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From Texprint to academia: Elaine Igoe
24 November 2014 by Roger Tredre
Texprint encourages its designers to stay in touch. We love to hear how careers have progressed and share their news. So meet Dr. Elaine Igoe – yes, a doctor of textiles! – who was a Texprint designer back in 2001 and has gone on to a stellar academic career.
She remembers with fondness her Texprint experience. Winning the Breaking New Ground prize. Meeting the likes of Donna Karan, Ornella Bignami, Luca Missoni. Visiting Hong Kong and China ("something I could only have dreamed of doing"). Even the bad stuff is fondly recalled from the distance of 13 years – such as falling ill with food poisoning on her last day in Hong Kong and having to be nursed onto the plane by Texprint's Christian Dewar-Durie.
Step forward Dr. Elaine Igoe, Senior Lecturer in Fashion and Textile Design at the University of Portsmouth. It's wonderful to discover that a bona fide doctor of textiles has emerged from the Texprint group of distingished alumnae.
Elaine completed an MA in Fashion: Textiles for Fashion at Central St Martins after showing at Indigo and Interstoff Asia and designing a collection of menswear for London Fashion Week in 2003. She then embarked on an academic career at the University of Portsmouth and, after completing a PGCE, began a part-time MPhil/PhD study at the Royal College of Art in 2005.
After many exciting years of research (interrupted by maternity leave) she completed her PhD in February 2014. The title of her PhD is appropriately formidable: "In Textasis: Matrixial Narratives of Textile Design".
How did you find yourself drawn to the academic route?
After completing my MA at Central St Martins, I realised that I really enjoyed talking about and thinking about my working methods as a textile designer. I was always interested in a concept and process led approach to designing surfaces. I had long known that I wasn't a commercial textile designer, but that my textile designs were examples of what textiles could be, and therefore innovative and had a certain value to industry. I knew that by following an academic route, I would be able to pursue my interest in talking about the textile design process as well as undertaking more formal research to develop my processes and theories.
It's great that you are a Doctor? Do you find you need to do a lot of explaining to non-academics about what exactly you specialise in?
Oh yes indeed! In fact, the premise of my doctorate is based on the lack of knowledge about textile design, and that's not even generally, but even within the wider world of design. My thesis aims to begin an articulation of the textile design process and how this sits with design research theory. It touches on feminism and psychoanalysis to help explore the nature of textile design and the specific type of knowledge it involves. When explaining what I do, I stress that its textile design, and this seems to help people understand a little better...I think!
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
It's different everyday and never boring, each year you meet a new set of characters, my knowledge of both my subject and people builds and develops constantly. Working within academia has given me the chance to be myself within the design discipline of textiles.
What did you think of the new generation of Texprint designers in London this summer?
Wonderfully varied and extremely talented as always. I particularly admired the surface embellishment and constructed textiles from the likes of Federica Tedeschi, Tali Furman and Flett Bertram as well as Charlotte Beevor's exuberant use of colour and mark-making. When I visited the Texprint Londonexhibition I was really impressed by the confidence with which they spoke about their work. In fact, I have since invited Federica Tedeschi to the University of Portsmouth as a guest speaker, the student's were really inspired by her.
Elaine Igoe and colleague viewing the work of Federica Tedeschi at Texprint London, July 2014
Any more good stories from your Texprint days?
My overarching memory of my Texprint days was the comradery from the other finalists and support we were given and I have been heartened by the fact that I am still remembered by the organisers, 13 years on from my own moment in the limelight. I do also remember being abit dumbstruck when Donna Karan herself came to look through my work and shook my hand, never mind Luca Missoni giving me my award!
For more on Elaine Igoe's research:
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
Alumna’s Story: Dominique Caplan, Gainsborough Silk Weaving
14 November 2014 by Jainnie Cho
Two years ago, weave designer Dominique Caplan was fresh out of London’s Central Saint Martins and itching to apply what she’d just learnt. Just one thing stood in her way: she hadn’t a clue how to navigate the fashion or interiors industries.
Working at Gainsborough Silk Weaving
Dominique soon realised the fierce competition that lay ahead of her. “I saw how many other designers were also graduating – all wanting to move into an industry which is relatively small,” she says.
Fortunately she had been nominated for the 2012 Texprint programme by her CSM tutor and granted an interview. Dominique says she went into the interview with Texprint creative director Peter Ring-Lefevre and a panel of industry experts with ‘clammy palms’, but she was successful and subsequently invited to undertake Texprint’s unique mentorship and exhibition programme with 23 other emerging talents.
But it certainly wasn’t all roses for Dominique after her selection. Internships with high-profile designers including Mary Katrantzou and Holly Fulton followed, but making her way in the industry was a struggle, not least because she was not earning money.
Perseverance paid off however, and last summer Dominique landed a job at Gainsborough Silk Weaving, one of the oldest commercial mills in England – a dream design role that has enabled her to rediscover her creative edge, with a constant flow of interesting and challenging work that mixes computerized techniques with traditional weaving methods.
We caught up with Dominique to talk about her Texprint experience, her new role and recent projects, and the growing artisanal approach in textile design.
Working at Gainsborough Silk Weaving
What was it like showing at Indigo in Paris with Texprint?
Texprint gave me something to work towards. Exhibiting at Indigo in Paris was a high point, though both exhausting and rewarding, and the realisation that now I actually had to make money from the work I had created as a student was quite challenging.
For every person who stops and looks through your work, a hundred others will dismiss your stand with a flick of their eyes. Very quickly you realize this is not personal - your work is not going to cater to everyone’s tastes or requirements. I believe this is one of the most important things I learnt from Texprint.
Also of key benefit were the many useful connections I made which helped me greatly in the following months.
Working at Gainsborough Silk Weaving
Tell us about your current job as a designer at Gainsborough Silk Weaving?
We work with a lot of high-end interior and fashion designers and it is always very interesting, challenging work. Most of what I do is computerized, using the modern jacquard looms we have at the mill, but there is much scope to be technically creative and try new approaches.
Gainsborough also still has 15 Hattersley looms from the 1930s, making the mill truly unique. We have many of the original punch card sets and having access to the traditional method of jacquard weaving is very special.
There is also an extensive archive of amazing fabric samples dating back to the establishment of the mill in 1903. Among my personal favorites are the Crewell loom silks and the hand cut velvets. There is a real connection between past and present and I feel very lucky to contribute to Gainsborough’s rich history and future.
Textile installation inside the Oxford Brooks University
You were involved in designing an impressive, large-scale textile installation inside the Oxford Brooks University – a 3x10 metre installation that is a mirage of intricate textures, patterns and gradients. What was the experience like?
The installation was designed by Peagreen and woven by Gainsborough Silk Weaving. As the designer on this project I was responsible for liaising with Peagreen whilst altering their original design in order to make it weavable. At Gainsborough, the looms repeat two times across the entire fabric width, so we were weaving two artwork panels for the instillation at a time. However because Peagreen wanted each panel to be very different, I had to work out ways to create the colours they wanted, using the same wefts and weave structures, whilst only changing the warp colour. I had four warp colours in total and eight weft colours to play with. It was an all-consuming project!
How do you see the UK textile industry evolving? It seems there are two big trends – use of digital and a return to craft.
Trends are moving in an exciting direction with new approaches and methods of creating textiles emerging. From my own experience, I believe there has been more of a shift towards the artisanal approach as customers become better informed. There is also a premium placed on British made, which I feel is largely substantiated by the quality of the fabrics and skills involved. Craftsmanship is part of our heritage and I sincerely hope that the British textile industry continues to gain respect and overseas business.
Gainsborough Silk Weaving archives
Diary: Intertextile Shanghai October 2014
09 November 2014 by Roger Tredre
Sponsorship Director Joanna Bowring led five Texprint prize winners to exhibit at Intertextile Shanghai in October with the support of the event's organiser Messe Frankfurt (HK) and The Woolmark Company. Here's her diary of a busy few days.
