• Matt Towe

ARTIST FEATURE: Handmade tapis by Soo Sum See

Designer Bec welcomes us to her home in Greater Manchester, a space that so beautifully compliments her handmade tapis. We sat down to discuss her inspiration, design and how storytelling has helped her cope with anxiety.

Artist Bec founder of Soo Sum See sitting on a chair
Founder of Soo Sum See, Bec at her home in Greater Manchester

Tell us a bit more about yourself?

My name is Bec, I'm originally from Blackpool but now living just outside of Manchester. I’m a full-time Interior Designer and make my tufted pieces during every spare minute I have!

What’s the inspiration behind your name Soo Sum See?

Soosumsee is all about storytelling, each piece has a backbone and each is full of integrity. Some of the pieces have been inspired by people, places and personal experiences; hallucinations I used to have as a child. Others by folk art, and Outsider and Vernacular artists such as Bill Traylor and Marcos Bontempo.

I love cave paintings and drawings from the Upper Paleolithic era. I find it fascinating how drawings have been used as a form of communication since the start of mankind - and it’s something I try to portray through my pieces.

Walling hanging handmade tapis featuing a man, a bat, a bug, a dog, a fish and a snake
The man, the bat, the bug, the dog, the fish and the snake wall hanging by Soo Sum See
Bec's workstation at her home in Greater Manchester

What got you into making tapis?

I lost my Grandfather to Covid this year and I felt completely lost. I experienced a depth of anxiety that I have never felt before. It led me to reach out to art, to keep my mind occupied. Storytelling through pieces has helped me in more ways than I can explain and I’m very grateful I found that this method as it’s been such an outlet for me.

Tell us a bit more about your sustainable ethos?

I care a lot about the welfare of animals, so using materials that are ethically sourced is important to me. I think the term sustainable is thrown around a fair bit these days, and I don’t promote myself as a fully sustainable brand, but I believe we have a duty when creating new products that all steps are taken to ensure we are being as sustainable as we can.

I aim to source my materials locally and all my packaging is 100% recyclable. I think these are basic levels of sustainability that everybody should be practising. To be conscious and responsible whilst running your own business making products is so important.

Soo Sum See uses Alpaca wool for some of her designs
Soo Sum See's beautiful range of slow crafted cushions

The creation you are most proud of?

‘Things from his shed’ is a piece with a lot of meaning, and I think it’s my favourite but Le Corbusier’s ‘Notre Dame du Haut’ was quite a tricky piece to tuft, it’s very intricate so I’m quite proud of that piece.

Le Corbusier’s Notre dame du haut handmade cushion
‘things from his shed’ by Soo Sum See

Strangest commission?

I don’t think I’ve had a strange commission (yet!). Every commission so far has had really personal meaning behind it and they’ve been so lovely to make.

Your products are all sold out, how can we get our hands on some?

I’m currently renovating my studio space, but as soon as it’s up and running again I’m hoping I can keep the store stocked up! To avoid disappointment I have been working out the logistics of doing pre-orders for cushions, so nobody misses out!

Bec with her cat Mochi pictured with her piece Isolation Chair 2021
005/008 — White sticks on chest. Inspired by a recurring hallucination Bec had as a child.

Fave Instagram account?

For inspiration, I love @mepaintsme, @beau_traps, @tihngs, @anonymousworksinc and about a million more!

What does 'Modern Living' mean to you?

A space that is yours, and less of what is deemed as the ‘norm’. We don’t have a TV in our house and a lot of our people think it’s a bit weird haha but we just don’t watch TV that often. We have a projector, we’re not complete outsiders, but we listen to a lot of music instead so we designed our space to really suit those needs. All of our records are stored in the dining room, an open plan space that we spend a lot of time in. It works for us, and I think that’s exactly what modern living should be about.

What's next for Soo Sum See

I have a lot of plans so I won’t bore you by going into too much detail, but you can expect to see much bigger pieces, such as rugs, throws and an extended homeware collection.

To find out more about Soo Sum See make sure you follow @SooSumSee on Instagram or visit Soosumsee.com


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