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Liberty’s Chesham Cabinet House

06 March 2016 by Roger Tredre

Liberty Art Fabrics has launched a brilliantly inventive new interiors collection that pays homage to a great Texprint supporter, together with a project that will also raise funds for Texprint. We spoke to Emma Mawston, Head of Design, Liberty Fabrics.

Emma surrounded by fabrics from the Chesham Cabinet Collection 

We’re high on the fourth floor of the Liberty offices, tucked away in a Soho street behind the store itself. We’re thrilled to be venturing into the design space where Emma Mawston and her small hard-working team create a very 21st century take on the Liberty tradition. Emma’s corner of the office is festooned with prints – a real Liberty feast for the eyes – but it’s a large century-old cabinet that takes up the most room.

From Grayson Perry to Sir Roger Moore, the new Chesham Cabinet collection of fabrics and wallpapers from Liberty has found inspiration in a spectacularly diverse selection of names and periods. And, to celebrate the launch, the design team at Liberty have created their own take on a traditional doll’s house, which displays all the designs in a playful miniature arrangement that has attracted plenty of media attention in recent weeks.

Chesham House was the name of one of the original buildings that was home to Liberty back in the 1880s. Emma Mawston had been inspired by her younger daughter’s love of dolls’ houses to start researching the world of miniature, leading her on a journey of research and discovery that spiralled into quite an adventure.

Chesham Cabinet Collection

Dolls’ house collectors treat their houses with great seriousness, but Emma, approaching the project as a designer, had a somewhat more irreverent concept in mind, with a cinema room, a bike shed and garden planned. She swiftly banished sacrilegious thoughts of customising an existing dolls’ house and decided to create her own, reworking a century-old colonial Indian cabinet. The result – now on display on the fourth floor of Liberty – is a splendiferous work of art.

The process of bringing it to reality was a hands-on business involving all the design team as well as Emma’s mum (who made most of the cushions, she confides). Our favourite? Perhaps the miniature bookcase painstakingly crafted by colleague Keighley (who studied fashion print at Central Saint Martins before joining the team). Or perhaps the Grayson Perry bike shed, tucked away in the bottom left-hand drawer of the cabinet, with tangled bicycle print to match. Or then again there’s the cinema room on the top floor, where legendary James Bond star Sir Roger Moore was persuaded to delve into the Liberty archive and pluck out a classic floral design.

Liberty's unique Chesham Cabinet decorated with fabrics from the new collection

The sheer diversity of the 13 designs in the Chesham House collection is entirely deliberate. Emma says: “Interesting and quirky collaborations sit alongside in-house works of art and historical archive reconstructions. We don’t follow trends but are led by the beauty of our inspiration, our intuition and customer desires.”

Emma and her team became happily obsessive in their research, heading for Holland where some of the most beautiful dolls’ houses in the world are to be found. And they were allowed special access to Windsor Castle for a close-up view of Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, designed by Sir Edward Lutyens and four years in the making – completed in 1924, the same year that Liberty’s famous Tudor-style building opened.

Later this year, the house will be auctioned off, with some of the proceeds destined for Texprint to support the next generation of designers. Emma Mawston is passionate about the work of Texprint. Indeed, for many years she has participated in the interviewing panel of Texprint. “I feel honoured to be part of it,” she says. “Everyone is so passionate, so enthusiastic. The textile world is not celebrated in the same way as the fashion world, but textile designers are just as much artists and deserve more recognition.”

What does she look for in the designers she employs at Liberty? “You need to love what you do, and be humble about it, not obsessed with fame. You need to fit into a team – and you need to be able to show versatility with a diverse portfolio of work.”

The Chesham Cabinet collection has been dedicated to the memory of Anne Tyrrell MBE, the designer and fashion industry executive, who died last year after a long and illustrious career. She was a long-time member of the Texprint Management Council and an enthusiastic supporter of young talent. Touchingly, the collection includes an ‘Anne’ throw named after her, based on an ornamental paisley hand-painted in the late 1970s by the David Haward studio. “She was a very special woman,” recalls Emma. “A great supporter of Liberty and Texprint. We created this throw very much with her tastes in mind.”

Chesham Cabinet Collection

Emma explains further her thinking about the throws: “We are creating evening wear for interiors, encouraging people to dress up their homes for gatherings, parties, picnics in the garden and throws on chairs at weddings in the same way that we would dress up for these occasions ourselves. Throws are so diverse, they are the oysters of the decorating world. I even have the Anne throw as a curtain in my elder daughter's bedroom, the self fringed tassels adding to its beauty as it drapes across the window.”

