Christmas might be the littlest of the collections we release each year, but that doesn’t mean to say the level of thought, detail and storytelling falls short – quite the reverse. When developing festive pieces, our in-house team of designers pour as much creative thought, obsess over every last meticulous detail, and have in mind an enchanting story that binds together the whole collection just as they do with our annual spring and autumn launches. In this Q&A, Amy from our design team, shares some of the stories behind this year’s Christmas creations…
What inspired this year’s Christmas collection?
We really let ourselves be swept away by heritage this year. There was no temptation to reinvent Christmas, to show it in a new light, or to introduce colours and characters unexpected. Instead, we focused on the tale as old as time. Christmas in all its nostalgia that will hopefully encourage reflection on family traditions – existing ones or beginning new ones. Every piece in the collection has a sense of heritage and familiarity to it. As though they could have been part of your box of heirloom decorations all along.
Tell us about some of the product stories. Which are the most enchanting?
Within the collection are pieces to keep in your home all season long. Their stories aren’t solely there to be told at Christmastime, but throughout the depths of winter. That was another element in design – appreciating Christmas in nature’s wintery context.
That’s why one of the richest of product tales is that of our new Eira throw and cushion. They’re hand-made in the UK – we’ve chosen to work with a company local to Neptune HQ – who weave each piece using 100% British wool sourced from trusted Knoll Yarns in Yorkshire. We were inspired by traditional Welsh blankets and explained to our makers that we wanted that same look and feel – safeguarding that sense of textiles of old was really important to us.
It was so special to watch them turn our pattern into the very first sample on their traditional hand-loom. Once we felt it was just right, they then head to a Yorkshire mill to be woven in larger quantities – the Bristol hand-loom wouldn’t be able to handle too many.
For me, these two designs really show how Christmas decorating shouldn’t be all about golden tones, star motifs and twinkling fairy lights. The cosy, comforting, curl-up by the fireside aspect to Christmas is equally as enchanting.
Were you searching for handicraft makers or were they a happy coincidence?
We absolutely were looking to honour heritage making techniques. With tradition being at the core of our Christmas collection, it felt only right that the path to creating it should reflect craft methods and materials of old too. A design isn’t anywhere near as meaningful or emotive when the focus is all about the end product. We care about the steps that went into it – the story from start to finish. Christmas is such a special time of year that every inch of the pieces deserve to be special too.
When designing the collection, did you have a picture of a particular home in mind?
Not a particular home – we’re always careful to ensure all of our designs work in every style of home from a country cottage to a contemporary loft apartment – but a particular feeling.
It was around Christmas last year when we started designing the collection. Colleagues, friends and family recounted their version of a family Christmas, and it was lovely hearing how each had their own traditions. Varied as they were, common threads ran through each one too. I thought back to my own memories of Christmas as a child – those feelings of excitement in the run-up to the big day; the ritual of the careful unwrapping heirloom decorations from the attic; the race with my sister to put our own favourite decorations on the tree’s prime positions; and the secret munching of the Christmas tree chocolates. It was this over-all cosy and heart-warming feeling and image of family coming together – terrible Christmas hats and all – that we wanted to capture for homes of all shapes, sizes and styles.
How do the new designs differ from Christmas collections gone by? Is the story wildly different or is it simply a new chapter on stories so far told?
Ironically, we’ve actually taken quite a large leap backwards to a more nostalgic time with beautiful materials, and age-old craftsmanship. We wanted to create a collection that would be treasured and built upon each year in the hope that these will be the heirloom decorations children and grandchildren will bring down from their own attic box one day
If you could choose one piece to have in your own home, which would it be and why?
I love the advent candle holder. There’s something so special about gathering around each evening as a family to light a candle. It makes counting down to Christmas something to really slow down and savour (though I’ll still have a chocolate one too of course).