Features: Alumni

Texprint connects industry to selected graduate designers just emerging from college or university - also to Texprint alumni, many of whom now enjoy high profile creative roles within the international textile, fashion and interior design industries. Their success in industry, and in many cases, the success of their own studios and brands, are testimony to the Texprint programme.  Many continue to support Texprint in a variety of ways.

If you are a Texprint alumnus, tell us what you're doing now, we would love to hear from you - info@texprint.org.uk

Features

Alumna stories: Elmina Fors, knitwear designer

25 March 2017

Swedish knitwear designer Elmina Fors has built her own small business following her experience at Texprint in 2014. And small can be very beautiful.

She comes from a town where daylight never happens for three weeks in December and temperatures plummet to -30 degrees centigrade. No surprise perhaps that knitwear designer Elmina Fors likes to make what she describes as “warming clothes”.

© Elmina Fors 2017

The Swede, who was a Texprint designer in 2014, grew up in Kiruna, the northernmost town in Sweden. “You wear wool garments most of the year. I do like to use natural fibres and good quality yarns that feel good on the body.”

Elmina Fors Knitwear designs, makes and sells knitted accessories including scarves, hats, socks and wrist warmers, as well as soft throws and cushions. Her teal and orange Artisk scarf, available in teal and orange, or black and white, is a typical example of her work, the pattern inspired by age-old Northern Scandinavian patterns used on jumpers, made in a soft slightly felted Merino lambswool, wide and long to wrap over the shoulders. For the Spring/Summer season, she’s working with some new natural yarns including cotton/lambswool for her oversized Trekant jumpers and a lovely Swedish linen yarn from Vaxbo Lin for linen jumpers and scarves. 

© Elmina Fors 2017

A sense of tradition and connection with the past runs through all her work. “I like the history of patterns. Everyone has a connection to repeated patterns and geometric shapes because people have been doing them for a very long time. There is such a wealth of patterns that have travelled across the world.”

At home in Kiruna, handknitting was a family matter. “My mum taught me how to knit, and her mum taught her. It’s always something that people do there – people make things for themselves or family members. You fix things in your own home. I like that idea of DIY. You don’t have to buy new all the time.”

Saying Scarf: only wear clothes you can dance in  © Elmina Fors 2017

And there was a joyous communal aspect to it too. “Only wear clothes you can dance in” are the words stitched into her Saying Scarf, taking the words from a favourite saying of a friend. (See Fors’ video with the same title, created with R&A Collaborations).

Only Wear Clothes You Can Dance In - Elmina Fors from R&A Collaborations on Vimeo.

She first came to the south coast of England to study knitwear design at Brighton University, expanding her skill sets to machine knitting and developing her own design aesthetic. Then came the breakthrough with Texprint, which gave her the platform to present her work on an international stage in Paris.

© Elmina Fors 2017

Fors made her home in nearby Hove, coincidentally not far from Texprint honorary chairman Barbara Kennington. The designer now plans to relocate back to her home country, where she has identified a studio in Stockholm, ready for occupation in July, but she intends to maintain her strong links with the UK.

She has good memories of Texprint. “It was really useful, all the support and advice, and meeting other designers. I looked at all the big labels and design houses at Première Vision Designs and asked myself whether it was possible to have your own business and keep it very small and local. So it started as a kind of experiment.”

The experiment has worked out well, although it’s hard work, as Fors acknowledges. “I have always wanted to work hard and I’ve learned to make decisions on my own. I think many makers are quite introvert personalities, and we have to be focused and organised. Yes, it’s hard but it can be so rewarding.”

Texprint’s Barbara Kennington says: “I love Elmina’s work and admire her desire to ‘do her own thing’. Setting up on your own is not for every designer. It can be tough as you learn to multi-task all the essentials - from marketing to organising production, finance management to deciding on retail options (pop ups, fairs or selling to buyers).”

