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Texprint London 2012
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Pattern Masters: Texprint 2012 print specialists
30 October 2012 by Joyce Thornton
The Texprint 2012 showcase included nine outstanding printed textile designers, reflecting the strong continuing trend for dynamic pattern, in both contemporary fashion and interiors.
Winner of the Texprint Award for Pattern,Ying Wu has entranced many people since her RCA graduation this summer with her captivatingly original prints. Her inspirations stem from her Chinese heritage and its legends, reflecting a very original and personal narrative; her most recent work imagines nightmarish future scenarios where the natural environment has been devastated, and creatures must find new ways to survive. At Texprint London in July, Ying met, and has since collaborated with, Italian company De Le Cuona; she was also invited to participate in a ‘pop-up shop’ at Paul Smiths’ flagship store in London during September’s London Fashion Week. Further exciting collaborations are emerging, in what is proving to be a dynamic start to Ying’s career.
The vibrant and colourful work of Manri Kishimoto ensured her success as winner of the Texprint Award for Colour, sponsored by Pantone, and as a joint winner of the inaugural Lululemon Texprint Award. Manri’s work is instantly striking - the bold, expressive and graphic shapes of her story-telling designs are inspired by nature, particularly bird motifs. She uses many substrates for her print and multi-media work including knit, leather, silk weave and fine silk mesh. One of the highlights of her display at Texprint London was the large scale swan motif encusted with Swarovski crystals.
Israel Parra- Zanabria
Embracing vibrant colour in a very different way, the work of Israel Parra-Zanabria is inspired by the colours and buzz of his native Mexico City. Israel uses a variety of media, including watercolour, pro markers and pencil to achieve a masterful delicacy and softness to his beautiful depictions of exotic flowers, combining both screen printing and hand painting to translate design to fabric.
Fergus Dowling’s distinctive work is currently inspired by decorative heraldic imagery. Fergus is drawn to the Rococo and Baroque periods; he is inspired by the highly detailed design and imagery of family crests which he deconstructs and then reinvents to create newly contemporary and personal patterns. These, plus his use of reinvented traditional tartans, vibrant colour, and luxurious fabrics, gives his work an elegant gentleman-like mood.
Laura Barnes’ love of drawing and the decorative arts is very apparent in her richly coloured and elegant work. Her wonderfully vibrant sketches and designs are inspired by travel, especially recent trips to Morocco and Spain, and reveal her passion for colour and story-telling. She previously won a scholarship, which enabled her to undertake an exciting and visually stimulating cultural exchange visit to South Korea.
Trinity Mitchell’s fresh, quirky and slightly retro designs were originally inspired by a YouTube video of 1950’s women trying on sunglasses. Her prints have since developed into a celebration of the small, feminine and often quietly humorous details that reflect her eclectic and light-hearted approach to fashion fabrics and headscarf design.
Alice Howard- Graham
Architecture, photography and Russian Constructivism have inspired Alice Howard-Graham’s striking and dynamic work. Using her passion for photographic manipulation yet retaining a hand-drawn quality, Alice employs motifs developed from industrial and mechanical imagery, exploring the potential of both traditional screen-printing and digital methods in her work.
Geometric patterns, maps of the world, celestial charts, strong colour, Pop Art, vintage photos and animals are just some of the eclectic starting points used by David Warner to create his individual take on contemporary fashion textiles and wallcoverings. Quirky, layered designs mix English country traditions with gay culture to create statement placements and allovers.
Amber Sambrook plays with techniques such as laser cutting, and materials such as leather to give her fashion fabrics and accessories their unique and unexpected handle and finish. Her most recent work is dramatic and powerful, inspired by the weather and its changing atmospheric conditions. Contrasts of light and dark, and richly moody patterns suggesting storm clouds are achieved using techniques such as ombre and devôré.
The variety and vibrancy of these emerging talents ensure some exciting new directions for the future of printed textile design.
Genevieve Bennett: bespoke contemporary craft
18 October 2012 by Joyce Thornton
We were delighted to note recently that Texprint alumni Genevieve Bennett has been nominated for the second time for an Elle Decoration Design Award. Genevieve runs a bespoke leather design business creating beautifully crafted and individual pieces for interiors. She has an imaginative approach to her craft, using many traditional techniques such as embossing, engraving, sculpting and inlay work, in a refreshingly contemporary way. Genevieve spoke to Texprint about her exciting career path since winning the Texprint ‘Breaking New Ground’ prize in 2000.
Great news about your nomination for the Elle Decoration Design Awards – how does it feel to be included in this prestigious list again? (Genevieve won an award in 2006, and was nominated in 2007).
I was delighted - it’s a fantastic honour! Originally the awards were judged by eminent designers such as Terence Conran - a great opportunity to get their attention. Now they are judged by the public which in some ways seems fairer and makes for a more interesting contest. The awards are useful too for international recognition as there is so much press coverage.