Quirky, unpredictable, triumphantly creative – these are the kind of words that sum up the work of the Liberty Fabrics team. And, in all its rich diversity, this latest project would surely have stirred the heart of Arthur Liberty himself. 

Liberty's unique Chesham Cabinet decorated with fabrics from the new collection

New Delhi Diary: A Textile Designer’s Visual Playground

24 February 2016 by Editor

Texprint 2015 designers ÁineByrne and Bryony Bushe have just spent several months interning with interiors and home accessories company, Cosmique Global, based in Delhi.  Both designers agree, their experiences were sometimes tough, but hugely enriching personally and creatively – India proving to be an extraordinary visual playground.

·      What were your first impressions of New Delhi and India?

Áine: The disturbance to all my senses, nothing was familiar - the smells of spices, the loud honking of the erratic drivers, and the mounds of rubbish on the road-sides - salvaged plastics, metals and textiles, used to build ragged shanty communities. I arrived in the middle of Diwali festival when the noise was even more exaggerated, with crackers constantly being set off on every street corner, heightening the excitement I felt in this magical and very new environment. Everything was so colourful, from the food stalls and bedecked wedding horses, to the elaborately decorated lorries with their tassels and finely painted signage. It seemed overwhelming at first – but by the time my internship came to an end, strangely it all seemed quite normal!

 

Áine& Bryony: We loved the genuine warmth that greeted our arrival at the Cosmique Global offices in the industrial area of Naraina, New Delhi, and soon felt part of the ‘Cosmique family’.  Everyone was so friendly, Sandeep Manaktala and Sonali, the design manager, helping us feel more and more at home in this strange other world.

Outside of the workplace, in the home where we were to live during our internship, we were warmly welcomed by our host family – and blessed with a stroke of orange pigment on the  foreheads, a Hindu welcoming ritual.

Bryony: On our days off we did a bit of sightseeing and shopping, but found the bargaining in the markets very hard to get used to -  ‘auntie’ and ‘uncle’, our hosts, would always ask how much we spent, and then would ‘tut’ in disapproval if we didn’t get a good price!

·      At Cosmique Global, were you given particular projects or product lines to work on?

Áine: It took me a little while to get used to the workings of the company and to navigate my way around the factory, but I was soon given the task of researching autumn/winter 2016/17 trends, then attending material and product development meetings, and gradually getting to know everyone’s role in the company.

I worked closely with the print and hand-painting team experimenting with a combination of hand-painting and screen work, which was to be developed into cushions and throws for the upcoming collections due to be exhibited at Heimtextil in Frankfurt and Ambiente in Paris. Although I felt so at home, it was quite isolating at times being there on my own, so I was delighted when Bryony arrived in early December to join me - someone to share and comment on the strange situations we found ourselves in every day.

 

Bryony: Sonali was excellent at setting design projects to suit our individual handwriting and interests – giving us the creative freedom to try what we wanted and to experiment.We worked on wall hangings, cushions, and prints for throws and bedding, also tote bags, wash bags and purses. Interesting too to hear about all the factors at work in the industry such as costing and competing with China for price. 

Another of our projects was to design the window displays for the fairs – a fantastic opportunity to work on presentation and visual merchandising concepts.  The feedback on our designs was very positive – and I was particularly encouraged to hear that English buyers were taking an interest in my work!

·      Please tell us about the skills of your co-workers - were the methods of working different to what you expected?

Áine: I was blown away by the talents and the skills of our co-workers. It was strange at first, but amazing to have such skilled craftspeople translate our design ideas into reality, and everyone was so enthusiastic and willing to help. Although I am a weaver, I was introduced to the worlds of print and embroidery, and learnt about techniques such as screen printing, chicken (or chikan) embroidery, dori (cornelli), bouclé, tufting and chain stitch. Everyone had such a fine eye for detail and colour, and were quick to point out if you hadn’t picked the right colour of fabric or embroidery thread.

 

Bryony: I also did a lot of hand drawing, and worked with the artisans in the sampling room to translate my designs using different techniques and effects.  Frustratingly, it was quite difficult to communicate due to the language barrier and I wished I had learnt a bit of Hindi before I went out.

 

The workers could sometimes be quite literal in their approach to things - I would create an intentionally messy design and they would try so hard to neaten it up! It was difficult to say make it a ‘bit more like this or that’ – quite a learning curve to work with such skilled craftsmen but who, not surprisingly, have little concept of western design.

The men in the sampling room soon got used to me but when anyone new visited they would stare in fascination at a woman operating the embroidery machine!