She adds: “To run your own business, you need to be willing to work hard, call in friends and family to help, and put up with limited studio space and often working on your own. Participating in the Texprint programme certainly helps young designers to prepare for this.”

www.elminafors.uk

© Elmina Fors 2017


Collection curated by leading interiors, food and still life stylist Sania Pell

Surface View: the 2017 EDITS collection

16 February 2017

A delightful new home textiles collection from Surface View is titled Abstraction | Edit – and every designer involved is from Texprint.

The artwork is inspired by drawing and mark making, while the colour palette is delicious – teal, terracotta, peach, mint, neutral shades of grey from pale to dark, with flashes of jewel-like emerald green and sapphire.

Texprint 'Abstraction' EDITS collection for Surface View © Mikey Womack 2016

Six of the 2016 Texprint designers participated in the collection, which was developed in collaboration with Surface View, the bespoke interior decoration company. Curated by leading interiors, food and still life stylist Sania Pell, it’s a real treat.

Designers participating include Chloe Frost (winner of the 2016 Texprint Colour Award), Mikey Womack, Grace Lomas (Texprint Fashion Award winner), Irene Infantes, Isla Middleton (Texprint Interiors Award winner) and Emmeline Kellett.

The new collection is now available to view and buy on the Surface View website. The designers receive important publicity and recognition as well as royalties on all sales. Products include printed cushions, lampshades, window films and large-scale canvases.

Texprint 'Abstraction' EDITS collection for Surface View

This is the latest annual installment in an ongoing, acclaimed series of curated collaborations (EDITS) developed by Surface View with a different curator every year. For 2017, it’s the turn of Pell, a London-based interiors stylist perhaps best known for her long-term association with Elle Decoration magazine (regularly styling interior trend stories and covers). “It’s always such a pleasure looking through new designers’ work,” says Pell. “It’s the part of my work I enjoy the most, and I always seek to include as much new work as possible in my styling.”

She was instantly drawn to the free mark-making style of Mikey Womack, with its hint of graffiti. “It really captured my attention. His drawing is so fresh. It’s interesting to see how it can be explored through home products, such as on a cushion.”

How does she find inspiration in her work? “It’s a feeling, isn’t it? It’s a hunch with trends – something out there in the ether.”

You can tell that Pell has the right hunches. On the day we meet, she’s wearing a zesty green top that is a dead ringer for Pantone’s 2017 Colour of the Year (the exact colour name is Greenery 15-0343), but it’s most certainly not a case of her copying Pantone!

One of her favourite jobs last year was styling product for Tate Modern In the museum’s new extension just before it opened. “We really pared it back and presented the product as hero in the amazing architectural space. I felt like one of the luckiest people in the world.”

Sania Pell for the Tate Modern

Pell herself trained as a textile designer at the Edinburgh College of Art, and it remains her first love. She enjoyed working for London studios for six years before deciding to try her hand at styling and shifting into a new career. Fast forward to the present – and she’s a popular and highly respected name in the interiors styling world, with two books to her name (as well as two children).

She laughs as she explains how she was put forward for Texprint some 20 years ago, but didn’t make the final award-winning cut. “I thought I had a chance at the Colour Award, but when they were reviewing my portfolio they skipped past the colour and were drawn to my black and white drawings instead.” So it’s a pleasure for her to return in style for the Surface View collaboration.

Founded nine years ago, Surface View is part of digital print company VGL. It uses state-of-the-art print technology for application to a wide variety of interior products, building a reputation for being able to print images on virtually anything.

Based in Reading, Berkshire, the company already has a long association with Texprint, producing the signage for events in London, Paris and Shanghai. The collaboration came about as a result of conversations with managing director Michael Ayerst following a visit to the Texprint exhibition in London in 2014.

