FEATURES: Alumni Stories

Alumna Stories: Sarah Podlesny, The Aviary Studio

24 January 2017 by Elli Weir

Texprint alumna Sarah Podlesny has worked at Zara Home and designed for many famous names. Now she has set up her own weaving and design consultancy, The Aviary Studio.

She only launched The Aviary Studio in 2016, but it’s already built an impressive list of clients from Gap to Calvin Klein. British weave designer Sarah Podlesny has particularly caught the eye of the American market – and now has an agent in New York selling her designs.

On a chilly morning in January, she takes the train from her studio in Essex to meet us at Central Saint Martins, the college where she studied textiles. Her years there were a rush of creativity and technical innovation culminating in an eye-catching graduate collection.

However it wasn't until after Central Saint Martins, with the help of Texprint, that she started to focus her career. She won the Breaking New Ground Award at Texprint back in 2010 – though starting her own business has been a long time coming. "It was always the plan, but it’s difficult to start a business. You need money behind you and experience, so I waited until after I’d had the Spanish experience. During that time I was able to save up enoughmoney.”

The “Spanish experience” was her spell at Zara Home as a weave specialist, lasting two years. ”I’d only ever worked for a very small, creative company, and I knew that if I wanted to start my own business I first needed to see what it was like at the other end of the spectrum, to get an all-round view of the industry."

Before Zara Home, she spent four years working in London at WOVEN Studio,started by another star Texprint alumna, Laura Miles, who recognised Podlesny’s talent.

At Zara Home, the learning curve stretched from understanding the technicalities of fabric structure to dealing with large-scale production. Another takeaway from Zara Home was the process of research. "I was spending a lot of time gathering information on trends, from the runway, from various exhibitions, books, artists, and from visiting antique markets.’’

This research process helped curate Podlesny's unique style, such an important part of The Aviary's success. "Everything that’s going on in the world informs the fashion industry. I know that the clients I’m selling to are taking inspiration from so many things other than textiles."

Weaving a length commissioned by Rare Thread www.rarethread.co.uk

Podlesny notes the importance of maintaining a balance between inspiration and practicality. "I have to try to make swatches that can be easily reproduced, because the way that fabrics are woven by hand is totally different to how they are produced at a mill. Then there are other clients who buy purely for inspiration – they might put the swatches on their mood boards and then design their collection around them.’’

Making it on your own is no small feat in a hugely competitive field. Podlesny's advice? "If you want to start your own business, don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t happen straightaway. It’s taken me years of planning, years of saving, and of acquiring experience in different job roles. Nothing is going to happen overnight, it takes a lot of work."

That may be an understatement. Hand weaving is a time-consuming craft. Podlesny’s method straddles a line between the old and the new. "The loom is operated by a pedal underneath which lifts the correct sequence of warp yarns. I insert each weft manually, one by one, beating in each row as I go. It’s quite basic and slow but the difference is that the weave structures are fed into the loom via computer, which helps a lot."

Sampling on the loom

Crafting is in Podlesny’s blood. Her family’s weaving connections go back four generations. And she puts huge passion and energy into her work. "With commission work, there’s often quite a tight deadline, and your blood, sweat and tears really do go into it in the most literal way. When I hand the work over to the client, it’s like they’re taking away all of my stress!”

Working under her own brand remains a dream for Podlesny. “I’m still right at the beginning, but I can see that things are progressing and that’s good enough for me right now."

Where would she like to end up? "I would really love to make fabrics for Balmain,” she admits. “But also I have an interest in companies that are using smart materials, such as Nike.”

the-aviary-studio.com

Sampling on the loom

Alumna Stories: Jayne Goulding

09 November 2016 by Roger Tredre

She was a last-minute pick for Texprint 2015, but turned into one of the year’s biggest success stories. We speak to Jayne Goulding.

A last minute drop-out from…

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Meet the Sponsor: Julie Davies, The Woolmark Company

02 November 2016 by Roger Tredre

Judging The Woolmark Company Texprint Award 2016 at Première Vision Designs

Texprint has worked with TWC for much of its 40-year existence, and the synergy of interests between the two parties has been nurtured by a succession of remarkable individuals.

