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Texprint alumna stories: Cherica Haye, designer, Rolls-Royce Bespoke

17 April 2017 by Roger Tredre

Cherica Haye, a Texprint designer in 2013, now creates beautiful car interiors for Rolls-Royce.

She’s a designer who specialises in material makeup and innovation for the luxury goods sector. Cherica Haye, who initially studied textiles at Central Saint Martins, became interested in the sector while building a portfolio of conceptual textiles for carmakers at the Royal College of Art.

After Texprint, Rolls-Royce design director Giles Taylor invited her to join the bespoke division of Rolls-Royce, the studio of designers and artisans who create the marque’s most prestigious custom models.

Her work includes the Serenity Phantom, displayed at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, and praised by CNN as “the world’s most beautiful Rolls-Royce”. The interior of the Serenity Phantom was upholstered with pastel green raw silk, sourced from Suzhou, China and woven in the UK. Flowers referencing Japanese royal robes and chinoiserie were embroidered and hand-painted. Simply beautiful.

Cherica reviewing material finishes at the Rolls-Royce studios

Tell us about how you came to work for Rolls-Royce Bespoke.

At my RCA Graduation show in 2013 I was introduced to Giles Taylor, and had the opportunity to present my work to him and talk him through the conceptual thinking behind it. Mr Taylor took my details and about a year later, whilst working for Lululemon in Vancouver [Cherica had won a Lululemon Texprint Award, which included a three-month internship], an opportunity became available for me to join the Rolls-Royce colour and materials team. I started in Goodwood in July 2014.

Where is the studio based, and how many designers are in the team from what kind of backgrounds? 

The Rolls-Royce Bespoke design studio is set in in the beautiful West Sussex countryside in Goodwood, England. Goodwood is the home of Rolls-Royce, where every car has been handbuilt since 2003. Bespoke design is currently home to a team of 20 designers, including one intern and two bespoke design engineers. Each designer brings specialised expertise to the team in a variety of fields, not just from the world of automotive design.

Embroidered and hand-painted detailing

Rolls-Royce (and you) received some excellent publicity for the Serenity Phantom shown in Geneva in 2015. How did that come about?

The Serenity Phantom was one of the very first projects I worked on when I joined the team in Goodwood. It was incredibly exciting and not at all what I expected! I was really amazed at the possibilities we had at our fingertips at Rolls-Royce, and how some of our customers trust our taste to the extent that we have almost a free reign on the design, layout and aesthetic. With Serenity, the head of Colour and Materials at the time really wanted to create something exceptional to elevate the brand and enchant our patrons. My background in textiles and as a weave designer/maker fitted perfectly to the one-off nature of this project, as I am used to making unique, one-off materials to suit each client.

Serenity introduced a completely new level of individualised luxury to a modern Rolls-Royce. We were inspired by the amazing interiors of elite Rolls-Royces of the past, where leather was seen as a more functional material, and high-end bespoke fabrics and silks were seen as the ultimate luxury. We felt inspired to share this heritage with our customers in a very modern, contemporary way.

Interior of the bespoke Serenity Phantom shown in Geneva 2015

You studied as a textiles designer at CSM and the RCA. What are the additional skill sets you need to design car interiors?

Along with a strong knowledge of materials, fabric construction and design, a good working level knowledge of how to use the Adobe suite of programs (Photoshop, Illustrator) will really help you visualise your ideas quickly and effectively. You also have to be prepared to learn a lot about the additional factors in addition to design that affect a car interior – safety, construction and durability all play a part.

Has your own design aesthetic evolved since you left the RCA?

I would say so. I think I have become more of a perfectionist with a much more intense attention to detail.

Where do you find your inspiration?

My background in fashion naturally means that couture is a big influence, but I also find inspiration in nature and architecture. I especially like using them together. I find that the juxtaposition of these subjects brings unexpected beauty. 

So how would you bespoke decorate a Rolls-Royce for yourself?

