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ComOn: the designer’s view from Como
20 November 2014 by Roger Tredre
Eight Texprint designers enjoyed seven-week internships this autumn at the heart of Como with some of the finest textile companies in Italy. It's part of the ComOn Creativity Sharing initiative, now in its eighth year. We summarise what they got up to and asked one Texprint designer, Frieda Peppercorn, for her feedback.
From left: Ailis Dewar, James Skinner, Charlotte Beevor, Frieda Peppercorn, Jane Zhang and Charlotte Kidger
The Italian companies that generously invited Texprint designers included Erica, Setere Argenti, I.S.A., Canepa, Lisa, Taiana, Tiare and Boselli. Chiara Pozzi of Textra, who is on the ComOn select committee, came to Texprint London earlier this year to personally select the eight. Texprint creative director Peter Ring-Lefevre once again coordinated and supported the designers on their trip.
Enjoying an Italian gelato!
Texprint designer Frieda Peppercorn says: "My internship was at Argenti, a digital printing company which is a short bus ride away from Como. They print for everyone from high end to high street brands. It was quite a contrast to my usual work because I was designing solely on Photoshop. It was so great to see the work all printed out once I had finished. It's so fast paced – a huge factory churning out print after print."
She adds: "The work I produced may be presented to their clients in the next few weeks, so I could potentially see my designs in the shops next summer. This whole trip has opened my eyes to the textile manufacturing world as I really had no knowledge and experience of it."
Another Texprint designer, Ailis Dewar, enjoyed herself too: "I have absolutely loved my time in Como and I am very sad to be leaving. I was working with Tiare, which specialises in high-end technical woven and printed fabrics and has a star-studded clientele! I started getting to know past collections in the archives of the company and researching upcoming trends, then moved on to factory trips and fabric/yarn meetings. The last month has been spent heavily involved in the S/S16 collection, creating hand-drawn designs and colourways. The experience has given me a very structured insight into the design process at industry level."
Designers preparing for their Creativity Week presentation
One of the highlights of the interning is the Creativity Week, part of ComOn, which opened on October 6 with various workshops and launching 'Poems written on Paper Boats' on Lake Como. There were visits to Ratti and Canepa with their internationally highly regarded textile archives and printing facilities. A Streetscape3 Art project was launched involving local artists making art installations, sculptures and huge wall paintings around Como streets and buildings.
Frieda Peppercorn says: "Creativity Week was great fun. I loved visiting Ratti, such a fantastic place, so vast and so passionate about new and exciting printing and weaving techniques. We could see lots of drawing and painting going on in the design offices. It was so fascinating to see the vast production using more or less the same machinery and techniques that we have at university, but of course on a much larger scale and just a little more high tech!"
She notes: "I also loved visiting Curve Pericolose which was a small lingerie design studio, just a few rooms where they design and produce prototypes. Such a successful business all situated in this little house. I love the variety of textile manufacturing here, from vast factories like Ratti to small studios like Curve Pericolose."
Cristina Vigano of Argenti, and part of the ComOn team, organised once again an exhibition of innovative fashion garments and accessories created by Como fashion schools and displayed in the Antonio Ratti Cultural Space.
With Margherita Rosina at the Antonio Ratti Foundation archives
The Creative Sharing programme for the interns included visits to the Como Silk Museum, Antonio Ratti Foundation and archives where there was a retrospective on Emilio Pucci. Other highlights included a TrendsOn presentation by Nelly Rodi's Paris office and a visit to Serico's textile lab offices.
Emilio Pucci retrospective on show at Antonio Ratti Foundation
Texprint designers also joined ComOn designers from other countries for a two-day seminar run by David Shah, publisher of Textile View magazine and a well-known industry consultant who has long supported Texprint. This year's challenge from David was 'Nostalgia'. Each designer was asked in advance to prepare and present their four chosen 'Nostalgia' subjects from 1920 to 1990. Four groups were then created across nationalities, each with a tutor steering the proceedings. David reworked these groups into four based on similar cultural backgrounds: the British, the Northern Europeans and two Italian groups. The results were later presented by David under the title, 'The Passion for Nostalgia', at a ComOn event at the Chamber of Commerce.
Working with David Shah
For Frieda, the project was another highlight of the trip. "David really got us thinking. The task was very tricky: it was a really good exercise trying to think about what the world will be like in 20 years time."
Peter Ring-Lefevre of Texprint concludes: "The Como textile industry has really set a world-class precedent in organising some 20 internships for young textile graduates. The global textile industry should take note of the success of this initiative. This kind of relationship is crucial for the industry's future, ensuring a constant flow of raw, bold and innovative textile creativity."
Archives at Canepa
Review of the year - Texprint 2013: Trained in Britain
31 December 2013 by Editor
Since early in 2013 when new initiatives were tinged with a certain financial caution, I’m delighted to confirm that Texprint made strong progress throughout the year, with some considerable success on the sponsorship front.