Alissa Sequeira of the Surface View marketing team says: “This year’s Texprint Edit takes on an entirely different identity. Mixing the designers’ diverse styles, Sania has curated an exciting selection of work that brings a fresh offering to our Edits. Supporting upcoming talent is always a pleasure for us and we are thrilled to continue the collaboration with Texprint. It has been wonderful to work with Sania – her expansive experience in both design and styling is evident in her considered approach to the curation of the Edit. We’re delighted with the final choices and are looking forward to working with these superb products.”

www.saniapell.com 

www.surfaceview.co.uk

Texprint 'Abstraction' EDITS collection for Surface View © Chloe Frost 2016

 

Texprint 'Abstraction' EDITS collection for Surface View © Emmeline Kellett 2016


Alumna Stories: Sarah Podlesny, The Aviary Studio

24 January 2017

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


London Transport Museum: Weaving Futures In The Studio

01 December 2016

Between now and February 2017 (the programme started in November), London Transport Musuem are hosting an event called Weaving Futures In The Studio, part of their year-long public programme of events, and situated in the ‘pop-up’ designer’s Studio integrated into LTM's temporary Designology exhibition.  It is a three-month focus on digital jacquard woven textile design and moquette concepts, exploring process and making, and is curated in partnership with research and design industry experts Philippa Brock and Samuel Plant Dempsey.

Philippa Brock X-Form

Weaving Futures explores the importance and potential of woven textiles to the London Transport System and features a state of the art TC2 digital jacquard loom. The idea is to actively explore how good design makes life in London better, through residencies and participatory workshops. The work does not exist currently and as the exhibition progresses this will be made and will be displayed. It also examines the process of designing for and production of woven textiles.

Camira - transport loom

Wallace Sewell - overground weaving

Each week there are different weave designers, researchers, artists and industry designers resident in the studio, with each resident responding to the same design brief, relating to data and transport. The residents will be working with Studio weavers, Rosie Green and Hanna Vinlöf–Nylen (Texprint alumna), to realise their final design on the digital loom. Outcomes and final designs will be displayed in the Studio and shared during the Museum’s Late Debate and Friday Late events.

Priti Veja - double reverse furry with LED

Residents: Assemble, Beatwoven, Philippa Brock, Camira, Central Saint Martins, BA Textile students, Samuel Dempsey, Linda Florence, Gainsborough Weaving Company, Eleanor Pritchard, Rare Thread (aka Kirsty McDougall and Laura Miles), Josephine OrtegaIsmini Samanidou, Studio Houndstooth, Takram & Priti Veja

Samuel Plant Dempsey

Drop into London Transport Museum’s pop-up Studio for a unique behind the scenes chance to experience contemporary transport design innovation through a year-long programme of events. The studio is open to the general public and one entry ticket gets you in for a year. The programme is part of this exciting Designology exhibition and includes:

·      one-day workshops with London’s best known transport designers

·      design residencies, briefs and challenges

·      intellectual late debates, workshops and talks

The workshop programme includes among others:

25, 26, 30 January 2017 – Research Collaboration with Brock, Dempsey and Veja - Designers Philippa Brock, Samuel Plant Dempsey & Dr. Priti Veja will be coming together in the studio to work collaboratively on a brief, combining their expertise in design thinking, with Brock on 3D woven jacquard and haptics, Dempsey on product design and 3D printing, and Veja on woven e-textiles. Find out how electronics can be constructed in woven structures to make integrated soft circuits, wearable technology and smart textiles. philippabrock.com I design-plant.co.uk I weft-lab.com

9,10 February 2017 – Weaving Music with BeatWoven®  - Meet award winning, avant-garde textiles label BeatWoven® and find out how they use songs and sounds to visualise and orchestrate pattern formations in textile design, particularly through the technique of weaving. Watch live as they work with our weavers to interpret a brief on the Digital Loom. beatwoven.co.uk

17, 18 February – Upholster and Accessorise with Eleanor Pritchard - Meet hands-on London weave studio; Eleanor Pritchard (Texprint alumna), designers and manufactures of upholstery and interior accessories. Find out about using geometrics and graphic reversible patterns to create clean, contemporary design and observe their approach to our transport brief. eleanorpritchard.com

BeatWoven® Cool Tone Fabric 4

 

 

 


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