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Marie Parsons: My first year at Jaguar
10 June 2013 by Editor
Marie Parsons (Texprint 2011) writes for Texprint about her experience of working with auto manufacturer and heritage brand Jaguar:
Jaguar is synonymous with great British design, luxury, and honesty in materials. I have long felt an emotional attachment to the brand: my dad owned Jags and being driven in his car always gave me a real sense of occasion. So when I was approached at my RCA show in 2011 about a role in the company’s Advanced Design team as a Colour and Materials Designer, I was understandably delighted.
Marie Parsons, left, with Jaguar creative specialist Siobhan Hughes
‘Jaguars are a perfect blend of luxury and performance in a very contemporary and emotional product. We believe our design teams are leaders in not just car design, but also in defining the luxury experience. We endeavor to find the best design talent from across the world, not just car designers but people who have the best insight into fashion, materials and product design. More often than not these sorts of talents are found in abundance at the Royal College of Art.’ Julian Thomson Advanced Design Director-Jaguar Cars
In my experience, working in the automotive industry is rarely considered as a likely option for textile designers. I specialised in mixed media at the RCA and in stitch at Chelsea College of Art & Design. During that time I sold freelance work to the New York market; to DKNY, Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole, DVF and Armani Exchange, and later to NIKE when showing at Indigo as part of Texprint.
While the fashion industry was always my target, and continues to be my richest source of inspiration, at the RCA I concluded it was materials, their capabilities, restrictions, unexpected application and combinations that really excite me. I saw the opportunity to work for Jaguar as a challenging and welcome progression, an environment in which I could continue to explore new materials and processes in a more considered, luxurious and sophisticated manner.
At the RCA, my work was about reinterpreting traditional hand embroidery techniques in innovative ways, through digital machine embroidery and laser cutting. My graduate project was a collection of digitally embroidered shoes and a luggage trunk both inspired by the depth of reverse applique and quilting, juxtaposing rigid plastics alongside tactile latex.
Left: Marie Parsons with Professor Clare Johnston RCA at Texprint Coutts dinner March 2013; Centre and right: ©Marie Parsons: RCA 2011 final collection
My work today continues to be inquisitive and innovative. In Jaguar’s advanced design department, we work five to 10 years ahead. As it takes typically four to five years to develop a car, our role is to discover and develop advanced material ideas for car interiors and exterior details. We define the colour and material strategy and design intent of pre-production and concept vehicles.
I work in a small team of three designers, all from non-automotive backgrounds, led by creative specialist Siobhan Hughes. Our diverse backgrounds make for a dynamic and well-informed team, each bringing something unique to the table - with an area of specialism and acting as project manager for our individual programme.
We explore the 'A' surface materials: these range from woods through to rubbers, flooring, specialist paints, plastics, metal, leather, fabrics and integrated technologies; and also the 'B' surface materials which take into account eco and sustainability issues, after life and lightweight material solutions. We work to recreate familiar techniques such as perforation and embossing, embroidery and quilting.
A typical day could involve anything from rendering material ideas on an interior sketch, trend and market research, analysing material lab results, presenting proposals to senior management, checking colour in the light box, or sampling new finishes and techniques with the painters and trimmers.
My favourite aspect of the job is the continual learning process. We have so much technology and expertise on one site - in a five minute walk you can observe a clay car being modelled to scale by hand, parts being 3D printed, seats being hand-stitched, and then interact with the finished product in a virtual reality pod.
I’ve had to take on board a vast amount of information to over the last 18 months. Cars are incredibly complex objects of design and engineering and there are many factors to consider when putting forward new ideas. Materials must be premium quality with the correct aesthetic values but the longevity to still look good in the vehicle in 10 years time.
Despite working in the advanced team, materials and colours must be fit for purpose. There is a skill to retaining creativity while working with restrictions and to budget. I have learnt to employ a different eye when researching, one that is Jaguar specific, and to consider feasibility, brand values and the customer in everything I do.
Being well informed and up to date with trends and technology is crucial. My role has involved a great deal of travel in the last year - visiting suppliers, trade shows, exhibitions, mills, factories and universities - with the highlight of 2012 being an extensive research trip to China.
It’s an exciting time to be at the company, Jaguar is investing in and nurturing young designers who are given real responsibility and the chance to work alongside experienced senior designers, modellers, and technicians; with exposure to the wider business, meeting with PR, marketing and purchasing, allowing for constant and fast paced development. This energy and spirit of community makes me feel integral to the future of a thriving iconic British brand.
Emma J Shipley: out of this world storytelling
12 May 2013 by Editor
The work of Emma J Shipley is very much rooted in skilled draftsmanship - her drawings intricate, her storytelling out of this world. These are certainly a great strength, but what has set Emma apart since graduating from the RCA and being selected for Texprint 2011, is her astute and instinctive grasp of what social networking can do to drive awareness of her brand.
Texprint caught up with Emma to find out more about her inspirations, her dynamic approach to creativity, and the third-party collaborations she has been working on since graduation.
©Emma J Shipley: autumn winter 2013
-Did you always plan to set up your own business?
After I graduated from my BA in Textile Design (from Birmingham City University) I worked for a print design studio in London. This was a great experience and taught me to work under pressure and to tight deadlines, but I also realised that I really wanted to carve out my own path rather than working for someone else. I went on to study MA Textiles at the Royal College of Art as I knew I needed to develop further and I wanted to have that platform to launch my label from.