What are the main projects that you are currently working on?
I have just finished two large commissions for an interior design firm in Hong Kong, three very large sculpted panels and 100 relief tiles for private residences. This was a great opportunity to work with established companies and gain international presence. I am currently building a relationship with a distributor in India for my leather tiles, and have just set up a relationship with an agent in New York for the bespoke sculpted panels, which will I hope lead to some interesting projects.
I am also selling and distributing the work I launched last year at the London Design Festival and will start new design work within the coming months for launch next year.
Genevieve Bennett: Damask
What inspires you in your work?
I am inspired both by pattern and 3D forms. The initial inspiration for my sculpted panels came from the wood carving of 17th century master craftsman Grinling Gibbons. Other 3D inspiration comes from paper engineering techniques. Pattern inspiration comes from anywhere - specific loves are ceramics by William De Morgan, Moorish lustreware, Art Deco embroideries, Chinese lattice screens, and patterned tiles of all kinds.
What drew you to working with leather?
I used to create sculptural forms in paper and card, but I really wanted my work to feel more permanent, for it to be longer lasting and not always reliant on framing for protection. I also wanted to move from panels to actual wall coverings thinking these would appeal to a wider audience. I chose leather as it can have similar sculptural qualities while is more durable and flexible in terms of possibilities of application.
Are there other materials/techniques that you like to work with?
Yes, I’m keen to work with a wider variety of materials. At the moment I’m thinking of working in felt - on its own and in combination with leather – and perhaps wood too.
You have been working as a freelance designer for over 10 years now – what are the advantages/drawbacks?
I enjoy being involved in the whole process, so on any new project I work in-house with the manufacturer for several days a week. I find this a more rewarding and collaborative approach. Freelance work offers you the opportunity to get involved with a variety of projects and ultimately to gain a wider experience. I tried selling designs on a one off basis but was not very successful!
The work I did at Habitat was fantastic; I worked freelance on pattern designs for a huge range of products. However, it was the full time design managers who were able to travel abroad, spending time in the factories and developing the products. I missed being involved in this aspect of the process.
Genevieve Bennett: Camellia
You have worked with some prestigious companies as a freelance designer – is there a particular project that has been a favourite?
The work I did for Wedgwood provided a very special opportunity to work with the 250 yr old pattern archive of a heritage British brand. One of their major markets is Japan, and I made regular visits to learn about the Japanese market. This was a very unique and exciting experience.
Can you describe a typical day?
I get to the studio at around 9am and start my day dealing with emails and admin - I find it hard to concentrate until this is under control. With any small business this can really take over, so I try to limit it to an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon.
I then focus on the current project, depending on the stage it is at; sculpting the leather shapes, preparing artwork or a layout, ordering leather, getting shipping quotes etc. I then try and spend part of the day creating new designs for my future work or for a new client. I usually leave at 5pm to collect my son but then continue working from home until around 10pm. I almost always have a sketchpad to hand!
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your work?
Creating new designs, drawing, testing out new ideas, and then, seeing a finished product in a shop, or in situ in someone’s home.
And the least enjoyable?
Legal contracts and negotiations. As small business I have to oversee all aspects from design, to sales, to contracts; sometimes these can seem confusing and daunting, but I am learning.
Genevieve Bennett: Deco
What are your plans for the near future?
New designs! New leather tile designs, maybe looking at screens and other applications other than wall. New sculpted designs, looking at introducing new materials into my work, such as felt. I would also like to develop the overseas distribution of the tiles and build on the existing business.
I would love to work with on more projects with interior designers - they always transform your work into something you could have never imagined!
Looking back, is there a significant moment in your career that stands out?
Developing my research and ideas at the RCA where I started to work with leather – and connecting with Spinneybeck, the North American leather specialists, was significant too - they really opened my eyes to the creative possibilities.
You won the Breaking New Ground Prize in 2000 at Texprint – what did this mean to you?
It was a fantastic confidence boost. I sold a lot of work at Indigo in Paris, which enabled me to establish a studio and buy equipment. Winning also encouraged me to believe that experimental ideas are important and can ultimately be developed into something commercial.
Advice for those graduating this year?
I feel I could perhaps have learnt more about manufacturing in a shorter period of time had I worked full time for a year or so with a major brand. Building experience by working freelance took longer, but at the same time working on a variety of projects was invaluable. I would say if you have a product ready to go and which you believe in, then don’t wait around, go for it!
Report from Hong Kong: Lane Crawford HQ visit
14 October 2012 by Editor
The 30th floor of the stunning head office of the highly creative luxury retailer Lane Crawford in Aberdeen, Hong Kong, was the setting for an invaluable mentoring session with fashion director of womenswear and menswear Sarah Rutson, and Ross Urwin, creative director of home& lifestyle.
