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FEATURES: Home & Interiors
Flying high: Nancy Rose Taplin, Artist and Designer
12 August 2013 by
Artist and textile designer Nancy Taplin won the Interiors prize at Texprint in 2009. She was selected, and her prize presented by the artist Grayson Perry, an experience that Nancy describes as “one of the happiest of my life.” Our interview with Nancy illustrates how much the Texprint showcase contributes to launching creative careers and how the paths alumni follow are increasingly rich and diverse.
Creativity is in Nancy’s DNA; her father is the sculptor, Guy Taplin, and her mother is the ceramicist Robina Jack. An exciting showcase of the work of all three will be revealed through a family show at renowned gallery Messum’s, in London, which opens on 29th October 2013. Nancy will be showing a new collection of her startlingly beautiful and detailed bird paintings.
Nancy loves living and working in London - she shares a studio with eight other people, almost all of who are working in fashion and textiles. A typical day for her would include around six hours painting – but she told us, “The way in which I paint is detailed and intense and I can only really paint in short bursts, so I take lots of breaks and chat with people. When I first started painting, I was living in Essex and working on my own. I would dream about a space in a big, busy London studio; I feel so blessed now that it’s become a reality.”
How many new works are you creating for the forthcoming Taplin family show at Messum’s?
There will be ten new pieces. It’s really exciting to see the work come together - in some ways it feels a lot like planning and creating a fabric collection. Even though I’m working with unique, stand-alone pieces, I can’t help but think about how they’ll fit together as a group, and I’m really looking forward to seeing them in a gallery context.
How did this opportunity come about?
My family are all artists and it was suggested that we have a family show. I started painting by accident in 2010. I was working as a freelance textile designer at the time, primarily for Issa, having been approached by them at Texprint’s London show. I was quite reluctant to suddenly start producing fine art pieces because I couldn’t see myself working in that way, but thought I may as well give it a go. I’d intended to do a small series of prints, but my father saw the sketchbook I was drawing in – an old ledger onto which I’d painted a bird – and immediately saw that it worked as a piece in itself. I sold all the book paintings I did for that show, and after that it just took on a momentum of its own. I’ve since had a couple more group shows and a solo show and I still haven’t managed to hang on to a painting for myself!
It’s funny, because when I was at Indigo Paris with Texprint, I was approached by a man who bluntly told me my fabrics were beautiful but I’d never make any money as a textile designer because they were fine art, and although it did trouble me at the time, I often think how it was a strangely prescient comment.
After winning the 2009 Texprint Interiors Prize you went on to work as print and embellishment designer for Issa. How was this experience?
It was a massive learning curve. I was so grateful for the opportunity and working with such a glamorous label was exciting. Seeing print and embroidery designs I’d worked on featured on Style.com having being shown at London Fashion Week was a great experience. However, looking back, it wasn’t a great fit for me. Their aesthetic is completely different to my own and whilst I’m happy working to a brief, I found having to completely remould my style to fit with the sleekness and femininity that is Issa’s trademark a bit of an uphill struggle. If I had the confidence and perspective I have now, I might have refused the role and pursued more suitable freelance work. However, I’m really relieved I didn’t: not only was working with them a wonderful thing to have done, but because I found it so challenging I learned an enormous amount about myself and about the way in which I’m happiest working.
Obviously birds, and your father’s work, inspire you. Has this always been the case?
I spent my childhood surrounded by birds – stuffed, wooden, painted, living – they were everywhere. I’ve grown up with the East End’s answer to David Attenborough for a dad: when you’re with him he keeps up a continual commentary on the natural world and it’s blessed me with an awareness of nature and wildlife that I haven’t really had to work for. Wherever I go I’m conscious of the birds, insects and plants around me, whether it’s seagulls and starlings on the Ridley Road Market or shorebirds along the River Colne.
My background is in art history, and I guess my painting style is inspired in equal measure by fourteenth-century egg tempera painting – I can spend hours in the National Gallery’s Sainsbury Wing – and more contemporary painters like Andrew Wyeth. I’m definitely quite traditional in my approach though, and spend a lot of time apologising for being a bit passé!
Your work is incredibly detailed – do you work mainly from photographs?
Funnily enough, the less closely I work from photographs, the more detailed my work gets. When I first started painting, I used to rely on photos a lot more heavily; my paintings were much more realistic, though somehow also much sketchier. Since I’ve become more confident, I’ve also become more immersed in surface pattern and less concerned with realism. I often find myself working on a decorative passage of feathers and thinking, ‘all I’d need to do is blow this up and put it into repeat and it’d make such a great digital print!’
