Hum London: lighting the way for female design
As part of our new series shining a spotlight on women in business, we had the chance to interview Ellamanda and Hermione Gee on their recently launched lampshade business, Hum London, which is taking Instagram by storm with its colourful and stylish designs.
ICC: Hermione, can you tell us a bit about your design process? How do you come about realising your designs?
H: For me, the design process starts with being inspired by many different things but I would say particularly fashion, where colour, pattern and texture are key features. I create my designs based on those three elements but they do take time to evolve and grow from the original watercolour sketches.
ICC: If you could describe Hum as a brand in 3 words what would they be?
E & H: Cool, joyful, transformative.
ICC: What are your different roles within the company?
H: Our skills are very different but our roles are intertwined. From the onset, it has been a collaborative process, as we both had thoughts and ideas about potential designs - we would brainstorm and then I’d go away and turn these into samples. As canvases go, lampshades are pretty expensive, so most of my time at the beginning was spent painting in sketchbooks. Now that we’ve launched, I spend my time painting the real deal (when not doing admin!).
E: Basically Hermione is the prodigy and I’d say I’m more of a Kris Jenner character (or social media intern, depending on how you look at it).
Image: Hum London founders and sisters Hermione (L) and Ellamanda (R)
ICC: If you were both superheroes what would your superpowers be?
E: Making the water that comes out of taps to be always a mixture of 40% still and 60% sparkling - it’s the perfect ratio.
H: Embarrassing but I would quite like the ability to forget the Harry Potter books so I can read them all over again!
ICC: What are the biggest challenges you have faced so far in launching a business - especially during a pandemic?
H : Tracking down the right kind of paint that was both beautiful and durable was something that really took a while to figure out. I knew that watercolour wasn't suitable but I loved the effect it created when painted onto fabric. I went down a wormhole and eventually found a woman on a forum who had been painting onto lampshades for decades, who very kindly offered up some great advice.
E: The next challenge was finding the right colours and tone of paint. We wanted the lampshades to look amazing regardless of whether they were switched on or off, particularly for the depth of colour to still be strong when the lamp was on - this took a lot longer than anticipated but we wanted to get it right!
H: We didn't have any big problems that came about because of lockdown per se, it was probably more the other way around. The fact that we had so much time on our hands did us a lot of favours, in fact, Hum definitely wouldn’t have come to fruition if we hadn’t both spent lockdown back at home together. One other thing we’ve had to work around is that Ellamanda has been working full time since July. Therefore most of our brainstorming has to happen in the evenings and on weekends - so lots of long nights and me trying (and forgetting) not to be too distracting during the day.
ICC: Who are your design inspirations?
H: Before launching the brand we collated a lot of images of people’s work that we thought were inspiring - ranging from colourful architecture to vintage couture. We shared some of these on Hum’s instagram before we launched - as they were where we drew most of our inspiration from.
ICC: If you could choose anyone in the world to buy one of your lamps for their home who would you want it to be, aka your dream customer?
E: Hmmm, anyone but Gigi Hadid. (<- Click on the link to see why...)
WHERE CAN I GET A HUM LAMPSHADE?
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