I would have everything Bespoke. Come to think of it, I would probably create a car from the ground up, because for me a Rolls-Royce is a work of art and should be passed down from generations to generations like one-off couture garments. 

To start, the model of my choice would have to be a Phantom bespoked with a one-off exterior two-tone paint, which has paint technology that allows the paint colour to do a complete shift from one colour to another when seen at different angles. The colour palette is inspired by the vibrant natural world of the tropics and my travels.

For the interior, I would have all the seat front tailored with layered woven silk. The seat backs and the driver’s seat would be colour matched to the fabric and covered in leather. The interior environment would be complementary to the exterior, adding considered colour/material breakup throughout that tell an authentic story.

And to finish, I would most definitely add Rolls-Royce signature starlight headliner (the headliner features a series of fiber-optic lights mounted inside the ceiling of the car, the design of which is unique to the owner, and looks like star constellations in the sky).

Interior of the bespoke Serenity Phantom shown in Geneva 2015

 

 

Alumnus update: Mikey Womack, Design Union and Textile View

08 April 2017 by Editor

It’s certainly unusual for a young textile designer to see his work on the front cover of an international magazine just months after graduation.  But thanks to the keen eye of designer Eileen Gleeson, and her instinct for talent, Mikey Womack found himself working on a special print forecast edition of Textile View published for top European trade fair Premiere Vision.

Eileen Gleeson set up Design Union first in New York after graduating Brighton Polytechnic studying under John Miles, then moved back to London where she is now based with her team of artist/designers.

She first spotted Mikey while interviewing graduates for Texprint in June 2016 (in order to be selected for Texprint, over 200 graduates put forward by their college tutors and are interviewed by panels of industry professionals).  Eileen says her first impressions were of a young designer who worked in a highly sensitive and original way, “painting from the gut” as she describes it. 

Front cover, Textile View special edition

Eileen continues: “His work impressed me with its strong and fluid painterly style – unique and very individual with a hauntingly beautiful colour sense, not over polished instead a little strange and ethereal.  Individualism was the theme for our View shoot, we were looking at portraits and in particular paintings of Marlene Dumas, his work slotted perfectly in.”

Eileen had previously worked with David Shah publisher of Textile View magazine, so when she got the brief to work on the autumn/winter 2018/19 print trends for Issue 117 the timing was right and the work Mikey developed with such a natural ease was adopted - the results are just brilliant.

From Mikey’s point of view, the opportunity was mind-blowing: “With Eileen, I started brainstorming ideas, we looked at Basquiat and Marlene Dumas, and looked through my portfolio to decide on which direction to go. She gave me a lot of creative freedom, which was fabulous. I came up with the name 'Soft Punk' for the trend as it combined pastel, spring time shades and delicate, ghostly colours with an energetic punk-style drawing. The whole process was very instinctive, I literally decided on the colours by picking up used brushes that had been tinted by paint over time and taking the colours from them (the image of the brushes ended up getting published in the edit!) 

Seeing my work eventually being turned into a garment worn by a model and styled with an amazing backdrop was a proud moment for me. Then having the director of Textile View magazine love the spread enough to want it on the cover was mind-blowing. I can't thank Eileen, Design Union and Textile View enough for the opportunity!”

Looking forward, Mikey is freelancing and exploring a number of exciting new projects including a print collection for a womenswear brand in China, a collection for a new London menswear brand (which showed at Copenhagen Fashion Week), and designing the album artwork for an up-and-coming band!

Following images - Design Union and Textile View autumn/winter 2018/19 print trends...

 

Alumna stories: Elmina Fors, knitwear designer

25 March 2017 by Roger Tredre

Swedish knitwear designer Elmina Fors has built her own small business following her experience at Texprint in 2014. And small can be very beautiful.

She comes from a town where daylight never happens for three weeks in December and temperatures plummet to -30 degrees centigrade. No surprise perhaps that knitwear designer Elmina Fors likes to make what she describes as “warming clothes”.