What drew you to working with/on old books? They are things of beauty in themselves – where do you find them all?
I first started working with old books when I was studying fashion and textiles at university. My mother and aunt were clearing out old stationary from my grandparent’s farm office. I salvaged it all and started to incorporate it into my work. My final collection sketchbook was an old family ledger, which I thought was empty. The whole collection was based on the First World War and its aftermath, and when I was in the final stages of the collection I realised that a few pages right at the back of the ledger had been used, and were dated 1917-18; it was a really affirming moment and felt a bit like someone from my family was sending me a message. I love the battered aesthetic of old books, there’s something so tactile and appealing about them. I get a lot of them sent over from America now, but when I can, I love to hunt round car boots and flea markets.
Regarding your working process – do the backgrounds inspire the particular bird?
The books themselves have a huge influence on what I paint on them. I think the process of deciding what to paint on a particular book is the point at which my textile training has the biggest impact. Each painting has a colour story, and the books become like fabrics, they have their own personalities and it’s really important to work intuitively with their individual characteristics.
I love painting the birds’ heads – for me it’s where all the personality lies. I’ve done a series of “portrait close ups” for the new show and I’m really pleased with them. That first bit, when you’ve done maybe just the beak and the eye, is when you’ve got the most energy and excitement for a painting and you’re making all the big decisions about colour and form. It’s a great place to be. The worst bit of any painting is “the ugly phase”… I usually paint onto dark surfaces, and have to create a white base first, in the silhouette of the bird. There’s always a brief period before the painting’s started to take shape when it looks absolutely dreadful!
You are concentrating now on your career as a painter, but do you feel you may return to textiles in the future?
I’m definitely planning on working with fabrics again. I’m also fired up about learning to make shoes, and want to produce a collection of small-scale prints that would work in this format. It’s got to the point where I literally go to bed and dream about printed leather – I’ve got so much raw visual material buzzing round my head, so much inspiration from my paintings, that I can’t wait until I have time to start designing. It’s going to be exciting to take the paintings that have been the focus of my life for such a long time and do something completely different with them.
Are there any other projects that you are currently working on?
I’m writing a lot, which is something I’ve always done, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how this develops. Perhaps most excitingly of all though, I’m at the very early stages of realising a long-held dream, and I’m learning how to make shoes. I’ve wanted to do it for so long that I’m bubbling over with excitement about it.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m looking forward to the point when things have settled down and I’m still painting enough to make a living, but also have more freedom to do other things, like write and get back into textile design. I’m really starting to crave a bit of variety now.
Looking back – is there a significant moment in your career development that stands out?
Other than my solo show selling out at the private view, which was a bit surreal, I think Texprint really was the major highlight of my career development so far. I was at New Designers when I got the phone call saying I’d been selected and I honestly nearly fell down the stairs with excitement. I think the best thing for me about Texprint was that Grayson Perry, who is one of my absolute heroes, was a judge. As someone who’s work traverses fine art and textiles, he was heaven sent, and finding out he’d selected me as the winner of the Interior Textiles prize was one of the happiest moments of my life. I gained so much confidence and self-awareness from Texprint, and I’m hugely grateful for that experience.
Advice for those about to graduate this year?
Don’t worry if your work seems different from other graduates– my portfolio stuck out like a sore thumb and I felt like a rackety art student compared to the professionalism of everyone else, but I think that actually stood me in good stead in the end. If you get negative feedback, like I did from the man who told me I’d never make any money because I was an artist not a designer, don’t be disheartened: hidden in that feedback there might be a really good bit of advice. Don’t be rigid, and be prepared to do stuff that wasn’t quite what you had in mind; you honestly never know where it’s going to end up.
The most important thing though is to enjoy the whole process of graduating – New Designers, Graduate Fashion Week, job interviews – talk to people and have fun; people respond really well to enthusiasm, and I really believe that conveying your love of what you do is almost as important as the work itself.
2009: Nancy with Interiors prize judge Grayson Perry
Jane Coffey: passing on her studio-building experience
20 June 2013 by Editor
Working on the assumption that learning from someone else’s experience can both fast track success and help avoid costly mistakes, Texprint is piloting a new Hero Mentor initiative in 2013. This informal scheme will link successful Texprint alumni with those Texprint 2013 designers who wish to work freelance or establish their own businesses.
