In Residence with Kate Sessions
Kate Sessions is the lady behind the brand Sessions & Co, they’re in business creating modern interior classics that become sentimental treasures.
Sessions & Co collaborate with the most exceptional artists, designers and makers in the UK to make heirlooms for the family home. Designed for both adults and children, their products are unique art objects for everyday enjoyment, inspired by British twentieth century art, architecture and landscape.
Kate is one of our first customers who is also a neighbour of ours in Hackney. We popped in to see her beautiful home for a cuppa and a natter.
This series is called In Residence — So tell us what your home represents for you?
Ah I am SUCH a home bird — ALL my family and friends will vouch for that! It’s a space where I really feel creative. Even though we’ve essentially got it much as we planned, I absolutely love moving things about and seeing it as a continuous changing canvas. It’s my workplace too (I have my studio in the basement) and sometimes that is challenging as there’s not much separation between home and work, but it’s also a greatly liberating thing too. It’s the place where my family and I can all express ourselves in our particular ways, and that’s really important.
Who do you share your home with?
My husband Tom and our two little boys Gabriel (5) and Bo (3)
Your business, Sessions & Co. is about creating modern heirloom items of value and resonance — What does heirloom mean to you?
An heirloom to me is something of timelessness and wonderful lasting quality (both in its design and making). They retain memories and family tales and are the most incredible, valuable things to inherit.
What is the most sentimental item in your home?
An antique quilt my mum gave me when I was little. It’s now so threadbare I can’t have it on my bed anymore, but the colours are still so vibrant. I must find someone to repair it back to life!
Sustainability is a value you speak of often and the values your business stems from — finding deeper value in things rather than a ‘throw away’ culture we live in currently. Can you explore this idea further for us?
A big part of my initial concept for Sessions & Co. came in response to how much ‘stuff’ we accumulate when we have children in our lives. I wanted to rethink this so that there was an offering that put emphasis on investing in a lifetime product rather than lots of little things which would become outdated and worn out almost immediately. The key to this I think is in the design itself. To offer something that really looks timeless aesthetically and might be just as well placed in a kitchen or living room as in a children’s nursery. Something that the whole family, all generations could enjoy and feel the benefit of. I am also mindful about the way in which I package my products, and trying to get to a point where everything I use is either made of recycled materials or can be fully recyclable. In terms of how I am manufacturing — this is all UK based (thus keeping our carbon footprint lower) and in small batches.
How do these values impact other parts of your life and being?
I am mindful of what I buy for my home and children and would be far more inclined to buy an object for the house that is reclaimed or made by a local maker than something brand new and plastic. I probably spend far too much time researching these sorts of things (!) but honestly the end point always feels more considered. Having said that, I am not a complete purist and there is plenty of Lego in our house! In terms of other areas of our lives, we avoid chemicals for household cleaning and ourselves. We still know so little about the impact of these chemicals on our bodies…
Can you share any tricks or tips that you do to lighten your carbon footprint or improve sustainability in work of in your personal life?
I don’t know if I can offer much new thought on this. I always try to take a Baggu bag with me when I go out in case I need to do some impromptu grocery shopping. Definitely been known to forget though and it’s awful carrying home a bag of plastic shame!! I try to buy loose goods from places like Re:Store and veggies from our local Chatsworth Road Sunday Market.
Where do you find inspiration for your collaborations and work?
Our products are inspired by British twentieth century art, architecture and landscape. This is also a nice bit of info about the history of the Sessions family business…
The Sessions family business historically lies in printmaking; our great grandfather established the Sessions of York printing factory at the turn of the twentieth century. This was an independent factory that produced the labels for Rowntrees chocolate. Concerned with the wellbeing of their workers and the importance of their working environment, they protected the land around the factory, creating a nature reserve where kingfishers and woodpeckers would be regularly sighted. This enjoyment and respect for nature and our environment is something we hope to explore both in the work we make and the work ethos we promote.
Are there any people you want to shout about — designers, makers, doers that deserve more recognition?
Oh wow — there are so many wonderful makers who I want to shout about! My friend Patrick Williams of Berdoulat Interior Design who is the king of interior design with well sourced reclaimed items. Every project he creates is full of warmth and already feels lived in, because his materials have a past life. We are currently working on a collaboration with them to be launched early next year. Caroline Kent of Scribble & Daub who makes the most exquisite hand drawn and coloured gift cards. There’s so much spirit in the freshness of her illustrations and she often collaborates with a historic letterpress workshop in Rye to create larger orders too. Everything is of the highest quality. CommonRoom are a local wallpaper company who work with contemporary artists (and also reprint historic designs). They make everything in the UK too often using original techniques. They are really beautiful. I also absolutely adore the textiles of Laura Slater — she’s a wonder! Oh, and not forgetting Corrie Williamson who makes the best of the best jewellery. So pared back and beautiful.
You live in Hackney — How long have you lived here, and why did you choose this borough?
We’ve been in Hackney since 2015 but before that we were only down the road in Bethnal Green. We chose to move into Hackney so that we could have a bit more space, and we loved the greenness of the marshes, and the huge number of wonderful local parks. It’s a part of London where I feel you can escape the hum of the city and breathe in some fresher air… Also it is a wonderful community of people — so many are running their own inspiring businesses and there’s a real feeling of mutual support for each other. I feel so lucky to have so many amazing friends all running inspiring businesses alongside motherhood. There’s a lot of shared knowledge in this corner of Hackney!
Can you share a couple of your favourite Hackney spaces or places?
We are very spoilt for choice with good independent shops in Hackney and I really mostly hang out pretty close to home in my day to day life. Top homeware spots would have to be ROOMS on Clarence Road — an absolute treasure trove of well sourced gems. The Hackney Draper is also great on the homeware front. London Borough of Jam for weekend coffee and well sourced kitchen goods (and jam!) Kate Sheridan for jewellery, ceramics (and great socks), Pages of Hackney for books…
When we say ‘modern sustainability’ what does that conjure up for you?
No longer having to compromise on design and style for something to be truly sustainable. Pared back, well considered lifestyle choices for every day life.
Hope you enjoyed peeking into Kate’s home as much as we did..