 

·      Did you work with any traditional techniques like hand-weaving?

Áine: I found it really interesting seeing the different ways in which people use the loom. Although I had learnt bits of Hindi, it was much easier sharing the language of weave, and communicating ‘warp’, ‘weft’, ‘shuttle’, ‘beam’ and ‘heddle’ seemed to get me far enough through the process. Having help setting up my warps saved me so much valuable time, although I slightly missed the ritual of it.

·      What would you say were the real learning ‘takeaways’ of your internship?

Áine: It was a truly humbling experience - the cultural heritage, living in a completely different world, witnessing the misery of the poverty along with the energy and colour of the city. I so appreciated experiencing something that no one taking the regular tourist routes through the city would ever see. Working at Cosmique has given me an invaluable insight into the workings of the real textiles world, the part that a lot of people can only imagine, or see very briefly. I will take this experience of working in India for this length of time and properly being part of the company, with me wherever I work in the future. Sonali and Sandeep were incredible mentors teaching us so much about how the industry works.

 

Bryony: It was extraordinary, we were given so much creative independence that it almost felt like an extension of our masters at RCA – and working with fantastically attentive technicians who, for the most part, were excited and keen to work with us - one man who did the tufting embroidery was particularly excited to be creating “London designs”!

·      Have you had a chance to think about your next career steps?

Áine: I realise I still have much to learn about the industry, and also about running a business. I’ve enjoyed discovering the world of interiors and hope to continue my relationship with Cosmique Global and maybe work with them in the future. Aside from my own career, being here in India has made me think of ways I might help the poorer communities - I would love to come back again and set up skill-sharing workshops with children, or get involved in local charities and educational initiatives.

Bryony: I have loved working for interiors – before I only though about fashion, but now I am seriously investigating possibilities in this field.  It was also great to see my work developed for the Surface View EDITS project - another opportunity I gained through Texprint and which has shown me how my work might be used in different contexts.

I have some more teaching lined up in Loughboroughand De Montfort universities, and through the charity Blindaid, am continuing to teach textile and art skills to blind and visually impaired people.  I feel I have so many more valuable skills and experiences to share since my time in India.

 

 

 

Surface View: the Texprint 2016 EDITS collection

15 February 2016 by Editor

A brilliant new home textiles collection from Surface View is a maximalist’s dream – and every designer involved is from Texprint.

The artwork is inspired by nature, while the colour palette is full of richly coloured splendour. The Texprint 2016 EDITS collection is a real treat.

Six of the 2015 Texprint designers participated in the collection, which was developed in collaboration with Surface View, the bespoke interior decoration company. Curated by trend forecasting service USP, it’s a rich maximalist-inspired mix of print and pattern, blending traditional and modern themes with a sophisticated touch.

Designers participating include Texprint Colour Award winner Emma McCluskey, Bryony Bushe, Emma Brooks, Jessica Pickard, Nicola Costello and Stephanie Rolph.

The new collection is now available to view and buy on the Surface View website. The designers receive important kudos and recognition – as well as royalties on all sales.

Included in the product mix are printed cushions, lampshades, window films and large-scale canvases. It's part of an ongoing and acclaimed series of curated collaborations (EDITS) developed by Surface View.

This year’s curator – Unique Style Platform (USP) – is a London-based trend forecasting service for the fashion & lifestyle industries founded by Jane Kellock in 2013.

Jane, an industry veteran who has held senior forecasting roles at WGSN and Stylus and also in industry as a designer, explains how USP operates: “We work with clients on bespoke trends using both physical and digital approaches. For example, we do digital reports but also supply moodboards and colour swatches.’’

She adds: “There’s a real demand in the market at present for a bespoke service that makes sense of the massive amount of information out there. We create trends that are timely and relevant according to our clients’ needs.’’

Jane, who runs USP from studios in ultra-hip Haggerston, east London, has worked with Texprint for many years, lending her expertise and experience to the panel that filters the final selections of young designers each year.

The quality of designer is steadily improving, she notes. “It’s a particularly strong group this year, with a great mix of commerical and future-focused designs. Texprint is really going from strength to strength – and it’s so well respected in the industry.’’

Working to the broad theme of maximalist – and based on the designers' work for Texprint 2015 – a cohesive collection has emerged. Jane Kellock says: “The theme focuses on surface texture and an eclectic mix of print with slightly eccentric colour combinations. Pile it all on! We’re thinking of inspiration from the recent Gucci collection. There’s a bohemian flavour to it but with a modern edge.’’

Some of the designs were originally developed for fashion garments, but they work beautifully in the home textiles context too.

