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

Amy Smith and Jacob Monk on The Bund against the iconic Shanghai skyline

Texprint at Intertextile Shanghai, October 2016

25 November 2016

October 2016 saw Texprint exhibit for the fourth time at Intertextile Shanghai Apparel Fabrics sponsored by Messe Frankfurt (HK), and again it was an incredibly positive experience for two winning Texprint designers.

Busy Texprint stand in Verve for Design section (Amy Smith's design can be seen on the overhead banner)

Over-and-above the small stand allocated, the Messe Frankfurt (HK) travel award again provided an additional metre of stand space plus flight and accommodation for the designer whose work was selected to create a visual identity for the show’s ‘Verve for Design’ section.  This year that designer was Amy Smith.

A further metre of stand space was generously sponsored by The Woolmark Company for the winner of the 2016 Woolmark Company Texprint Award, Jacob Monk, to show his collection. The result was that two designers were able to show their collections and experience the Asian market first hand. The majority of visitors were from China and Asia although the designers also met with visitors from Australia, Middle East, Russia and Eastern Europe.

Sarah Cheyne, Texprint project coordinator, who accompanied Amy and Jacob, says:“This was a very positive show for Texprint - we had many compliments on our stand and it was good to be showing alongside UK studios Circle Line, Whiston & Wright, Design Union, Acornand Amanda Kelly.  It was also good to see Texprint alumni, Jane Han Zhang and Tali Furman, successfully exhibiting.”

Student helpers Xiaojian Zheng(Scarlet) and Qi Wang (Cookie)

Two enthusiastic students, Xiaojian Zheng(Scarlet) and Qi Wang (Cookie), provided by Zhejiang University with the help of Course Director Xi Chen, acted as helpers and translators. Jacob says: “The show was very exciting but also very difficult. I just assumed that at a business event more people would speak English and this wasn’t the case. However I learnt a lot just from being there and observing others - how different studios display their collections, and what style of work they bring to Asia. I have learnt the importance of knowing your market, and it was interesting to see the style they like in Asia.”

Busy Texprint stand in Verve for Design section

Neither of the designers sold work on this visit however both say that they found the experience invaluable and that even in a few days they learned so much about the Asian textile industry.

“The trip was very inspiring,” says Jacob, “Shanghai is an amazing city, there’s so much to explore and experience – the many cultural differences, the food and markets - even the things you really don’t see in UK, like scaffolding made of bamboo! And the mix of the new with the old, such as the Yuyuan Garden hidden in the middle of the city.”

Amy continues: “It was good to see what designs people were interested in compared to London and Paris, and so inspiring for my new collection – I loved it all, from the beautiful gardens we visited, to the paving on the streets. In future I would also consider designing different collections for different markets worldwide.”


Alumna Stories: Jayne Goulding

09 November 2016

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 the 2015 generation of Texprint designers gave Jayne Goulding a chance to join the line-up in Paris. What then happened was exceptional.

Goulding took orders, orders and more orders. By the end of three days of leading global textiles trade show Première Vision Designs, in terms of orders taken she was arguably the most successful-ever designer to show with Texprint.

Texprint 2015 at Première Vision Designs, Jayne talks to The Woolmark Company Texprint award judges

Experience counts. Goulding, who is now based in Bristol, was an unconventional choice because she already had significant industry experience and had returned to higher education to take a part-time MA at Bath Spa University. She had studied embroidery at Nottingham Trent for her BA and her earlier career included five years working as a lingerie designer for Marks & Spencer, an experience that served her well in anticipating the demands of buyers at Texprint.

Also unconventionally, Goulding had chosen to go solo at a time when she was a mother of two young children – requiring some hefty jugging of schedules and priorities. The children, she laughs, don’t really live in a house – they live in a design studio. Work and family overlap both in the mind and in physical reality. Luckily, boyfriend and partner Duncan Steel, a structural engineer, has the same sense of humour. Listening to our conversation, he adds, smiling: “I’m really supportive because it’s so clearly her passion.”

Working at home with the family

Speaking to her again a year on, back at PVD this September, where she now had her own stand, Goulding recalled the phenomenal sales of 2015. “It was really non-stop. The buyers were drawn to the detail in my work, which includes embroidery and design. They liked the richness and the colour, and the potential for different applications. And it helped that I had garments to show how it can be applied.”