Yoty and Nustar, from Zhe Jiang University of Media and Communication, with Joanna Bowring
Setting-up day – Sunday October 19
Arrived at the show around 11.30, registered myself and the Chinese student helpers. Went to the stand, put up what I could on my own and then prepared panels, ironed fabric etc. until the students arrived around 2.30. They are Yoty and Nustar, from Zhe Jiang University of Media and Communication. Their involvement had been arranged through Texprint alumna Momo Wang whose friend, Chen Xi, is Module Director of Fashion Design. I didn’t realise that they live about two hours outside Shanghai, and are staying in a hotel. Xi had asked the class who would like to do it, and they volunteered, which I told them was a very positive and professional thing to do! We finally finished around 6pm and staggered back to our respective hotels.
Day 1 – Monday October 20
Woke very early in a panic thinking I had overslept. From my hotel I saw people doing tai chi in the morning mist in Century Park – wonderfully calming.
Took shuttle bus from hotel to the exhibition, joining a massive queue, or series of queues, of exhibitors penned up like sheep in lines until the official exhibitors’ opening time of 8.30am. After a mad scrum, I arrived at the stand which was still intact – none of the displays had disappeared or fallen off, and the four smiling portraits of the winners were very welcoming and comforting. The two student helpers arrived promptly, looking very smart.
The first day was invitation only and was very busy – the studios either side of us were often packed, and there were quite a few visitors to the Texprint stand. There was a lot of interest in all the fabrics, particularly Federica Tedeschi’s embroidery and Tali Furman’s pieces too, especially her new marbled effect prints on wool and her wool flocked plastic. Many of the visitors’ business cards are only in Chinese, and I fear that the winners are going to receive a torrent of emails in Chinese... There were also some visitors from South Korea, the US, India, Vietnam and Pakistan.
Friendly faces included David Shah of View Publications on a flying visit (as always), Peter Ackroyd and Julie Davies from The Woolmark Company, and Italian textile consultant Angelo Uslenghi, who was here for Milano Unica and was wonderfully enthusiastic in his greeting! He was rhapsodic about Federica Tedeschi’s embroidery – so directional for Spring/Summer 2016. Fellow exhibitors Dietmar Voegel of Circleline and Hiro, the agent for Whiston & Wright, were charming neighbours.
Intertextile is changing. There are now quite a few Italian mills which have moved out of Milano Unica’s walled city and have stands in W1, SalonEurope, the most prestigious hall for foreigners. Miroglio has a huge stand – I spoke to Pier Luigi Cassinelli there, who told me they have been in China since 1993. He also said they were very pleased with the new Miroglio Texprint Award and with the winner, Charlotte Hetheridge.
In the evening there was a lavish reception and dinner for the 20th anniversary of Intertextile. Six hundred guests had been invited to a seated dinner. There was a massive Oscars-type screen, swelling music, a glamorous TV presenter and many speeches in Chinese acknowledging important dignitaries and different categories of awards for faithful exhibitors, with each group parading onto the stage. Went back on the metro and slept very well.
Our helpful student translators, Yoty and Nustar, with Dietmar Voegel of Circleline
Day 2 – Tuesday October 21
Started the day looking out of my hotel window to see an enormous yellow rubber duck floating serenely in the distance on the misty lake in Century Park. I later learned that it was by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, and will be in the park for a month.
Even busier today, same issues. There is certainly huge interest in the fabrics. Checked the press office and at least 50 press releases in Chinese had gone, so added some more.
Angelo Uslenghi came by the stand with one of the owners of Cavalieri to show her Federica’s work. I went to Angelo’s presentation to an invited audience on Milano Unica’s trends in the afternoon and when I came back we had run out of brochures. The students had been enthusiastically topping up the pile of brochures, and didn’t understand that the ones I had held back in the cupboard were for the next two days.
Day 3 – Wednesday October 22
Spent rather a long time in taxis negotiating the city's traffic for Shanghai Fashion Week events. At the catwalk tent there were two woven textile graduates from Central Saint Martins waiting to see the next show, which was by a designer who had just graduated from CSM with them – such a small world.
Back at the exhibition, I saw David Shah, who commented that the growth in the appreciation and awareness of creativity and innovation in China over the past two years has been extraordinary, but the market needs to catch up in terms of the price it is prepared to pay for it.
Joanna Bowring with David Shah
Day 4 – Thursday October 23
The final day started with a walk to the exhibition halls through Century Park with Jane Makower, who is also showing. As well as seeing the enormous rubber duck closer up, there were stunning life-sized patterned ceramic horses and an enormous shepherd with his dog, sheep and horses all made out of plants.
The show was less frenzied but still a lot of activity. Designer Momo Wang came by with two friends who had recently graduated from London College of Fashion, one still based in London. Her new collection is being launched on Saturday. She said so much is going on in Shanghai, young people networking with each other, sharing info – she did a big promotion with Nike who are sponsoring young Chinese fashion designers. Tomorrow is an Elle magazine event with a huge party for young Chinese designers.
As usual, the taking down was really fast, and I crammed as much as I could into my small case and the rest into my tote bag. The 24 ‘tiles’ of the designers’ work were too tough to tear up and I didn’t want to leave any that might be picked up to copy, so took them back to the hotel where I slashed them with a scalpel, snapped them into small pieces and binned them. Job done – time to go home!
Texprint 2011 alumna Momo Wang
Jane Makower on the M Makower & Co Ltd stand
After Texprint: how designers continue to prosper
13 October 2014 by Roger Tredre
New textile designers selected by Texprint take their first steps in the professional world by exhibiting at Indigo in Paris. Later, many of them choose to continue the relationship with the industry's leading creative textiles show.
Besides the 24 designers who are chosen by Texprint every year to show at Indigo (part of Première Vision Pluriel) in September, there are plenty of other former Texprint designers along the aisles – now operating independently and thriving in their own right.
This year, we tracked down two alumnae, Hannah Hope Johnson and Pepe Lowe, who were with Texprint as recently as 2013. Now they're sharing a stand together – a sensible cost-saving decision, also helped by support from UKFT – and are enjoying working in the 'real' world.
Pepe Lowe (left) and Hannah Hope Johnson (right)
Hannah Hope Johnson, who studied at Leeds School of Art, can't stop talking about her experience since she was with Texprint – and her enthusiasm is infectious. "After Indigo I was approached by a couple of London-based studios. I had interviews at both and was offered design positions at both. In the end, I decided not to take up either offer, it was a gamble, but a decision I am now pleased with. I saw that working in a studio didn't give me the creative freedom I was looking for."
The designer shows us her new work, focusing on dark romantic florals. "The geometrics inspired by Art Deco were part of my graduation collection, but during the Texprint exhibition in London I found a lot of people looking through my other work and admiring my florals. So I showed light summer florals at Indigo in February. And now I'm developing them in a darker direction."
Hope Johnson is now living in Paris with her French boyfriend and working with the founder of a new accessories label launching in 2015. "She's offered me a fantastic contract where I work three or four days a week for her and on my days off I dedicate my time to painting and creating my own collection of prints."
Separately, Pepe Lowe has launched a digital print silk womenswear line under her own name. She likes to play with free-flowing colours, textures and patterns together with a rigid grid or controlled line. "I translate these ideas into fabric either through digital or hand stitch, together with digital prints from either my photographs or drawings."
She recalls: "Texprint was exactly what I needed after finishing at Chelsea College of Arts. That extra push after the final show was perfect – it set me up for the past year. Doing the Texprint shows in London and Paris really helped me form some of my first connections with companies I would not have had a chance to meet."
The fond memories are shared by designers who were with Texprint much earlier. Lisa Jukes was a Texprint designer back in 1998 and now shows at Indigo with designer Emily Sedgwick as Code Studio. "I don't think we could have done it without Texprint. It was such an eye opener into the industry, such an invaluable support. Some of those early contacts are still clients today."
