A postgraduate of the Royal College of Art where she had studied furniture design , Kamali established Non Specific Creativity in the early 1990s; a multi-disciplined design collective that worked on a diverse variety of design projects ranging from restaurant design to art installations. She later joined retail design company Aero as the creative director before setting up Newman + Kamali with Paul Newman in 2000 (which subsequently became iNK), designing and supplying retailers such as the Conran Shop, Heals, Crate & Barrel, SCP and John Lewis.
Kamali’s contemporary take on traditional craft techniques exemplify her belief in a sustainable approach to personalized luxury, which has been evident throughout her career. As a founding designer for Case Furniture her contemporary designs reflected the attention to precision detail found in Japanese arts, while her bespoke craft commissions are characterized by high levels of craftsmanship and intricate forms.
Following a period of personal upheaval in 2006, Kamali turned to the therapeutic craft practices of embroidery and created a vast patchwork blanket inspired by the Isabel Allende’s familial novel ‘The House of the Spirits’; seventy seven squares hand sewn in 100% wool fabric.
Galvanised by the idea that ‘all her personal documents should be embroidered’, Kamali then sought to give a sense of permanency to the notes that people routinely scribble then discard. The development of her bespoke Last Will & Testament cushion cover and Wedding Vows blanket has allowed her to further focus on the narrative aspect of craft that holds so much personal appeal.
Kamali’s debut cushion collection launching at SCP follows a similar path, drawing upon her interest in Kamons; Japanese heraldic symbols which she became enthralled with whilst designing the interior of Brighton-based restaurant Oki-Nami in 1994.
The four intricate Mon designs of Chicken, Shrimp, Hexagon and Chrysanthemum are machine embroidered on cotton, while four felt appliquéd design of Crane, Chrysanthemum plus two Snowflake designs complete the collection. Inspired by the hexagonal symmetry of the snowflake, a natural form that has intrigued scientists for millennia, Kamali has featured snowflakes in several of her designs over the years, including a panel on the original patchwork blanket that reignited her love affair with traditional craft processes.