Founded eight 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 –  even birch plywood.

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

Alissa Sequeira of the Surface View marketing team says: “It was great to see the fresh ideas that designers had, and great for us to support emerging British talent. We’ve been very impressed with the standard of work and are confident that this year’s edit will be every bit as successful as previous years.”

Texprint alumna story: Charlotte Beevor, surface pattern designer

03 January 2016 by Roger Tredre

Charlotte Beevor at work in her studio

Designer Charlotte Beevor was an award-winning star of Texprint 2014. High time to catch up on her progress since.

Charlotte Beevor’s eye for unusual colour combinations and brilliant sense of composition made her a standout name for Texprint 2014, winning Texprint’s Colour award. The young designer, who studied at Leeds College of Art, also quickly found her work had commercial appeal – she sold four designs within the first hour as an exhibitor at Première Vision with Texprint.

Since then, she has been steadily building her reputation and working on a number of projects. She talked to us about her memories of Texprint and how she has created her own business since then.

Cushion collection designed for made.com

It’s a year since you were with Texprint. How did the experience change you – and help you?

The experience was great in many ways. The mentoring days were fantastic because we were given information and insights into everything from legal issues (a lawyer from Liberty spoke to us about copyright) to invoicing and through to preparing for Première Vision – making us a bit more knowledgeable than other graduates.

The show in London really helped as it was only open to industry professionals and press. Those days were priceless: an opportunity to be in a room with such an array of important people, extending our communication and networking skills instantly.

My involvement with various Texprint awards gave me even more opportunity to discuss my work. By the end of the week I became quite fluent in talking about it – good practice for Paris and future shows! I was lucky enough to be shortlisted for an array of awards and won some great opportunities, including the chance to travel abroad to Italy and Vancouver, working with Lisa S.P.A in Como and Lululemon Athletica in Canada.

These opportunities really expanded my knowledge of the industry, learning to work within different parts of it. They also allowed me to grow as a person – thinking of how I travelled to new places like Vancouver, I have never had the opportunity to visit anywhere that far away before, so I’m entirely grateful for that.

Cushion collection designed for made.com

What was the last Texprint project you were involved with?

Working with Lululemon. Myself and Federica [Tedeschi] went out to Vancouver for a couple of weeks to be briefed on our projects and get to know the company. Unfortunately, we couldn't go for the full three-month placement because of Canadian visa restrictions, so we came back and worked from home and Skyped the office of Vancouver every week. Then we went back out to Vancouver at the end of the placement to present our projects. I was working on prints for SS16, so I'm hoping to see some of the sportswear in the collection in the spring.

Tell us about what has happened since then.

I have launched interiors collaborations with sofa.comand made.com. I’ve also spent a lot of time working on an exciting stationery collaboration and window furnishing collaboration that will both launch around September/October time in 2016. I am very excited about them!

I also exhibited in 2015 at New Designers One Year On at the Business Design Centre in Islington and I am planning on launching a new collection at London Design Festival.

Do you think your creative work has changed over the past 12 months?

I do. Through working on so many different collaborations I have been lucky enough to have a lot of creative freedom. I feel this has really helped to solidify and evolve my brand. At the same time I equally enjoy working with a brief and being able to mould it and put my stamp on it while collaborating closely with the companies to bring it to the end product.

Charlotte Beevor at work in her studio

What are your plans for the future?

The immediate future is to focus on finishing my stationery and windows furnishings collaborations ready for launch in late 2016.

The longer term plan is to work towards launching my own products and a new collection and exhibiting in London to find new stockists and customers. Then I hope to start exhibiting internationally at interiors shows in Paris and New York (a little way off yet!). I would also love to continue creating collections and collaborating with different companies if the opportunities arise. It’s become a really great part of my brand and one of the things I enjoy the most.

www.charlottebeevor.com

Cushion collection designed for sofa.com

Pioneering partnerships: alumna Emma J Shipley

13 December 2015 by Editor

Emma J Shipley is a supreme collaborator.  Following her graduation from the RCA and selection for Texprint 2012, Shipley has created a successful eponymous brand which takes her other-worldly illustrations onto scarves, clothing and accessories.  She has also worked on a number of collaborations, with among others Disney, working on licensing projects including the recent Star Wars film.

 

A recent blog post by Emma J Shipley highlights another fascinating collaboration under the banner of WORTH, which saw her working with traditional weavers and metalworkers in Venice and showcasing the resulting accessories in London.