© Elmina Fors 2017

The Swede, who was a Texprint designer in 2014, grew up in Kiruna, the northernmost town in Sweden. “You wear wool garments most of the year. I do like to use natural fibres and good quality yarns that feel good on the body.”

Elmina Fors Knitwear designs, makes and sells knitted accessories including scarves, hats, socks and wrist warmers, as well as soft throws and cushions. Her teal and orange Artisk scarf, available in teal and orange, or black and white, is a typical example of her work, the pattern inspired by age-old Northern Scandinavian patterns used on jumpers, made in a soft slightly felted Merino lambswool, wide and long to wrap over the shoulders. For the Spring/Summer season, she’s working with some new natural yarns including cotton/lambswool for her oversized Trekant jumpers and a lovely Swedish linen yarn from Vaxbo Lin for linen jumpers and scarves. 

© Elmina Fors 2017

A sense of tradition and connection with the past runs through all her work. “I like the history of patterns. Everyone has a connection to repeated patterns and geometric shapes because people have been doing them for a very long time. There is such a wealth of patterns that have travelled across the world.”

At home in Kiruna, handknitting was a family matter. “My mum taught me how to knit, and her mum taught her. It’s always something that people do there – people make things for themselves or family members. You fix things in your own home. I like that idea of DIY. You don’t have to buy new all the time.”

Saying Scarf: only wear clothes you can dance in  © Elmina Fors 2017

And there was a joyous communal aspect to it too. “Only wear clothes you can dance in” are the words stitched into her Saying Scarf, taking the words from a favourite saying of a friend. (See Fors’ video with the same title, created with R&A Collaborations).

Only Wear Clothes You Can Dance In - Elmina Fors from R&A Collaborations on Vimeo.

She first came to the south coast of England to study knitwear design at Brighton University, expanding her skill sets to machine knitting and developing her own design aesthetic. Then came the breakthrough with Texprint, which gave her the platform to present her work on an international stage in Paris.

© Elmina Fors 2017

Fors made her home in nearby Hove, coincidentally not far from Texprint honorary chairman Barbara Kennington. The designer now plans to relocate back to her home country, where she has identified a studio in Stockholm, ready for occupation in July, but she intends to maintain her strong links with the UK.

She has good memories of Texprint. “It was really useful, all the support and advice, and meeting other designers. I looked at all the big labels and design houses at Première Vision Designs and asked myself whether it was possible to have your own business and keep it very small and local. So it started as a kind of experiment.”

The experiment has worked out well, although it’s hard work, as Fors acknowledges. “I have always wanted to work hard and I’ve learned to make decisions on my own. I think many makers are quite introvert personalities, and we have to be focused and organised. Yes, it’s hard but it can be so rewarding.”

Texprint’s Barbara Kennington says: “I love Elmina’s work and admire her desire to ‘do her own thing’. Setting up on your own is not for every designer. It can be tough as you learn to multi-task all the essentials - from marketing to organising production, finance management to deciding on retail options (pop ups, fairs or selling to buyers).”

She adds: “To run your own business, you need to be willing to work hard, call in friends and family to help, and put up with limited studio space and often working on your own. Participating in the Texprint programme certainly helps young designers to prepare for this.”

www.elminafors.uk

© Elmina Fors 2017

Surface View: the 2017 EDITS collection

16 February 2017 by Roger Tredre

Collection curated by leading interiors, food and still life stylist Sania Pell

A delightful new home textiles collection from Surface View is titled Abstraction | Edit – and every designer involved is from Texprint.

The artwork is inspired by drawing and mark making, while the colour palette is delicious – teal, terracotta, peach, mint, neutral shades of grey from pale to dark, with flashes of jewel-like emerald green and sapphire.

Texprint 'Abstraction' EDITS collection for Surface View © Mikey Womack 2016

Six of the 2016 Texprint designers participated in the collection, which was developed in collaboration with Surface View, the bespoke interior decoration company. Curated by leading interiors, food and still life stylist Sania Pell, it’s a real treat.