One shining example of a successful textile-based business is screen printer Jane Coffey. Sadly Jane won’t be participating in the Hero Mentor scheme as for some years now she has lived in Australia!
Jane graduated from the RCA and was selected for Texprint in 1999. She says: “Being selected for Texprint took me by surprise, it was such an amazing opportunity to show my work at Indigo. Now as a business owner I look back and realise that due to inexperience I probably didn't fully maximise the opportunity. So my message to all Texprint designers is to work hard and develop your portfolio of work because if successful at Indigo the contacts made can really help in launching your own studio.”
What happened next?
When I left the Royal College of Art I had a lot of money to pay back! My first job was with a CAD/CAM textile company (now Lectra) where I learnt how to use software and drew illustrations of clothing and accessories for Burberry - dog coats and lots of checks! As it turns out I loved working with technology and ended up teaching other designers how to use the CAD systems, taking my new skills into different workplaces and meeting many different designers - invaluable later for my own business where knowledge of digital printers and systems became really important.
I then worked as a designer for Peagreen Studio who exhibit and sell at Indigo and other trade shows.
However I always hankered after running my own business. I met my husband Adam, an engineer, in Winchester and we moved to Australia in 2005. There weren't many design companies in Perth so we decided to set up our own – our first studio was called Little Design Horse. Australia has grants for export development and we travelled around the world selling our design work.
We always wanted to create our own products so we gradually started buying machines. Every year a certain amount of profit from selling textile design went into buying new equipment. Our first was a 4-colour rotary screen printer for printing T-shirts – as our studio had a shop space at the front, so we opened the doors and started selling T-shirts that we'd printed (in the garage!). We had our first child in 2008 and that prompted us to start making more of our own products and we've never looked back.
Exhibiting and selling our products at local markets was a really important step for us and helped us find our customers. The website came later.
In the UK we're noting a move towards smaller designer/makers buying machinery and setting up their own businesses. Is this a because of the web, that it's now easier to become an e-tailer rather than suffer rent costs? Is it about independence and flexibility? Is it about provenance and customers wanting local product?
Yes to all these points. What I would point out though is that while the web allows you to sell overseas more easily, never underestimate your local market. Over time we've come to realise that we have a strong local following and these are the really important people. As is being inspired by what's around you. People like to buy something that makes them feel proud of where they live or to show off where they have visited. Selling independently means you don't have to follow trends or answer to big department stores. That's a huge freedom that you have to take advantage of.
As for retail costs, our shop/workshop Future Shelter is under one roof so is more economical. We made the move from textile studio to retailer very slowly over four years allowing time for our shop to be discovered without solely relying on a retail income. We have a bench behind the counter where we make or package products while the customer decides to buy - customers actually love this and it means our overheads are lower.
What is your set up in the studio?
In our workshop we currently have a large format digital printer, 4-colour rotary T-shirt press and screen printing facilities, a laser cutter, industrial sewing machines, a woodworking section with lots of tools big and small including a CNC cutter, and many custom built machines to make different products such as the coasters. Our latest machine is a digital ceramic decal printer and a kiln. I’m so lucky that Adam is an engineer who loves to work with all these things!
What are the difficulties you've encountered - what are the pluses?
The big plus is that I have my dream set up. We love the design and manufacturing sides, and bringing these under one roof allows us to learn about waste and test products in small batches before committing to bigger runs. This means we can be more experimental with design and not be frozen by feeling the need to follow the current trend.
Our main difficulties have been with outsourcing sewing or sometimes finding the ideal raw materials. Other difficulties have been keeping up with demand. We have purposely kept marketing to a minimum to allow us to grow slowly. This has been a really important as even with this idea of 'slow cooking' a brand and letting it naturally grow, we have a crunch time around Christmas getting orders out the door in time.
Scaling up too quickly can be a big problem if you don't plan it properly. We are right on the borderline of needed a bigger industrial space which means leasing two spaces, one retail and one industrial. Having a spilt site means needing more staff to cover the shop and production, finding the right space at the right price near public transport for your staff etc. So our next move will be a big one – and that has to be timed just right!
Another big difficulty has to be running your business with a small family - it's not easy juggling everything. I have a portable workspace in my sketchbook!
Many thanks Jane, and finally, what does the future hold?
