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Timeless Designs: Anna Benham's English roots now flourish in Idaho

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A colorful pillow made with Anna Benham's custom fabrics.
  • A colorful pillow made with Anna Benham's custom fabrics.

Supporting "local" is something Anna Benham has been passionate about ever since she first saw her designs transformed into products like fabrics, scarves and pillows, over 28 years ago, in her homeland of England. She was determined to work with local craftsman and manufacturers, in seeing her designs come to life.

Fast forward 28 years, and now that Benham has lived in Moscow, Idaho, for four years and has begun to flex her design and entrepreneurial muscles again, she likewise is passionate about partnering with local businesses. Local used to mean getting on the train in Bath, England, and talking to production partners in London, only a few hours away. "It's more of a challenge here because it is a massive country," says Benham.

Originally envisioning studying ceramics while at Glasgow Art School, Benham's paintings captured the attention of many, and people told her she should design greeting cards. Within six weeks she had a portfolio and was in London knocking on doors. "England is a very different kettle of fish than Idaho," she says. "I was handing over a piece of paper with designs on it, in pre-internet days." Soon her designs were picked up and not only were on greeting cards, but wrapping paper, perfume packaging, dress fabrics, scarves, velvets, pillows, bags and more. Her fabrics were even sold to Giorgio Armani.

As Benham's portfolio increased, so too did her family and her moves. She and her husband now have six children, and she's lived in Portugal, Canada, Nigeria, Jerusalem, Scotland and beyond. In her words, "Life has been very, very busy."

Her passion for painting and designing never wavered though, and she now is working with a local tile company in Spokane to create custom tiles with her designs on them.

"I want to create things from a design point of view that are timeless, not a flash in the pan," she says. "These tiles are beautifully produced and will last for a long time. I love designing stuff you'll value for the long term and that will still look good after 30 years. They are really interesting on the art end of things, but are made using strong industrial tiles. "

As she works on her tile line, Benham's greeting cards and bags are available locally at the Davenport Home Store, Auntie's Bookstore and Lolo Boutique.

Local is important to Benham, and at this phase of life, local is right here in the Inland Northwest.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Timeless Designs"

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