Lisa Jukes of Code Studio
Jukes, who is a print specialist, found Texprint to be the perfect springboard. "It was actually more beneficial than my degree show because it placed us in the commercial arena. The whole experience was tremendous."
Many Texprint designers are now working in major jobs at some of the biggest exhibitors at Première Vision. For example, Italian giant Miroglio Textiles has an Irish senior print designer, Louise Somers, who took part in Texprint herself six years ago. And Miroglio now sponsors an Award with Texprint – to the delight of Somers, who landed her first job when she showed with Texprint back in 2008. The wheel has truly come full circle.
Texprint first: Miroglio’s new internship award
30 September 2014 by Roger Tredre
Leading Italian print specialist Miroglio Textile is sponsoring a new Texprint award that provides an opportunity for a young designer to work at the company. Designer Charlotte Hetheridge is the first winner.
It's one of the world's leading textile companies. An iconic name dating back to the 19th century when Carlo and Angela Miroglio opened a draper's shop in Alba.
Now Miroglio is at the heart of investment and innovation in textile design and manufacture, particularly in digital technology. Which makes the introduction of the new Miroglio Texprint Award for Digital Innovation a landmark moment in the evolution of Texprint, a charity set up to help new designers develop their careers.
The winner of the award is Charlotte Hetheridge, who studied print design at London's Royal College of Art. Besides winning a cash prize, Hetheridge has the opportunity to go to the company’s headquarters in Piedmont, Italy, and gain experience and exposure to the marketplace.
She says: "It's such a fantastic opportunity to develop my work. I'm completely overwhelmed and thrilled. My work has always been a mix of handcraft and digital – it's amazing that we are on the same page."
The prize has been initiated by Elena Miroglio, vice president of the Miroglio Group, and commercial director Chiaretto Calo. Elena Miroglio says: "We believe in education and we are on a constant quest to find new creative processes to bring to the company."
Speaking at the presentation at Première Vision Pluriel (September 17), Chiaretto Calo said: “Our philosophy is to push the boundaries of what is possible in textiles, combining creativity with high technology."
At Première Vision Pluriel, Miroglio Textile was promoting its new DMIx technical facility, developed with hardware and software specialists such as Caddon, Epson, EFI and Color Digital. The ground-breaking new technology enables Miroglio to reliably translate the visual impression of the colours and patterns shown on a mood board into identical production colours. It's a huge step forward for digital printing and confirms the company's status as a true technological pioneer.
Miroglio Textile is a long-time supporter of Texprint and the company’s senior print designer Louise Somers took part in Texprint herself back in 2008. "I remember coming to London for my first interview," she recalls. "I couldn't believe that a charity like this existed. It seemed like a dream! If you don't have connections, it can be so difficult to get going in a career."
Louise Somers on the Miroglio Textiles stand at Première Vision, September 2014
Somers, from Dublin, had studied printed textiles at Glasgow School of Art. "At Texprint, I didn't win the Print prize, but I got offered a job! I sold a lot of work. I had created lots of unusual illustrations, quite organically, not obviously commercial, with a different hand-feel. In Paris, an Italian mill offered me a job in Como. Two weeks later I was in Italy."
Later, back in London, Somers worked for four years at innovative retailer Ted Baker, designing prints for menswear and womenswear. And then came the opportunity to work at Miroglio. She is still based in London but travels between a studio in the centre of town and Miroglio's Italian headquarters. She says: "I focus on prints, particularly for the UK and Northern Europe markets. It's about being innovative, about newness and on-trend prints. We take orders both from the fast fashion and high-end market."
For Somers, the new internship award is great news. "We are very excited about it. Miroglio is very progressive with technology, such as the Evolution project to make products and inks truly sustainable within 20 years. And the state-of-the-art digital printers are incredible."
For winner Charlotte Hetheridge, it's going to be a great experience. "I can't wait to push my work to the next level," she says.
Texprint 2014: Indigo, Paris
18 September 2014 by Roger Tredre
Texprint's 24 young designers had their first taste of the international arena in Paris at Indigo at Première Vision Pluriel. They exhibited their work in the textile industry's leading global marketplace.
© Kaila Cox
The Texprint year reaches its climax in September in Paris at Indigo, the show for creative textile designers which is a long-established part of the giant Première Vision Pluriel exhibition.
Here, Texprint's 24 designers, carefully selected after a long and intensive interview process, and all recently graduated from BA and MA courses in UK universities, exhibit their work for the international industry to view.
Indigo (September 16-18) is a must-see for PV visitors – and Texprint's decades-long association with the event ensures the young designers have a high profile. The results can be remarkable: over the years, designers have received job offers on the spot; commissions from leading international brands; and plenty of hard-cash orders.
This year was no exception. The first orders for Texprint designers were placed within the first hour of the show opening. Charlotte Beevor, a print designer who studied at Leeds College of Art, said: "I sold four designs within an hour and 12 designs in the first day. It's been amazing!"
© Aline Nakagawa de Oliveira
For obvious reasons of commercial confidentiality, we can't reveal all the details – but there were some very happy faces by the end of day one, despite the difficulties of not knowing quite how much to ask for. "The pricing is a real challenge," noted Jessica Stewart, a print designer who studied at Loughborough University Design School. "You have to learn not to be too precious about it."
In truth, selling is not the priority for the designers. The Indigo experience is much broader than that. It's about learning from the professional response to work that has often been conceived within the protective cocoon of university. This is invaluable, whether or not orders are placed.
The second day of the show concluded with the presentation of the Texprint awards by celebrated Italian textile designer Nino Cerruti, who judged the Woolmark Company Texprint Award with Agi Mdumulla and Sam Cotton of hot British menswear brand Agi & Sam. Mdumulla and Cotton loved judging alongside Cerruti: "Our tastes came together despite being of different generations."
© Jonny Wadland with Nino Cerruti and Agi & Sam
Cerruti, a legendary figure in the industry, was keen to pass on his experience. "The world is full of crazy artists, but we are not in the world of pure art – we are in industrial design," he said. "It is easy to have a new idea. It is very difficult to have a new idea that sells."
The newness of the idea is important. One of the reasons buyers return again and again to the Texprint stands at Indigo is to find fresh creativity – to see exciting new work not yet too watered down by the demands of the fiercely competitive commercial market. Even if the technical challenges of producing the designs might be tough.
Mixed media designer Fedrica Tedeschi, from Switzerland, who studied at Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art, works with embroidery, weave and print and decided not to simply sell the work she had on display but to use it as a springboard for commissions. "A lot of my stuff is hard to reproduce in a commercial sense, so the wovens are fine but digital embroidery is still quite new in the market, so people are not quite sure how they would get it into production." So the commission approach worked? "Yes, I've been saying, how about if I design something for you instead? I got four commissions on the first day."
© James Skinner
Texprint aims to give its designers the tools and reassurance to follow their own creative paths. Jane Zhang, a Chinese designer from the Royal College of Art, who won the Texprint Award for Pattern, said: "It really does help to build my confidence. I'm very happy that the award was for pattern."
The other winners were Charlotte Beevor (Colour), Georgia Fisher (Space), and Federica Tedeschi (Body), with Tali Furman winning the Woolmark Company Texprint Award and Charlotte Hetheridge the new Miroglio Texprint Award for Digital Innovation.
And after Paris? The world awaits. Some are off to Como in Italy for internships. Others are heading to China for Intertextile Shanghai in October. The winners of the Lululemon Texprint Internship Award will be on their way to Vancouver. The next few weeks will be full of suitcase packing and visa form filling...
Although not all 24 designers could win an award, showing at Indigo was a great experience for all. As designer Francesca Stride put it: "Texprint is such a great opportunity – just being part of it is very special. There is nothing else like it."