Skip forward to 2016: “After PVD, I thought I’m definitely doing that again! This year, I’ve made slightly fewer sales but I’ve found some great contacts with factories that want to develop relationships. It’s not just about instant sales – you want long-term relationships.”

Jayne Goulding exhibiting independently at Première Vision Designs 2016

She talks through her Autumn/Winter 2017/18 with confidence. “A lot of my work is very conceptual. The high-shine fabrics are key for the season using geometric and pixellation techniques. I do florals, but I try to be contemporary rather than twee, using a pixellation technique that creates a floral design with a suggestion of geometry in the metallic yarns.”

Over the past year she has combined working as embroidery technical demonstrator at Bath Spa University with developing her creative signature. “I’m still testing the market really. Experience has given me the confidence – all those years of trend research and colour. One of my strong points is I know how to create a story. And I know how buyers work, how they react.”

That said, going solo has been a tough option. “It’s expensive and time consuming. Even more established people I’ve chatted to at PVD say that knowing what the market wants can be hit and miss. But I do love the challenge and I love that I’m working for myself, bringing together all my experience.”

Jayne's home studio

We speak again by phone a month after PVD ends and she is enthusiastic about the many contacts she made. “I sold to Italians, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese and Americans – and a big catwalk brand. And I met some big factories. These connections are going to be really important for the future.”

She is not deterred by the challenges ahead. “I have always worked long hours – and now it’s for me alone! Long-term, I would like to have my own brand and create my own product. But the past year has been such a great start. Without Texprint, I would never have attempted to show at PVD so soon after my MA – it was such a leap, it stuck me right out there. And suddenly people were buying.” Indeed they were.

www.jaynegoulding.com

A sample from Jayne's successful 2015 collection 


Making It In Textiles 2016

14 October 2016

Texprint was delighted to be invited to take part in the third Making It In Textiles conference held in Bradford earlier this month; a conference made possible by the support of The Campaign for Wool, The Clothworkers’ Company, The Drapers’ Company and The Weavers’ Company.

Making It In Textiles conference, introduced by James Sugden of The Weavers' Company

The audience comprised 3rd year textile students, their tutors and course leaders, press and industry leaders.  Given that Bradford is firmly embedded in the weaving industry, the focus not surprisingly was on careers in weaving, with most of the students specializing in this field - that said the messages from all the speakers could apply to students in almost any field.

Philippa Brock, textile designer and senior weave lecturer at Central Saint Martins

There was a real buzz in the room as students chatted with peers from other colleges, and with other guests.  There was a lot to take in, workshops to tackle, and advice and ideas coming from all directions.

Christopher Maclean May of The Clothworkers' Company talks with a student

Panel discussion with designers sharing their experiences - including Cherica Haye, Rolls Royce (second from left), and Andrew Stephenson, Paul Smith (second from right) - both Texprint alumni

This was a chance for the young designers, soon to embark on their career, to listen to speakers whose companies are among the best in the UK, specialists in their field with international order books.  Adam Hainsworth, of vertical mill Hainsworth, talked of the commercial realities of keeping a two-century-old textile manufacturing business profitable, and Paul Johnson of finishers W.T.Johnson & Sons, talked about the link between design and weaving and how the limits of the ‘possible’ can be pushed in the finishing of fabric. 

Richard Humphries, director of luxury silk jacquard weavers Humphries Weaving, entertained the room with tales of amazing bespoke fabrics created for the Queen, for The National Trust, suit fabrics for the male guests at Mark Zukkerberg’s wedding – and even an extraordinary jacquard of skulls for a one-off  ‘goth’ wedding dress.

And there were also more personal journeys to listen to – from Emma Sewell of Wallace Sewell; and Julia Skliarova, senior textiles editor at WGSN – both, as it happens, Texprint alumna.  Also Joan Johnston and Vanessa Podmore, whose careers have touched on procurement, buying, and design across a wide range of brands from Jimmy Choo to Burberry.

Emma Sewell of Wallace Sewell (left)

Julia Skliarova, senior textiles editor at WGSN

Visits to local mills were on the agenda for Day 2.  Most students had never visited a mill before and were amazed by the scale, the engineering, and the way in which cloth designs are developed and taken into production.

All-in-all an extraordinarily important and eye-opening event which will undoubtedly help and enable young designers on graduation to explore the many opportunities available to them in the industry – from design to technical, from sales to marketing, and so much more.

