Working with Lady Gaga, MGMT, Vogue, Christian Louboutin and many more; London-based designer/artist Petra Storrs‘ elaborate set, prop and costume designs have been seen by millions. Her “blimp costume” for Paloma Faith arrive onstage at Glastonbury in a parachute harness attached to two ginormous balloons, whilst her stained glass window dress for Gaga’s Born This Way video has been viewed close to 100 million times on YouTube. Mystical, magical, and with craft at its heart, Storrs style is the stuff of childhood dreams – if only after munching copious amounts of cheese before bedtime.
We spoke to the talented young lady, who transforms the mundane into the otherworldly, about British creativity, our infamous weather, and her plans to transform the money in our pockets…
Where’s your hometown, and where are you based now?
A little village in Oxfordshire, but now I have been Hackney for 8 years.
Do you think location affects creativity?
Being in London puts you in the right place at the right time, to take up the many work opportunites that are unique to London. It’s super competitive and every one is pushing, and struggling to succeed. I think after a while it can be too much though, and it’s important to get away from it regularly so you can miss it and come back.
Is Britain’s creative industry too London-centric?
It would be nice for it be a little more spread out. I have heard there are hot spots… Falmouth, Nottingham, Brighton, Somerset… perhaps the BBC moving out of London will have a positive effect.
If we could replace the Queen on bank notes with one iconic British design, which would you choose?
£5 note; Fleet Ilya- His cage corset belts are beautiful, simple and smart.
£10 note; Mary Katrantzou – Her surface pattern design is so innovative and conceptual, creating really wonderful original designs which are really wearable.
£20 note; Alexander McQueen- He set the trends and created the best fashion design of our time
£50 note; Joshua Silver – Designer and Inventor of the amazing Adaptive Eyewear. Using a liquid-filled lens, wearers in developing countries can self-adjust using detachable syringes until the prescription is just right for them. It’s such a brilliant and practical design that will improve so many peoples quality of life… I’m so impressed.
Has being British had an effect on your discipline?
I think the weather in Britain means there’s no temptation to go slack off and and sit in the sunshine, so more gets done in general. If I lived on a tropical island I think my priorities would be very different!
The Swinging ’60s, punk, Hacienda-era Manchester… is there one period of intense British creativity that you’d like to have been a part of, and why?
I think I’m more arts and crafts movement – William Morris – than Swinging ’60s, punk, or the Hacienda!
Are there any quintessential British traditions that inform your work?
Most recently the tradition of Afternoon Tea, I just completed a tea project, Camellia and the Rabbit with performance artist Rachel Snider, a fantastic London-based performance artist and theatre maker. We collaborated with Rachel to design the props and costume for her solo show, developing a collection of otherworldly objects to enhance her captivating performance, as she tells stories from her life threading them together in a celebration of Afternoon Tea.
It was an exciting project for me as we where able to work with lots of crafts people to get some really amazing items made, like an armour-maker in France who handmade the metal strainer outfit and giant tea spoon from steel. The show is now ready, with its first unveiling coming soon.
What’s next for you?
More of the same but bigger and better, a collection of fashion accessories and some small architectural projects… fingers crossed.