Texprint 2014 designers with Nino Cerruti and Barbara Kennington (Texprint chairman)
In conversation with The Woolmark Company prize judge, Nino Cerruti
31 August 2014 by Editor
Nino Cerruti heads the Biella-based textile mill Lanificio Fratelli Cerruti. Founded by his grandfather in 1881, Nino Cerruti took over the business at the beginning of the 1950s, but is more widely recognised for the international success of his menswear fashion brands, Hitman and Cerruti 1881. He was the first designer to send men and women down the catwalk in the same clothes in 1968 and went on to create designs for a long list of celebrities and iconic Hollywood films including Wall Street and Basic Instinct. We talk wool, embarking in the textile industry and the role of judge with the master of cloth:
Your expertise as a fashion designer and creator of textiles will be absolutely invaluable to the Texprint designers when you meet them at Indigo in September 2014. Do you think that the work of textile designers is overlooked?
The work of people who work in textile design changes dramatically from the moment in which they join a company. When you work for a factory, you have to work to the ideas of the factory. And if you can bring a contribution then it might be a personal one. So there is a necessity that you lose some freedom. Personally I think that product development work should come from two professional perspectives; that of the designer and the merchandiser. There is a necessity of developing ideas, of looking around, but you are developing the ideas of a company, not purely your personal ideas.
Do you think it is important that we support new textile designers?
Every profession that believes in itself supports the next generation. Certainly the textile world has been under incredible stress recently and so faith in it has been weakened by doubt. Textiles has a faith, as it is so close to our bodies, to our daily lives, that it deserves more consideration than other consumer goods. It’s nobler than consumer goods, but it suffers the same diseases.
As a prize judge what are you hoping to see in the work of the 24 designers? What excites you in textile design, is it use of technology, use of colour, texture, drawing, skill or…?
I will try to judge in a balanced way, based on what I think can be useful for a person that joins a company and brings in the breath of youth. I think it is important to say that a piece of fabric is the result of several phases of the process. Like in medicine, you have various specialists – in spinning etc – in certain areas, but you still need the generalist that covers the entire process. It takes a long time to prepare people with this kind of knowledge, but it is important because otherwise you miss a point. You need generalists in textiles also.
What is it about wool that you love?
Wool is made by God. Nylon is made by humans. The artist is of a higher class.There is something more to wool. When we are born we are surrounded by wool. When you think of wool, you think of warmth, of family, of mother, in an intimate kind of way. It is probably inherited in our genes - at least in my generation. I believe wool is in danger – it is always associated with heritage, which is nice and tender, but it does not stimulate any enthusiasm. In today’s society there is a sin that is unforgivable, which is to be old. Wool needs to be reconsidered as something young and fresh. If you ask people if they think wool is cool they will look at you as if you are stupid. It needs to be promoted with seduction, which is very different. I am not sure if the iPad generation will still love wool in the same way?
From Texprint to Ratti and Louis Vuitton: Andrew Boyd’s story
26 August 2014 by Roger Tredre
This is the story of how a 35-year-old graphic designer from Hartlepool decided to rethink his life – and how Texprint helped him make it happen.
Andrew Boyd was in his mid-thirties when he came to the conclusion that his career had worked out the wrong way. He was working as a graphic designer for a company in London and earning a reasonable salary. The problem was that he received no creative satisfaction from what he did.
Over time and after considerable reflection, he decided on a radical and courageous solution – to return to basics, to rekindle the interests and skills of his childhood, to get back to when he was the boy at the back of the maths class ignoring what the teacher was saying and just drawing, always drawing.
So he told his employer and friends that he was moving back to his home town of Hartlepool to do precisely what he wanted to do. From now on, there would be no compromises. His friends admired his courage, although some told him he was crazy.
Home again in the north of England, Boyd enrolled at the Cleveland College of Art & Design in Middlesborough to study for a BA in Textiles & Surface Pattern, mowing lawns in his spare time to pay his way. As he approached graduation, he had no thought in mind other than to set up his own studio in Hartlepool and work through his creative ideas in his own time.
But then – and much to his surprise and with the support of his tutor at Cleveland – he was selected to be one of the 24 designers for Texprint, showing initially in London at the annual Texprint event and then moving on to Paris for Premiere Vision, where all 24 designers exhibit at the Indigo show-within-a-show.
Andrew Boyd's world was about to turn upside down. "Everything changed for me. The quality level at Texprint was just incredible. When I went to Paris with Texprint, I sold something like 12 pieces. In fact, I had already taken a first order in London from Jaeger for £200. I couldn't believe it – I almost gave another one away! Money was not the driver for me. It was the excitement of being appreciated at this level. In fact, the level of all the Texprint work was really impressing people in Paris. Visitors were saying our work was far superior to the commercial work here.
"And then I was approached by Luigi Turconi of Texprint sponsor Ratti on the stand in Paris. He asked me directly, do you want to work in Italy? I said I would love to, once I had been to Hong Kong with Texprint. A few weeks later, I was in Italy."
Established by Antonio Ratti in 1945, the Ratti Group is one of the leading manufacturers in the international luxury textiles industry. After nearly 70 years in the business, Ratti has developed a business that covers the entire finishing cycle of silk and other natural fibres, working with many of the world's leading design houses. For a designer, working at Ratti is about as good as it gets.
Angela Caccia, head of Human Resources at Ratti, says the company appreciated his skill sets immediately: "He was really good creatively. He worked in the design studio and the freeness of his designs was very well received. He had the capacity to express his creativity."
Within months, Andrew Boyd's work for Ratti had caught the eye of leading American fashion designer Marc Jacobs, then responsible for the Louis Vuitton womenswear collection. Before Boyd had barely adjusted to life in Italy, he was working on print development for Louis Vuitton, his designs appearing in the Louis Vuitton A/W 2011 collection.
Louis Vuitton A/W 2011 collection
Boyd had proved that individual creativity, given talent and determination and the right support, can find a market – even in the fiercely competitive modern marketplace.
Louis Vuitton A/W 2011 collection
Since then, he's become even more determined to pursue his own route. The relationship with Ratti has continued but Boyd has now returned to Hartlepool, not least so he can work as a freelance at his own pace and with complete creative freedom. "It was full on at Ratti. When I came back from Italy, I was empty."
He says: "I now have my little studio where I potter away doing little sketches at my own pace. I don't like commitment or barriers. I want creative freedom, which I can only get in Hartlepool."
Andrew says of the starting point of a recent project: “All of the prints are taken from a peg board from a local diy shop...I used a roller to cover them in emulsion paint and used a very light weight tissue paper as I wanted the prints to crease. I am curious to know how the creases will react with on another, hopefully they will start to come to life when I get my screens back and start printing onto fabric using a variety of resist techniques.”
He remains hugely grateful to both Texprint and Ratti (we spoke to him at Texprint 2014, with the team from Ratti also with us). "Texprint gave me the platform to introduce me to people. I've seen my work on beautiful, expensive fabrics. That's a great incentive. My continual challenge to myself is to see if I can reinvent a fashion classic. Spots, stripes, checks. I like that challenge. The classics reinvented, making them fresh, making them new."
Boyd's route to creative happiness isn't for everyone, but he is unrepentant. His message to new generations of Texprint designers is simple and uncompromising: "Stick to your thinking. Be confident. Believe in what you do. That's the way you get picked by Texprint in the first place. That's why you're here. Don't budge."
Inspirational visit to the Clothworkers’ Centre textile archive, London
03 August 2014 by Editor
New to the Texprint programme for July 2014 was a visit to the Clothworkers' Centre in west London, the most important national and international centre for fashion and textiles.
Based at Blythe House, the newly restored building brings the V&A's extensive textiles and fashion collection together under one roof, providing appropriate storage to enhance the long-term care of the collection, and providing facilities for conservation, storage, research and education. The V&A holds one of the most important collections of textiles and fashion in the world, ranging from archaeological textiles to contemporary street fashion and haute couture.
Guided by lead curator Edwina Ehrman and colleagues, the 24 Texprint designers were shown around the lofty and rather daunting corridors and conservation studios of this extraordinary building, completing the tour with a special presentation of key textile pieces laid out for inspection on the huge tables of the spacious public study room.