Designers participating include Chloe Frost (winner of the 2016 Texprint Colour Award), Mikey Womack, Grace Lomas (Texprint Fashion Award winner), Irene Infantes, Isla Middleton (Texprint Interiors Award winner) and Emmeline Kellett.

The new collection is now available to view and buy on the Surface View website. The designers receive important publicity and recognition as well as royalties on all sales. Products include printed cushions, lampshades, window films and large-scale canvases.

Texprint 'Abstraction' EDITS collection for Surface View

This is the latest annual installment in an ongoing, acclaimed series of curated collaborations (EDITS) developed by Surface View with a different curator every year. For 2017, it’s the turn of Pell, a London-based interiors stylist perhaps best known for her long-term association with Elle Decoration magazine (regularly styling interior trend stories and covers). “It’s always such a pleasure looking through new designers’ work,” says Pell. “It’s the part of my work I enjoy the most, and I always seek to include as much new work as possible in my styling.”

She was instantly drawn to the free mark-making style of Mikey Womack, with its hint of graffiti. “It really captured my attention. His drawing is so fresh. It’s interesting to see how it can be explored through home products, such as on a cushion.”

How does she find inspiration in her work? “It’s a feeling, isn’t it? It’s a hunch with trends – something out there in the ether.”

You can tell that Pell has the right hunches. On the day we meet, she’s wearing a zesty green top that is a dead ringer for Pantone’s 2017 Colour of the Year (the exact colour name is Greenery 15-0343), but it’s most certainly not a case of her copying Pantone!

One of her favourite jobs last year was styling product for Tate Modern In the museum’s new extension just before it opened. “We really pared it back and presented the product as hero in the amazing architectural space. I felt like one of the luckiest people in the world.”

Sania Pell for the Tate Modern

Pell herself trained as a textile designer at the Edinburgh College of Art, and it remains her first love. She enjoyed working for London studios for six years before deciding to try her hand at styling and shifting into a new career. Fast forward to the present – and she’s a popular and highly respected name in the interiors styling world, with two books to her name (as well as two children).

She laughs as she explains how she was put forward for Texprint some 20 years ago, but didn’t make the final award-winning cut. “I thought I had a chance at the Colour Award, but when they were reviewing my portfolio they skipped past the colour and were drawn to my black and white drawings instead.” So it’s a pleasure for her to return in style for the Surface View collaboration.

Founded nine years ago, Surface View is part of digital print company VGL. It uses state-of-the-art print technology for application to a wide variety of interior products, building a reputation for being able to print images on virtually anything.

Based in Reading, Berkshire, the company already has a long association with Texprint, producing the signage for events in London, Paris and Shanghai. The collaboration came about as a result of conversations with managing director Michael Ayerst following a visit to the Texprint exhibition in London in 2014.

Alissa Sequeira of the Surface View marketing team says: “This year’s Texprint Edit takes on an entirely different identity. Mixing the designers’ diverse styles, Sania has curated an exciting selection of work that brings a fresh offering to our Edits. Supporting upcoming talent is always a pleasure for us and we are thrilled to continue the collaboration with Texprint. It has been wonderful to work with Sania – her expansive experience in both design and styling is evident in her considered approach to the curation of the Edit. We’re delighted with the final choices and are looking forward to working with these superb products.”

www.saniapell.com 

www.surfaceview.co.uk

Texprint 'Abstraction' EDITS collection for Surface View © Chloe Frost 2016

 

Texprint 'Abstraction' EDITS collection for Surface View © Emmeline Kellett 2016

Alumna Stories: Sarah Podlesny, The Aviary Studio

24 January 2017 by Elli Weir

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.”

the-aviary-studio.com

Sampling on the loom

ComOn 2016: the designer’s view from Como

10 December 2016 by Editor

The Italian trade organisation Unindustria Como represents a core of 300 Como-based textile companies and is responsible for organising the ComON programme, now in its tenth year.

