Ruth Parker: Bespoke Designer of the Divine

TALENT WATCH: Artists and Designers on our Radar

British Artist Ruth Parker | The Decorating Diva, LLCRuth Parker is a diverse contemporary designer working on the borders between craft, fine art and interior design. Specializing in creating bespoke pieces that combine quality craftsmanship with exciting and intricate ideas. Ruth’s work has been commissioned and exhibited in the United Kingdom and abroad – both in its own right and integrated into interior design/architecture.

Having developed a unique production process of ‘tarnishing’ and decorating mirrors, she has worked with many exciting clients. Her designs were initially spotted and utilized by the Ted Baker team for their flagship women’s wear store in Covent Garden, London. Then Ruth was approached to produce a mirror for the Diptyque concession in Liberty’s, London. The bespoke mirrors have since been used in the New York and Chicago Diptyque flagship stores. Her multidisciplinary approach means that her work has been used to create home-wares, lighting, furniture, decorative paneling and artworks.

Often using re-claimed materials as a starting point, she draws inspiration from the marks and texture that have been ingrained on surfaces, suggesting a sense of history and untold stories, whilst adding my own layers to bring out new levels of interpretation and interest.

Tell us about your business.

I work as a designer maker, producing bespoke items for private clients, interior designers and architects. Although I work with a variety of mediums one of my main areas of business is creating luxury mirrors designs. I developed a unique process of ‘tarnishing’ mirrors, which I then decorate with drawings or photographs that I have created.

What inspired you to pursue this business?

I have always created since childhood, in the early days gluing together cereal packets and loo rolls but hopefully getting a bit more sophisticated from there! I create because I find joy in it and when words let me down it speaks for me. I am lucky enough to make money from something I love doing, but even if I didn’t, I would still be producing work. Creating for me has become a business, but I don’t ever want to lose the fact that it is also personally so much more than that.

Custom Mirror Design by Artist Ruth Parker | The Decorating Diva, LLCCustom Mirror Design by Artist Ruth Parker

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

I am very lucky to live in London, so have an amazing array of exhibitions to visit, and continually find inspiration from. I particularly enjoy exhibitions at the Wellcome collection; I love work that combines visual arts with social history.

I also spend a lot of time taking photographs and drawing, I have kept sketch books since I studied Fine Art at University, and I constantly refer back to them.

Recently I have also started to go to trade design shows, its really interesting to see new developments, particularly how people are innovating with materials.

Ruth Parker Decorative Mirror with custom patina finish | The Decorating Diva, LLCRuth Parker Decorative Mirror with custom patina finish.

Tell us about a favorite decorating or remodeling project.

My favorite project is always my most difficult one so far, I am at my best when I am challenged to push my creating thinking to produce something totally unique. So far that would be the mirrored wall panel’s created for the Diptyque store on Bleeker Street, New York. I had to create over 200 individual mirrored panels that produced the backdrop for the rest of the store. Each panel had an individual design based on the passing seasons. It was all handcrafted, so it was quite an epic undertaking. But it was an amazing experience and I have since gone on to produce work for other Diptyque stores.

What’s your personal design style? Has it evolved over time?

A lot of the objects that I find stylish or desirable are things that other people would probably send to the charity shop or throw away, but I love surfaces that seem to hold a sense of history. It doesn’t matter to me if things are damaged or a bit rough around the edges. I love to re-appropriate second hand pieces and make them my own. I’m quite a cluttered person, a bit of a hoarder (if I am honest), and always have been. I do try to rein it in more now and be more considered about how I display items. A big passion now is to try and combine these old collected objects with contemporary artworks and new furniture designs – statement pieces within the ram-shackled.

Tarnished and customized aged mirror by Ruth Parker | The Decorating Diva, LLC

Describe your dream room.

I have always wanted a room that has at least one wall that is top-to-bottom filled with books and the shelving system has to incorporate a movable ladder. I think books are beautiful and make an amazing feature; I haven’t quite reached the kindle revolution. For many years I have been holding onto a stack of vintage Liberty’s wallpaper (pattern Suki), I don’t dare to put it up until I find the perfect space, where I will be settled for a long time. An amazing feature window as I will need lots of light, for all the plants I will add. Antique museum cabinets would be filled with, amongst other things, natural history specimens, a Grayson Perry pot, and a Louise Bourgoeious sculpture. On the walls would be a Cy Tomble painting and lots of works created by my friends that are artists… there is something amazing about hanging work that has been created by someone you care about.

Many of us have a product we bought for our home-that now makes us think-“what was I thinking” – do you have one?

Well this probably doesn’t reflect well on me but I don’t have one! Even if it’s a bargain, I spend ages thinking about if I really want it, I’m not an impulse buyer. I do have an item that was brought into my home when I moved in with my boyfriend that made me think “what was HE thinking”. With him came two small ying yang plant pots; I have a great dislike of hippy styled products. Because I had taken control of most of the home décor, he insisted that the pot must be featured somewhere. I held my breath and we potted them with some cactus, and I have to admit I have grown to love them.

What’s your favorite color or paint swatch?

Its quite hard to pick just one, at this point in time it would be Bone China Blue Deep (184) from Little Greene Paint Company. I think its amazing as a background to contrast with highlights of intense color from ornaments or fabrics.

What are your five favorite pieces of home décor from your home or elsewhere?

Two items from my home:  Photographs that my grandfather took of my grandmother when they were on holiday in Florence, and my plants. and from elsewhere: Glimmer by Michael Riha, and Dressing Cabinet by Eileen Gray, and Margot George Chandelier

What’s your favorite room at home? Why is it your favorite?

I am very privileged to live in a special place, called the Abbey Art Centre, its has being providing homes and studio for artists/designers since the 1940s. This link show a view of how it was in the past.

I live and work in one of the houses in the grounds called Clockhouse Cottage ( I literally do have the face of the clock tower in my bedroom). My favorite place is probably actually the garden, filled with beautiful British wildflowers, where I find a lot of inspiration for my work. But if I had to pick a room it would be the living-room. In the past it was an apothecary workshop, the original beautifully carved fitted cabinets still exist. I have added lots of books, vinyl records, paintings and prints. The cabinets make a really statement bit its also a very peaceful room that’s great to relax in.

Ruth Parker's Collage Patina Mirror | The Decorating Diva, LLC

Who’s your favorite designer?

James Plumb.

Do you have a decorating design or remodeling tip you’d like to share with the Decorating Diva readers?

Don’t rush your designs and don’t feel you have to fill every corner with the latest craze. Try to implement your basic design structures, with a few of your feature items, and then if possible live in the space for a month or two, before you fill it with all of the finishing pieces. Allow yourself the space and time to see what works and make adjustments, and gradually add the décor. Its very easy to become overwhelmed by the latest trends, especially in the digital age, but its important to have a space that your can express your own personality and needs, rather than just making something that looks like a show home ( and that possibly looks totally off trend within 6-12 months).

What are your favorite blogs or home design/improvement websites?

What are your favorite books and magazines? 

  • World Of Interiors
  • Ernest Haeckel – Art Forms In Nature
  • Francoise Huguier – Kommounalki
  • Lost Control – Neasden Control Centre
  • Henk Gerritsen – Essay on Gardening

Where to Buy:

Editorial Musings: Sharing my favorite photos and personal perspective on stories from The Decorating Diva and other publications I love, my international travels, interior design shows I attend throughout the year, fashion, beauty, architecture, technology and other topics that inspire and drive my passion for discovering the very best in design. – Carmen Natschke, Editor, The Decorating Diva, LLC