-In what ways has Texprint been able to help or benefit you?
Being able to get my work in front of so many influential industry figures so soon after graduating was invaluable. The different exhibitions in London, Paris, Shanghai and Hong Kong brought income through sales and commissions, which was so important right at the start of my label. I also met suppliers who when they saw my work at the Texprint stand at Première Vision, wanted to support me in the early stages, one of which I'm still working with to produce my luxury scarves. Texprint has also been there when I've had business or legal issues I needed advice on.
At retail, from left: Bon Marche, Fortnum & Mason, Liberty
-How helpful has it been to communicate online via Twitter etc - how essential is social media for someone setting up their own brand identity do you think?
I've used Twitter for quite a few years - since before graduating and starting my label. I've always found it to be an amazing tool for connecting with others and finding out information in the areas I'm interested in. So I still use it for these reasons, and for my label it's the most direct way of communicating with a wide audience. Being able to instantly share an image of what I'm working on at that time, or tell people about an event I'm doing is an amazing thing. The fact that it can be a conversation means that people do feel engaged with the brand and I also get feedback on what people are really responding to or what they get excited about.
I've also found Instagram great as it's purely image-based, which really suits the creative industries. I follow lots of other users (photographers, designers, magazines etc) - it brings me inspiration as well as letting me share my own images. I'm new to Vine and although I'm personally more engaged by still images, being able to create and share short video clips can be really useful for events or exhibitions.
London Fashion Week, February 2012
-Do you work from home or studio?
A space in a shared studio. I started working from home after I graduated from the RCA but I much prefer having a workspace separate to home, and I really enjoy sharing with others who are working in creative fields. The RCA was quite an intense experience - being in the studio surrounded by other designers all the time - but it's very inspiring and I really missed that when I was working from home on my own.
-What have been the key challenges - managing accounts, space to work, finding manufacturers, contacts?
There have been major challenges in all areas to be honest. It's been important to find people I can go to for advice… As I'm experiencing all these things for the first time there are bound to be issues and hurdles to overcome. I've also roped in my dad to help with a lot of the business side to enable me to still have time to design for my own label as well as commissions for big companies that I've been working on.
©Emma J Shipley: autumn winter 2013
-How do you find it working on your own, is it sometimes hard to motivate yourself? Or do you have help, an assistant?
I haven't found it hard to motivate myself at all as I've been so busy since graduating. Also as I'm in a shared studio it's a nice balance between being able to focus on my own work and also having a social and creative environment. Commissions for other companies always have short deadlines (they want everything yesterday) so I just get on with them. Designing for my own label can get pushed back if I'm working on commissions, so then when I do have time to work on my own designs I'm rearing to go. Obviously I'm passionate about my work so it's not a chore. I get excited about starting new designs and collections. I do take on students to assist me part-time, more on the sales, marketing and events side, and it's great to have a fresh look and input on what I'm doing.
©Emma J Shipley: autumn winter 2013
-Where are your scarves printed - in the UK or abroad?
The scarves are printed in Como, Italy, with a supplier I found through Texprint. I started out manufacturing in the UK, but unfortunately I found the suppliers unreliable and the end product ended up being too expensive even in the luxury market. The quality is better in Italy as they have a long history of silk printing - buyers from stores often comment on the amazing quality of the final pieces and I'm always pleased with them, too.
-Has anything you've worked on gone into production under license? With which companies?
Yes - I've worked on a project with Camira Fabrics, it produces textiles for commercial interiors. This will launch at Clerkenwell Design Week in May as Emma J Shipley x Camira. I've also recently launched a collection of wallpaper and interior fabric with Osborne & Little called Kayyam.
Collaborations with Anthropologie (wallpaper) and Camira (two new fabric designs)
Collaboration with Osborne & Little
-What captures your imagination - as your drawn work is quite naturalistic, do you draw from life or photos?
Inspiration comes from all over the place, but my main visual inspiration is always the natural world. This can come from trips I take (I recently went on safari in South Africa which was hugely inspiring for me), photographs, films, artists and so on. I'm also inspired by ideas and books - especially Richard Dawkins’ book on evolution and Ian Stewart’s on chaos theory. My drawings can take days and weeks, and are never an exact replication of something but are a combination of different inspirations as well as coming from my imagination. So I always work in my studio, using lots of different images and photographs.
-What do you love most about what you're doing, and like least?
I love the drawing and design process the most… I enjoy the business aspects too as its all part of it, but there is a lot of admin, which isn't always thrilling.
-What are your plans for the future?
To continue to grow my label in the UK and overseas, and to work on some interesting collaborations with bigger companies that will raise my brand profile.
Emma has been nominated for the UKFT Rise Newcomer Awards (2013 UK Fashion and Textile Association awards) due to take place on 23 May 2013. We wish her success in this and in the future.
Sample sale, April 2012
©Emma J Shipley: spring summer 2013
Wool House: feeling warm and woolly!
14 March 2013 by Editor
“Wool is a fibre for the life we lead, the people we love, the planet we inhabit.” The Campaign for Wool
The Wool House exhibition at Somerset House, London, opened yesterday and is on until 24 March. This stylish and richly artisanal celebration of wool is not to be missed encompassing as it does the very best of what can be achieved by spinning, weaving, printing and manipulating this most timeless and enduring of fibres.