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Texprint alumnae stories: Genevieve Bennett and Philippa Prinsloo

04 October 2016 by Roger Tredre

Genevieve Bennett and her John Lewis Design Collective collection

They met on an art foundation course in Manchester, crossed paths again at the Royal College of Art, and were both selected for Texprint. Now – fast forward…

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Meet the alumna: Eleanor Pritchard, textile designer

05 July 2016 by Aya Noël

Designer Eleanor Pritchard is known for her clean, geometrical designs and has collaborated with companies ranging from Margaret Howell to Monocle. For Texprint 2016 in London, she has created…

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Hero mentoring: helping a new generation of designers

21 March 2016 by Roger Tredre

Hilary Scarlett, Hero Mentor and Texprint alumna

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It could be said that Texprint is one giant…

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Meet the sponsor: Katie Greenyer, creative director, Pentland Group

13 March 2016 by Roger Tredre

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New Delhi Diary: A Textile Designer’s Visual Playground

24 February 2016 by Editor

Texprint 2015 designers ÁineByrne and Bryony Bushe have just spent several months interning with interiors and home accessories company, Cosmique Global, based in Delhi.  Both designers agree, their experiences…

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Surface View: the Texprint 2016 EDITS collection

15 February 2016 by Editor

A brilliant new home textiles collection from Surface View is a maximalist’s dream – and every designer involved is from Texprint.

The artwork is inspired by nature, while…

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Texprint alumna story: Charlotte Beevor, surface pattern designer

03 January 2016 by Roger Tredre

Charlotte Beevor at work in her studio

Designer Charlotte Beevor was an award-winning star of Texprint 2014. High time to catch up on her progress since.

Charlotte Beevor’s eye for unusual colour combinations and brilliant…

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Pioneering partnerships: alumna Emma J Shipley

13 December 2015 by Editor

Emma J Shipley is a supreme collaborator.  Following her graduation from the RCA and selection for Texprint 2012, Shipley has created a successful eponymous brand which takes her other-worldly…

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Texprint alumna story: Bonnie Kirkwood, woven textiles designer

15 November 2015 by Kathrin Huesgen

Bonnie Kirkwood on her stand at Première Vision Designs, September 2015

Texprint 2004 alumna Bonnie Kirkwood has set up her own business in London designing sophisticated woven fabrics for the high-end global market.

We’re meeting in her London studio…

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Alumna stories: Materials Alchemist Lauren Bowker

07 November 2015 by Editor

The Unseen's colour-changing headpiece for Selfridges’ Sagittarius Christmas window. Image: Selfridges

As ever Texprint 2011 alumna and materials alchemist Lauren Bowker is creating a stir.  In recent weeks Lauren’s latest work has featured in Vogue, Wired, Dezeen, Creative Review, the…

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Texprint alumni story: Fairbairn Wolf & Skinner

05 October 2015 by Roger Tredre

FW & S - Jane Zhang, James Skinner and Tali Furman

Three designers from Texprint 2014 have joined forces to create their own London-based printed textiles studio. They launched at Première Vision Designs this September.

There’s Jane Zhang, from…

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Texprint alumnus story: William Stone, menswear designer

07 September 2015 by Roger Tredre

Young British menswear designer William Stone is attracting increasing interest at London Collections Men, both for his innovative luxury tailoring and his textiles. We spoke to him about his…

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WGSN report: Texprint 2015 Designers

30 July 2015 by Editor

WGSN is a foundation sponsor of Texprint and believes strongly in the value and importance of supporting emerging creative talent. Its comprehensive report, reproduced below, was written and created…

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Meet the interviewer: Emma Sewell of Wallace Sewell

30 May 2015 by Roger Tredre

Emma Sewell works with Harriet Wallace-Jones in the London-based studio Wallace Sewell, designing fabrics for both fashion and interior accessories.

She also plays an important role interviewing and…

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Texprint alumna’s story: Laura Miles, WOVEN Studio

15 May 2015 by Cezary Koralewski

Laura Miles on her stand at Maison d'Exceptions, Première Vision February 2015

Texprint 1997 alumna Laura Miles founded WOVEN Studio at a time when the modern weaving industry appeared to offer few opportunities and few places to intern. After more than…

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Internship: Cosmique Global, New Delhi

15 April 2015 by Roger Tredre

Texprint 2014 designer Monika Haeussler-Goeschl enjoyed a 10-week internship in New Delhi, India, with Cosmique Global. Here are the edited highlights from her diary:

Expect the unexpected!…

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Texprint alumna’s story: Egle Vaituleviciute, WLE London

31 March 2015 by Roger Tredre

Egle Vaituleviciute, from Lithuania, was a Texprint knit designer in 2011. Here, she tells us what happened next and how she loves developing her own kind of knitted-weave products.

