Texprint 2014: Interview to Indigo
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21 January 2015 by Roger Tredre
Internships have become an integral part of developing a career in the textile sector, as in many industries. That's why Texprint is putting increased emphasis on supporting its designers to find internships both in the UK and internationally – and providing mentorship too.
Designer Emma J Shipley, a high-profile alumna of Texprint, points out that internships are a win-win for both intern and employer: "Internships are one of the best ways of starting out in the industry and it’s also a huge opportunity for businesses to benefit from the very best in new textile design talent.”
Texprint is working on a number of initiatives, ranging from a major UK-government funded scheme through to a long-running participation in the Italian textile industry's ComON scheme and an important and longstanding UK-based collaboration with the Worshipful Company of Weavers.
For designers, this is all good news. Texprint's involvement with its 24 designers, selected from universities and colleges across the UK every year, used to end with showing at Indigo in Paris in September (although awards winners had the opportunity to also show in Asia).
Now the participation in Indigo, while remaining a central part of the Texprint experience, is just one of the ways in which Texprint can support its designers to build their careers. Barbara Kennington, chairman, says: "Indigo is the highlight of the year, but we believe there are many other ways in which we can help designers taking their first steps in the professional world."
A pilot intern scheme with Liberty Art Fabrics in 2013, funded by the Drapers’ Company, has shown the way. Liberty chose its intern carefully and, after a year’s internship, Ffion Griffith has taken up a full-time position in the new role of Designer and Fabric Innovator. Brilliant news for Ffion, Liberty Arts Fabrics – and Texprint.
Ffion Griffiths (right); photo taken during her internship year at Liberty Art Fabrics 2013/14
There's more good news. Texprint is delighted to be at the heart of a new UK government funding programme known as the Employer Ownership Partnership for Skills pilot, announced in 2014. This is providing Texprint with up to £183,000 over two years, of which up to £95,000 is allocated specifically to an internship scheme for 20 placements.
Government minister Matthew Hancock, speaking at the programme's launch in the summer of 2014, acknowledges that the first step in a career is always the toughest. The transition from university or college to work is exceptionally demanding. "It's hard to get a job without having been in a job."
Alumnae Florence Angelica Colson and Emma Shipley, MP Mathew Hancock, Joanna Bowring and Helga Goldman of Texprint
In order to qualify for the financial support, each internship contribution of £4750 received from the government must be matched by the employer. That's why Texprint is currently actively seeking internship opportunities with potential employers across the fashion and interior textile design industries. Joanna Bowring, Sponsorship Director, says: "Any company looking to expand or improve its design capabilities should make contact with us now! There's a brilliant opportunity awaiting."
Meanwhile, Texprint now has the resources to supplement the funds for the internships organised through its long collaboration with the Italian textile industry's ComOn. Eight designers intern every autumn at leading Italian textile companies for seven weeks – a brilliant means of experiencing work at some of the most innovative firms in the world. Also in Italy, Miroglio, an acknowledged market leader in digital printing, sponsors the Miroglio Texprint Award for Digital Innovation, which includes an internship opportunity.
Texprint designers 2014; photo taken while on internship at Italian mills in Como
Looking to North America, the Lululemon Texprint Award offering a paid internship working between Vancouver, New York and Paris has now entered its third year. This has been so successful that Lululemon has taken two designers each year, rather than just the award winner.
Back in the UK, we're always delighted to participate in the Entry to Work scheme backed by the Worshipful Company of Weavers. The Company is one of Texprint's long-term supporters and sponsors the 'Preparing for Professional Practice’ mentoring pack that is given to Texprint designers each year.
The Company visits the Texprint London exhibition each year and chooses at least one weaver (and often more than one) for a paid placement for six months with a UK weaving mill. This year Beth Humes has been placed for six months with Linton Tweeds. The scheme receives contributions from the Clothworkers’ Foundation, a very generous benefactor to many design colleges and universities as well as to Texprint.
From interning to mentoring: the hugely expanded Texprint intern programme is also being matched by a mentoring programme called Hero Mentors, launched in 2013. The idea is simple: to link up designers who would appreciate some support beyond Texprint. Mentors include experienced Texprint alumni or friends of Texprint working in the textile industry.