In Emma’s words:

“We were delighted to be selected to participate in the WORTH project back in 2014, and last week saw the showcase of the results of the project, in a private view exhibition at Rook & Raven Gallery in London. In partnership with Centre for Fashion Enterprise (CFE), Institut Français de la Mode and funded by the European Commission, WORTH was created to develop cross border designer and manufacturer collaborations. The project aimed to create innovative new products, foster new creative relationships and showcase the incredible skills in Europe. 

“Each designer and manufacturer pairing was given €10,000 to develop and create completely new products. We were lucky enough to collaborate with Tessitura Luigi Bevilacqua, an incredible Italian fabric manufacturer specialising in silk jacquards. Together, along with 34 other designer/manufacturer partnerships involved, we explored the boundaries where art and craftsmanship meet.

“Based in Venice, Tessitura Luigi Bevilacqua is one of the oldest family-run weavers in Italy, using 18th century looms to create their handcrafted fabrics. Using traditional techniques, each stage in production is carried out by hand. Their fabrics are refined works of art and have been created to furnish royal palaces and theatres around the world. 

“Making the most of Bevilacqua's excellence in weaving, we wanted to combine this with our fantastical, modern illustrations to create something new. The sampling process took place over the course of a few months, and included a trip to Venice to see Bevilacqua's incredible workshop and original looms.

“After developing artwork from the original drawings, first samples were produced using selected silk jacquard weaving techniques, before being refined and produced in the chosen colour palettes of white, greys, blues and black. To complete the project we collaborated with MARVEN, an artisanal precious metalworker based just outside Venice, to create the sleek palladium-coated metal frames. The outcome is a capsule collection of intricate modern clutch bags and (we hope you'll agree) a true collaboration between art, design and craftsmanship. 

“Other partnerships which were part of the WORTH project include: British footwear designer Joanne Stoker who collaborated with French outer sole manufacturer Reltex to develop a collection of brogues with natural soles; and womenswear designer Holly Fulton who collaborated with lace manufacturer Sophie Hallette and fabric designer Lauranne Guyomard.

“The inspiring exhibition featured a selection of creations which evolved from the unique partnerships across a range of craft and technologies, such as eyewear, footwear, jewellery, leather and textiles. 

We are really grateful for the support of the European Commission and CFE on this project, and we hope to continue working with European artisans in the future to develop new and innovative products.”

 

Texprint heads east: Intertextile Shanghai Apparel Fabrics

25 November 2015 by Editor

Texprint headed east this autumn to exhibit for a third consecutive year at Intertextile Shanghai Apparel Fabrics (October 13–15), sponsored by Messe Frankfurt (HK) and The Woolmark Company.

Designers Ciaran Moore and Jessica Leclere both exhibited at Intertextile, gaining an invaluable first experience of the Asian market. They were accompanied by Texprint representative Sarah Cheyne.

The stand was located in the new Verve for Design section of this vast international textile fair.The signature print for the section was designed by Ciaran Moore and selected by Messe Frankfurt (HK) – a great talking point and introduction to Moore’s work, attracting plenty of attention.

At top of image: Ciaran Moore's design for Verve for Design area

The Woolmark Company funded space for Jessica Leclere, winner of the Woolmark Company Texprint Award, who showed her exciting and innovative knit collection. Examples of the work of other Texprint prize winners, including Emma McCluskey, Joanna Robins and Anja Alexandersdottir, were also displayed.

Jessica Leclere talks to visitors

It was very pleasing to see three Texprint 2014 alumni designers – James Skinner, Jane Han Zhang and Tali Furman – showing at Intertextile Shanghai with their joint venture Fairbairn, Wolf and Skinner. They also enjoyed a very good response.

Texprint had support in Shanghai from two students, provided by Course Director Xi Chen of Zhejiang University, helping with much-needed interpreting. Ying Ying Chen and Shairmu White were excellent, very helpful and full of enthusiasm.

Ciaran Moore chats with a visitor

The exhibition itself was very busy with much interest from companies in Asia as well as from Russia, Europe and North America. The designers' work was well received with positive feedback from a wide range of companies.

Jessica Leclere with Paul Alger of UKFT and colleague

It wasn’t all work – there was some spare time to explore Shanghai and visit the ancient temples, gardens and maze of side streets as well as big tourist sites such as the Bund, with its spectacular views of the river and the skyscrapers of Pudong lit up at night. 

Sarah Cheyne with Xi Chen of Zhejiang University 

Students Ying Ying Chen and Shairmu White who assisted on the Texprint stand

Ciaran Moore's design for Verve for Design area

Busy Texprint stand

Busy Texprint stand

Jessica and Ciaran explore Shanghai

 

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