The Texprint mantra of ‘supporting creative futures’ has never been more true than in 2013. Under the aegis of our Trained in Britain initiative Texprint introduced a new Hero Mentors scheme, and with sponsors The Drapers’ Company has also initiated a pilot for longer-term Trained in Britain internships in industry, the first with Pattern Prize sponsor Liberty Art Fabrics, which will take on its first Texprint Innovation Intern in January 2014.
The support shown by Texprint alumni for the Hero Mentors scheme has been outstanding - 24 new alumni matched with 24 established textile designers, passing on their wealth of personal experience and deep understanding of the textile, fashion and interiors industries to the next generation of textile talent, helping to make the period of experience gathering between graduation and eventual career even more meaningful.
All our Hero Mentors are highly regarded in the textile industry, a significant number run their own international businesses, and many already give their valuable time to join the rigorous Texprint Selection Panels. We are extremely proud of the strong relationship Texprint has maintained with its alumni over the years and continue to feature many success stories on our website.
Back in July 2013, the Texprint London event, where the selected designers exhibit together for the very first time, was rethought through necessity to create a ‘pop-up gallery’ feel (the gallery space kindly donated by Chelsea College of Art & Design). Having decided to forego the private view, stand build and alumni display of past years, the impact of this new approach was surprisingly positive with the invited visitors spending much more time than previously reviewing work and talking to each of the designers, who found this an invaluable experience. The judging of the Texprint Prizes, donated by The Clothworker's Foundation, Liberty Art Fabrics and Pantone, and the second Lululemon Texprint Award, also took place at the event.
In Paris in September, through the generous sponsorship of Première Vision SA, the Texprint designers once again exhibited at Indigo/PV alongside professional studios; the designers’ stands ranged together down a ‘street’ in Hall 5 giving visiting international buyers and press the ideal opportunity to review the diverse and highly creative work of the 24 Trained in Britain designers. The judging for the third Woolmark Texprint Award also took place at Indigo. See photo reports, here and here.
For the first time a film documenting the Texprint designers’ Indigo experience was made - this kindly funded by Dominic Lowe of the Sanderson Art in Industry Trust, and created by RA Collaborations. Sponsors, designers and management all contributed, telling the story of the event in a new and vibrant manner. The resulting short film can be seen on the Texprint website.
2013 also saw Coutts generously hosting its second Texprint dinner at their headquarters on the Strand in London; an exciting new collaboration with interiors specialist Surface View; and for the first time, thanks to sponsor Messe Frankfurt (HK), an opportunity to exhibit the prize winners work at what is now the major Asian textile fair, Intertextile Shanghai.
Florence Angelica Colson, Texprint 2013, delightfully, sums up her experience: “Texprint for me has been the best thing I could have wanted to happen to me after graduating; it’s been an amazing opportunity. From the word go, great things have come from being part of Texprint - after the London exhibition I was selected to licence designs to Surface View, I was chosen to go to Italy to intern for 2 months, and although I did not know at the time, I won one of the Lululemon Texprint awards.
Italy was a weird and wonderful experience and from this I also ended up exhibiting at Mare di Moda, Cannes, which without Texprint I definitely would not have done! Also being handed the means to exhibit and trade at Indigo in Paris under my own design name was amazing and something that none of us would have been able to do by ourselves without the help and support of Texprint. Texprint has been a brilliant support network, both mentally and financially, and the other Texprinters have become like a little family to me after the experiences we have shared! Anyone chosen for Texprint is very lucky and I am so grateful for everything.”
Texprint sponsors have long understood the vital importance of reinvigorating their industry by encouraging creative young textile designers to form part of their future heritage.
Our heartfelt thanks to all our sponsors for their support, their vision, and for their steadfast investment in the next generation of Trained in Britain textile designers - and our very best wishes for 2014.
ComON Creativity Week and industry Internships
11 November 2013 by Editor
Texprint’s ongoing relationship with the ComON Creativity Week and the prestigious Italian textile mills based in and around Como develops year-on-year. These companies have long understood the vital importance of re-investing in their cultural heritage by welcoming creative young textile designers to form part of their future.
Texprint designers with Margherita Rosina and Francina Chiara of the Antonio Ratti Foundation / Designers from left: Roozbeh Ghanadi, Kazusa Takamura, Ffion Griffith, Cherica Haye, Florence Colson and Minnan Hui
The Como textile industry is globally renowned for creating the highest quality printed silks, fine cottons and luxury weaves for the international luxury market, and more recently for the high street. Their comprehensive archives provide a rich source of historical reference and future inspiration.
More than ever supporting graduate designers through properly structured internships is invaluable in helping them fast track their experience and commercial understanding, and October 2013 saw 6 Texprint weave and print designers, selected by Marco Taiana of Tessitura Taiana Virgilio SpA and the manager of the ComON event, and invited to work 7-week internships in Como. The Texprint designers were among 15 textile designers selected from all over Europe, also invited to participate in the invaluable ComON programme of industry visits and creative challenges.