Post-college mentoring by experienced people has always been useful. These days, in a very competitive market, it's invaluable, particularly for those starting out on a freelance career or setting up their own businesses.
Texprint allocates a designer to an appropriate mentor (e.g. knitter with knitter). They meet face-to-face to discuss next steps and portfolios, then make contact at least once a month for a period of six to 12 months. The scheme has proved very popular with Texprint's designers – and most of our mentors have offered their support again in 2014.
Product designed by Florence Angelica Colson, Texprint 2013, while on internship at Lululemon Athletica in Vancouver
15 January 2015 by Roger Tredre
Five of this year's Texprint designers have created an outstanding home textiles collection titled Texprint 2014 EDITS in collaboration with Surface View, the bespoke interior decoration company.
Everyone connected with Texprint is thrilled with the results of the new collection, which are now available to view – and buy – on the Surface View website, with the designers receiving a royalty on all sales.
The collection includes printed cushions, lampshades, window films and large-scale canvases. It's part of a series of curated collaborations (EDITS) developed by Surface View.
Surface View, which is part of digital print company VGL, uses state-of-the-art print technology for application to a wide variety of interior products. Founded seven years ago, it is steadily building a reputation for being able to print images on virtually anything – even birch plywood.
Based in Reading, Berkshire, the company has a long association with Texprint, producing the signage for events in London, Paris and Shanghai.
The idea for a closer collaboration evolved in conversations with managing director Michael Ayerst when he visited the Texprint exhibition in London last July.
Tom Pickford, Surface View's business development manager, says: "It was great working with the designers and encouraging them to broaden their horizons and see what they can do with their designs. At Surface View, we are always looking to do something a little different."
Sarah Campbell making her selection, with Alissa Sequeira and Tom Pickford of Surface View
Celebrated textile designer Sarah Campbell has played an important part in bringing the collection to fruition. She was on the judging panel for the Texprint awards back in July, when she saw and evaluated work from the chosen 24 BA and MA graduates.
Five of the Texprint designers were invited to submit work for the Surface View project, including Kaila Cox, Charlotte Beevor, James Skinner, Jessica Stewart and Flett Bertram.
The imagery was varied both in content and construction, ranging from bold paintings to fine graphic manipulations. Sarah Campbell says: "I enjoyed the challenge of curating a cohesive group that allowed the best of these individual qualities to flourish and be seen. As I sifted, it seemed that the imagery fell happily into three groups – sea, earth and sky, the strata of the natural world."
She adds: "From the gestural landscapes, through sharp graphic collages, precise woven structures, florals both painted and drawn, to the meticulous astrological drawings hiding in a sketchbook – all were united by 'the elements’."
Working to the broad theme of the Elements and based on the designers' work for Texprint 2014, a cohesive collection emerged. The colour palette of the prints is broad, ranging from a black and white octopus to an orange and white hexagonal geometric to a multi-coloured floral.
Some of the designs were originally developed for fashion garments, but they work beautifully in the home textiles context too. When Sarah Campbell was judging at Texprint she commented that many of the designers were overly focused on the fashion sector. Now the designer, who first made her name with Liberty's as part of Collier Campbell back in the 1960s, has helped a new generation to understand precisely how great prints can be adapted to a broad range of products.
10 December 2014 by Jainnie Cho
Alumna Momo Wang has progressed quickly and launched her own womenswear label since her time with Texprint in 2011. We spoke to her in London.
Though trained in textile design, Momo prefers to think beyond the individual textile, constructing garments from colourful fabric scraps she finds in random places, including night markets from her hometown back in China. Her works are an intricate mingling of mismatched fabrics and techniques, including PVC with pearl embellishments, and crocheted strips of potato sacks.
On the day of our interview, her tiny frame is buried under a loosely woven orange turtleneck. Wang’s studio has a folksy, down home feel, with doll heads and cat pictures as decoration.
After attending the National Opera School in Beijing to study Peking opera, calligraphy and traditional Chinese art, Wang won a place on the BA Fashion Textiles course at Central Saint Martins in London. After winning joint second place in 2011 in the L'Óreal Professional Young Talent Award for her student collection, Wang was interviewed and selected for Texprint and showcased her collection with Texprint at Indigo at Premiere Vision. She went on to found her own label, Museum of Friendship and is now in the midst of making her seventh collection.
