Soph Molyneux Interview

Firstly, tell us a little bit about yourself, and your work!

I first created Blub during my MFA. After studying Fashion Design, I knew that at that time I did want to pursue it. I was always more interested in how clothes looked in a space rather than on a body. So, I started to concentrate on spaces instead.

What started your passion for making the things you do?

I have always been obsessed with squishy things – I spent a lot of my childhood in sensory rooms which nurtured my love for immersive spaces. I never thought about creating something similar until I was studying. Being left to my own devices with an open brief is heaven for me. I really responded to that kind of freedom, so I just went back to the things I love – squish, colour and print.

I found that there was no shame in just making things you like purely because you like them so I made squishy things out of anything I could! I even spent a good week making those little balloons filled with flour with faces on and wool for hair, that was a real highlight. But, things developed and got bigger as they always do and I always loved working with fabric. I began learning to screen print and the exploration began.

What inspired the style and shapes you use in your work?

When I was super young was obsessed with earlobes and Dr Seuss now I make squishy solutions that Dr Seuss would be proud of. The spaces I made are just places my 2 year old self would want to play in. I use the word blub and iiish as they were the words I used when I squish things they are my own abstract onomatopoeias I guess.

How do you make all of your designs and installations? How do you source materials, printing, etc?

Most of the fabric I use is organic cotton where it can be. I buy all my binders and pigment from London Screen Service, they are an amazing independent company. How I print would really offend any professional printer… my partner makes my screen frames for me out of reclaimed wood and we hand stretch over the silk screen but we have it nailed! After the print is exposed I just go for it in my home studio. None of it is perfect, but perfection is most definitely not my vibe. I like to use puff binder, because it goes puffy and squishy when you iron it.

I wanted to make a solution for fabric waste. Albeit not a very practical solution, but I collect all the scraps from different fashion designers and bits of foam from local upholsterers around Brighton and slowly fill up all my pieces. I also put all of my scraps in there, so I know nothing is going to landfill.

You just sold out(!!!) a collaboration with Lucy and Yak – who you are a stylist for – on a limited edition boilersuit. How did that whole experience come together?

A couple more have come into stock now so have a looksie! I started working in the Lucy and Yak shop when it first opened, which was a dream as I LOVED them. Honestly, me meeting Lucy for the first time was like meeting a celeb. We chatted about it a lot, whilst I was at the shop and Lucy asked me where I saw myself in the company. She is super supportive, so helped me find my way. I have always been into styling but never had the confidence to pursue it fully until now.

I feel like your style is absolutely perfect for Lucy and Yak too, how has it been working for them and also being able to showcase your own work in their clothes?

I love it, it’s just the perfect place. Lucy and Chris are good at seeing potential and are big at giving people a real chance to show what they can do, which was a bit daunting but also the best thing ever! It’s amazing to have their trust. Showcasing my work for them was of course an absolute dream, if you had told me this a year ago I wouldn’t believe it, not for one second.

You make installations for festivals that surround sensory experiences, what made you want to do these types of things?

It started as an opportunity that Brainchild festival gave me to jazz up one of their launch parties, and I never really looked back.

There is nothing more satisfying to me than making a boring space such as a marquee absolutely mad and colourful. Festivals are the perfect place for this and there is also quite a lot of creative freedom, as more is more. I am a big believer in that minimal is not in my vocabulary. I also love to make things that people are a part of, that people are able to touch and play in like they are toddlers again. It needs to be a feast for their bodies as well as their eyes, because when you’re a kid the raw senses are the most important. It’s fun to feel the simple pleasures.

What is your creative process when coming up with new ideas for designs and installations?

I think about it for a month. Not intensely, I just let my mind wonder for a while until I come upon an image in my mind that works. I don’t find it helpful to draw up ideas that are much too logical for my brain, it stunts my excitement and spontaneity.

My work has to be imaginary, otherwise I get so bogged down with logistics the creativity and freedom gets lost for me. This does mean that my ideas don’t always work though, which is why I don’t like to have my ideas drawn out and set in stone as I like to allow for play and accidents that become the piece. It’s all in the spontaneity of my brain that really works as a process for me, as well as working with colour all the time. If the colours are there, the rest will follow.

What do you hope your work will make others feel, and make a positive difference to their lives?

I just want people to feel joy and connect with their raw senses like they are babies. I haven’t yet found the meaning in my work as it’s more of an extension of me, rather than any bigger meaning. It’s about play and turning your brain into something as squishy as the bean bag you’re sat on.

Show us a couple of the pieces and designs that are your favourites and talk us through them!

Brain Blub – Brainchild Festival

This was my piece for Brainchild last year, it was a labour of love and I still wish I could have made more. Each tube was half painted, hand sewn and stuffed. It was long but was fun for me to go more sculptural and really helped me to find a now exploitive way to experience Blub. They also had photographer Nicole Caides come around and photograph us with our work, so I have some good pics of this piece which is wonderful, as I am notoriously bad at photographing my work!

Blub Number 15 – Knee Deep Festival

Knee Deep is always a joy, as they give you space to do whatever you want, it’s fabulous. I always take every single thing I can and style up the marquee over three days. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it to create a labyrinth of print. It’s always the last festival of the year too, and the one where I have the most stuff completed so it always feels like a celebration of all the work I’ve produced that year.

Words By Venita Cutler – 25/02/20

Studio Picture – Jess Whitney
Brainchild Picture – Nicole Caides
Knee Deep Festival Picture – Dom Moore

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