Dress worn by HRH Queen Elizabeth II, designed by Sir Norman Hartnell
Silvered leather dress designed by Gareth Pugh
Once the headquarters of the Post Office Savings Bank and originally designed by Sir Henry Tanner between 1899 and 1903, the sensitively designed restoration of this Grade II listed building was carried out by architects Haworth Tompkins Architects.
The corridors are lined with free-standing and rolling archive cabinets which incorporate 500m of hanging space and more than 7,000 drawers. Each of the over 104,000 items meticulously labelled and logged. The upper floor houses the conservation studio, washing and dyeing rooms.
The project to create this state-of-the-art facility was funded by a grant from the Clothworkers’ Foundation (also Foundation Sponsors of Texprint) augmented by additional support from other sources, and forms part of the V&A’s ambitious FuturePlan, which is turning spaces previously used as storage into public galleries.
The Clothworkers' Centre is located at Blythe House, at Olympia in West London, and is open by appointment to visitors and groups who would like to study and research objects in the textiles and fashion study collections.
Texprint in new creative skills initiative
29 July 2014 by Roger Tredre
Job opportunities for young textile and print designers look set to improve thanks to a new partnership between government and industry supported by Texprint.
The new initiative, backed by the UK government, could be hugely beneficial for young textile and print designers seeking to launch their careers.
The concept works like this: The government will provide funding for up to £183,000 to Texprint over the next two years, with roughly half of that money allocated specifically for a paid internship scheme for up to 20 designers.
For each designer, the government will contribute £4,750 on condition that the sum is matched by the employer. That means subsidised internships worth £9,500.
The concept is known as the Employer Ownership Pilot Round 2 (EOP2), a rather unwieldy title that disguises the bold and important nature of the initiative. The UK government likes to point out that the UK creative industries generate £71bn in revenue each year and support 1.71m jobs. Business Secretary Vince Cable says: "The creative industries play a key role in the UK economy."
Designer Emma J Shipley, a high-profile alumna of Texprint, says: "This is fantastic news for Texprint and means they’ll be able to offer even more support for talented textile graduates. Internships are one of the best ways of starting out in the industry and it’s also a huge opportunity for businesses to benefit from the very best in new textile design talent.”
Shipley found herself hobnobbing with government ministers at the high-profile launch at Channel 4 on July 14. The ministers were a little nervy – jumpy even. There was an explanation: Prime Minister David Cameron was in the middle of his Cabinet reshuffle. That's why Ed Vaizey, Culture Minister, and Matthew Hancock, Minister for Skills & Enterprise, were never far from their mobile phones while they waited for updates.
We learned later that both 'survived' the reshuffle – indeed, they prospered. Vaizey's role has been expanded to include digital industries, while Hancock has celebrated a promotion to Minister of State for Business, Enterprise and Energy.
That they took time out on the eve of learning about their new roles emphasised the importance of the initiative, which they have both championed. David Abrahams, chief executive of Channel 4, which is leading the project of behalf of over 400 creative industry partners in the scheme, explained that the initiative is creating internships right across the creative sector. "It's a fragmented set of industries that has [previously] struggled to speak to government with one voice... This is the largest collaboration ever achieved across the creative industries."
David Abrahams, chief executive of Channel 4
Now Texprint is reaching out to companies right across the textiles sector to support the initiative. Barbara Kennington, Texprint chairman, said: "We're very pleased that the value of textile design has been recognised by Create UK... Over the next two years up to 20 design graduates will be matched with both UK and international manufacturers and retailers to expand their hands-on experience of the industry."
At the heart of the initiative is a collective desire to see the widest diversity of young textile design graduates develop careers in the industry. Overnight success is not on offer: it's about enabling designers to gain a foothold in their chosen career. Government minister Matthew Hancock acknowledges that the first step in a career is always the toughest. The transition from university or college to work is exceptionally demanding. "It's hard to get a job without having been in a job."
Texprint London 2014: platform for new textile design talent
14 July 2014 by Roger Tredre
We look back on a memorable three days in London this July, when 24 young designers – the best of a new generation educated in the UK – attended the Texprint preview presentation in London.
After the rigorous interviews and the methodical sifting through over 200 portfolios and CVs, just 24 designers are selected. They have come from all over the globe but they were all educated in the UK and recently graduated from BA and MA programmes at colleges across the country. Weavers, knitters, printers and embroiderers – brought together for three days in London to show their work to the textile design industry.
Entrance display by Texprint 2011 alumna Emma J Shipley
The London preview presentation (July 9–10) is an important part of the process that climaxes in Paris in September at Premiere Vision, where all 24 designers show – and sell – their work to industry visitors at Indigo, the creative textile and surface design show-within-a show at PV. The excitement of the young designers in London was infectious. "I can't believe I'm here!" said Frieda Peppercorn, a designer who studied at Winchester College and whose witty prints inspired by Mrs Beeton were quick to catch the eye.
In London, the judges gathered the day before the presentation (July 8) to deliberate over the shortlist for prizes (the winners are announced in Paris). While the judges deliberated, the designers were on standby for further questioning. In London they also received their first exposure to Texprint sponsors, the press and potential employers and were given practical mentoring to prepare them for the next step of their careers. "It's fantastically helpful," said Jessica Hymas, a knit designer who recently left the Royal College of Art. "We've learned a lot about sampling and how to charge for samples."
On the afternoon of July 8th, the five judges arrived at Chelsea for four hours of intensive viewing and discussion. They represented a broad spread of expertise from across the industry, including Sarah Campbell of legendary textile design partnership Collier Campbell; Eifion Griffiths, CEO of highly regarded Welsh wool products company Melin Tregwynt; Sue Roberts, Design Director Home at leading UK department store group House of Fraser; Henry Graham, Chief Creative Officer of innovative London retailer Wolf & Badger; and Jill Chatwood, Design Director at fast-growing Vancouver-based Lululemon Athletica.
Judge Sarah Campbell examines the work of Aline Nakagawa de Oliveira
For these judges, there was an instinctive reaction to the work on display, but also a more considered response to consider and review, both individually and collectively. Peter Ring-Lefevre, Texprint Creative Director, urged them not to overlook the supplementary work: "It's often in the sketchbook that you get to know the real person."
Judge Henry Graham reveiws the work of designer Federica Tedeschi
The designers were called into the room for thorough questioning and scrutiny. They were invited to leave again. Names were tossed back and forth across the table. Excellence was celebrated, but there was a recurring complaint: Why did so many of the designers obsess about fashion? Why didn't they realise the huge potential of the interiors sector? The judges went back to the stands to review, and review again, the work. Slowly but steadily, a shortlist emerged. Names were read out and read out again. A tweak here, a plea there, a reshuffle – and another reshuffle. The debate always driven by an urgent, passionate desire from all involved that the right names should make the shortlist.
But the real pleasure of Texprint London is that everyone is a winner – because everyone is on the Eurostar to Paris in September. Hilary Scarlett, a leading textile and fashion trends consultant who regularly visits Texprint, had no doubt the designers will be well received in Paris: "The quality of work this year is stunning, really diverse, with sophisticated thought processes." Anne Smith, Dean of Fashion at Central Saint Martins, agreed: "It's one of the best years in a long time."
Designers Jonny Wadland (left image) and Ailis Dewar show their work to visitors
The judges were full of praise too. Sue Roberts of House of Fraser noted: "There are so many boundaries and restrictions in retail. It's great to see work with no boundaries." Sarah Campbell said the process of judging had been "very intense" and urged the designers to think more broadly about their work, particularly about its potential for interiors.
Judges Eifion Griffiths and Sue Roberts reviewing portfolio work
Some of the big guns of the industry showed up bright and early the next day to emphasise their interest. Karen Peacock, Head of Design at Marks & Spencer, was an early arrival. "For us, it's about keeping abreast of the talent," she said. "I consider Texprint to offer the cream of the crop in textiles and print. Not only is the standard very high but the students are also very good about talking about their work."