The young designer stresses that the most important element of her designs is that her friends and family are involved. Skimming through her past lookbooks, she points out, “these are all knots and stitches that my friends helped out with. These ceramic beads were made by my father. My family and friends create different parts of my garments and I put them together,” she says. “I want to keep memories in my clothes. When I see the clothes, I can think about what I have been through and who helped me create.”
How did Texprint help your career?
When I was selected for Texprint, I didn’t know how to sell yet. All young designers are like that – they know how to create but don’t know how to sell their work. The Première Vision experience was really interesting for me. I got to talk to people from super huge brands including H&M and Nike. It was great exposure in a short time for a young designer like myself.
You didn’t grow up in a big city. What was your childhood like?
I was born in a really small city called Zhinzhou and lived there until I was 17. Then I went to Beijing for college. It was my first time in a big city and I studied for a major called Intercultural Communication at the National Opera School. I learnt about Peking opera, calligraphy, and history of traditional Chinese art. I got loads of inspiration on colors, from the old costumes in the operas and also came to know lots of interesting artists in Asia.
My father is a calligrapher and artist in Chinese painting and seal making. I really like traditional culture in China. My mother was a journalist in a newspaper in my hometown but she really likes making clothes. When I was really young, she always made my clothes… This was a really deep influence for me in becoming a fashion designer.
The name of your label is quite distinctive. How did you come up with that?
I am friendly with a gallery director who has a space near Dover Street Market in London. One day he had just come back from North Korea doing an art project there. He told me that while there, he went to an interesting place called the Museum of Friendship. Basically, the museum exhibits all these gifts that people gave to North Koreans, like items from the 60s onto 90s, from different countries. It’s kind of propaganda stuff, as they are showing people that they have friendships outside. I thought it was a really good name but it was quite tricky that the museum is in North Korea! But the meaning is, people putting out gifts in the museum to keep alive the meaning of friendship.
What did your graduate collection for Central Saint Martins look like?
My graduate collection was all about handcraft. I don’t use a lot of sewing machines and I use my hands to sew and crochet. I really want my friends and family to be involved in my collections so they create different parts of my garments and then I put them together.
The first collection I made was about my memories of the old Central Saint Martins college building. That’s why I used cloth I found in the studios. I wanted to keep the memories of CSM in my clothes.
And your second collection?
After graduation, the second collection was about my hometown, Zhinzhou. I went to the markets there and bought old fabrics to create the garments. I created upcycled clothes from these fabrics by redoing them. The fabrics I bought from Zhinzhou were old farmers’ clothes that kept them warm during the cold winters there. Read about this collection.
How does being Chinese play into your creations?
The Chinese influence in my work comes naturally. This is my identity. What is most important for designers and for people who create things is that they don’t forget their identity. I appreciate the 17 years I lived in my hometown. Nobody else has that experience so I should remember. Childhood is so important – you can find your direction from your roots. I don’t try to deliberately put Chinese elements in my clothes but I think it comes out naturally.
Besides fashion, what are you interested in?
I want to do a film/art project about my hometown soon. I would like to go back to my hometown and show my clothing at a booth at the night market there. I want to film the reactions of people when they see the clothes and put it together as an art project. It would be me saying I’m an international designer, travelling all around the world but I’m also a local girl from this town. It’s funny because I feel I don’t belong to one place now. My hometown is quite exotic for me now – we have a distance from each other.
Can you tell us a little about your next Museum of Friendship collection for A/W 15?
It is called Iceland Saga. It’s about my trip there to visit my friend who moved there for good after ten years in London. She’s an artist and wanted to concentrate on painting – it’s really romantic and brave that she did that.
I really like Reykjavik. I took loads of pictures of the landscape, the lagoons, the architecture, etc. I’ve also been looking at outdoor wear in Iceland. Because it’s so cold there, they always wear functional clothes. I never used outdoor clothing fabric because it’s quite difficult to make them look pretty – you know, some outdoor wear is ugly, for older men going hiking. I feel though, if I can make a nice print and silhouette showing curves a bit, it will be nice. Maybe girls can wear it for everyday.
