Texprint 2014: Interview to Indigo
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ComOn: the designer’s view from Como
20 November 2014 by Roger Tredre
Eight Texprint designers enjoyed seven-week internships this autumn at the heart of Como with some of the finest textile companies in Italy. It's part of the ComOn Creativity Sharing initiative, now in its eighth year. We summarise what they got up to and asked one Texprint designer, Frieda Peppercorn, for her feedback.
From left: Ailis Dewar, James Skinner, Charlotte Beevor, Frieda Peppercorn, Jane Zhang and Charlotte Kidger
The Italian companies that generously invited Texprint designers included Erica, Setere Argenti, I.S.A., Canepa, Lisa, Taiana, Tiare and Boselli. Chiara Pozzi of Textra, who is on the ComOn select committee, came to Texprint London earlier this year to personally select the eight. Texprint creative director Peter Ring-Lefevre once again coordinated and supported the designers on their trip.
Enjoying an Italian gelato!
Texprint designer Frieda Peppercorn says: "My internship was at Argenti, a digital printing company which is a short bus ride away from Como. They print for everyone from high end to high street brands. It was quite a contrast to my usual work because I was designing solely on Photoshop. It was so great to see the work all printed out once I had finished. It's so fast paced – a huge factory churning out print after print."
She adds: "The work I produced may be presented to their clients in the next few weeks, so I could potentially see my designs in the shops next summer. This whole trip has opened my eyes to the textile manufacturing world as I really had no knowledge and experience of it."
Another Texprint designer, Ailis Dewar, enjoyed herself too: "I have absolutely loved my time in Como and I am very sad to be leaving. I was working with Tiare, which specialises in high-end technical woven and printed fabrics and has a star-studded clientele! I started getting to know past collections in the archives of the company and researching upcoming trends, then moved on to factory trips and fabric/yarn meetings. The last month has been spent heavily involved in the S/S16 collection, creating hand-drawn designs and colourways. The experience has given me a very structured insight into the design process at industry level."
Designers preparing for their Creativity Week presentation
One of the highlights of the interning is the Creativity Week, part of ComOn, which opened on October 6 with various workshops and launching 'Poems written on Paper Boats' on Lake Como. There were visits to Ratti and Canepa with their internationally highly regarded textile archives and printing facilities. A Streetscape3 Art project was launched involving local artists making art installations, sculptures and huge wall paintings around Como streets and buildings.
Frieda Peppercorn says: "Creativity Week was great fun. I loved visiting Ratti, such a fantastic place, so vast and so passionate about new and exciting printing and weaving techniques. We could see lots of drawing and painting going on in the design offices. It was so fascinating to see the vast production using more or less the same machinery and techniques that we have at university, but of course on a much larger scale and just a little more high tech!"
She notes: "I also loved visiting Curve Pericolose which was a small lingerie design studio, just a few rooms where they design and produce prototypes. Such a successful business all situated in this little house. I love the variety of textile manufacturing here, from vast factories like Ratti to small studios like Curve Pericolose."
Cristina Vigano of Argenti, and part of the ComOn team, organised once again an exhibition of innovative fashion garments and accessories created by Como fashion schools and displayed in the Antonio Ratti Cultural Space.
With Margherita Rosina at the Antonio Ratti Foundation archives
The Creative Sharing programme for the interns included visits to the Como Silk Museum, Antonio Ratti Foundation and archives where there was a retrospective on Emilio Pucci. Other highlights included a TrendsOn presentation by Nelly Rodi's Paris office and a visit to Serico's textile lab offices.
Emilio Pucci retrospective on show at Antonio Ratti Foundation
Texprint designers also joined ComOn designers from other countries for a two-day seminar run by David Shah, publisher of Textile View magazine and a well-known industry consultant who has long supported Texprint. This year's challenge from David was 'Nostalgia'. Each designer was asked in advance to prepare and present their four chosen 'Nostalgia' subjects from 1920 to 1990. Four groups were then created across nationalities, each with a tutor steering the proceedings. David reworked these groups into four based on similar cultural backgrounds: the British, the Northern Europeans and two Italian groups. The results were later presented by David under the title, 'The Passion for Nostalgia', at a ComOn event at the Chamber of Commerce.
Working with David Shah
For Frieda, the project was another highlight of the trip. "David really got us thinking. The task was very tricky: it was a really good exercise trying to think about what the world will be like in 20 years time."
Peter Ring-Lefevre of Texprint concludes: "The Como textile industry has really set a world-class precedent in organising some 20 internships for young textile graduates. The global textile industry should take note of the success of this initiative. This kind of relationship is crucial for the industry's future, ensuring a constant flow of raw, bold and innovative textile creativity."