Texprint sponsors, such as John Snowdon, Clerk of the Worshipful Company of Weavers, agreed: "Our aim is to find the best. We always find them at Texprint." Roll on Paris!
Short listed designers with the judges: from left; Tali Furman, Charlotte Beevor, Jane Han Zhang, Georgia Fisher, Kaila Cox, judge Jill Chatwood, judge Eifion Griffiths, judge Sue Roberts, Jonny Wadland, judge Sarah Campbell, judge Henry Graham, Federica Tedeschi, Jessica Hymas, Beth Humes
Texprint 2014: Meet the Judges, Eifion Griffiths
03 July 2014 by Jainnie Cho
We talk to Eifion Griffiths, Chief Executive Officer of Melin Tregwynt, a century-old Welsh wool products company that’s all about family, quality textiles and keeping tradition alive.
For Eifion Griffiths, a love of high quality textiles runs in the blood. His wool mill business, based in a remote valley on the Pembrokeshire coast of Wales, is a family affair, started in 1912 when his grandfather, Henry Griffiths, bought the mill for £750 at an auction.
The 20th century’s tumult and challenges never broke Melin Tregwynt. The company survived the rationing system during World War II, the 1980s' recession and the 2008 global economic crisis. In fact, over the last five years, the company’s sales and production have more than doubled. Its unique range of wool blankets, throws and cushions – the majority of which is made through the traditional double-cloth weaving technique – has been the secret design ammunition for big name hotels, designers and retailers such as John Lewis, Heal’s, Margaret Howell and the Salthouse Harbour Hotel, among others.
A firm believer in maintaining traditional methods of producing textiles, Griffiths admits he is not a fan of digital print. “[Digital printing] replicates anything and everything, regardless of the process, seemingly without any additional effort from the designer/maker," he tells Texprint. However, he adds, “I am open to persuasion and would love to see a digital design that really explored the potential of the technology.”
Much as the slow food movement prizes local produce, Melin Tregwynt strives to use more British wool and labour. This year, the company plans to launch a range of fabrics using 100 per cent pure new wool sourced from British sheep and spun in the UK.
Talking to Texprint, Griffiths discusses the struggles faced by the British textile industry, the intricacies of creating top quality textiles and Melin Tregwynt’s rich history.
What are your thoughts on an organisation such as Texprint?
I feel very strongly that the industry needs to support its young designers. Texprint helps students negotiate the journey between higher education and the commercial world. It provides support, mentoring, some necessary signposts and maps to make that journey easier.
The textile industry has suffered as work has disappeared overseas. We are beginning to see an improvement as the market is learning to value home based and traceable production. However this is almost too late to halt the rapid disappearance of skills and an ageing workforce. There's a need to get design students and industry apprentices to learn the traditional skills associated with the textile industry and build on that knowledge before all that expertise is lost forever.
Our woollen industry in Wales is an example of an industry still based on family-owned companies and there is a succession issue for those companies whose family members may not be interested in continuing in the business. A demographic time bomb is ticking under what remains of the UK textile industry.
What is great textile in your opinion?
I like designs that have the maker's mark on them. You can see the imprint of the designer’s hand and the judgement of their eye in the finished design. I like it when the way that the fabrics are made/printed/woven partly determines the form of the design. They feel right and have an authentic quality that comes from the interplay of the designer and the process of making.
What differentiates Melin Tregwynt’s woollen products from others?
We work mainly in the Welsh weaving tradition of double cloth weaving. This has its disadvantages but it gives the products an authenticity and integrity that stems mainly from the fact that the design and structure are linked. You cannot alter the design without altering the weave set up, threading, number of shafts etc. It gives the product a depth that mere surface decoration would lack.
What did you do before getting involved in the family business?
Neither my wife nor I were trained in textiles. I was actually an architect before coming back to the family business. Sometimes a level of ignorance about what you can or cannot do is useful, as we have attempted and occasionally succeeded in achieving things that anybody with any sense would have probably left well alone.
How has Melin Tregwynt being a family-owned business for so long influenced the company?
Being a family company gives us a heightened awareness of our own history and tradition. We see the products as a continuation – and each generation has reinvented the tradition to suit its market.
My grandfather used local wool and sold through local markets. There was barter and exchange but the mills of Wales were part of a much larger supply chain where flannels were woven and sold to steelworks, coal mines and army. Seemingly quaint rural mills were actually part of a much larger industrial supply chain. That came to an end after the First World War. Mills struggled to survive but we were lucky and found customers.
In the 1950s, my father discovered tourism and sold directly to visitors to the mill and to other retailers selling to tourists in Wales. When I came back to the business in 1979, I set out to find a market away from the mill that would be interested in our products. Today, we operate in a global economy and sell to a global market place. We are once again part of a large supply chain.
How do you see Melin Tregwynt evolving in future?
We see our future as primarily a retail/design company with limited production facilities whose main concerns are innovation, product design and development. Within this framework we seek to protect existing jobs at the mill and to create new jobs.
We are a native Welsh company and we are committed to manufacturing in Wales. We are actively working with other small manufacturers to create and market the best Welsh designed and manufactured products.
In a textile industry where most products are sourced overseas, we also see ourselves as a possible training resource – an opportunity for textile students to have practical experience of manufacture.
Texprint 2014: Meet the Judges, Sue Roberts
30 June 2014 by Roger Tredre
UK department store group House of Fraser is an exciting company to work for, not least because the company is now poised for international expansion, including Russia, China and the Middle East. This follows the announcement in April that House of Fraser is being bought by Chinese conglomerate Sanpower, which wants to develop globally what it describes as an "iconic heritage brand".
The company, which has a 165-year history, has 60 stores across the UK and Ireland, including flagship stores in Buchanan Street, Glasgow, and Oxford Street, London.
On the creative front, a key member of the team at House of Fraser is Sue Roberts, Design Director Home, who has been with the company for a decade. Texprint is delighted to welcome her as a member of our judging panel for 2014.
We interviewed Sue Roberts to find out how her career has evolved and what her job involves.
How did you start out professionally?
After studying Textile and Surface Pattern at Cleveland College of Art & Design, I started my career freelancing as a textile designer specialising in embroidery. I then moved to London and worked for Marks & Spencer researching fabric trends for a few years before starting at House of Fraser where I worked my way up from Design Coordinator to Design Director. I have been there 10 years this year!
How important is it for you (and Texprint of course) to support the next generation of designers?
It is very important. I would have loved this opportunity. I didn't ever imagine that I would end up in the role I have. It is not directly related to my training but one wouldn't have come without the other. I think when you graduate you are not always aware of how your training and talent can apply to different industries. College nurtures and encourages talent and creativity, which provides you with the tools to go on to bring new perspectives to so many different areas, some of which you may not be aware of. The future of so many different things depends on it. Any experience of that industry you can get is invaluable.
What do you look for in great textile design?
There is never one thing. In my role I am constantly looking and buying textile design for very different end uses. It may be a print, an embroidery or weave, but if it looks new it is always refreshing. You always see lots of the same thing. I am looking for something that needs to be commercial but with an edge that makes it different to everyone else's. Something with a clear personality.
Why is the UK educational system so good at producing design talent?
I think we have some of the best art and design education in the world here in the UK. There is so much culture in the UK to feed from too – and some of the best opportunities.
Can you explain the parameters of your job?
I manage the Home Design Team at House of Fraser. I am responsible for creating all the seasonal colour and trend direction with my team. I also have created all the in-house Home Brand concepts and their DNA and work very closely with the buying teams to deliver these into stores. Once the trends are presented we go on sourcing trips to start the development process,
What's a typical day like for you?
The great thing about my job is that every day can be very different. I may start the day reviewing artwork with my team for various product areas that we create in-house. I may meet with individual buying teams to ensure the products they are developing work with the initial design vision. This is an ongoing process throughout the season.