I always want to do something contradictory – sportswear that is feminine, gangster look that a teenage girl might wear. It will be really interesting to combine lace with outdoor wear or other feminine, cute stuff. I’m planning on showing the collection in showrooms during London Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week early in 2015.
Momo visiting the Texprint stand at Intertextile Shanghai, October 2014
24 November 2014 by Roger Tredre
Texprint encourages its designers to stay in touch. We love to hear how careers have progressed and share their news. So meet Dr. Elaine Igoe – yes, a doctor of textiles! – who was a Texprint designer back in 2001 and has gone on to a stellar academic career.
She remembers with fondness her Texprint experience. Winning the Breaking New Ground prize. Meeting the likes of Donna Karan, Ornella Bignami, Luca Missoni. Visiting Hong Kong and China ("something I could only have dreamed of doing"). Even the bad stuff is fondly recalled from the distance of 13 years – such as falling ill with food poisoning on her last day in Hong Kong and having to be nursed onto the plane by Texprint's Christian Dewar-Durie.
Step forward Dr. Elaine Igoe, Senior Lecturer in Fashion and Textile Design at the University of Portsmouth. It's wonderful to discover that a bona fide doctor of textiles has emerged from the Texprint group of distingished alumnae.
Elaine completed an MA in Fashion: Textiles for Fashion at Central St Martins after showing at Indigo and Interstoff Asia and designing a collection of menswear for London Fashion Week in 2003. She then embarked on an academic career at the University of Portsmouth and, after completing a PGCE, began a part-time MPhil/PhD study at the Royal College of Art in 2005.
After many exciting years of research (interrupted by maternity leave) she completed her PhD in February 2014. The title of her PhD is appropriately formidable: "In Textasis: Matrixial Narratives of Textile Design".
How did you find yourself drawn to the academic route?
After completing my MA at Central St Martins, I realised that I really enjoyed talking about and thinking about my working methods as a textile designer. I was always interested in a concept and process led approach to designing surfaces. I had long known that I wasn't a commercial textile designer, but that my textile designs were examples of what textiles could be, and therefore innovative and had a certain value to industry. I knew that by following an academic route, I would be able to pursue my interest in talking about the textile design process as well as undertaking more formal research to develop my processes and theories.
It's great that you are a Doctor? Do you find you need to do a lot of explaining to non-academics about what exactly you specialise in?
Oh yes indeed! In fact, the premise of my doctorate is based on the lack of knowledge about textile design, and that's not even generally, but even within the wider world of design. My thesis aims to begin an articulation of the textile design process and how this sits with design research theory. It touches on feminism and psychoanalysis to help explore the nature of textile design and the specific type of knowledge it involves. When explaining what I do, I stress that its textile design, and this seems to help people understand a little better...I think!
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
It's different everyday and never boring, each year you meet a new set of characters, my knowledge of both my subject and people builds and develops constantly. Working within academia has given me the chance to be myself within the design discipline of textiles.
What did you think of the new generation of Texprint designers in London this summer?
Wonderfully varied and extremely talented as always. I particularly admired the surface embellishment and constructed textiles from the likes of Federica Tedeschi, Tali Furman and Flett Bertram as well as Charlotte Beevor's exuberant use of colour and mark-making. When I visited the Texprint Londonexhibition I was really impressed by the confidence with which they spoke about their work. In fact, I have since invited Federica Tedeschi to the University of Portsmouth as a guest speaker, the student's were really inspired by her.
Elaine Igoe and colleague viewing the work of Federica Tedeschi at Texprint London, July 2014
Any more good stories from your Texprint days?
My overarching memory of my Texprint days was the comradery from the other finalists and support we were given and I have been heartened by the fact that I am still remembered by the organisers, 13 years on from my own moment in the limelight. I do also remember being abit dumbstruck when Donna Karan herself came to look through my work and shook my hand, never mind Luca Missoni giving me my award!
For more on Elaine Igoe's research:
20 November 2014 by Roger Tredre
Eight Texprint designers enjoyed seven-week internships this autumn at the heart of Como with some of the finest textile companies in Italy. It's part of the ComOn Creativity Sharing initiative, now in its eighth year. We summarise what they got up to and asked one Texprint designer, Frieda Peppercorn, for her feedback.