Hummingbird by Alexander McQueen for The Rug Company
The lofty and elegant rooms in the west wing of Somerset House have been used to stage a series of room sets as well as displays of fashion and accessories, including bespoke tailoring and hand knitting.
Savile Row bespoke
The importance of wool to the fashion industry is demonstrated with designs by, among others, Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders, Christopher Raeburn; also Dashing Tweeds (Kirsty McDougall, Texprint 2002) and Alice Palmer (Texprint 2007).
Teflon-coated felted lace parka by Christopher Raeburn, headphones by Urbanears, tweed jackets by Dashing Tweeds
Knitted dress by Mark Fast, knitted chair cover, knit and fleece cape by Alice Palmer
As part of the national Campaign for Wool supported by The Prince of Wales, the project also involves a series of interactive workshops and a special educational and innovation room, using hi-tech tablets to demonstrate the processes wool undergoes on its journey from sheep to consumer. This is an exhibition designed to engage and educate as much as to enjoy.
“Wool is all about comfort and beauty. It is a fibre grown, not manmade, with an origin and integrity that has yet to be matched. Natural, renewable and sustainable it offers the most timeless and enduring quality to materials for many different lifestyle products for interiors, fashion, build and craft.“ The Campaign for Wool
Wool fabrics are used to great effect in the room installations. From the dramatic entrance hall with its chequered black and white carpet, to the modernist room by Anne Kyyro-Quinn with its brightly coloured sound-absorbing wall coverings, the fresh and charming nursery designed by Donna Wilson, to the typically eclectic and crafted bedroom designed by Kit Kemp MBE. Dream interiors that beautifully illustrate wool's versatility in use, colour and texture.
Modern Room by Anne Kyyro-Quinn
Nursery by Donna Wilson
Bedroom by Kit Kemp MBE
Event director Bridgette Kelly - working with interior designer Arabella McNie as curator, and all the participating designers and highly skilled artisans - has created a truly diverse and creative opportunity to engage with the fibre’s heritage and future potential.
We would encourage textile and fashion design students and tutors to visit and be inspired!
Wool art installation by Dutch tapestry artist, Claudy Jongstra
Wools of the World
Artisan rug weaver Jason Collingwood in his temporary studio, weaving on a table loom throughout the exhibition
Breaking boundaries: Texprint 2012’s mixed media specialists
24 November 2012 by Joyce Thornton
For a unique approach to textile design, many new designers are breaking down boundaries and embracing other media in their work. Texprint’s 2012 showcase revealed four young people who are taking this path to carve out a truly individual style.
Winner of the Texprint Space prize, Tania Knuckey explores the intersection between art and design. She uses many different types of media and techniques revealing a lively and playful attitude. Tania’s painterly and experimental work is often very graphic and evolves in an organic way, encompassing both installation and work for interiors.
Tania Knuckey: chair installation
Tania recently showed some of her chair pieces at The Stables Gallery in Richmond, Surrey: her installation changed on a weekly basis through wrapping new mixed media fabrics around the pieces. She also gave a recent talk on the subject of transforming textiles into animations at the Slow Textiles Group’s studio in Hampstead, London, as well as exhibiting a concept book, created in collaboration with RCA architecture graduate Joseph Deane, at the RCA’s Sustain show.
Neckpieces by Lily Kamper
The enormous BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu temple in Neasden, North London, was one of the main inspirations for Lily Kamper’s distinctive work. The hand carved totem columns taken as a reference that she combined with softer elements in her multi-layered processes. Lily creates fresh ideas for fashion accessories, including fabulously futuristic statement jewellery pieces and bags.
Case with Perspex handle by Lily Kamper
She is fascinated by the possibilities of exploring texture and colour; a favourite theme is combining hard and soft materials to create unusual outcomes, as seen in her recent collaboration with men’s footwear designer, Tariq Mahmoud, where she created the Perspex heels. Lily also recently created the bespoke, hand-made trophies for WGSN’s recent Global Fashion Awards 2012.
Knitted textile by Sarah Burton.
Sarah Burton’s exciting contemporary pieces for fashion combine her passion for knitwear with modern embellishment. Sarah loves the process of knitting and constantly plays with construction techniques, continuing to develop her samples in unusual ways. Favourite materials include fine yet strong yarns such as viscose. Sarah’s inspirational research led her to study the traditions of the circus, looking closely at costume for performance, which demands a mix of the practical and the decorative. Sarah is taking up an exciting new position with Acorn Conceptual Textiles based in Nottingham, in addition to developing a small range of hand-made mixed media accessories.
Embellished woven textile by Alix Massieux.
Finally, fantasy and surrealism are aspects that inspired Alix Massieux’s fabric collection. Although a weave specialist, Alix is driven to mix techniques and experiment with embroidery. Targeting a high-end market, she uses fine yarns such as mercerised cotton and silk, but is also intent on injecting an element of fun into her work, using flashes of Lurex to create vibrant, light-hearted effects.
In my experience: Grace Smith
01 August 2012 by Joyce Thornton
Grace Ink: Quirky Doll Family
Grace Smith (Texprint 2007) runs her own business, GraceInk Design in the Scottish Borders. A screen printing fanatic, she creates her own quirky textile and paper products, selling them online through her Etsy.com shop, as well as in small independent stores and at craft fairs. In addition, she helps to run screen-printing workshops and is chairperson of the Crossing Borders arts collective. Grace talks to Texprint about her hectic but fulfilling lifestyle as a designer-maker.