Included in the programme were visits to the Giorgio Armani headquarters in Milan, and to the Canepa and Antonio Ratti archives at their respective company headquarters.
Texprint designers at the Antonio Ratti Foundation in Como with archive manager Francina Chiara
Left: Ffion Griffith at the Canepa Textile Archive / Right: Designers with Francina Chiara at the Antonio Ratti Foundation Archive
Central to the ComON week was the 2-day seminar lead by the inspirational David Shah, publisher of Textile View magazine, with support from Texprint’s creative director Peter Ring-Lefevre. David’s keynote speech, presented at the Como Chamber of Commerce, was entitled Morality in the Pursuit of Consumerism and challenged each young designer to think about what Made-In meant to them. The selected Made-In presentations were then presented at a gala at the Villa d'Este to the Italian industry and Trade commissioners based in Milan from Japan, USA and France.
Peter Ring-Lefevre, invited tutor for the Made In seminar, mentoring the designers
Another highlight of the Villa d'Este gala event was the special invitation extended to Emma J Shipley (Texprint 2011) to tell the story of her highly successful two-year career establishing her eponymous accessories company. In October 2011 Emma worked her internship with Ratti SpA, one of the leading Como-based companies in the international luxury textiles industry. The bulk of her production is now printed in Italy and stems from this early relationship building and experience of the production process. Earlier this November Emma won the prestigious Avery Dennison Emerging Fashion Brand Award at The WGSN Global Fashion Awards.
Left: David Shah with Emma J Shipley / Right: Michele Vigano, head of family-owned business Seterie Argenti SpA, with Florence Colson at the launch of the Instacomon graphic competition at Mitchum store Como
Three Texprint designers – Florence Angelica Colson, Minnan Hui and Roozbeh Ghanadi - were also selected by the Mare di Moda committee to attend the Mare di Moda Resort Fabric Fair in Cannes early November.
Confindustria Como/ComON and Marzotto Group/Ratti SpA are valued sponsors of Texprint.
ComOn: creativity week and internships
08 November 2012 by Editor
More than ever supporting graduate designers through properly structured internships is invaluable in helping them fast track their experience and commercial understanding.
The Italian trade organisation Confindustria Como represents a core of 300 Como-based textile companies and is responsible for organizing ComOn, a unique multi-disciplinary enterprise aimed at supporting promising young talent in the areas of fashion, design and art by offering real work experience in industry in the Lake Como area of Italy.
Their continued sponsorship of Texprint has this year provided an invaluable and unforgettable experience for six talented Texprint 2012 designers selected to participate in the ComOn creativity week, held October 15 to 20. Alice Howard-Graham, Manri Kishimoto, Sophie Manners, Israel Parra-Zanabria, Sophie Reeves and Amber Sambrook travelled to Como for a series of presentations, workshops and visits to some of Italy’s most prestigious mills. They joined a larger group of graduate designers from Europe and Brazil, 22 in total.
Israel, Alice, Manri, Sophie Manners, Sophie Reeves and Amber
The designers' experience gathering included visits to the silk museum, Centro Tessile Serico, and to Ratti (Texprint supporters) and Canepa to view their state-of-the-art production facilities and their inspiring textile archives; also to the Missoni and Ermenegildo Zegna headquarters. Trend leader Li Edelkoort introduced her s/s 2014 trends.
The ComOn creativity-sharing workshop Last Century, Next Century Icons was a highlight. Working in groups the designers shared their thinking and decision-making; presenting their conclusions to inspirational workshop leader David Shah, publisher of Textile View magazine, and ultimately to local industry heads on huge banners at a gala dinner at Villa Erba (once home to film producer Luchino Visconti).
Peter Ring-Lefevre, Texprint’s creative director said: “David Shah's involvement was so energizing, his fantastic interaction with the young designers got them thinking in very new ways. Hopefully the presentations back to industry equally energised the design professionals involved.”
Sophie Manners and Israel talking with Barbara Majocchi of ComOn
Moda di Mare, the swimwear show held annually in Cannes, ran a workshop in collaboration with ComOn: the designers presenting specially created work to several swimwear manufacturers. We were delighted to hear that two out of the three winners were Texprint designers: Manri Kishimoto and Israel Parra-Zanabria. All three winners were invited to attend the exhibition in Cannes 6-8 November and to design the Moda di Mare trend area.
Giuseppina Shah of View Publications with Israel and Manri at Moda di Mare
The six Texprint designers have now embarked on seven-week internships with major Como-based textile companies: Alice Howard-Graham (print) with Canepa, Manri Kishimoto (print/multi-media) with Taiana, Sophie Manners (weave) with Taroni, Israel Parra-Zanabria (print) with Rotary Textiles, Sophie Reeves (weave) with Luigi Verga, and Amber Sambrook (print) with Argenti.
Our thanks to all these companies for providing the designers with this unique opportunity to experience working in textiles in Italy.