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Textile highlights from Designersblock, London
16 October 2011 by Joyce Thornton
The Designersblock exhibition has been a ‘must see’ part of the London Design festival since 1998. Working with building owners, “to effectively utilise transitional architectural spaces” the organisers of this exciting showcase chose the wonderful, cavernous, Farmiloe Building in London’s Farringdon for the event in September 2011. Designersblock's exhibitors are of a high calibre, encompassing both established and emerging designers working in product and interior design, with some fascinating work by international university graduates also in the mix.
The work of three ex RCA MA textile graduates at the show was outstanding. Knitting supremo, Claire-Anne O’Brien has created some great, tactile stools. Their distinctive appeal centres on wonderful textures, vibrant yet soft colour and comforting surfaces.
Imogen Luddy, table, textiles and tableware.
Imogen Luddy’s clever, contemporary pieces span furniture, lighting and ceramics. Although Imogen is inspired by old craft processes, her vision is firmly rooted in the present. A wonderfully decorative, ‘cross stitch’ laser cut steel table was the centrepiece of her display.
Fay McCaul, cushions
Fay McCaul describes her work as “architectural textiles”. She uses the craft of knitting to create highly individual pieces. A great, large scale knitted lighting installation dominated her space, but her oversized cushions, with intricate, encapsulated Perspex decoration were a highlight. Fay’s version of high-end glamour is fresh and modern.
Jo Gibbs, up-cycled etched table
Jo Gibbs, a recent MA Textile graduate from Chelsea College of Art, showed her wonderful up-cycled furniture. Jo has explored new etching techniques on many surfaces – transforming dowdy old discarded tables, chairs and mirrors into decorative objects of desire.
Jo Gibbs, re-claimed, etched slate tiles
Jo worked for many years as a textile designer for fashion but is now fired with her passion to re-use existing products, working towards a more sustainable and creative future.
Maria Sandberg's 'Biotopia' carpet
Finally, also looking to a sustainable future, young Swedish designer, Maria Sandberg’s project 'Biotopia' resulted in a hand-dyed, handknotted carpet created from wool and nettle yarns. Her aim is to use materials that reduce the use of chemicals in the environment, with her vision of future sustainable textile design being
, “where nature and high technology live in symbiosis." Maria’s work is part of an annual travelling exhibition, Ung8, which celebrates innovative, youthful creativity.
The Texprint 24; Indigo highlights 2011
09 October 2011 by Joyce Thornton
The Texprint 24 exhibited at the textile design show Indigo, Paris, September 20 – 22. For these talented textile designers, chosen from over 200 graduates nominated by their colleges, this was their first experience of selling their work alongside professional, established designers.
This prestigious showcase in Paris is a fantastic platform for the emerging designers and vital to Texprint’s aim of helping to launch the careers of some of the best British graduates. The immediate success of this year’s group was tremendous and with many contacts made and discussions initiated, the positive effects of the show will be felt for many months to come.
Nino Cerruti (centre) views design work by Amy Jo Lewis
Allison Pilling’s colourful prints were tremendously successful. She says: “I sold more than I ever imagined. I was just excited about exhibiting – then I sold 26 designs! I was in complete shock! Brazilian company, La Estampa bought 10 designs, and then I sold another 10 to French company Atoll. American company LeSportsac also bought a design; with the buyers giving me a lot of good advice. They were really complimentary; it was a great confidence boost. I then sold five designs to Agnès B. Agnès is using three of these as part of a new collection. Before Indigo, I hadn't considered the possibility of working for myself and setting up my own company, but I now know that it’s possible - and that my designs would sell. This has opened so many doors... I now have possibilities of working in New York and with other companies from around the world - it’s crazy! When I left university, I was dreading being out in the big bad world, but all that has changed - I'm now really excited about the future.”
Woolmark Judges at Texprint, Indigo, Paris
Knitwear specialist Harri Batty thoroughly enjoyed her experience in Paris; she says: “Indigo was a great success for me - I sold pieces to French labels Didier Parakian and Bleu, Blanc Rouge. I found the selling experience invaluable - writing invoices and discussing sales with clients is nerve racking stuff ... but having the support of the Texprint team made this tricky task a little less scary. The feeling you get from selling is so exciting, it is amazing and reassuring to know that people in the industry want to buy the designs that you so carefully thought about and hand crafted. It spurs you on - for me it was about moving from being a student to a designer.”
Marie Parsons shows buyers her work at Indigo, Paris
Weaver Amy Jo Lewis also felt this transition keenly: “Indigo was a wonderful experience that at long last made me feel like a professional designer as opposed to a student. It was extremely interesting to see what type of customers were attracted to my work – as it was not necessarily where I had initially pitched my collection. Sportswear company Lululemon Athletica was the biggest fan of my work. I’m excited to see how the designers incorporate my designs into their collections. I was also really delighted when H&M bought one of my favourite pieces for a future collection.I also had really positive feedback from a great variety of other industry visitors including, Nino Cerruti, Timothy Everett, Alexander Wang, Nathan Jenden, Maison Anna Heylen and Robert Rodriguez. Indigo was an invaluable learning curve regarding aspects of the design industry that we are not taught at university, such as ways of displaying your work, invoicing correctly, talking professionally to potential clients – including being willing to say no to them at times. I’m now about to begin a two-month traineeship with Tessitura Taiana Virgilio Spa in Lake Como, Italy.”