From left: Ailis Dewar, James Skinner, Charlotte Beevor, Frieda Peppercorn, Jane Zhang and Charlotte Kidger
The Italian companies that generously invited Texprint designers included Erica, Setere Argenti, I.S.A., Canepa, Lisa, Taiana, Tiare and Boselli. Chiara Pozzi of Textra, who is on the ComOn select committee, came to Texprint London earlier this year to personally select the eight. Texprint creative director Peter Ring-Lefevre once again coordinated and supported the designers on their trip.
Enjoying an Italian gelato!
Texprint designer Frieda Peppercorn says: "My internship was at Argenti, a digital printing company which is a short bus ride away from Como. They print for everyone from high end to high street brands. It was quite a contrast to my usual work because I was designing solely on Photoshop. It was so great to see the work all printed out once I had finished. It's so fast paced – a huge factory churning out print after print."
She adds: "The work I produced may be presented to their clients in the next few weeks, so I could potentially see my designs in the shops next summer. This whole trip has opened my eyes to the textile manufacturing world as I really had no knowledge and experience of it."
Another Texprint designer, Ailis Dewar, enjoyed herself too: "I have absolutely loved my time in Como and I am very sad to be leaving. I was working with Tiare, which specialises in high-end technical woven and printed fabrics and has a star-studded clientele! I started getting to know past collections in the archives of the company and researching upcoming trends, then moved on to factory trips and fabric/yarn meetings. The last month has been spent heavily involved in the S/S16 collection, creating hand-drawn designs and colourways. The experience has given me a very structured insight into the design process at industry level."
Designers preparing for their Creativity Week presentation
One of the highlights of the interning is the Creativity Week, part of ComOn, which opened on October 6 with various workshops and launching 'Poems written on Paper Boats' on Lake Como. There were visits to Ratti and Canepa with their internationally highly regarded textile archives and printing facilities. A Streetscape3 Art project was launched involving local artists making art installations, sculptures and huge wall paintings around Como streets and buildings.
Frieda Peppercorn says: "Creativity Week was great fun. I loved visiting Ratti, such a fantastic place, so vast and so passionate about new and exciting printing and weaving techniques. We could see lots of drawing and painting going on in the design offices. It was so fascinating to see the vast production using more or less the same machinery and techniques that we have at university, but of course on a much larger scale and just a little more high tech!"
She notes: "I also loved visiting Curve Pericolose which was a small lingerie design studio, just a few rooms where they design and produce prototypes. Such a successful business all situated in this little house. I love the variety of textile manufacturing here, from vast factories like Ratti to small studios like Curve Pericolose."
Cristina Vigano of Argenti, and part of the ComOn team, organised once again an exhibition of innovative fashion garments and accessories created by Como fashion schools and displayed in the Antonio Ratti Cultural Space.
With Margherita Rosina at the Antonio Ratti Foundation archives
The Creative Sharing programme for the interns included visits to the Como Silk Museum, Antonio Ratti Foundation and archives where there was a retrospective on Emilio Pucci. Other highlights included a TrendsOn presentation by Nelly Rodi's Paris office and a visit to Serico's textile lab offices.
Emilio Pucci retrospective on show at Antonio Ratti Foundation
Texprint designers also joined ComOn designers from other countries for a two-day seminar run by David Shah, publisher of Textile View magazine and a well-known industry consultant who has long supported Texprint. This year's challenge from David was 'Nostalgia'. Each designer was asked in advance to prepare and present their four chosen 'Nostalgia' subjects from 1920 to 1990. Four groups were then created across nationalities, each with a tutor steering the proceedings. David reworked these groups into four based on similar cultural backgrounds: the British, the Northern Europeans and two Italian groups. The results were later presented by David under the title, 'The Passion for Nostalgia', at a ComOn event at the Chamber of Commerce.
Working with David Shah
For Frieda, the project was another highlight of the trip. "David really got us thinking. The task was very tricky: it was a really good exercise trying to think about what the world will be like in 20 years time."
