WHO IS CARMEN CONSTANTINE?
Often being asked who Carmen Constantine is, sometimes being mistaken for ‘Carmen’ herself, British founder and furniture design graduate Carol Wilson-Frith loves the opportunity of sharing the nostalgic tale of how the name all began.
The company name is an amalgamation of Carol’s creative and traditionally skilled parents’ first names, Carmen and Constantine Wilson. It celebrates her lineage by paying homage to her late mother, Carmen Veronica. Carmen was a respected and highly-skilled embroiderer and garment technologist in her hometown of acres of lush rural greenery, colourful countrysides and natural panoramic views of the Caribbean in the Greater Antilles. It was there she met the young dashing and distinguished love of her life, Constantine. She exuded grace and timeless glamour in all she did and her work was much loved by many in London during the 50s-70s.
Carol’s father, Constantine was a gold refining Metallurgist at the Royal Mint in Chessington, England from the early 50s. He began as a skilled, traditionally trained cabinetmaker in the countryside of his hometown Jamaica in the rural Greater Antilles.
Carol Wilson-Frith is a born and bred South Londoner and grew up in her Streatham hometown which was full of innovation and vibrancy. She has always been inspired by the diversity of her British and Caribbean culture.
Being the avid, observant, inquisitive little creative and day dreamer she was, whether making up a song, poem or dance routine with her youngest brother. Performing in either her mother or older sisters' clothes and shoes. Whether sitting and admiring at the age of five, her father make her ‘own little wooden stool’. Or attentively watching with wide eyes her mother embroider beautiful intricately detailed headwear, doylies for the dining room table or bespoke clothing for special occasions. Whether simply drifting off into space with small fist and face balancing on elbow... It was always destined that Carol would draw inspiration from her parents' deep-rooted creative qualities, detailed craftsmanship and carve out her own creative journey.
Carol honed many naturally creative gifts in 1 dimensional to 3 dimensional disciplines to a high level; poetry, singing/songwriting and fashion which was appreciated by many within the UK. Having a distinctive, forward-thinking fashion design sense and displaying traits of her Mother's expertise, Carol studied a 2 year Ordinary Degree (HND) in Fashion Design and Technology at Croydon College of Fashion during her late teens. She designed and produced womenswear, bags and hats employing complex pattern-cutting techniques and rich fabrics which still compete with current trends today. Deciding not to pursue further studies in fashion and due to a demand for her designs and exceptional innovative pattern-cutting skill level, she set up her small business, AsymmetriCs London. Her client work ranged from one-off singular or group pieces, bespoke wedding and bridalwear to the occasional menswear. Carol had a respectable following and clientele across the UK and was very proud of her work- however, Carol felt slightly unfulfilled within this discipline.
Her strategic direction derived from a defining moment of clarity after stumbling on a Mid-Century Modern Furniture book. On seeing the works of Charles and Ray Eames, Verner Panton and Le Corbusier, she instantly fell in love with the complexity, fluidity and beauty of furniture. Carol went on to study a Bachelor of Arts Furniture Design and Craftsmanship degree at the renowned Buckinghamshire University in High Wycombe and graduated with honours.
Upon graduation, she experienced a huge wave of appreciation for her furniture design. This resulted in national and international editorials, and a Sky News Interview and BBC Oxford Business News interview at the New Designers in Business Exhibition at the Business Design Centre Islington. Here she was snapped up by Design personality Anne McKevitt for a 3 month public collection in Scotland with international media attention. Other curated exhibitions and commissions include Oswald Boateng's Vigo Street and winning an international furniture Design Award at the NEC, Birmingham. She has received exposure within The Times, The Observer, The Guardian, FX Magazine and more. She possesses over 20 years experience and knowledge of designing and working within UK high-end and luxury design companies as well as other corporate business sectors. Carol fully launched her own practice in London during 2017.
This has resulted in Carol’s signature unique contribution to the field of high-end furniture design. She demonstrates this with passion, innovation and loyalty to her craft. Be it towards the sensitivity of the material she's working with or the client and aesthete she designs for. Carol, playfully describing herself as the additional silent 'C' in the 'CC' logo, continues to honour the cherished memories of her late Mother who departed when she was of a tender age, and her late Father who departed in late 2017. She continues their love affair of craftsmanship exploring rich textures and incorporating that into her timeless brand.
In 2017, passionate about marrying community and business initiatives, Carol also founded 'The Carmen Constantine Foundation'. Established to encourage people of all ages to play a part in active citizenship and social cohesion, this merges with events she has managed since 2002. She is also Founder of 'Designed For Greatness UK', a 1-2-1 mentoring and business strategy group created for women in Art, Craft, Design and Architecture. Established to encourage collective personal and business advancement, establishment of their businesses and to achieve their individual goals.