Archives at Canepa
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 way: she hadn’t a clue how to navigate the fashion or interiors industries.
Working at Gainsborough Silk Weaving
Dominique soon realised the fierce competition that lay ahead of her. “I saw how many other designers were also graduating – all wanting to move into an industry which is relatively small,” she says.
Fortunately she had been nominated for the 2012 Texprint programme by her CSM tutor and granted an interview. Dominique says she went into the interview with Texprint creative director Peter Ring-Lefevre and a panel of industry experts with ‘clammy palms’, but she was successful and subsequently invited to undertake Texprint’s unique mentorship and exhibition programme with 23 other emerging talents.
But it certainly wasn’t all roses for Dominique after her selection. Internships with high-profile designers including Mary Katrantzou and Holly Fulton followed, but making her way in the industry was a struggle, not least because she was not earning money.
Perseverance paid off however, and last summer Dominique landed a job at Gainsborough Silk Weaving, one of the oldest commercial mills in England – a dream design role that has enabled her to rediscover her creative edge, with a constant flow of interesting and challenging work that mixes computerized techniques with traditional weaving methods.
We caught up with Dominique to talk about her Texprint experience, her new role and recent projects, and the growing artisanal approach in textile design.
Working at Gainsborough Silk Weaving
What was it like showing at Indigo in Paris with Texprint?
Texprint gave me something to work towards. Exhibiting at Indigo in Paris was a high point, though both exhausting and rewarding, and the realisation that now I actually had to make money from the work I had created as a student was quite challenging.
For every person who stops and looks through your work, a hundred others will dismiss your stand with a flick of their eyes. Very quickly you realize this is not personal - your work is not going to cater to everyone’s tastes or requirements. I believe this is one of the most important things I learnt from Texprint.
Also of key benefit were the many useful connections I made which helped me greatly in the following months.
Working at Gainsborough Silk Weaving
Tell us about your current job as a designer at Gainsborough Silk Weaving?
We work with a lot of high-end interior and fashion designers and it is always very interesting, challenging work. Most of what I do is computerized, using the modern jacquard looms we have at the mill, but there is much scope to be technically creative and try new approaches.
Gainsborough also still has 15 Hattersley looms from the 1930s, making the mill truly unique. We have many of the original punch card sets and having access to the traditional method of jacquard weaving is very special.
There is also an extensive archive of amazing fabric samples dating back to the establishment of the mill in 1903. Among my personal favorites are the Crewell loom silks and the hand cut velvets. There is a real connection between past and present and I feel very lucky to contribute to Gainsborough’s rich history and future.
Textile installation inside the Oxford Brooks University
You were involved in designing an impressive, large-scale textile installation inside the Oxford Brooks University – a 3x10 metre installation that is a mirage of intricate textures, patterns and gradients. What was the experience like?
The installation was designed by Peagreen and woven by Gainsborough Silk Weaving. As the designer on this project I was responsible for liaising with Peagreen whilst altering their original design in order to make it weavable. At Gainsborough, the looms repeat two times across the entire fabric width, so we were weaving two artwork panels for the instillation at a time. However because Peagreen wanted each panel to be very different, I had to work out ways to create the colours they wanted, using the same wefts and weave structures, whilst only changing the warp colour. I had four warp colours in total and eight weft colours to play with. It was an all-consuming project!
How do you see the UK textile industry evolving? It seems there are two big trends – use of digital and a return to craft.
Trends are moving in an exciting direction with new approaches and methods of creating textiles emerging. From my own experience, I believe there has been more of a shift towards the artisanal approach as customers become better informed. There is also a premium placed on British made, which I feel is largely substantiated by the quality of the fabrics and skills involved. Craftsmanship is part of our heritage and I sincerely hope that the British textile industry continues to gain respect and overseas business.
Gainsborough Silk Weaving archives
Diary: Intertextile Shanghai October 2014
09 November 2014 by Roger Tredre
Sponsorship Director Joanna Bowring led five Texprint prize winners to exhibit at Intertextile Shanghai in October with the support of the event's organiser Messe Frankfurt (HK) and The Woolmark Company. Here's her diary of a busy few days.
Yoty and Nustar, from Zhe Jiang University of Media and Communication, with Joanna Bowring
Setting-up day – Sunday October 19
Arrived at the show around 11.30, registered myself and the Chinese student helpers. Went to the stand, put up what I could on my own and then prepared panels, ironed fabric etc. until the students arrived around 2.30. They are Yoty and Nustar, from Zhe Jiang University of Media and Communication. Their involvement had been arranged through Texprint alumna Momo Wang whose friend, Chen Xi, is Module Director of Fashion Design. I didn’t realise that they live about two hours outside Shanghai, and are staying in a hotel. Xi had asked the class who would like to do it, and they volunteered, which I told them was a very positive and professional thing to do! We finally finished around 6pm and staggered back to our respective hotels.