The six Texprint 2012 prizewinners each presented their work which ranged across all textile disciplines; and drawing on their extensive market knowledge and experience, Sarah and Ross talked with and advised them on application, potential markets for their work, and discussed what the Lane Crawford customer generally looks for.
Of Sarah Burton's work, Sarah commented that there is a "lot of opportunity for added-on accessories – it is the hardest thing to find a niche as a new designer – it can recreate a basic garment, something that talks to a wider audience."
Ying Wu's fine drawn work illustrating the consequences of over-industrialisation on the environment was particularly appreciated – Sarah said her work was "very clever and relevant, as well as having a great sensibility of colour and print – something very special, and very interesting for our market". Ross added: "This is great and I can see it working on rugs and wallpapers too".
Sarah said of Tanya Grace Knuckey's work that she has a "unique standpoint – the new luxury is something that is unique but still approachable and affordable."
She also gave invaluable advice by encouraging the designers to think ‘big picture’ and look at different areas outside fashion.
Sarah said of the Texprint 2012 designers’ work that "usually at Lane Crawford we see finished products, so it was great to see textile ideas in their purest form". The visit was an amazing opportunity for the fledgling designers to receive feedback from the most innovative retailer in Asia Pacific area, and we are extremely grateful to Sarah and Ross for giving their time.
Report from Hong Kong: six 2012 winners exhibit at Interstoff Asia Essential
06 October 2012 by Editor
The six Texprint 2012 prizewinners have just returned from a highly successful visit to Hong Kong, where they showed at Interstoff Asia Essential, 3-5 October. Their visit was made possible through the sponsorship of Messe Frankfurt (HK) and the generous contribution of the Drapers’ Company and the Worshipful Company of Weavers, who gave a one-off donation to build on the momentum of the GREAT creativity week (November 5-9 2012).
Texprint has been sponsored to showcase six prizewinners each year at Interstoff Asia Essential since 2001. Wendy Wen, Director of Trade Fairs for Messe Frankfurt, said that design “is becoming more and more important for trade fairs, with designers playing a major role in exhibitions. Texprint has been positioned near the Trend Forum for many years – trend stories plus unique and innovative designers has been key for this Hong Kong show, where visitors are particularly interested in trends and original design”.
Wendy Wen meeting designers Manri Kishimoto and Sophie Manners
Kate Strutt, Senior Trade Advisor, British Consul-General, visited on the setting up day and spoke to each of the designers about their expectations. Although they had not visited Hong Kong before she found them all very professional in talking about their work - having enjoyed the experience of showcasing their work to buyers and press two weeks before at Indigo, Paris - and open to opportunities that might arise.
Eager to find out more about the market and the major brands and retailers there, the Texprint group spent a day exploring the key retail hubs on HK Island and Kowloon.
They also visited the amazing Lane Crawford head office at Wong Chuk Hang for an invaluable mentoring session with Sarah Rutson, fashion director of Lane Crawford, and Ross Urwin, creative director for home & lifestyle at Lane Crawford. And back at Interstoff Asia Essential they met with Angelia Teo, content director WGSN Asia Pacific, and representatives of The Woolmark Company (both Foundation Sponsors of Texprint).
During the exhibition the designers made many very useful contacts – they found that they were meeting people who could actually produce their designs, helping them to appreciate that they are now professionals with skills understood and wanted by the marketplace. Although they had all sold designs in Paris, the conversations they had in Hong Kong made it all the more real.
Weaver Sophie Manners noted that “at Interstoff Asia Essential the buyers seem to like a strong idea that they can then adapt and commercialise. Buyers here see the designs as a starting point, while in Paris at PV it was more about using the designs in a more literal way, here you have discussions about adapting for production”.
“I have seen a wide range of companies, from those producing for Italian brands to Russian and Hong Kong based companies,” said knitter Carlo Volpi.
Tanya Grace Knuckey, a multi-media designer, said she had also had a very good show, and that “people understood my work more than in Paris – here they like what you do and want to take it into products immediately, as opposed to expecting you to adapt and change your designs completely”.
Ying Wu, print designer, and Manri Kishimoto, print and multi-media designer, agreed: “Here they seem more interested in production rather than buying designs – they want to use the design straightaway, whereas in Paris they want you to develop the idea. It was good to see the Hong Kong market, with visitors China of course, but also from Russia and Australia.”
“It has been a really good experience, learning that British-trained designers have a very good reputation for creativity, and seeing the appreciation of original design here. Being in Hong Kong has been fantastic!” said knitter Sarah Burton, summing up what was undoubtedly an exceptional experience for these young designers to enjoy so early in their careers.