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Texprint alumna’s story: Ffion Griffith, Liberty

15 March 2015 by Roger Tredre

Ffion Griffith (right) with Tessa Birch, Liberty Head of Design for Fabrics (left)

Ffion Griffith was a Texprint designer in 2013 and went from us to a year-long internship at Liberty Art Fabrics that has worked out in the best possible…

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Texprint alumna’s story: Manri Kishimoto, Mannine

26 February 2015 by Jainnie Cho

Mannine at Isetan Japan, autumn winter 2014

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Winning the first Miroglio Texprint Award: Charlotte Hetheridge

20 February 2015 by Editor

Back in September 2014 at Indigo/PV, the first Miroglio Texprint Award for Digital Innovation was awarded to print designer and Royal College of Art graduate Charlotte Hetheridge.  Besides…

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Texprint alumna’s story: Momo Wang, Museum of Friendship

10 December 2014 by Jainnie Cho

Momo Wang at work in a studio at Central Saint Martins

Alumna Momo Wang has progressed quickly and launched her own womenswear label since her time with Texprint in 2011. We spoke to her in London.

Though trained in…

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From Texprint to academia: Elaine Igoe

24 November 2014 by Roger Tredre

Elaine Igoe (far right) with colleague viewing the work of Flett Bertram at Texprint London, July 2014

Texprint encourages its designers to stay in touch. We love to hear how careers have progressed and share their news. So meet Dr. Elaine Igoe – yes, a doctor…

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Alumna’s Story: Dominique Caplan, Gainsborough Silk Weaving

14 November 2014 by Jainnie Cho

Two years ago, weave designer Dominique Caplan was fresh out of London’s Central Saint Martins and itching to apply what she’d just learnt. Just one thing stood in her…

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After Texprint: how designers continue to prosper

13 October 2014 by Roger Tredre

Pepe Lowe and Hannah Hope Johnson, alumnae 2013

New textile designers selected by Texprint take their first steps in the professional world by exhibiting at Indigo in Paris. Later, many of them choose to continue the relationship…

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From Texprint to Ratti and Louis Vuitton: Andrew Boyd’s story

26 August 2014 by Roger Tredre

Andrew Boyd's studio; a new project underway 2014

This is the story of how a 35-year-old graphic designer from Hartlepool decided to rethink his life – and how Texprint helped him make it happen.

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Internship Diary: Florence Angelica Colson at Lululemon Athletica

10 May 2014 by Editor

Team Specialized-Lululemon cycle kit designed by Florence Angelica Colson

Selected in 2013 by Deanne Schweitzer, SVP of Design and Creation at yoga-inspired brand Lululemon Athletica, as one of two winners of the prestigious Lululemon Texprint Award, we catch…

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Liberty Art Fabrics internship marks Texprint’s first UK industry placement

28 April 2014 by Editor

Kirstie Carey, managing director, wholesale brands at Liberty, with alumna Ffion Griffith

With the aim of selecting and supporting emerging textile design talent, Texprint, in collaboration with long-standing sponsor Liberty Art Fabrics, has established its first industry internship in the UK,…

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One year on: Israel Parra-Zanabria is making waves in Mexico City

17 December 2013 by Editor

Israel Parra-Zanabria at work in the Timorous Beasties studio in Scotland

One year on, we talk to Texprint 2012 alumnus Israel Parra who was born in Mexico, trained in Scotland, and is now making waves back in his hometown Mexico…

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WGSN Global Fashion Awards, Emerging Fashion Brand: Emma J Shipley

07 November 2013 by Editor

The WGSN Global Fashion Awards held 5th November saw Texprint alumna Emma J Shipley winning the prestigious Avery Dennison Emerging Fashion Brand Award.

Speaking from the awards venue, the…

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Sophie Manners: One Year On, now based at Cockpit Arts

29 August 2013 by Editor

Philippa Watkins, journalist, Texprint council member and recently retired RCA senior tutor specialising in weave, catches up with Texprint alumni weaver Sophie Manners.

It has been a busy…

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Flying high: Nancy Rose Taplin, Artist and Designer

12 August 2013 by

Artist and textile designer Nancy Taplin won the Interiors prize at Texprint in 2009. She was selected, and her prize presented by the artist Grayson Perry, an experience…

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Jane Coffey: passing on her studio-building experience

20 June 2013 by Editor

Working on the assumption that learning from someone else’s experience can both fast track success and help avoid costly mistakes, Texprint is piloting a new Hero Mentor initiative in…

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Marie Parsons: My first year at Jaguar

10 June 2013 by Editor

©Marie Parsons: RCA 2011 final collection, laser cut laminate, metal and rubber

Marie Parsons (Texprint 2011) writes for Texprint about her experience of working with auto manufacturer and heritage brand Jaguar:

Jaguar is synonymous with great British design, luxury, and…

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Emma J Shipley: out of this world storytelling

12 May 2013 by Editor

Emma J Shipley on her stand at Indigo 2011

The work of Emma J Shipley is very much rooted in skilled draftsmanship - her drawings intricate, her storytelling out of this world. These are certainly a great strength,…

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