Running my own business is great - but I never switch off.
It’s amazing to do a job that is just part of life, that makes you smile and that you enjoy getting up for in the morning. But it isn’t without downsides. I seem to be working 365 days a year, even on holiday - it is like my baby. I have also started running screen printing workshops which are proving really popular.
Downsides include the dreaded Tax Return.
I try to keep on top of it all and not let administrative stuff build up. Hopefully one day, I’ll earn enough to employ other talented people to do it for me.
Grace Ink: 4 Dolls Paper Print
I’m chairperson of the Crossing Borders collective.
The organisation runs an Art Trail every September, which I’m involved with. Many artists and craftspeople in the Borders area open their studios to the public.
I’m inspired by my beautiful surroundings, travel and different cultures around the world.
Setting up my own business has been very time consuming, and financially difficult, so a lot of my travel is now a lot closer to home, but this still provides inspiration. Living in the Scottish Borders, around lovely, rolling green hills is very calming for the mind, and provides clarity when working on new ideas. It is very important for me to be in a creative environment and working alongside 13 other artists in a studio really helps me to get inspired.
I’m in love with the screen printing process.
Screen printing is very versatile, allowing very intricate hand drawn designs to be transferred to fabric and paper – most of the time without having to use a computer. Achieving brush strokes and pen lines on fabric really gives a special handmade quality, which can be lost with many modern processes. I love the first reveal of a new screen print - there is a real buzz of excitement.I’m also very fond of linen and linen mix fabrics, which I use a lot in my work. My birdcage design is a firm favourite – I created it at university, but it hasn’t lost any of its appeal in the five years since then. It’s ended up on pretty much every product I produce.
Grace Ink: Birdcage Print Bag detail
I’m passionate about my work and teaching.
I love to teach - it’s a great feeling when my students have learnt something and had an enjoyable time too. Meeting new people and talking about what I do for a living, is great - I can get quite over-excited at times!
Texprint was invaluable at the start of my career.
I remember receiving the phone call to say I’d been selected. It was a surreal moment where I believe I asked ‘are you sure?’ It made me realise that I had created a collection that was appreciated, and that all the hard work that I’d put into my time at university was finally paying off. I was given the fantastic opportunity to take up a work placement in New Delhi, India. This provided me with lots of new inspiration, and I doubt I would be on the path I am currently without this.
Grace Ink: printed cushions
I’m planning expansion for my business – and maybe a road trip around Scotland.
I’m currently looking into licensing certain designs and also expanding the scope of retail outlets that I work with. I’d love to do some more travelling at some point and possibly work alongside artisans in Australia or my ultimate goal - Japan. I also want to produce some work inspired by Scotland and do a road trip at some point. I have a map that my Gran produced when she was about my age, of a road trip she did around Scotland. I would love to recreate that.
My advice to new graduates is: get some experience, apply for everything and never say no.
(Well for the first few months anyway.) Then you can be pickier with what you agree to… When I first started out, I’d done a couple of years of exploring, trying different things, seeing what I wanted to do with my life. Just after graduation is the best time to do this. When I set up in business I just assumed that I would be successful but the last three years has taught me that this is definitely not an easy task. I’ve felt like giving up on countless occasions, but I’m lucky to have family and friends who pick me up when things don’t go the way I intend. Most of the time I love it - my days are busy, varied and interesting.
Palvinder Nangla: decorative textile art and design
04 June 2012 by Joyce Thornton
Images above: Palvinder Nangla, Bless This Home & White Indian
Texprint alumnus and creative maverick Palvinder Nangla talks to Texprint about his decorative and distinctive approach to textiles; the creative path of his career; and some timely tips for those about to graduate.
Your approach to textiles is highly individual - what drew you to embroidery and mixed media?
I come from a Punjabi background where embroidery plays a huge social role. My grandmother and I used to stitch for hours while chatting and drinking tea. The fusion of traditional hand embroidery with the elements of mixed media has given me new ways of expression.
Are there particular qualities needed for this discipline?
I guess it is very important to be patient. Stitching requires meticulous labour and it can take a lot of time. To be open-minded and passionate about your work helps too.
Palvinder Nangla: Self Portrait. Copyright Palvinder Nangla
How have you found working as a freelance designer?
Frankly, I find it quite difficult. It is a tough market out there and it is full of sharks!
What is the focus of your current work?
I have moved on to textile art and surface design. I still make fashion illustrations but now I draw my inspiration from haute couture. I have just finished a set of fashion illustrations made of up-cycled butterfly wings and I’m starting a new surface design project in collaboration with Cor Habeo, an ethical luxury shoe brand.
What inspires you in your work?
The creative process is the most inspiring thing of all.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your work?
When I see ideas naturally grow and take shape until they are materialised and finished. I also love when others enjoy my work and it touches something inside them.
And the least enjoyable?
The financial part, I guess.
Palvinder Nangla: Freedom Pass & The Last Dance. Copyright Palvinder Nangla
You won the Texprint Chairman’s Prize in 2006 - what did this mean to you?
It felt great to have recognition from the textile industry. Texprint opens up a world of opportunities - but as I mentioned before, it is a shark’s world and I’m more of a guppy fish.
Highlights of your career since then?