Peter Ring-Lefevre of Texprint concludes: "The Como textile industry has really set a world-class precedent in organising some 20 internships for young textile graduates. The global textile industry should take note of the success of this initiative. This kind of relationship is crucial for the industry's future, ensuring a constant flow of raw, bold and innovative textile creativity."
Archives at Canepa
14 November 2014 by Jainnie Cho
Two years ago, weave designer Dominique Caplan was fresh out of London’s Central Saint Martins and itching to apply what she’d just learnt. Just one thing stood in her way: she hadn’t a clue how to navigate the fashion or interiors industries.
Working at Gainsborough Silk Weaving
Dominique soon realised the fierce competition that lay ahead of her. “I saw how many other designers were also graduating – all wanting to move into an industry which is relatively small,” she says.
Fortunately she had been nominated for the 2012 Texprint programme by her CSM tutor and granted an interview. Dominique says she went into the interview with Texprint creative director Peter Ring-Lefevre and a panel of industry experts with ‘clammy palms’, but she was successful and subsequently invited to undertake Texprint’s unique mentorship and exhibition programme with 23 other emerging talents.
But it certainly wasn’t all roses for Dominique after her selection. Internships with high-profile designers including Mary Katrantzou and Holly Fulton followed, but making her way in the industry was a struggle, not least because she was not earning money.
Perseverance paid off however, and last summer Dominique landed a job at Gainsborough Silk Weaving, one of the oldest commercial mills in England – a dream design role that has enabled her to rediscover her creative edge, with a constant flow of interesting and challenging work that mixes computerized techniques with traditional weaving methods.
We caught up with Dominique to talk about her Texprint experience, her new role and recent projects, and the growing artisanal approach in textile design.
Working at Gainsborough Silk Weaving
What was it like showing at Indigo in Paris with Texprint?
Texprint gave me something to work towards. Exhibiting at Indigo in Paris was a high point, though both exhausting and rewarding, and the realisation that now I actually had to make money from the work I had created as a student was quite challenging.
For every person who stops and looks through your work, a hundred others will dismiss your stand with a flick of their eyes. Very quickly you realize this is not personal - your work is not going to cater to everyone’s tastes or requirements. I believe this is one of the most important things I learnt from Texprint.
Also of key benefit were the many useful connections I made which helped me greatly in the following months.
Working at Gainsborough Silk Weaving
Tell us about your current job as a designer at Gainsborough Silk Weaving?
We work with a lot of high-end interior and fashion designers and it is always very interesting, challenging work. Most of what I do is computerized, using the modern jacquard looms we have at the mill, but there is much scope to be technically creative and try new approaches.
Gainsborough also still has 15 Hattersley looms from the 1930s, making the mill truly unique. We have many of the original punch card sets and having access to the traditional method of jacquard weaving is very special.
There is also an extensive archive of amazing fabric samples dating back to the establishment of the mill in 1903. Among my personal favorites are the Crewell loom silks and the hand cut velvets. There is a real connection between past and present and I feel very lucky to contribute to Gainsborough’s rich history and future.
Textile installation inside the Oxford Brooks University
You were involved in designing an impressive, large-scale textile installation inside the Oxford Brooks University – a 3x10 metre installation that is a mirage of intricate textures, patterns and gradients. What was the experience like?
The installation was designed by Peagreen and woven by Gainsborough Silk Weaving. As the designer on this project I was responsible for liaising with Peagreen whilst altering their original design in order to make it weavable. At Gainsborough, the looms repeat two times across the entire fabric width, so we were weaving two artwork panels for the instillation at a time. However because Peagreen wanted each panel to be very different, I had to work out ways to create the colours they wanted, using the same wefts and weave structures, whilst only changing the warp colour. I had four warp colours in total and eight weft colours to play with. It was an all-consuming project!
How do you see the UK textile industry evolving? It seems there are two big trends – use of digital and a return to craft.
Trends are moving in an exciting direction with new approaches and methods of creating textiles emerging. From my own experience, I believe there has been more of a shift towards the artisanal approach as customers become better informed. There is also a premium placed on British made, which I feel is largely substantiated by the quality of the fabrics and skills involved. Craftsmanship is part of our heritage and I sincerely hope that the British textile industry continues to gain respect and overseas business.
Gainsborough Silk Weaving archives