Abraham Moon & Sons

 

Abraham Moon & Sons

 

Abraham Moon & Sons

 

Darren McCluskey, director of Camira 


Genevieve Bennett and her John Lewis Design Collective collection

Texprint alumnae stories: Genevieve Bennett and Philippa Prinsloo

04 October 2016

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 some 15 years – they’re working together on a major collaboration for John Lewis.

Visual designer Genevieve Bennett is best known for her high-end bespoke decorative leather coverings, but has worked extensively in the broader market and built an impressive portfolio of clients and collaborations. Philippa Prinsloo is Head of Design, Home at retail giant John Lewis, where she has worked since 2011 following seven years at Habitat.

Philippa Prinsloo, head of design, Home at John Lewis

The collaboration is part of the John Lewis Design Collective, which was established to build collaborations with top design talent creating unique pieces exclusively for John Lewis. Textile names include Maggie Levien, Wendy Morrison, Suki Cheema, Timorous Beasties and Bluebellgray.

The Genevieve Bennett collection is the biggest launch by the Design Collective to date (click here to find out more), including wallpaper, furnishing fabrics, cushions and rugs, all in-store this autumn, with bedding and bathroom textiles to follow for Spring/Summer 2017. Philippa Prinsloo is thrilled with the results: “Genevieve’s work has such a beautiful and elegant handwriting,” she says. “Everything has a wonderful tactile quality, and the colour is incredible.”

Cushion from the Genevieve Bennett collection

She points out that designers from a textiles background are intrinsically versatile. “You have that skill set of working with others, of curating a landscape, of thinking beyond a collection of textiles to a collection of objects in a room.”

Bennett’s design work is full of patterns that are mesmerisingly beautiful. Over the years, inspiration has come from a broad range of sources, ranging from the wood carvings of Hanoverian craftsman Grinling Gibbons to 3D paper engineering techniques. She loves “ceramics by William De Morgan, Moorish lustreware, Art Deco embroideries, Chinese lattice screens, and patterned tiles of all kinds”.

Prinsloo manages a team of 17 and is a busy traveller, regularly attending the big shows in Milan, Paris and New York, as well as Heimtextil. She also loves London’s East End, including Brick Lane and Columbia Road markets – and she’s equally influenced by her family roots in South Africa, although she left the country at the age of two and grew up near Manchester.

The new collaboration with John Lewis actually got underway last autumn with a small rug collection, where Bennett sought to translate the qualities of her bespoke leather coverings into rugs made in India for John Lewis. She appreciates the opportunity to convey the qualities of her bespoke work in products for a broader market. Her wallpaper for John Lewis, for example, uses surface print techniques, with a block-print effect that has a wonderful texture and sophisticated handfeel. “My core business is working with leather for luxury hotels and private residences, but I also really enjoy working to briefs which target different markets,” Bennett says. “It’s been very challenging and satisfying.”

What do they remember of Texprint? Bennett, who studied printed and embroidered textiles at the Royal College of Art, enthuses: “It was just the best experience. I was doing very experimental work and didn’t think anyone would get it, but I sold loads in Paris and it really helped me to set up my studio.” She also met Catriona Macnab, now best known as head of fashion at trends forecaster WGSN but then at Woolmark (both The Woolmark Company and WGSN are Foundation Sponsors of Texprint). Macnab offered her work straight out of college that helped to broaden her knowledge of colour and materials.

Philippa Prinsloo talking with Texprint 2016 designer Lydia Knight at Texprint London

Prinsloo was equally excited about her Texprint experience in Paris. “I was amazed by the quality and the number of companies that we were exposed to at Indigo [the former name for Première Vision Designs]. It would take one week to book all those appointments with the right people – Texprint facilitates an incredible fast-track approach.” She freelanced for three years after Texprint, before joining the design team at Habitat and then becoming, at 38, the youngest-ever home design manager at John Lewis.    

Genevieve Bennett is not the only Texprint and Royal College of Art alumna to contribute to the John Lewis Design Collective. Woven textile designer Margo Selby is another Texprint alumna familiar to John Lewis customers. And, as the Texprint generation of 2016 prepares to show in Paris, no doubt there will be more to come.

Room set, the Genevieve Bennett collection at John Lewis Home


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