Emma Shipley’s graphic prints attracted a continual stream of interest. Her lovely scarves were selling fast to individual buyers, and both Parisian and American retailers are currently in discussion with her. In the UK, Browns of South Molton Street will be stocking Emma’s scarves from November.
The Texprint 24 with Agnes B and Barbara Kennington at Indigo, Paris
Weave specialist and the Woolmark Texprint Prize winner Harriet Toogood also found her Paris trip an invaluable experience, she explains: “It exceeded my expectations – my highlight was winning the Woolmark Texprint Award - I was over the moon, yet shocked! I had some great interest and feedback from industry visitors, and I have learnt so much from what they said. I sold some pieces on the final day - I was so delighted when an hour before we took the stands down, I got to write out two invoices. As well as all of that, I was conscious that I was part of a great bunch of people - I could not have asked for a better week.”
These are just a few highlights from an exciting few days. Aside from individual sales, 45 freelance opportunities arose, as well as nine firm job offers and 22 commissions. Beyond those mentioned above, industry visitors to the Texprint village included global sportswear brand Nike; fashion retailers Accessorize and Victoria’s Secret; designers from Louis Vuitton and Roland Mouret himself.
Donya Coward: textile taxidermy
01 October 2011 by Joyce Thornton
Texprint alumna Donya Coward exhibited at the recent Tent, London; part of the London Design Festival. Donya has a truly individual and imaginative approach to textiles.
Donya Coward at Tent, London
She set up her business, Textile Taxidermy, in Nottingham in 2007, making one-off textile sculptures and banners; re-using salvaged beadwork, embroidery and lace from damaged vintage clothing and textiles. Donya explains: “Textile Taxidermy is as much about preserving textiles as it is about the animal forms that are being imitated.”
French Bulldog by Donya Coward
Dog images form a large section of her current work; Donya is interested in the folklore surrounding dogs and notes that statues of them often represent qualities of loyalty and fidelity. She has created complete 3D forms of dogs, mounted heads, and most recently, textile banners featuring different breeds. She also depicts other animals, including zebras and birds such as magpies. All of the pieces are lovingly hand-crafted by the artist and each one is unique.
Greyhound by Donya Coward
Donya relishes re-generating damaged or discoloured textile pieces, fashioning them into new, original, decorative art pieces - where their beauty can be appreciated again in a new guise. Referencing taxidermy and the old traditions of hunting trophies, her work is fresh, contemporary and fun, carving out a new niche for textile design.
Pictures, cards and paper products by Donya Coward
Donya trained initially as a knitwear designer, gaining a first class honours degree from Nottingham Trent University in 2004. In her final year, she began making beaded brooches as an independent project, and after exhibiting with Texprint, some of her brooches were snapped up by US design store Anthropologie. Through Texprint at Indigo, she gained two freelance jobs in France utilising her embroidery skills. Eventually, Donya created her first animal pieces, which have been enormously successful. She has exhibited in galleries in Nottinghamshire, Winchester and Brighton - this summer, her exhibition there won the Visit Brighton People’s Choice Award. Her distinctive work has also sold through Paul Smith and Margo Selby’s London store.
Harriet Toogood wins first Woolmark Texprint Award
25 September 2011 by GGHQ Fashion Intelligence
The first winner of the new Woolmark Texprint Award in support of the Campaign for Wool was chosen on September 21 at Indigo, Paris.
Woven textile by Harriet Toogood.
Harriet Toogood, a graduate of the University of Brighton wins the inaugural prize for her superb woven textile designs which were created with 60% or more Merino wool. The prize has been created in support of the Campaign for Wool with Paton HRH The Prince of Wales and honours the inventive use of wool in textile design.
The prize was judged by Douglas Cordeaux, Managing Director of Fox Brothers & Co and Keith Walker, Managing Director of Linton Tweeds - and presented by renowned designer Agnès B. They selected Harriet out of the 24 shortlisted designers taking part in the Texprint programme this year, all of whom presented their work at Indigo. She recieved £1,000 in prize money at the event, which was presented by Woolmark's Peter Ackroyd. As part of her prize, Harriet will have access to the Woolmark Company and it's global support network.
Harriet's highly individual approach includes incorporating discarded materials such as brightly coloured nylon string, black bin bags and plastic sacking alongside wool in her work to create bold, contemporary woven textiles. She adds the coveted Woolmark prize to the Texprint Space prize she scooped at Texprint London in July.
Woolmark judges at Indigo
Speaking on behalf of the judges, Keith Walker said that they had selected Harriet because of her creative use of Merino wool and other materials. He said, "As a weaver, I recognise what she has created: she uses different weaves and a combination of materials - wool included - to create something very unusual, but also practical, it was what I was hoping to find in a winner, and it's what she's achieved".
The Woolmark judges also commended weaver Amy Jo Lewis, a recent graduate from the RCA, for her excellent work.