Day 1 – Monday October 20
Woke very early in a panic thinking I had overslept. From my hotel I saw people doing tai chi in the morning mist in Century Park – wonderfully calming.
Took shuttle bus from hotel to the exhibition, joining a massive queue, or series of queues, of exhibitors penned up like sheep in lines until the official exhibitors’ opening time of 8.30am. After a mad scrum, I arrived at the stand which was still intact – none of the displays had disappeared or fallen off, and the four smiling portraits of the winners were very welcoming and comforting. The two student helpers arrived promptly, looking very smart.
The first day was invitation only and was very busy – the studios either side of us were often packed, and there were quite a few visitors to the Texprint stand. There was a lot of interest in all the fabrics, particularly Federica Tedeschi’s embroidery and Tali Furman’s pieces too, especially her new marbled effect prints on wool and her wool flocked plastic. Many of the visitors’ business cards are only in Chinese, and I fear that the winners are going to receive a torrent of emails in Chinese... There were also some visitors from South Korea, the US, India, Vietnam and Pakistan.
Friendly faces included David Shah of View Publications on a flying visit (as always), Peter Ackroyd and Julie Davies from The Woolmark Company, and Italian textile consultant Angelo Uslenghi, who was here for Milano Unica and was wonderfully enthusiastic in his greeting! He was rhapsodic about Federica Tedeschi’s embroidery – so directional for Spring/Summer 2016. Fellow exhibitors Dietmar Voegel of Circleline and Hiro, the agent for Whiston & Wright, were charming neighbours.
Intertextile is changing. There are now quite a few Italian mills which have moved out of Milano Unica’s walled city and have stands in W1, SalonEurope, the most prestigious hall for foreigners. Miroglio has a huge stand – I spoke to Pier Luigi Cassinelli there, who told me they have been in China since 1993. He also said they were very pleased with the new Miroglio Texprint Award and with the winner, Charlotte Hetheridge.
In the evening there was a lavish reception and dinner for the 20th anniversary of Intertextile. Six hundred guests had been invited to a seated dinner. There was a massive Oscars-type screen, swelling music, a glamorous TV presenter and many speeches in Chinese acknowledging important dignitaries and different categories of awards for faithful exhibitors, with each group parading onto the stage. Went back on the metro and slept very well.
Our helpful student translators, Yoty and Nustar, with Dietmar Voegel of Circleline
Day 2 – Tuesday October 21
Started the day looking out of my hotel window to see an enormous yellow rubber duck floating serenely in the distance on the misty lake in Century Park. I later learned that it was by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, and will be in the park for a month.
Even busier today, same issues. There is certainly huge interest in the fabrics. Checked the press office and at least 50 press releases in Chinese had gone, so added some more.
Angelo Uslenghi came by the stand with one of the owners of Cavalieri to show her Federica’s work. I went to Angelo’s presentation to an invited audience on Milano Unica’s trends in the afternoon and when I came back we had run out of brochures. The students had been enthusiastically topping up the pile of brochures, and didn’t understand that the ones I had held back in the cupboard were for the next two days.
Day 3 – Wednesday October 22
Spent rather a long time in taxis negotiating the city's traffic for Shanghai Fashion Week events. At the catwalk tent there were two woven textile graduates from Central Saint Martins waiting to see the next show, which was by a designer who had just graduated from CSM with them – such a small world.
Back at the exhibition, I saw David Shah, who commented that the growth in the appreciation and awareness of creativity and innovation in China over the past two years has been extraordinary, but the market needs to catch up in terms of the price it is prepared to pay for it.
Joanna Bowring with David Shah
Day 4 – Thursday October 23
The final day started with a walk to the exhibition halls through Century Park with Jane Makower, who is also showing. As well as seeing the enormous rubber duck closer up, there were stunning life-sized patterned ceramic horses and an enormous shepherd with his dog, sheep and horses all made out of plants.
The show was less frenzied but still a lot of activity. Designer Momo Wang came by with two friends who had recently graduated from London College of Fashion, one still based in London. Her new collection is being launched on Saturday. She said so much is going on in Shanghai, young people networking with each other, sharing info – she did a big promotion with Nike who are sponsoring young Chinese fashion designers. Tomorrow is an Elle magazine event with a huge party for young Chinese designers.
