In conversation with: Sally Coulden, Founder of Red Dog Glass Design

Red Dog Glass Design is an independently owned British business, transforming public and private spaces into ‘something extraordinary’ with stunning abstract art glass panels. The mastermind behind the brand is artist Sally Coulden, who Editor Hamish Kilburn recently caught up with…

Sally at her easel_Banner

One thing I have learned in my almost five years editing Hotel Designs is that art, much like creativity, has no limit. The possibilities are indeed endless, and with brands searching for unique ways to amplify their style and image, the door has opened for artists to set new standards. Sally Coulden is very much part of this wave. Her company, Red Dog Glass Design, is combining art with surfaces in the most innovative of ways.

Coulden’s impactful abstract paintings reflect wild British spaces, whether that be expansive skies or infinite horizons. The team at Red Dog Glass Design carefully translate the artist’s original paintings into works of digital art, deconstructing and recreating each piece into a range of bespoke sizes. The artwork is then expertly applied to high-quality glass panels. Durable, practical and of course beautiful, each unique piece can be installed as high-end contemporary art panels or as glass splashbacks, in a range of commercial and residential settings.

Splash back surface in burnt orange in bathroom

Image credit: Red Dog Glass Design

To learn more about the company’s direction, and to try and understand if the artist’s creativity knows no boundaries, I caught up with Coulden in her studio.

Hamish Kilburn: First things first, how would you define your work – is it mainly art or innovative surface design?

Sally Coulden: Red Dog Glass Design products are exceptionally versatile and can be considered to be both art and surface design, depending on how and where the product is used.

The panels [we create] can be used in two ways. Either as stunning contemporary art installations in public spaces, such as hotel lobbies and inside elevators – they look incredible when they’re beautifully hung and lit. Or, looking at it from a surface design angle, because the panels are five times stronger than normal glass, waterproof and heat-resistant, they can just as easily be used as a washbasin or shower splashback in a hotel bathroom.

I originally had the idea of transposing my artwork onto toughened glass panels as a way of making my contemporary art a purposeful and central part of everyday life. Engaging with art should be an integral part of our daily routine and I love working with colours and textures that create an emotional response in the hotel guest, evoking a sense of comfort and wellbeing.

I have a love for expansiveness and non-containment in my work, so I am a great lover of big skies and expansive landscapes. All my work is inspired by our beautiful British outdoors, especially the wild spaces of the coastlines where I grew up.

Commercial Stone Reception

Image credit: Red Dog Glass Design

HK: How and when was Red Dog Glass Design born – and can you explain the name?

SC: I have always been passionate about making contemporary art accessible. Art should never be something gathering dust on a forgotten wall. I wanted a way of getting art in more places, so that it can be enjoyed more widely by more people.

The company was born in December 2018 with the goal of making beautiful, yet functional (and therefore accessible) art. After a year of research into what else was already out there, we established that we were first to market with the process that we developed around digitally deconstructing my original art into vibrant, exceptionally high-resolution digital works for printing onto glass. The creation of this process sets us apart from any other supplier in the world (as far as we know!)

The Red Dog Glass Design name connects us to our human experience of ‘home’. Tens of thousands of years ago, our ancestors started painting in caves with red pigment. A place of gathering, shelter, warmth and nourishment, red dogs were amongst the earliest symbols decorating these caves, where fires were lit and families lived together in safety. Our ethos at Red Dog takes us back to this most pure version of what home is, to remind us why kitchens always provide such a warm heart in the home and speak to our basic human longings.

“My art emits an energy of its own, and that is something that we use to influence how a hotel’s personality is perceived and communicated.” – Sally Coulden, Founder, Red Dog Glass Design.

HK: How can your products help to enhance a hotel’s personality in the lobby and beyond?

SC: Our work is designed to enrich the customer experience, revealing and connecting us with our emotions. We all know from our own hotel experiences that how we perceive a space is very much influenced by the things around us.

My art emits an energy of its own, and that is something that we use to influence how a hotel’s personality is perceived and communicated. Whether that is using an existing piece of artwork or creating a completely unique commission piece, we work with clients to define the colours and shapes that build the right level of energy to resonate with hospitality industry spaces.

Whether that touchpoint is in a communal space, such as the restaurant or lobby, or the private areas such as bathrooms and bedrooms, Red Dog Glass Design is a premium brand that is all about elevating environments, bringing a wow factor to our indoor spaces.

At a time when consumers expect more from their leisure time, Red Dog Glass Design is the perfect partner to deliver impactful, yet purposeful, visual installations that elevate the customer’s hotel experience.

Commercial Bistro by Red Dog Glass Design

Image credit: Red Dog Glass Design

HK: Is there anything you cannot replicate, design-wise, in your products?

SC: I am an abstract painter, so if someone was looking for an image that is photorealistic then that’s not my bag!

Other than that, not really. As my paintings are digitally deconstructed and then carefully reconstructed to meet the exact needs of the client, we can create a composition to the size and shape requested by any brief.

As the painting is digitised, we can also work with the colours and, where artistically appropriate, colour match if there are certain brand specific colours the client would like.

We pride ourselves on being extremely agile, creative thinkers and we are always open to a conversation. We haven’t yet had any requests we can’t accommodate, and we love working with brands who have a particular feeling that they’d like to create in their spaces.

We have also started experimenting using textured glass, which can add a very interesting and unique third dimension to the final artwork. We are really excited by innovation and are always looking to experiment with new ideas.

HK: What are the benefits of Red Dog Glass Design products being made in Britain?

SC: We are a British brand and our products are made on demand, at our facilities here in the UK. By manufacturing everything to order, there is zero wastage of materials which is very important to us. Our carbon footprint is minimised with UK based only transportation Our team is based in the UK – supporting the local economy and ensuring easy access to the team for our clients. We are not reliant on extensive supply chains, and we are not impacted by Brexit [thankfully]. Quality is key. We have exceptionally high-quality assurance processes. Each piece is individually signed off by me before shipping.

A colourful surface in bathroom

Image credit: Red Dog Glass Design

HK: Let’s finish off by talking about the emotional connection to art. What is art’s role in creating this connection with wellbeing in hotel design?

SC: Sensory design and emotional responses to art continue to be a massive topic of conversation amongst designers, particularly in the hospitality sector. As we emerge from the pandemic, more than ever consumers are looking for experiences and environments that nurture and nourish the soul.

Where most hotels once served a functional purpose, with the design focused on functionality and mass appeal, we now have the opportunity to create more interesting and intimate spaces that speak to our hearts, not just our heads.

And it’s not just about the customers. As the hospitality industry fights to retain staff and attract new talent, working in an environment that shows personality and warmth is far more attractive to employees than the generic magnolia buildings we have all experienced at some point.

Evoking an emotional response from a work of art lies at the core of everything I create. Colours, forms and textures all trigger memories that exist uniquely in the mind of the viewer. Very often it’s not even directly about my work, it’s a magical combination of the viewer’s own lived experiences that create the internal story-telling, which then results in an emotional (and actually sometimes physical) response.

Carefully curated spaces within a hotel are critical and Red Dog Glass Design panels are a superb way of bringing art into space in a highly functional and practical way. Always start with the end in mind.

Red Dog Glass Design is one of our Recommended Suppliers and regularly features in our Supplier News section of the website. If you are interested in becoming one of our Recommended Suppliers, please email Katy Phillips.

Main image credit: Red Dog Glass Design