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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 China. And Tali Furman from Israel. And James Skinner from Britain. Three designers, all stars of Texprint 2014, who have now formed their own limited company authoritatively named Fairbairn Wolf & Skinner.

Sometimes, even at a very early stage, you get a feeling that people were just meant to work together. You get that feeling with these three, all very different characters with different creative talents, but sparking off each other in a dynamic partnership with long-term potential. Judging by the amount of interest shown in their work at Première Vision Designs in September (including some major commissions), the industry agrees.

The work on display in Paris reflected their enjoyment in hand painting and screen printing. Even their digital work has painterly techniques in it. They are passionate about showing work that has a human element.

All three of them had been encouragingly busy since Texprint 2014, but they all craved the excitement of creating their own company. James Skinner tells the story: “We started talking about it last year. I was working with Circleline, Tali was with Burberry, Jane was with a number of Chinese clients. We started speaking again in May and drew up a business plan.”

They have a studio in Hackney, but are already looking for a bigger space in south London. James believes they complement each other well: “We’re all very different, but we want to cover a broad market. We are heavily promoting hand drawing, painting, screen printing ­– the craft side of things. For us, it’s a more interesting way of designing. It keeps us interested if we are experimenting and learning new things. We can also bring something new to the market – and clients like to see that designers are passionate about what they are doing.”

Little more than a year since they moved on from Texprint, the three of them have already acquired the ability to talk about their work like well-established professionals. Tali says she enjoys the marketing and business aspect of having her own business. “My job at Burberry was very creative and gave me professional expertise, so I owe a lot to them. But I like to be hands-on with business and sales too. For me personally, I really like to work like this in a small team. We also really like the travelling part – the exploring.”

Jane adds: “We can benefit from each other’s styles. For example, I got some freelance from China that was just perfect to pass on to James. We are all from different backgrounds. Personality-wise, we balance very well.”

Jane speaks Mandarin, of course, while Tali has Russian – linguistic skills that are helping them to market the company.

They look back on their Texprint experience in 2014 with warmth and fondness. James says: “Texprint changed me a lot. It gave me the confidence to go out there and know that the dreams I have will actually manifest. It gave me contacts, clients, opportunities I would never have had – and all straight out of university. It threw me straight into the industry.”

Next step for Fairbairn Wolf & Skinner is a trip to Intertextile Shanghai in October, with the support of UKTI, the UK government department that works with businesses. The three designers are demonstrably excited by the prospect – and by the possibilities that lie ahead. James concludes: “All three of us like to be in control, to understand every aspect of the business. We like to control our destiny.” They’re certainly doing that.

 

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