Texprint 2016 at Première Vision Designs
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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.
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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.”
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 Ortega, Ismini 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
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.
A sample from Jayne's successful 2015 collection