Unindustria Como’s continued sponsorship of Texprint again provided the opportunity for seven talented Texprint 2016 designers to participate in seven-week internships this autumn in the heart of Como with some of the finest textile companies in Italy. More than ever supporting graduate designers through properly structured internships is proving invaluable in helping them fast track their experience and commercial understanding.

Laura Sofia Clerici and Andrea Taborelli talk with designer Alice Timmis

Laura Sofia Clerici and Andrea Taborelli, who are both on the ComOn select committee, came to Texprint London earlier this year to personally select the seven short listed.

Short listed designers at Texprint London with Laura Sofia and Andrea, and on the right, Peter Ring-Lefevre, Texprint creative director

Texprint designer Alice Timmis says: “During my placement in Como, I was given complete freedom to design my own collection of jacquard fabrics, and the opportunity to have some of my designs realised into actual cloth too. The mill where I was placed, Tessitura Taborelli, offers so many options to the fashion industry due to its size and range of different production looms. My time in Como has been really inspiring, living in a new culture whilst engaging with its impressive textile industry.”

Designer Amy Smith adds: “I’ve had such an amazing time in Italy and want to thank Texprint for giving me the opportunity. I've learnt so much and now understand better industry standards and what clients and producers will expect of me as a designer.”

“My mill (Lisa) and my tutor, senior designer Letizia Rodilosso, have been great. The studio designers all speak really good English taking the pressure off my (very basic) Italian! I was assisting them with general tasks such as putting designs into repeat and doing colour separations, while also working on my own client briefs and designs for the new collection to be shown at PV in February. Mainly on childrenswear conversational prints which is a new area for me, but I have really enjoyed the fun, colours and prints. Also I have been drawing straight into Photoshop with a graphics tablet which has been a fantastic skill to learn and will help my design work moving forward. Letizia was really helpful with feedback and pointers on what helps designs sell better such as avoiding lines and directional prints.”

Another Texprint designer, Esther Rigg, enjoyed herself too: “While working at Teseo, I visited Como Crea with the design team.  It was especially interesting to see how the mill chooses prints, and after exhibiting at Première Vision Designs, to understand how the process works from a buyers perspective. It has been a great opportunity to design to a brief and expand my digital skills, putting designs into repeat and preparing files for weaving and printing.

The inspiring research studio at Erica

The ComON Creative Sharing programme included visits to the Como Silk Museum, Antonio Ratti Foundation archives, Centro Tessile Serico to talk about their fabric testing laboratory, Textile Solution Centre, a major centre for improving and mastering ink-jet production, and Arte Miniartextil for a fine art exhibition. Also visits to see the state-of-the-art printing facilities and highly regarded textile archives at Ratti and Canepa, to find out how these impressive mills are adapting their production methods to reduce water use and remove toxic chemicals. Designer Jacob Monk worked at the Clerici Tessuto mill where the designers were shown high-end archive designs as well as the production processes.  

The designers also spent a day with Como-based swim/resort wear printers, and attended a lifelstyle and consumer presentation by renowned trend specialist David Shah.  Designer Melissa Ougham visited the swimwear fair Mare di Moda in Cannes with her mill Taiana.

Design archives at Erica

Italian companies that generously invited Texprint designers included Tessile Erica SpA, Seterie Argenti SpA, Clerici Tessuti SpA, Taiana, Lisa SpA, Tessitura Taborelli, and Tesseo SpA.

A final comment from designer Megan Clarke: “Overall the experience was really great. The ComOn team were lovely and very helpful with any problems we had. The mill I was at, Erica, was fantastic! They allowed me to produce a mini collection for them to demonstrate their fabrics on as well as working on briefs for fashion clients. If I ever needed different art supplies they would order them which meant nothing was off limits with regards to painting and mark making etc.  I would definitely recommend Como to anyone who wishes to find out more about the Italian production industry - but would suggest learning more Italian before going!”

 

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