I then spend time on a weekly basis with the marketing team to update on the Home Brochure, which is our in-store seasonal brochure. I am normally heavily involved in the concept, through to the shoot, then following the process through to print. I may meet with print designers to look for new prints for our eight in-house brands. All products are reviewed in stages throughout the season so there are a lot of sign off meetings across all product areas, from Furniture to Home Fragrance.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I think inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere. Travel plays a major part as well, from sourcing in deepest China, fabric stores in India, the colours of a fruit stall in Bangkok, to retail trips to New York or Berlin, flea markets, trade fairs, hotels, restaurants – everywhere.
Can you explain how you are seeking to evolve Home design at House of Fraser?
A few years ago I think you could walk down the high street and the Home offer was pretty limited as everyone housed the same brands. What has been so successful for House of Fraser is the launch of our in-house House Brands. By this Autumn we will have launched eight, which has given us the opportunity to design and develop exclusive products across a very diverse range of customer profiles from Biba to Shabby Chic.
Some we have created from scratch, such as Casa Couture, and for others we work closely with brand partners like Rachel Ashwell, the owner and founder of Shabby Chic.
We have never been able to do as much in-house design until now. As we continue to grow the design team I think the product offer will naturally evolve, become more exclusive and inspirational.
Internship Diary: Florence Angelica Colson at Lululemon Athletica
10 May 2014 by Editor
Selected in 2013 by Deanne Schweitzer, SVP of Design and Creation at yoga-inspired brand Lululemon Athletica, as one of two winners of the prestigious Lululemon Texprint Award, we catch up with print designer Florence Angelica Colson and follow her internship diary (weaver Cherica Haye was the joint winner of this award).
Unfortunately due to new visa rules Flo and Cherica were unable to work in Vancouver for the 3 months originally planned. Instead Lululemon took the creative initiative and invited the designers to Vancouver for non-working trips to find out more about the company ethos and working practices, took them to New York and Paris on inspiration trips, then set them projects to work on back in England.
Florence with Deanne Schweitzer (second left) and Lululemon design team at Indigo 2013
New York – 12 January 2014
The internship started with me being told on a Monday that I would be leaving for New York on the Saturday - this was crazy and so exciting! In New York I met up with Cassandra Sze (vision line lead) and Spencer Wyatt (colour designer); we shopped the city looking for new styling and colour inspiration, including visiting Soho and the new Dover Street Market store.
Joined a design meeting hosted by Cass and Spencer in the new Brooklyn store - feedback from the product users is invaluable so Lulu regularly hosts these in-store sessions. The company also feels it’s important to ‘sweat in the community’, to experience what’s going on in terms of sports and fitness, so while in NY we took part in a few yoga and spinning classes!
While I was in New York, Cherica met up with the Lulu team in Paris to work Premiere Vision and Indigo, sourcing new fabrics and prints.
Vancouver (home of Lululemon headquarters) – 18 January 2014
On to Vancouver to join a Lululemon induction week with around 25 other newbies enrolling in jobs across the company. A great opportunity to learn more about the company, what they believe in and what they still want to achieve - having and achieving goals is monumental within Lulu!
Also to be briefed by the Vision Pod team (each section of product development at Lulu is called a ‘pod’) who research the visionary colours, graphics and styling before giving them to the various design pods to be actioned.
“I was asked to be as creative as I wanted and not to worry about restrictions or the typical Lulu way of designing, but do what I liked and what I would wear. This was a great chance to experiment so I didn’t always stick to my usual design handwriting.
Worked on updating the Lululemon Manifesto – the emotive quotes, facts and opinions put together by the founder of Lululemon – phrases such as: do one thing a day that scares you, breathe deeply, creativity is maximized when you are living in the moment, friends are more important than money!I created little illustrations, pattern-filled lettering, big painterly lettering and a number of other ideas - all quite challenging as so graphics based, but it was cool and fun too!
Then was asked to create prints suitable for ‘tights’ – meaning running, yoga or other fitness leggings. I enjoyed this the most as of course print and pattern are my design passions! Although not all of the designs were my classic style, I stayed true to my design process and spent a lot of time generating work by hand, either drawing, painting or mark-making, and then manipulating and developing using Photoshop.
The final part of the brief was to look at new ways of adding reflective elements to product pieces. I found this really interesting and something I had never considered before. I am now obsessed - I run a lot and want to be covered in cool reflective pieces!
Inspiration board for reflective ideas
London – 1 February 2014
Back in London we met with Deanne Schweitzer and shopped all the great London haunts for the spring/summer 2015 inspiration report we were due to present to the Lulu team back in Vancouver.
“I find inspiration in everything. I love fashion - I’m pretty obsessed by it if I am honest! I spend hours trawling through fashion magazines and looking at blogs, Instagram and Pinterest - following designers, models, artists, architects, galleries, magazines, shops, as well as friends - so I really get a broad view of what’s going on and what’s inspiring others! At the moment I’m loving spacial design and room set-ups, and I’m head over heels for Celine. I’ve just booked to go to the Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition at the Tate Modern and I’m so excited as I think it will be really influential!”
London – 1 April 2014
Lululemon’s first UK store (Covent garden) opened in April, and for a week Cherica and I worked in the store for three hours a day as shadowing educators (everyone at Lulu has to work a number of store shifts whether you are a designer, IT technician or anything else!). We were also invited to the opening party. Lululemon'snew CEO, Laurent Potdevin, was there, plus the London ambassadors, Vancouver team, store staff, press and VIPs – it was amazing to be involved.
“My project was completed working from home (at my mother’s kitchen table which she kindly allowed me to take over for the duration!). I always start by drawing, painting or mark-making by hand, taking this as far as I can before scanning and manipulating.
To keep in touch with Vancouver, I would exchange emails with Cass a few times a week plus have a weekly Skype update conversation.”
Vancouver – 5 April 2014
The final week in Vancouver presenting our projects and a trend report of our London finds (plus doing some yoga and circuit classes of course!) – and thinking about what we’d learnt and achieved.
“I know I would have learnt so much more if I’d been able to work with the team every day, but even so the experience was amazing, and by taking me out of my comfort zone helped develop my design knowledge. Designing for the sports market is more complex than I realised - everything has to be technical, and functional, and appealing to the eye.
Prior to the internship I worked on a freelance project, designing the 2014 Specialized-LululemonWomen’s Professional Cycling Team kit using intricately drawn details, baroque and rococo shapes, pearls, jewels and florals in black and white. This was quick turnaround project, and challenging, as the prints all had to be engineered to fit the garment pieces. I’ve never had to think about a product in so much detail before – it was a great exercise in balancing hand craft and time management!”
Flo wearing the Team Specialized-Lululemon cycle kit she designed!
Future thoughts?“My dream is to collaborate with a fashion designer, even to learn to cut patterns myself so I can start my own fashion company where beautiful prints and garments would combine!
In conclusion, Flo says: “Texprint has been invaluable, I could not be more grateful. Through Texprint I exhibited and sold under my own name at Indigo; had my designs promoted by Surface View; interned in Italy; took part in the ComON creativity week, and was selected to visit the Mare di Moda show in Cannes – all experiences I would never have experienced so soon out of university without Texprint’s guidance and financial support. People still email me after viewing my online Texprint profile.
Winning one of the places on the Lululemon Texprint Award was amazing, it enabled me to travel to Canada and New York and learn so much more about the industry. Plus I have learnt so much from the Lululemon team, building up wonderful relationships both in and out of the internship that I really hope will continue!”
Liberty Art Fabrics internship marks Texprint’s first UK industry placement
28 April 2014 by Editor
With the aim of selecting and supporting emerging textile design talent, Texprint, in collaboration with long-standing sponsor Liberty Art Fabrics, has established its first industry internship in the UK, funded partly by Foundation Sponsor, The Drapers’ Company.
