In the Art Room with… Edit58

For our Spring ‘In the Art Room’ we speak to the wonderful Lisa Mehydene, the creative force behind Edit58. This inspiring woman works with artisans from around the world to bring you one-of-a-kind treasures you won’t find anywhere else. An avid traveller with an enviable eye for must-have pieces, Lisa launched Edit58 as a platform to share the irresistible finds she’s collected, combined with her own unique design spin.
We are so lucky that this lovely lady has taken the time to answer some questions on how her upbringing, education and early career choices shaped the creative force she is today, and how she brings this into her own children’s lives on a day to day basis…

What did you study at school/university? Was creativity and art part of your home life growing up? What did you dream of being when you grew up?!

I studied A level Art at school (along with English Lit / Politics / Business), but the truth of the matter is I wasn’t particularly artistic! I would say I’m creative, but not artistic – if that makes sense?! So, whilst I was not destined to be an artist, ceramicist, Graphic Designer or suchlike, I have always loved being immersed/surrounded by creativity and feel inspired and energised when I am close to the creative process and creative people. I suppose I have what people refer to as ‘a creative eye’. I know what I love, and what excites and delights me – and so now, in my work at edit58, it is very much about developing and curating homeware products that I love and want in my own home, and in doing so the hope is that others will love (and want) them too! 

Creativity and art was very much NOT part of my homelife growing up. Both my parents were in non-creative, office-based professions and whilst creativity was encouraged; it was more in regard to developing my own sense of self and who I wanted to be. I was very much left to my own devices in relation to what I wanted to be/do as a career. My parents didn’t push me in any direction and were never vocal about their hopes/dreams for us. My Brother and I were the first ones in our family to attend higher education and very much drove our own path forward, with their support of course!

When I was young I wanted to be a fashion designer (I mean, I had a “Fashion Wheel’ and LOVED it! Remember those?!). Then I wanted to be a fashion journalist and work on a glossy magazine. I finally settled on being an Advertising Director (see below!) as it seemed like the perfect blend of left and right brain activity.

How did your creative upbringing shape how you chose your career? How do you think a creative education gave you tools to be successful in your adult life? 

I always knew I wanted to work in a creative field – one that combined my love of English language and visuals – so I was drawn to advertising from a young age (From around 16 I was saying this is what I wanted to do). I went to Kingston University and gained my degree there. The bonus was that as a 4-year degree I was able to carry out a work placement at an advertising agency, and then upon graduating was accepted onto a Grad Scheme at a Global Agency in London as I already had some ‘real life’ experience. The Advertising world seemed to be full of talented young people developing exciting campaigns for well-known brands and I wanted in on the action! 

From Day 1 in agencies, I loved being a part of the creative process; taking a brief from the client and working with the planning department and creative teams to answer the brief and bring the creative to life (on time and in budget!). It was a fast paced, roll your sleeves up, get involved and work hard (play hard!) environment – but one that I really thrived in for a good 10 years or so. 

As I moved up the career ladder, I found myself distanced from what I loved most about Advertising – being close to the creative product. By the time I was a board member in my early thirties, I was no longer running campaigns but dealing with client and HR issues, finance and budgeting and the suchlike. I was bored and disillusioned.

Once I had children, I decided to leave the advertising industry and that’s when I set up edit58. I’m so grateful to my degree years and first career for the skills I gained, all of which have been transferable to my second career as a business owner and Creative Director.

How important is it for you that your own children are inspired by the arts in their childhood and education? Can you give us your top 3 tips on how you add creativity to your own children’s lives?

It is important to me that my children are inspired by the arts, but I suppose it’s more important to me that they are inquisitive about the world we live in and find something they are passionate about. For example, my son is probably less traditionally creative than my daughter – but he is obsessed by ancient Greece/Greek mythology and gets a lot out of that. That’s his ‘creative’ outlet.  

In terms of adding creativity to children’s lives I would say:

Think beyond arts and crafts at your kitchen table or even traditional galleries and museums. Art and creativity are all around! When you are on a walk in the park, do some bark rubbings/collect fallen leaves to decorate/forage some flora and fauna and do some flower pressings or flower arranging. Passing some graffiti – have a talk about street art/artists. On holiday give them a disposable camera (or take a polaroid camera) and have them take some photos of things that interest them. It’s always fun getting the film back and they can make a holiday collage.

Take your lead from what your children show an interest in. My daughter likes to design and make jewellery. My son is an avid LEGO builder. They are very different characters and choose to channel their creativity in ways that excite them. I always remember a teacher at my children’s school saying “let them read whatever they want to” (comics, Guinness Book of Records, Annuals, Novels, Film scripts)….”it’s the act of reading and enjoying it that’s important.” I feel the same applies to creativity – whatever gets their juices flowing is fine by me. 

Because of the field I’m in we often go to antique markets, vintage shops etc. I encourage the children to come with me and give them £5 each to spend. I’m always blown away by their choices and the reasoning behind their selection. It’s a really fun way to have them engage with homewares/fabrics/art/pottery…..and allow them to indulge their taste whilst sticking to a budget! I’m not sure how useful this tip is to others, I might just be moulding mini edit58 employees!

What artists/people/cultures have/still do influence you the most?

I try and take inspiration from a huge variety of sources, but I think my biggest influence is travel. I find it hugely inspiring and energising – being immersed in a different culture, surroundings, history. It is so important to me, and I always come back from a trip buzzing. We have just returned from a week in Rome, and it was just wonderful; the frescoes, the food, the architecture and scenery. A friend called it a ‘walking museum’ – and it truly is. 

Travel has so often been the catalyst for a new product at edit58 or how I have met an artisan or supplier that we end up working with to bring their skills and craft to the UK – so I cannot underestimate the impact it has on me both personally and professionally. 

A children’s company or brand that you use that you feel particularly aligned to?

In terms of a children’s company I feel aligned to, aside from LOLA (of course) I would say Smock London – because I just adore the craft of hand smocking. I have loved collaborating with them to translate that craft into homewares with our Smocked lampshade Skirts range.

The other is Polar Post as I think what Charlotte and her team do in nurturing magic in childhood is such a beautiful company mission and is executed in a truly unique and creative way.

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