20 QUESTIONS, 9 CREATIVES
Plumes & Feathers Founder: Deborah Beau
creative hunter, human sourcebook, researcher, trend-setter, fluent fresh speaker, nature lover, curiosity seeker.
Deborah Beau is probably better known to most as the face behind Plumes & Feathers - an inspirational feed that piqued my interest on Instagram a few years ago. Having studied French and Drama at university, Deborah spent 10 years working as a translator in the telecoms and emergency relief sectors, before she began blogging and opened the successful children's store, Kickcan and Conkers. 2015 marked time for another change and Plumes and Feathers was born - firstly on tumblr and then on Instagram. If you know the feed I am sure, like me it will be one of your favourites and if not then you have a treat awaiting you. Deborah has an eye for finding interesting accounts and inspirational creatives from around the world - often unknown or niche and always other-worldly and outstanding in terms of visual content. Her feed features regular images and mood boards from sourced creatives and always ignites in me a feeling of wanting to know more. In her own words she is curious - insatiably so. And it shows. She worked behind the scenes on the book The Foraged Home: co-conceiving and researching content and has another similar project in the making. Articles have been published in Selvedge and she has been invited to speak at various forums in Berlin, about finding creative content. Currently she is working on her plan to build a creative community and is looking to host workshops, from her new rural abode. In my former marketing agency role as new business director - she would have been high up there on my list of collaborative partners to work with on trendsetting and forecasting and if I were still in that corporate world I would want to snap up her services. Accounts like this are soul food to me - and it is one I keep coming back to and love.
How has your home evolved during lockdown? To be honest, I was in the process of moving when we went into confinement and half of my belongings are still in my old house. I’m going it alone after thirty years, so I’m in minimal mode. I’ve downsized into a gem of a place, hidden away in the woods, near to Montpelier in the South of France, and I’m very happy. I wanted somewhere quiet, a creative retreat, and it’s perfect. If there’s been any kind of evolution, other than unpacking, it’s that this house is slowly beginning to feel like my home.
How has your work had to adapt? I’ve worked from home for years, so no major changes for me. I can research, write and create on my own from anywhere.
What projects have you been dreaming up? All of my personal and current professional projects revolve around nature. I’m living semi-off grid and my surroundings are a constant source of inspiration. My three kids (15, 17, 24) are keen to redecorate our caravan in the garden for fun summer living, so that’s our first official family design project. In addition to working on my website and soon to be launched newsletter, I’ve been thinking of ways to use this beautiful space in the future. At long last, I’ve found the monumental garden table of my dreams, perfect for small, theme-based creative gatherings, including visual identity /storytelling and mood boarding workshops, once and if, post-covid life permits. I have other projects underway but I’m keeping them under wraps, so stay tuned!
How has your neighbourhood come together? My neighbours are few and far between, but there’s a lonely donkey down the lane and wild boar paid us a visit a couple of weeks ago!
Acts of kindness - to you / by you? My mum’s in three-month isolation in the UK so I’ve been in contact regularly. I’ve been checking in with friends who may be struggling and generally letting people know I’m there if they need help. As a freelance creative, I know how financially worrying these uncertain times can be. I make an effort to share and support the work of small businesses, artists, artisans and makers every day on social media. The solidarity and ingenuity in the creative community has been very uplifting.
Favourite space in the house to escape to? My bedroom leads out onto a rooftop terrace with a birds’ eye view of the garden and surrounding woodland. It’s a suntrap, the perfect spot to chill with a book, catch up online (oui, we can actually pick up a bit of 4G!) or just listen to the birds at dusk. Star-gazing in the summer is going to be magical!
Jobs in the house ticked off the list? Everything’s new – I’ve unpacked, decided how I want to decorate and things are slowly finding their place.
New daily rituals? 10 minutes meditation in the morning, then my first coffee looking out into the garden. Priceless 'me' time.
Early morning fitness or another biscuit please? Power walks, stretching and chocolate.
What’s in your vase? Wildflowers and lilac.
What’s on the menu? We’re lucky that our nearest shop is a well-stocked whole-foods cooperative, so business as usual, with lots of fresh fruit and easy vegetable dishes, salads and soups. My teenage daughter is a talented and enthusiastic cook. She’s been experimenting and baking, non-stop. I can feel an interest in foraging coming on...
Favourite tipple to get you through? 'Triple Hot', a spicy local French beer with chilli, pepper and ginger.
What book is on your bedside? Goodbye Things: The New Japanese Minimalism by Fumio Sasaki. I’ve also been dipping into the French edition of The Foraged Home, Esprit récup (Editions Jonglez) to see how the book feels in my second language.
What tunes are playing? 24/7 birdsong – blackbirds, jays, woodpeckers, owls, and a mixed bag of old CDs.
News updates or podcasts? News occasionally, but I’m enjoying my patchy internet access, so...
Which IG accounts have inspired you? @3_sources and @imagineican are my go-to accounts for selfcare, nutrition and meditation. Staying healthy has always been a priority and I enjoy learning about new ways to improve my well-being. @weareageist gives me a daily boost, as does @yazemeenah. It’s been interesting to see how people have adapted online. I could write a book about lockdown creativity. One notable French account would be @myurbansweet, which has been posting micro-interviews with key retailers, creatives, designers, museums, etc in Montpellier. Thank you Jeanne, I’ve discovered some great new addresses!
What have you missed the most? My family and friends, the freedom to go out when I please, travel, the flea market on a Saturday morning.
What distractions are getting you through? Daily walks exploring the woods and local countryside. Cooking, planning and good conversations – no real internet yet, you see.
Zoom backview? Zoom backview? No Zoom, No backview.
What has your home meant to you over this time? A safe haven for my loved ones, an anchor in uncertain times, a retreat, a place to relax, reflect and take stock. A new chapter in my life.
Image credit: Deborah Beau