Meet the judges: Julie Hall, head of design, Bedeck

26 May 2015 by Roger Tredre

We talk to Texprint judge Julie Hall, head of design at Bedeck, which is also sponsoring a new award with Texprint.

Textiles for bedding and bathroom are at the core of Bedeck, a company based in Northern Ireland that has grown to establish a global reputation since Alexander Irwin started manufacturing linen handkerchiefs back in 1951.

Bedeck head of design Julie Hall’s huge experience in the textiles industry is being brought to Texprint this year when she joins the judging panel for our annual awards. She’s also judging a new award from Bedeck itself – the Bedeck Texprint Design Award for Bed & Bath.

The winner of the new award will enjoy up to six months’ work experience in the Bedeck Studio in Co. Down, Northern Ireland, as well as a cash prize of £1,000. A great opportunity to work with one of the most outstanding textile design teams around.

After collaborating with retail brands for over 20 years, Hall knows everything there is to know about designing, developing and sourcing bedlinens, towels, cushions and accessories.

Originally from Cookstown in Northern Ireland, Hall enjoyed spells at some impressive design schools: a BA in Printed and Woven Textiles from Belfast University; a Post Grad from Winchester School of Art, and an MA in Textiles and Fashion Design from Central Saint Martins, London.

She began her career as a freelance artist, drawing and painting artworks for the fashion industry, then worked at the Anthea Davies studio in Kensington while studying at Central Saint Martins. She returned to her roots in Northern Ireland in 1987 and joined Irish linen company Ewart Liddell, part of the Coats Viyella group, as design and development manager.

The move to Bedeck came in 1997. As design and product development manager, she established new product sourcing opportunities, including China and India. She became head of design in 2006 and has established a dynamic in-house creative studio, developing the in-house brands, Fable and Murmur.

The new Bedeck award is great news. How important is it for you to support the next generation of designers?

It has always been very important – and rewarding – for me to encourage new designers, as it is vital their talent is fostered and directed into the creative industry. Colleges do a wonderful job at preparing graduates for the world of work – and internships and graduate placements further the development process. It is also imperative that the best of our design talent is acknowledged by bodies such as Texprint.

What do you look for in great textile design?

I love to see wonderful drawing skills, beautiful mark making and a fabulous sense of colour and balance.

Why is the UK educational system so good at producing design talent?

I think students are encouraged to believe in their creativity, which in turn builds confidence in their ability. They are not afraid to push the boundaries and experiment. 

Can you explain the parameters of your job? 

Bedeck has the licence to design and produce bed and bath products for 17 brands. Among these are Sanderson, Designers Guild, Harlequin, the V&A, to name a few. I oversee the licensed brands and creatively direct the in-house brands.

What's a typical day like for you?

Every day is different, depending on where we are in the season. However, design meetings are scheduled for Monday mornings as this gets the week off to a flying start. The rest of the week I spend a considerable time with the design team going through ideas, concepts, sampling etc. We work closely with the marketing team ensuring we are on schedule to meet photography dates and product launch. I will also have supplier meetings and customer presentations. 

Where do you find your inspiration?

I am very privileged to be able to travel with my job and visit countries like India and the US. I also regularly visit galleries and exhibitions, a favourite being the V&A Cloth Workers as my passion is vintage and antique textiles. I love gardens, shops, markets, books, magazines, the internet. I suppose inspiration is everywhere!

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