I have shown with the British European Design Group at interior design shows ICFF, New York, IMM, Cologne and Maison & Objet, Paris. Through this connection, the tableware company Villeroy & Boch chose my work to exhibit at Salone Internazionale del Mobile, Milan in 2010. I also very much enjoyed collaborating with artist Hector de Gregorio who is also an RCA alumnus.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to keep on working with Cor Habeo and to apply my surface design to bags and other fashion accessories. I’m also looking into organizing an exhibition to show my textile art.Long term, I would be happy to make a living out of my art and to be involved in haute couture with someone such as Christian Lacroix.
What is your advice for those about to graduate this year?
Don’t waste your time with egocentrism and work together as a team, collaborate, support each other. Unity makes strength. Keep it real, be humble and love what you do.
Tamasyn Gambell: dynamic prints and ethical practices
27 May 2012 by Joyce Thornton
Tamasyn Gambell (Texprint 2005) has turned her passion for printed textiles into a successful, rewarding and ethical business. Her dynamic prints are strong and versatile, and are relevant for both fashion and interiors. Based in London’s Clerkenwell, she hand prints much of her work herself. Tamasyn began her career in Paris, moving there shortly after exhibiting with Texprint at Indigo, Paris, where many of her initial contacts were made.
What drew you to specialise in print?
I have always been attracted to pattern and colour. The first time I screen-printed I was hooked. I love the physicality of it, and the way you can change a surface so instantly.
Are there particular qualities needed for this discipline?
You need a good sense of scale, colour, layout and pattern. You have to be patient as the set up can be a lengthy process and things often go wrong. It’s also quite mathematical when designing the repeat.
How have you found working as a designer running your own business?
I have really enjoyed it. It’s been a fantastic challenge and you are constantly learning things. There are definite pitfalls and financial struggles at times – down sides are the long hours and the late payers. But ultimately it’s really rewarding – to know you have been responsible for everything you achieve. I love having the freedom to explore my own designs. I found working for other people very limiting – I have a very clear idea of what I want to produce.
Tamasyn Gambell scarves
What are you working on now?
I am currently working on two collaborative projects. The first is with the accessory brand Cherchbi – I am designing and printing tweed for their beautifully hand-made bags [autumn/winter 2012 menswear range]. Also I have designed and printed the fabric for a range of re-upholstered mid-century Scandinavian furniture pieces, cushions and lampshades being sold in the wonderful new shop: Forest, London.
What inspires you?
I spent some time in Sweden and I was really inspired by the clean graphic prints, bold colours and shapes found in design and architecture. Their sense of balance, and form really made an impression on me. This way of working, combined with a love for strong tribal patterns really informs my design work.
Tamasyn Gambell notebooks
Favourite materials and techniques?
Screen-printing is my favourite technique. I love working with silks, wools and linens - really rich fabrics that absorb dyes and pigments and produce lovely radiant colours.
You are very committed to ethical practices - do you think it’s still slow progress in this area for fashion and textiles?
It’s definitely gaining momentum. People are so much more informed now than they were even five years ago. It’s going to be slow to reach all areas of the market - but high- and mid-end brands are making a lot of positive changes. I believe ethical practices will continue to be adopted and gain a powerful presence over the next decade.
Can you describe a typical day?
I cycle to the print studio in south London – usually arriving at 9am. I change into my boiler suit and begin preparing the screens and the table for a day of screen-printing. There are always new designs, fabrics or products to print. The space is shared with other print designers and small businesses so it’s great to be surrounded by creativity. I work with my assistant, usually printing until about 5pm - then I will cycle back east and continue to work on emails, planning, deliveries and orders until 7 or 8pm.
Highlights of your career so far?
Getting to see my work on the Sonia Rykiel catwalk. Selling my work at the Tate was also a massive highlight for me. My father and I used to love going to exhibitions there together - it was one of our little rituals. He passed away before I set up my own business, so having my work on sale in the Tate Gallery shop was a very poignant moment for me.
Plans for the future?
I am exhibiting at Tent, London and I’m planning some new homeware accessories for this exhibition. I would like to continue to collaborate with other designers, learning from each other and sharing ideas. Longer term, I would love to work with Ercol and design prints for their beautiful furniture!
Advice for those about to graduate?
Enjoy it! Experiment and take opportunities as and when they come. I’ve learned that it can be equally valuable to learn what you don’t want to do as much as what you do.
Anita Quansah: bespoke fashion jewellery
20 May 2012 by Joyce Thornton
Anita Quansah (Texprint 2006) has created a highly successful creative jewellery brand, harnessing her background in textiles. Now based in Buckinghamshire, Anita studied at Chelsea College of Art & Design, specialising in embroidery and fabric manipulation. She began to translate her techniques and unique mix of textures into jewellery, creating one-off distinctive pieces.
You set up Anita Quansah, London in 2006; did you always want your own business? Yes. I grew up in a family that is very business minded. I’m in the process of creating an on-line shop on my website. My late grandmother was a huge influence on me – she was a seamstress and a teacher who trained many women to use their skills to get back to work. She inspired many to make something of their lives – and she inspired me.
What inspires you in your work? My cultural heritage has a huge impact on my work. I come from a mixed African background - half Ghanaian and half Nigerian – through which I have been exposed to a lot of rich African traditions, particularly in the use of materials and textiles. The bold and vibrant colours from Africa are phenomenal. I incorporate rich African prints mixed with vintage elements and new materials such as chains, pearls and shells. I believe this mix creates a rare and vibrant new look. I am also influenced by things I see every day: music, art, people from diverse cultures and distinctive styles.
