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September 19, 2018

At home in the pink palace: getting to know Zeena Shah

 Tuovinen
Tia Tuovinen

Zeena Shah is a London-based print designer, stylist and creative, whose beautiful personality immediately won us over. Tonight she’s bringing her craftsmanship to The Collective Old Oak, hosting a workshop called Mindful Marbling. To celebrate, we met Zeena in her pink-clad home in Hackney, and learnt more about her creative work.

Tell us a little backstory, who are you?

My name is Zeena Shah. I am a print designer, maker, illustrator, stylist and author of How to Print Fabric and Scandia books. I live and work in East London and love to share my passion for making by teaching creative workshops in London and all over the country!

How did you start your creative career?

From a young age, I always loved to draw and make things. My mum taught my sisters and me how to sew and knit when we were small, so I’ve always been drawn to textiles. I studied textile design at Chelsea School of Art and on graduating, I decided to set up my own practice selling hand-printed goods for the home, designed and made in London.

Since then, I’ve gone on to write a book about printmaking and illustrate an adult colouring in book as well as teach workshops for lots of fabulous clients from my East London studio.

How did you get your own print workshop?

When I first set up my business back in 2009, I was living with my parents, screen-printing on the kitchen table and washing silk screens in the bathtub! It was a big decision to move into a studio space but the moment I did, it changed my business completely. I was able to host workshops from the studio, plus have space to separate work from life and set a balance.

Running your own business can be rather all consuming in the early days – it is immensely hard work. I was able to hire staff and shared the studio space with like-minded creatives.

Where do you draw inspiration as an artist, and what are your favourite things about your job?

I often get asked this question and it’s always a very similar answer.

I find inspiration everywhere, in the everyday and in the things I experience. I love nature, collecting vintage textiles, interiors, patterns, travelling… I am just one giant sponge.

What is your biggest passion?

My biggest passion is my creativity; designing and making things on a daily basis. Being able to be a creative and make a living is an incredible thing. I feel very lucky to call this my job.

Tell us more about the workshop you’re doing with us tonight!

I’m super excited to be hosting a workshop at The Collective, I’ll be teaching members the art of marbling. Marbling is a surface pattern-making technique using inks that float on the surface of water, that are then absorbed by papers. The beauty of marbling is that you never truly know what kind of design you will get, so you are forced to switch off and let yourself relax. This craft in particular is wonderfully mindful. I’m hoping everyone will get the marbling bug after our workshop session!

How long have you been running workshops, and what’s the best thing about teaching?

I’ve been running workshops for almost ten years now. They started really organically with a client asking me about the printmaking process and how I got started, and I invited them into my studio to experience the technique. This then grew into an extension of my original business model and it was great way to share a passion for printmaking and to reach new audiences.

You’ve put a lot of love into your home. What does ‘home’ mean to you?

Home is such a special place; it’s the place you get to really let go and relax. I love interior design, styling corners of my home and curating spaces. My studio is very similar.

The space is very calming and cosy with a variety of colours, textures and textiles adorning the rooms. I can’t help but smile when I walk into our pink hallway after a stressful day. I call it the pink palace!

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