Designer Camille Walala: ‘Hackney’s eccentricity gave me a freedom I didn’t have in France’

Camille Walala

Camille Walala - Credit: Zetteler

You might not know Camille Walala’s name, but you’ll recognise her work – she’s responsible for the brightly coloured patterns on the sides of buildings. She tells Emma Bartholomew why she loves Hackney

Camille Walala

Camille Walala - Credit: Zetteler

Camille Walala was sent to London to learn English by her father so she could pass her literature degree – but she never returned to France.

Born in Paris, she grew up in Provence in a tiny village of 300 people. Today she feels more at home in Hackney, where she’s lived near London Fields for 15 years.

“I just really liked the eccentricity,” she said. “There was a freedom I didn’t have in France, where people were conservative. I wanted to wear loud and bold clothes and big platform shoes. In France people laugh at you, but here people don’t care. I was attracted by the artists and the creative community.”

She started waitressing in La Bouche in Broadway Market in 2008 after she graduated from Brighton University with a second degree in fashion and printed textiles. At the same time she was selling cushions she made at the Saturday market there.

Camille Walala's Villa Walala bouncy castle in Broadgate. Picture: Andy Stagg

Camille Walala's Villa Walala bouncy castle in Broadgate. Picture: Andy Stagg - Credit: Andy Stagg

So how did she make the move to painting buildings?

“People gave me opportunities and I was taking them, I guess,” she said. “I did some painting in the Wilton Way Café where my friend was working, and then people saw my work. In 2012 the photographer Jenny Lewis sent me a message saying her husband had this building in Old Street and asked if I would be interested to paint it. It was an amazing opportunity. I was hoping to get more work through that.”

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Last year Camille worked with youngsters to paint a Well Street shop front ahead of the market’s launch there.

She said: “It was to brighten up the building a bit. I love to work with the community. I used to live in Well Street and I really love that street.”

Camille Walala

Camille Walala - Credit: Zetteler

She has just completed a big installation in Broadgate for the London Design Festival. The huge vinyl bouncy castle is decorated with her trademark bold patterns and block colours.

Camille said: “I try to do some social projects and then I do some work that pays the bills, like advertising with big brand projects.

“I just want to try to paint more buildings, Iike the De Beauvoir Estate - places that are a bit down. My dream is to bring colours and patterns to the city. It’s nice to be able to bring colour to places, especially when it’s grey outside.”