Many of your pieces are made up of unusual materials. Where do you source these from? My materials are from Africa, Europe and Asia as well as from flea markets, vintage fairs and stores in the UK. I love to use unexpected elements - reclaimed pieces from vintage jewellery; semiprecious stones; rare African beads; and colourful textiles. I weave them together to create strong, expressive, unusual, one-off statements.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your work? Everything! I really look forward to working and it gives me great joy to take a design which was a concept and then translate that into a distinctive work of wearable art. Most of my day is spent beading and creating complex textures.
What did it mean to be part of Texprint in 2006? Being part of Texprint was amazing - it gave me a great platform to showcase my work and my skills immediately after I left university. Through exhibiting at Indigo, Paris, I had the amazing opportunity to collaborate with designer Christian Lacroix and I have gone on to sell my pieces to other prestigious design houses.
What are your plans for the future? I want to continue to maintain my craftsmanship and keep my creative spirit alive, making unique conversational pieces and continue to wow people. It gives me great joy to know that my pieces are appreciated by so many people, including celebrities.
I want to continue to raise awareness of re-cycling and up-cycling. I’m planning a bigger studio – I want to do workshops to start teaching others how to use their creative skills. I also want to take this idea to Africa. My ultimate ambition is to make my brand more accessible and eventually to be recognised across the world. I aspire to be stocked in stores such as Harrods, Selfridges, Liberty and Neiman Marcus. I would also love to work with more fashion design houses and couturiers such as Dior and Jean Paul Gaultier.
What is your advice for those about to graduate this year? Three words: dream, believe, achieve. This gets me through everything. Hard work and perseverance pays off in the end. In this industry there are a lot of hurdles but if you are focused and believe in yourself and your product you will stand out from the rest. Love every bit of what you do and enjoy the joy it gives to others too - that is priceless.
Momo Wang’s Third Hand Collection
04 May 2012 by Editor
Designer Momo Wang (Texprint 2011) has alerted Texprint to her latest collection, called "The Third Hand". These are clothes and accessories that Momo has bought second-hand and which she has up-cycled in her typically imaginative mixed-media way, becoming the ‘third hand’ to give them a whole new life.
Momo, are you selling the collection? There are 12 outfits in all, and currently I don’t want sell them because they cannot be reproduced. Some of the accessories I might sell on Etsy.com later. I recently had two exhibitions in Beijing, and also held a workshop to teach people how to up-cycle second-hand clothes, it all went very well.
Where were they made? They were all made in my hometown Jinzhou in China. I bought all the clothes and materials from local second-hand markets there. The market is very cool.
Where were the film and look book shot? In a farmer's house and the mountains near my hometown, in a very small and beautiful village outside the city. View the video...
Momo, we love the idea of 'third hand' - any more thoughts or comments on your inspirations? Are you planning to regularly create one-off collections like this? The basic idea is to do what I can to refresh, renew, re-animate precious second-hand materials, and eventually deliver the beauty in them by my realization, and eventually have more and more people doing the same, or at least thinking similarly. A French philosopher once talked about third hand, Jacques Derrida. I like hands.
One-off is not really the major point, it is just that how I create makes it easier to have just one-off. I am happy with it, but I think I am open for other ways of working, such as, say, the conventional way; also, if it is possible, I don't think it is a bad idea to review my past collections and perhaps redo the projects.
What Texprint means to me: Lisa Stannard
18 February 2012 by Joyce Thornton
Designer and illustrator Lisa Stannard credits her Texprint experience in 2009 as being the catalyst for setting up her own business. Lisa, who won the Texprint Colour Prize that year, cites her inspirations as: nature, people, 1970s Pucci, Japanese artists and fashion, and fashion photography. Lisa’s versatile and sensitive graphic style, effortlessly encompasses printed textiles and fashion illustration.
What did you gain from the Texprint programme?
I don’t think that I would have had the confidence to set up on my own if it wasn’t for Texprint. Not only did we receive great advice on becoming a self-employed designer, but the Texprint team offered impartial advice on our work, suggesting ways to improve it, as well as ideas for future projects. Before we exhibited at Indigo, Paris we were given advice on how to handle potential clients and how best to show your work to buyers. Another bonus was that I made some really good friends, who I remain in touch with to this day.
Lisa Stannard, feather print for LA based brand Whitney Eve, left, illustrated tote bag, centre, print design for Matthew Williamson, Spring 2011, right
Your career highlights so far?
Winning the Texprint Colour Prize was a great start, as it came with a donation from Pantone, Europe and the opportunity to exhibit my work in Hong Kong at Interstoff Asia Essential - which was an amazing experience. Setting up my own business was a major achievement after Texprint. I have learned so much about business while being challenged all the time by new clients and fresh projects. At times it has been really hard, and I have often wondered if I could get it all done – and whether I was running my business right... and then suddenly great things happened. I was lucky to gather amazing clients early on, who I then formed great relationships with. I’ve designed for ASOS, Miss Selfridge and Victoria’s Secret, as well as illustrating catwalk collections for Amelia’s Magazine, and for UK fashion chain Oasis’s style magazine in association with the creative design agency Mill Co.
