting on shows like ‘60 Minute Makeover’, I was one of the people in the background.”
And so after not being able to find the right lampshade for her own home she decided to make it herself.
“I had some beautiful Japanese Chiyogami paper that I hadn’t found a use for so I ordered some frames and materials and made it,” she reveals.
This first lampshade still has pride of place in her home and ignited her passion for creating bespoke lampshades, leading to her setting up her company Swee Mei.
“The one I made for myself is just beautiful I still have it now in my hallway. I love Japanese prints, as well as bright and exotic fabrics,” Miranda smiles.
The eclectic range of different bold fabrics Miranda uses is no accident and links to her travels.
“I think a lot of my influence in choosing my fabrics is due to living abroad for most of my childhood,” the Rustington designer agrees.
“I lived in Singapore, Fiji and Spain with brief interludes back in England.
“My parents’ house was always filled with amazing things they picked up on their travels. I also lived in Cairo for a year as an adult.”
This influence doesn’t just stop at the fabrics used but also relates to her company’s name – Swee Mei.
“It is my daughter’s middle name. My mum is Chinese Malaysian and we all have Swee before our middle name,” she says. “It was my mum and grandma who chose the name for me, it means Water Jasmine.”
So how does the creative process begin?
“I pick the fabric first and then work from there. I have literally thousands of fabrics and samples everywhere,” she explains.
“I would love to, one day, make my own fabric but there are so many different types out there that I love and so many talented designers I don’t know if I could do it the same justice.
“But it would be lovely to have something I have done from scratch.”
With many of her creations being sold straight away does she have any favourites?
“I love the Palmeral one and the Sienna. The fabric for it has been discontinued but I managed to find the last ten metres of it,” Miranda says.
When it comes to shape, the most popular are the round ones but she can also make empire and square if requested.
Miranda is also open to requests as Swee Mei undertakes commissions.
“People may come to me with curtain fabric and say I want a lamp to match or they will show me the room and I’ll set up a private Pinterest board and put ideas on there for them,” she explains.
Miranda speaks with passion but I have to ask, does she enjoy it?
“I love it, I couldn’t imagine doing a job that I hate,” she exclaims.
“People are surprised at how well it has been going as people seem to think you can’t make a hobby into a job.
“But vintage fabrics and crafty things are very ‘in’ at the moment so I started at the right time I think,” she beams.
By the looks of the lampshades these won’t be going out of fashion any time soon.
To view the collection, visit www.sweemei.co.uk or ‘like’ her Facebook page – www.facebook.com/SweeMeiLampshade
August 12, 2014 Interiors and Property