As usual, the taking down was really fast, and I crammed as much as I could into my small case and the rest into my tote bag. The 24 ‘tiles’ of the designers’ work were too tough to tear up and I didn’t want to leave any that might be picked up to copy, so took them back to the hotel where I slashed them with a scalpel, snapped them into small pieces and binned them. Job done – time to go home!
Texprint 2011 alumna Momo Wang
Jane Makower on the M Makower & Co Ltd stand
Photo report: Texprint 2014 at Indigo/Première Vision, Paris
19 October 2014 by Editor
The main event of Texprint’s annual calendar is the showcasing of British-trained textile design talent at Indigo, where through the generous sponsorship of Première Vision SA, 24 selected Texprint designers are given a unique opportunity to exhibit at Europe’s most important fashion fabrics, yarn and textile design fair.
The designers each have an individual stand on the Texprint ‘avenue’ to exhibit their design collections, meet international buyers and make invaluable contacts. Indigo is also host to the annual prize presentation which is a great opportunity for Texprint to gather with its international supporters, sponsors and press. And also to introduce Texprint to the international industry who come together at Première Vision Pluriel.
Photos: James McCauley (www.jamesmccauley.com)
Photo report: Texprint at Indigo/Première Vision 2014, Paris (...continued)
19 October 2014 by Editor
“I just want to thank you again for everything. I had a fantastic time at Indigo! Being part of Texprint has really changed how I view my work and my future career. All of you made this experience really unforgettable and I can't thank you enough for all of your help, advice and support and for giving me this amazing opportunity in the first place.” Federica Tedeschi
Photos: James McCauley (www.jamesmccauley.com)
After Texprint: how designers continue to prosper
13 October 2014 by Roger Tredre
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 with the industry's leading creative textiles show.
Besides the 24 designers who are chosen by Texprint every year to show at Indigo (part of Première Vision Pluriel) in September, there are plenty of other former Texprint designers along the aisles – now operating independently and thriving in their own right.
This year, we tracked down two alumnae, Hannah Hope Johnson and Pepe Lowe, who were with Texprint as recently as 2013. Now they're sharing a stand together – a sensible cost-saving decision, also helped by support from UKFT – and are enjoying working in the 'real' world.
Pepe Lowe (left) and Hannah Hope Johnson (right)
Hannah Hope Johnson, who studied at Leeds School of Art, can't stop talking about her experience since she was with Texprint – and her enthusiasm is infectious. "After Indigo I was approached by a couple of London-based studios. I had interviews at both and was offered design positions at both. In the end, I decided not to take up either offer, it was a gamble, but a decision I am now pleased with. I saw that working in a studio didn't give me the creative freedom I was looking for."
The designer shows us her new work, focusing on dark romantic florals. "The geometrics inspired by Art Deco were part of my graduation collection, but during the Texprint exhibition in London I found a lot of people looking through my other work and admiring my florals. So I showed light summer florals at Indigo in February. And now I'm developing them in a darker direction."
Hope Johnson is now living in Paris with her French boyfriend and working with the founder of a new accessories label launching in 2015. "She's offered me a fantastic contract where I work three or four days a week for her and on my days off I dedicate my time to painting and creating my own collection of prints."
Separately, Pepe Lowe has launched a digital print silk womenswear line under her own name. She likes to play with free-flowing colours, textures and patterns together with a rigid grid or controlled line. "I translate these ideas into fabric either through digital or hand stitch, together with digital prints from either my photographs or drawings."
She recalls: "Texprint was exactly what I needed after finishing at Chelsea College of Arts. That extra push after the final show was perfect – it set me up for the past year. Doing the Texprint shows in London and Paris really helped me form some of my first connections with companies I would not have had a chance to meet."
The fond memories are shared by designers who were with Texprint much earlier. Lisa Jukes was a Texprint designer back in 1998 and now shows at Indigo with designer Emily Sedgwick as Code Studio. "I don't think we could have done it without Texprint. It was such an eye opener into the industry, such an invaluable support. Some of those early contacts are still clients today."
Lisa Jukes of Code Studio
Jukes, who is a print specialist, found Texprint to be the perfect springboard. "It was actually more beneficial than my degree show because it placed us in the commercial arena. The whole experience was tremendous."
Many Texprint designers are now working in major jobs at some of the biggest exhibitors at Première Vision. For example, Italian giant Miroglio Textiles has an Irish senior print designer, Louise Somers, who took part in Texprint herself six years ago. And Miroglio now sponsors an Award with Texprint – to the delight of Somers, who landed her first job when she showed with Texprint back in 2008. The wheel has truly come full circle.