Lisa Stannard print
I have developed a strong relationship with Whitney Eve, a LA based brand created by US TV personality and designer, Whitney Port. After working with the brand for some time now, I’ve recently accepted a position as a designer with the company based in LA. I contribute to the creative development of the brand, working closely with Whitney to achieve her vision - by helping to design the range, including all the print collections, the look book, tags and website artwork. The brand has a place at the runway shows at New York Fashion Week, held in the Lincoln Centre on February 15, 2012, and I’ve been there helping with the show – it’s all very exciting. I’m also proud to have been featured on Vogue.com last year, following a commission to illustrate Lily Allen’s debut fashion collection. I’ll maintain my online shop selling art prints and a limited T-shirt collection.
Lisa Stannard illustrations for the Lucy in Disguise debut collection as featured on Vogue.com
Key advice to new graduates?
Be optimistic, put yourself out there and meet new people and network.
Be prepared to work hard, most students I talk to (through my teaching work) can’t wait to graduate – thinking they will never have to do as much work again... but I tell them - this is where the hard work begins!
Do lots of internships with a variety of companies - I wish that I had done more while I was still at university. I interned at Matthew Williamson after graduating for three and a half months in 2010, and although I had to fund much of this myself, it was great, I came back to my own business feeling more confident and reassured in my profession - I learnt so much from everyone there.
Don’t lose your creativity, if you are thinking of going into business alone there is loads of admin and business development work to do which can take precious time away from designing... stay inspired!
New Horizons: Marie Parsons, Allison Pilling and Ruth Duff
07 January 2012 by Joyce Thornton
2011 was an eventful and exciting year for all of Texprint’s 24. In the second of a series of updates, we highlight some of the exciting developments in the burgeoning careers of these talented textile designers. Here Allison Pilling, Marie Parsons and Ruth Duff share some of their Texprint experiences.
Marie Parsons, decorative trunk
Marie Parsons began an exciting new job in September 2011 as colour and material designer for the luxury car company Jaguar, based in Leeds. She says: “I am really enjoying the unexpected direction in which my career is moving.” Marie’s distinctive and imaginative mixed media work has application for both fashion and interiors.
Marie Parsons, shoes
She explains, “My new job is really opening my eyes, I am learning so much and really enjoying the challenge. I also intend to start working on a range of my own accessories in 2012 and will I continue to sell embroidery and mixed media work as a freelance designer, which I have been doing successfully since 2008.” For Marie, exhibiting with Texprint was a great opportunity to showcase her work: “I found that that the direct discussion and communication with industry professionals was one of the most insightful aspects of my Texprint experience. It was really valuable to listen to buyers and designers discussing how they would potentially use my fabrics and reproduce my techniques.”
Allison Pilling, printed textile
For printed textile specialist Allison Pilling the experience of exhibiting with Texprint in 2011 was confidence-boosting and career-changing: “I was excited about exhibiting at Indigo, Paris, and then I sold 26 designs! I was in complete shock. I sold 10 designs to a Brazilian company and then within 10 minutes I sold another 10 designs to a French company. Everything happened really quickly! I also sold five designs to Agnès B.
Allison Pilling, printed textile design
Exhibiting at Indigo gave me such a great insight into how the design world works. I hadn't previously considered working for myself - but I now know that this is possible - and that my designs would sell. It has opened so many doors - to work with companies from around the world. When I left university, I was dreading being out in the ‘big bad world’ – but now I'm really excited.”
Ruth Duff, selection of woven fabrics
Finally, weave specialist Ruth Duff is now working at Lovat Mill in the Scottish Borders. The company is renowned for its production of tweed fabrics and Ruth is working in the design department during a year’s placement. Ruth found her time as one of the Texprint 24 incredibly valuable. She says: “Indigo, Paris was a fantastic opportunity and a great experience. I didn’t know what to expect from the week but it was a real confidence boost to have interest and sales from design companies in the industry. It was a big learning curve; displaying and valuing my work and sticking to the original price that I had worked out was fair - through to writing invoices. I had a couple of sales at the show and I spoke to many designers from various companies who gave me some great feedback about my collections. I now have many contacts for future commissions.”
Look out for further updates on more of the Texprint 24 coming soon.
Quinton Chadwick; covetable contemporary knitwear
17 September 2011 by Joyce Thornton
Texprint alumna Jessica Quinton and her business partner Jane Chadwick form the successful independent knitwear brand Quinton Chadwick. Their relaxed, contemporary women’s knitwear is hand crafted and features quirky, unusual detailing that sets the brand apart. Trading successfully for 12 years, in addition to an online shop, the covetable pieces are also currently stocked in Fenwick, Heal’s and the Tate Gallery shops.
The friends, both knitwear specialists, joined forces in 1999, united in their mutual frustration of the gap they perceived between big catwalk statement pieces and dull, mass produced ‘collection fillers’. Their ethos is rooted in their desire, “to create beautiful, pieces that are full of character – to love and to keep”. All their pieces are hand knitted, using small co-operatives in the UK; the beautiful quality of their fabrics and the impeccable finish of the final garments defines their handwriting.
Fusing their talents and skills as Quinton Chadwick, the brand quickly made an impact with many independent boutiques as well as pieces being snapped up by Liberty, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges. They began exporting, showing the range in Paris in 2003, and were so successful they scooped a UK Fashion Exports small business design award the following year. They exhibit at Premiere Classe, (the prestigious up-market accessories fair in Paris), and this has helped them expand and consolidate their growing Japanese market.