The first beneficiary is Texprint 2013 alumna Ffion Griffith, a graduate of Chelsea College of Art & Design. The weave designer began her year long paid internship at the start of 2014 with the title of new product development assistant. She is working on innovation for base cloths, undertaking extensive research as part of the Liberty Art Fabrics team.
Kirstie Carey, managing director, wholesale brands at Liberty, says of the internship: "I have always believed that innovation is the lifeblood of a successful business and sustained revenue growth. The investment in our innovation program at Liberty is a top priority. Bringing together the energy and fresh ideas of Ffion and the wisdom and experience of some established industry gurus, allows us to create the Liberty textiles and designs of the future. At the same time, providing an invaluable and supported introduction to the commercial world, for an outstanding young talent at the beginning of her career."
Carey continues: “Without doubt Ffion will bring ideas and opportunities to the table. With the enthusiasm and freshness of youth, she shares new ideas that are not influenced by years of experience or commercial practicality, challenging our processes and stimulating our production and technical teams. Hers is the 'can do...’ attitude that we nurture at Liberty. During the course of the graduate intern year I anticipate that Ffion will be involved in the development, commercialisation and global launch of three new products that will generate in excess of £1million in their launch year and significantly more in subsequent years.”
Fellow Texprint sponsor The Drapers’ Company, is a co-financial supporter of the new initiative. Andrew Mellows, The Drapers’ Company head of charities, explains the impetus to get involved in the new programme: “The Drapers’ Company is aware of the difficulties involved in finding work for graduating designers today. We understand that internships are a very good way for emerging designers to get their foot in the door. This particular Liberty Art Fabrics internship is a fantastic opportunity for one of these young designers to gain valuable experience within the textile industry.”
Heritage reconsidered for a modern audience is very much the theme that links The Drapers’ Company, Liberty Art Fabrics and Texprint.
To mark this connection, in mid-March 2014 designer Ffion Griffith and Tex chairman Barbara Kennington, were given a special tour of the Drapers’ Hall in the heart of the City of London in the company of Penny Fussel, senior achivist at The Drapers’ Company, and Jane Makower, court assistant.
Ffion Griffith (right) with Jane Makower
Founded over 600 years ago to buy and sell woolen cloth in Europe, the Drapers’ Company is incorporated by Royal Charter and is one of the Twelve Great Livery Companies. Around the late 1800s The Drapers’ Company became a charity and manager of investments, primarily in land and property.
The reception and dining rooms of the Drapers’ Hall boast a wealth of decorative pieces, including many fabrics, tapestries, wallpapers, carvings and carpets specially commissioned from renowned manufacturers past and present such as Crace & Sons, Richard Humphries Weavers, Aubusson, and Morris & Co.
The Drapers' Hall, City of London
“The Drapers’ strong belief in heritage and traditions feeds into our activities across all the sectors,” says Jane Makower, “including textiles; our internal textile working party was established to initiate pilots of textile-related schemes, in the main focused on encouraging young people to develop creative and hands-on skills in the workplace.”
Liberty is similarly grounded by its heritage and story. Ffion Griffith’s first project with Liberty Art Fabrics was to research and develop new base cloths for the internationally renowned Liberty print collections. In at the deep end, Ffion already feels she has learnt so much, visiting Premiere Vision and Texworld in February, and exploring the amazing Liberty archive resource.
She is now working with new head of design Tessa Birch on the brief for spring/summer 2016, and also with Emma Mawston who heads up the new Home Textiles division, developing designs for throws, blankets and cushions.
By working with Liberty Art Fabrics for 12 months Ffion will be fully immersed in the whole seasonal cycle, tracking the creative process from research and exhibition visits, to sketch and print development, to production and presentations to buyers – an extraordinary insight, and a great advantage when it comes to the next steps in her career development.
“The Texprint programme has been a huge help in guiding me at the very start of my career and developing my commercial understanding,” says Ffion, “ had it not been for Texprint, I would not be in the position I’m in today.”
We look forward to catching up with Ffion following her next 9 months at Liberty Art Fabrics.
One of Ffion's sketchbooks, photo taken at Texprint London event 2013
Texprint starts the year on a high: new prize collaboration with print innovator Miroglio Textile
14 February 2014 by Editor
With the aim of selecting and supporting emerging textile design talent, Texprint has developed a new opportunity with a key industry partner to help the best British-trained graduates reach their potential.
New Miroglio Texprint Award to further print innovation
Digital print specialist Miroglio Textile (MT) joins with Texprint as a Major Sponsor of the charity to found a new internship prize initiated by Elena Miroglio, vice president of the Miroglio Group, and commercial director Chiaretto Calo.
“Sponsoring the Texprint project takes on a great significance for us in terms of supporting the creative arts. Over the years Miroglio Textile has backed creative talent through a series of ventures. We believe in education and we are on a constant quest of finding new creative processes to bring to the company,” explains Elena Miroglio.
The winner of the internship will be chosen from among Texprint’s 2014 selected designers and, as well as a cash prize, will have the opportunity to go to the company’s headquarters in Piedmont, Italy, and develop his or her work in mass production; present his or her designs to MT’s customers and gain experience and exposure to the marketplace. Miroglio continues: “With the Texprint project we want to enhance even further our vision about product creation. We want our products to be original, to tell stories and to be able to reach our customers’ hearts. And to achieve this important goal we give the designers the chance to work with the latest digital technology where MT is a leader.”
Miroglio Textile is a long-time supporter of Texprint. And the company’s senior print designer Louise Somers took part in the programme in 2008. “There is something about the taste and a definite point of difference with UK-trained designers,” says Somers. “Texprint’s meticulous selection process determines the best and most creative emerging designers ready to enter industry. The work speaks for itself; it’s of a really high standard.”
"The new award from Miroglio represents an exciting development for the Texprint programme. After the selection and mentoring of the talented young graduates through Texprint, for them to have the opportunity for direct experience with industry is an invaluable asset that contributes enormously to their career prospects, and could even be seen as completing the vital design education process. It is particularly gratifying that one of our existing and long-term supporters, Miroglio, has the vision to take this step and increase its involvement with Texprint in this positive way."
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.
WGSN Global Fashion Awards, Emerging Fashion Brand: Emma J Shipley
07 November 2013 by Editor
The WGSN Global Fashion Awards held 5th November saw Texprint alumna Emma J Shipley winning the prestigious Avery Dennison Emerging Fashion Brand Award.
Speaking from the awards venue, the V&A museum, London, Tim Voegele-Downing, Global Creative Director at Avery Dennison RBIS commented: “While we saw phenomenal entries from all finalists, Emma J Shipley ultimately stood out. She created not just an electrifying collection but also a powerful brand that helps differentiate her products". The award includes a €12,000 prize from Avery Dennison to help elevate the brand.
Emma Shipley (centre), with Tim Voegele-Downing and Susie Lau / photo: Dave Benett
Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2011 Emma has won great respect, not only for her highly skilled and imaginative drawings transposed so beautifully onto silk, wool and cashmere scarves, but for her careful and creative brand development.
From the outset Emma has used social media to connect with fans and buyers - including guest editing the Browns London blog in May 2011 - and just a few months ago she launched her online shop.
Her business has also been built on smart thinking. Collaborations with Anthroplogie, Nicholas Kirkwood, Camira and Osborne & Little have opened new avenues and audiences for her extraordinary work. She has also exhibited at London Fashion Week. Retailers for her scarves include Liberty, Fortnum & Mason, Harvey Nichols and independent retailer Wolf & Badger.
Emma Shipley with Anne Tyrrell MBE
Confindustria Como annually supports six Texprint designers to participate in a programme of internships with leading Italian mills in Como to see the Italian textile industry in action, and 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.
In May 2013 Emma was also awarded the RISE Newcomer Award at the UK Fashion & Textile Awards 2013, presented by HRH the Princess Royal at One Mayfair in London.
WGSN, Confindustria Como and Ratti are all valued sponsors of Texprint.