Colourful Language: Gemma Leslie on colour and travel
IMAGES BY SAM WONG
Gemma Leslie is a multidisciplinary designer, consultant and founder of bed linen brand Scottie Store. With a background in design and eye for style, Gemma is heavily inspired from European design and creates colour palettes based on travel memories.
Being in isolation means we virtually sit down with amazing artists—or in Gemma’s case—lying in bed on her own designed bedwear. Nothing like chatting from the comfort of your own bed, hey? Gemma takes us through her journey of juggling two jobs, how travel inspires her collections, the room she spruced up with Tint and the idea of semiotics. For Gemma, this time has been a blessing in disguise by being able to slow right down, enjoy being around the house and pulling ideas together of what she wants to do with the space.
When she was Marketing Manager at Lucy Folk and running Scottie Store in the spare time she had, there wasn’t a lot of time for much else. Giving 120% at Lucy Folk meant that she couldn’t always release new collections, but the hard work she did at the start paid off when she saw loyal customers coming back and ordering more. Now that she’s made her mark in the fashion realm, it was time to give her bed linen brand all her love and attention.
It was definitely a very wobbly balancing act, there’s no romantic story [laughs].
Gemma’s colour choice is inspired purely by travel. The collection that you’ll see on her website right now was brought to life by memories and images created throughout Europe. There’s lots of rustic colours, beautiful navys, greens brought out from the rolling hillsides and deepsea blue from the ocean. The reason behind this is her connection with escapism.
In most of her work, she strays away from plain and boring colours, because 'they just don’t make [her] feel much'. She wants people to feel something as soon as you walk into a room that boasts her collection. In terms of how she actually creates a palette, Gemma pulls from some of her skills as a Graphic Designer and places images she’s taken into Photoshop and decides what’s closest to the feeling she had when she was there. She’ll also reference Pantone books and do hours and hours of testing to make sure everything matches up nicely and neatly.
A colour will take me away and make me feel super happy, free and excited. So that's how I choose my colours.
The sampling phase is a hefty one for Gemma with lots of back and forth, but for her latest collection, things felt a little easier for a few different reasons. The first being that she felt really strong about it — usually there’s lots of uncertainty in her creative process—but this time she had it from the get-go. Another part was working with great people, because when things happen, they happen quickly. So having a strong team, like co-host for Co!ourful Language Nat Turnbull and Melbourne photographer Victoria Zschommler, made the process simpler.
Gemma decided to take on the project of doing up a room in her house with Tint paint. And we reckon she’s nailed it. She decided to pick the spare room as the project, because to her, it’s the most beautiful room in the house: amazing lines, peppercorn tree views and perfect lighting both morning and afternoon. It has lots of character with a few imperfections—making it the perfect challenge.
Get a good team together, that’s where the magic happens.
As a kid, Gemma wanted to paint her room yellow with a popping-orange skirting board. Her Dad gave her free rein, but said if she wanted to do it, then she had to do it herself. So by the age of nine she had a three-toned bedroom and she thinks that maybe she ‘hasn’t actually grown up yet to be honest’. That’s a part of her inspiration from the room, bringing back memories in a stylish way.
She doesn’t like to wear loud colours like a deep mustard yellow, but loves having it in the house, because ‘it’s a happy colour’. In university, Gemma studied semiotics and knows that yellow brings off a good energy, so having it in the house creates a good vibe — a nice, warm feeling. The doors also stem from a memory, a travelling memory of course, using the French provincial style. They’re painted a nice blue colour to match with a grey roof, which she reckons creates a relaxing environment when you’re looking up lying in bed.
We love everything about the room and it’s a great way for Gemma to kick off her home renos—and trust us—there’s a lot in store. Everything from marble bench kitchen tops to crazy garden paths and everything in between, as well as something that she thinks brings family and friends together: a pizza oven. Her Dad’s going to help her build that one (even though he doesn’t know about it yet – sorry Dad Leslie!)
Thanks for tuning into another edition of Colourful Language. We hope you enjoyed understanding the process of how Gemma brings her creative ideas to life through linen and Tint paint. Stay tuned for our next featured artist coming soon.