The partners both racked up substantial commercial experience before they set up their own venture: this accumulated knowledge has undoubtedly proved invaluable. Jessica Quinton exhibited with Texprint after graduating from the RCA in 1987. She landed a design job with Missoni, living in Italy for over two years. Returning to the UK, Jessica joined Osborne & Little and also freelanced for brands as diverse as designer Nicole Farhi and high street chain Warehouse. Jane Chadwick studied in Scotland at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art before completing an MA at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She then created her own knitwear label as well as setting up an independent forecasting consultancy. The pair met while teaching part time – something they both still enjoy and commit themselves to – Jessica at Central Saint Martins and Jane at Kingston University.
The designers have honed their working relationship, sharing the design and creative process, with Jessica involved more with finance and order processing and Jane co-ordinating production and working with their knitters. They are riding the recession, having established a core of loyal customers, and developing the strengths they have in controlling their own UK based production. They see new possibilities in developing a flexible, bespoke service.
Jessica’s advice to new graduates wishing to emulate their success is this: “I would always advise working for a company to get commercial experience before setting up on your own. And don’t do it unless you are a pretty determined person, with a very ‘can do’ attitude. Then be prepared for some late nights and even some serious knock-backs – as well as the fun and excitement of launching your own label.”
Watch out for a planned Quinton Chadwick Christmas pop-up shop and an expanded online store coming soon.
Margo Selby: colour, craft and commercial success
20 May 2011 by Joyce Thornton
Texprint alumna Margo Selby has fused her creative talent as a weaver with a savvy commercial awareness to build a successful business over the last 10 years. Her shop in central London, along with her on-line store, showcases a wide array of wonderfully colourful products. Her pieces range from affordable cushions, purses and ties through to elegant upholstered furniture and bespoke rugs.
For new graduates embarking on their careers, Margo has this advice: “Don’t be afraid of starting out – if you believe in yourself and what you do, you can go a long way! Don’t be afraid to take the odd risk in business either – If I hadn’t have taken risks along the way then I wouldn’t be where I am now.”
Margo’s passion for mixing colour is at the heart of her work, she explains: “I adored putting colours together from a very young age. I started weaving at Chelsea, and I realised that weaving was all about just that. I respond to colour - it’s an emotional thing for me.” Margo’s inspirations include “the dazzling, beautifully woven saris of Varanasi, India; fluorescent colours from the Mexican fabrics of San Cristobal de las Casas; and the refined structural qualities of contemporary Japanese weave”.
Despite commercial success with products for major retailers such as Habitat, Margo still sees herself as a craftsperson, first and foremost. Starting out, having honed her skills in weave at Chelsea College of Art and at the RCA, she spent 18 months at the Ann Sutton Foundation, a renowned research centre for woven textiles, where she was a founding fellow. During this time she worked on projects for industry as well as her own work, developing her understanding of how to translate hand-woven pieces into her commercial and accessible fabrics with their trademark 3D qualities.
The year ahead looks bright and busy for Margo: “I’ve an exciting collaborative exhibition planned later this year at my shop curated by fellow RCA graduate Alison Willoughby and ‘People Will Always Need Plates’. Right now I’m working on some new rug designs – I can’t wait to see what they look like in production – and also on my next interiors collection. There’s never a dull moment!”
Wallace Sewell’s creative partnership
06 May 2011 by Joyce Thornton
Wallace Sewell is a design partnership – aka Harriet Wallace Jones and Emma Sewell – which has built a truly successful business while retaining the two designers’ creative integrity. With an impressive track record that spans 21 years, they are both friends and business partners.
Emma, a Texprint alumna, met Harriet at the RCA and they joined forces following their graduation in 2000. They each have complementary creative and business skills that have enabled their company to flourish, sharing the design work. Emma explains: “The diversity of our approaches continues still, yet because we trained together we understand each other inherently and can discuss our design work at great speed.” The shop and studio in London WC1 sells the company’s jewel- coloured woven products, throws, cushions, and scarves. Wallace Sewell also supplies a swathe of high-end retailers including Anthropologie, the Tate in London, and Barneys in New York.
The Wallace Sewell partnership champions British manufacturing - its textiles have always been made in UK mills. The product range spans womenswear, menswear and interior textiles. The company has also won prestigious commissions for Transport for London. Emma and Harriet have created iconic moquette fabrics for seating on London Tramlink, London Overground and East London Transit. Last year, the duo beat 350 entries from all over the world in a public competition to create a new fabric for the refurbishment of the Central Line trains. The tight design brief allowed the designers to use only four colours. But as Emma says of the experience: “It was so interesting and such a challenge – proper design.”
Emma credits Texprint with having been a great confidence boost in the early days, she says: “The chance to show and sell work internationally at Texprint was a great experience. Just two years later, we launched Wallace Sewell at Chelsea Crafts Fair and we took our first trade orders.”
Emma has this advice for emerging designers: “Be ambitious, aim to produce work that is always pushing forward and evolving, and that you believe in. Understand your strengths and also your market or niche. Charge correctly. Network, be open to advice - and always be aware that you do not stop learning after leaving college.”
Wallace Sewell will be showing new products at Pulse, Earls Court, London June 5-7, 2011.