So happy you’re here! Hello and welcome! I am Moji Salehi, founder of Moji Designs where I’ve been teaching professional lampshade making and textile printing including offering craft business start-up support since 2008. I am a City and Guilds trained upholsterer with a background in interior design and textile printing. Alongside Moji Designs, I run an interior design/styling practice called Moji Interiors, where I create beautiful peaceful homes that my clients call a sanctuary.
Our lampshade making studio offers one-to-one and group workshops including one-of-a-kind lampshade-making masterclasses. We’ll teach you all the skills and techniques you need to become a confident lampshade-maker. We offer hands-on training to both complete beginners and more experienced students and we will guide you from your very first stitch all the way to creating your own lampshade collection.
In addition, we offer you an invaluable insight into how to price and sell your work and teach you the ins and outs of running a craft business. To us, it’s very important that you feel supported in taking those first steps.
As a teacher, I’m offering you the skills and tools to access your own inspiration and ideas. It’s a stepping stone – a point on your journey to learn, after which you can explore the craft in your own time and space. A chance to learn and develop your skills – which you can then use in your own signature style, putting your own stamp on these traditional crafts.
Reviving ancient and traditional crafts is essentially the beating heart of what we do at Moji Designs, and we are so excited to welcome you to our studio to share our skills and experience and to help you reach your goals.
The arts have always been my biggest passion. In Iran formerly known as Persia, where I spent my early childhood, every child learns art from the earliest age, going to clubs and classes to learn all the different skills and techniques. Creativity is a massive part of life, and traditional crafts are kept alive to this day, with many makers and artists using traditional techniques when they’re working with contemporary art and modern products.
In childhood, we often visited city bazaars to appreciate the art, food and drinks, and a big part of that was visiting stalls run by local artists and seeing their handicrafts. It was exciting to go there and have a good time with your siblings or cousins, playing hide and seek and wandering the bustling tiny narrow alleyways and arched passageways. But also without knowing, it was very educational. Everywhere we went we saw beautiful colourful fabrics, rugs, marquetry, tiles, mosaics, crockery, jewellery, colourful spices and so much more. I really cherish those memories and appreciate the experience, because I know my passion for art and craft and design stems from that time in my life. I feel very privileged and lucky to have had that rich cultural upbringing and although my daughter has been born and raised in the Uk, I can see that we both have lots of artistic interests in common and she is hugely fascinated by her Persian heritage and culture.
Living in Iran with a rich and ancient culture where arts and crafts are so appreciated, it’s natural to become a part of you. Even if you don’t have any interest in art, you still learn it because everyone else is doing it! With such a huge cultural community going back generations, it’s not surprising that I was steered into this from an early age. I’ve always loved to do things with my hands and found it helped me relax and feel peaceful. I felt transformed when I was creative, and my love started very early.
Growing up, I knew that this was what I wanted to do with my life. But in Iran, academic accomplishments are given a lot of value, and the opinions of your parents and friends matter a lot. Parents encourage children to accomplish things, and education is hugely important. Even though I knew I wanted a career in the arts, I struggled with not knowing how it could happen. Working in the arts isn’t like being a doctor, engineer or architect, with a distinct path and identity. It’s unfamiliar territory, and that was very difficult for me. My family had also moved to Europe when I was in my teenagee years, and I was in a different culture to the one I had grown up in.
This was a difficult choice for me, and it was a sensitive topic, but I didn’t see a way to make the arts my profession. I decided to keep it as a side profession rather than my whole career. I started with computing, then spent three years on a nursing degree, followed by two on midwifery. Throughout my training, I had a niggling feeling that this wasn’t the right path for me. I tried to convince myself that I’d feel differently when I was fully qualified. But once I started practising, I knew there was a conflict between my head and my heart, and I was in a career that wasn’t meant for me. I don’t regret those years, but I had to make a difficult choice to walk away from that life and start again, to put passion at the heart of my life.
It wasn’t easy to start from scratch in my late twenties. Sometimes I worried I had failed, but my friends and family supported me, and I managed to figure out a new path. I was young and didn’t have a family of my own yet, so I could focus hard on my new goals. My partner at the time was running a screen printing company, and I immersed myself in learning the skills of printmaking. Then I developed an interest in interior design, which led to my interior design, upholstery, soft furnishing and lampshade training. Finally, in 2008 after years of honing my craft, I set up my business – Moji Designs, where I launched my home furnishing collection including lampshades, cushions, stationery and a variety of home and fashion accessories. Alongside that, I started teaching workshops and helping my students learn from my own experience of starting a craft business from home.
I love learning different things. Spending my time on lots of different skills is really important for me, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to have just one for my career. But by training myself in all these different skills I picked up so many passions along the way, and now I’m excited to be in a place where I can use so many of them. It’s amazing to run a business with so many different areas and to be able to enjoy every part of it and really see a future in it.
It has been a long journey, and it went down lots of different roots, but at my heart was always my passion for arts and crafts and my determination to keep that in my life. I am so proud of the business I have built, and the students I am able to encourage. Watching them work out their creative dreams, and supporting them to succeed is wonderful and fulfils everything I want for my business.
What does lampshade and print making mean to me?
My work, in all its different forms, has always been based around the home. It’s about craftsmanship, and no matter what field, I keep the same values. I prefer to work with hand-printed fabrics, natural materials and traditional processes. Crafting has taken me on a journey – after starting with interior design and soft furnishing, I also incorporated my main passions of lampshade making and textile printing, and the ideas I wanted to build my business with.
I’m always so excited to start a new project, and my mind comes alive with the possibilities! There are so many choices to make – from the colours and the fabric texture to the lamp base, and how it will complement the colours in the room. A lampshade isn’t just something you keep in your home – it’s a statement and a way of showing your personality and style.
I find my different interests complement each other so well. As an interior designer, my work is about creating a balanced space, reflecting the client’s personality and complementing their existing home decor. My favourite part is choosing the finishing objects. I think of them as the part where a house becomes a home, and I’m very selective about it. Lampshades and cushions transform a space, and I can easily spend days online and in stores, finding exactly the right ones for the home. They need to be functional, but stylish, adding depth and richness to a home, and most importantly a touch of personality.
But even though I’m an interior designer and lampshade maker, and I even have a new collection coming out soon, my biggest passion now is teaching. All my different journeys led me here, today, to a place where I can finally feel I am using my skills and all the training and experience I have. Bringing together textile printing and lampshade making was wonderful because with those skills you can make some truly unique work. I love passing my knowledge and experience on to others, and giving them what they need to create their own dreams.
By showing my students all these different skills, I’m passing something special onto them. If my students want to start their own business they can make everything original, everything from scratch – from the designs and the fabric all the way to the lampshades and including how to set up a business. It helps them create their personality and brand, and be ready to market and sell their work. I teach branding and the visual identity of a product, and I love being able to give students a way of making their work stand out.
I was never quite sure how all my different ideas and skills would come together, but it’s been such a joy to see it happen. After all these years I still get as excited about fabrics and colours as I did in the beginning, and I look forward to many more years of sharing that with students, alongside skills and knowledge they can use for a lifetime.
Stay safe and creative!