We do a small amount of commission work for architects and private homes which is fun, so who knows where that will take us.
We need a bigger workshop and ultimately we’d like to build a workshop with a residence above or nearby - oh, and a fabric printer would complete our array of machines very nicely!
Emma J Shipley: out of this world storytelling
12 May 2013 by Editor
The work of Emma J Shipley is very much rooted in skilled draftsmanship - her drawings intricate, her storytelling out of this world. These are certainly a great strength, but what has set Emma apart since graduating from the RCA and being selected for Texprint 2011, is her astute and instinctive grasp of what social networking can do to drive awareness of her brand.
Texprint caught up with Emma to find out more about her inspirations, her dynamic approach to creativity, and the third-party collaborations she has been working on since graduation.
©Emma J Shipley: autumn winter 2013
-Did you always plan to set up your own business?
After I graduated from my BA in Textile Design (from Birmingham City University) I worked for a print design studio in London. This was a great experience and taught me to work under pressure and to tight deadlines, but I also realised that I really wanted to carve out my own path rather than working for someone else. I went on to study MA Textiles at the Royal College of Art as I knew I needed to develop further and I wanted to have that platform to launch my label from.
-In what ways has Texprint been able to help or benefit you?
Being able to get my work in front of so many influential industry figures so soon after graduating was invaluable. The different exhibitions in London, Paris, Shanghai and Hong Kong brought income through sales and commissions, which was so important right at the start of my label. I also met suppliers who when they saw my work at the Texprint stand at Première Vision, wanted to support me in the early stages, one of which I'm still working with to produce my luxury scarves. Texprint has also been there when I've had business or legal issues I needed advice on.
At retail, from left: Bon Marche, Fortnum & Mason, Liberty
-How helpful has it been to communicate online via Twitter etc - how essential is social media for someone setting up their own brand identity do you think?
I've used Twitter for quite a few years - since before graduating and starting my label. I've always found it to be an amazing tool for connecting with others and finding out information in the areas I'm interested in. So I still use it for these reasons, and for my label it's the most direct way of communicating with a wide audience. Being able to instantly share an image of what I'm working on at that time, or tell people about an event I'm doing is an amazing thing. The fact that it can be a conversation means that people do feel engaged with the brand and I also get feedback on what people are really responding to or what they get excited about.
I've also found Instagram great as it's purely image-based, which really suits the creative industries. I follow lots of other users (photographers, designers, magazines etc) - it brings me inspiration as well as letting me share my own images. I'm new to Vine and although I'm personally more engaged by still images, being able to create and share short video clips can be really useful for events or exhibitions.
London Fashion Week, February 2012
-Do you work from home or studio?
A space in a shared studio. I started working from home after I graduated from the RCA but I much prefer having a workspace separate to home, and I really enjoy sharing with others who are working in creative fields. The RCA was quite an intense experience - being in the studio surrounded by other designers all the time - but it's very inspiring and I really missed that when I was working from home on my own.
-What have been the key challenges - managing accounts, space to work, finding manufacturers, contacts?
There have been major challenges in all areas to be honest. It's been important to find people I can go to for advice… As I'm experiencing all these things for the first time there are bound to be issues and hurdles to overcome. I've also roped in my dad to help with a lot of the business side to enable me to still have time to design for my own label as well as commissions for big companies that I've been working on.
©Emma J Shipley: autumn winter 2013
-How do you find it working on your own, is it sometimes hard to motivate yourself? Or do you have help, an assistant?
I haven't found it hard to motivate myself at all as I've been so busy since graduating. Also as I'm in a shared studio it's a nice balance between being able to focus on my own work and also having a social and creative environment. Commissions for other companies always have short deadlines (they want everything yesterday) so I just get on with them. Designing for my own label can get pushed back if I'm working on commissions, so then when I do have time to work on my own designs I'm rearing to go. Obviously I'm passionate about my work so it's not a chore. I get excited about starting new designs and collections. I do take on students to assist me part-time, more on the sales, marketing and events side, and it's great to have a fresh look and input on what I'm doing.
©Emma J Shipley: autumn winter 2013
-Where are your scarves printed - in the UK or abroad?
The scarves are printed in Como, Italy, with a supplier I found through Texprint. I started out manufacturing in the UK, but unfortunately I found the suppliers unreliable and the end product ended up being too expensive even in the luxury market. The quality is better in Italy as they have a long history of silk printing - buyers from stores often comment on the amazing quality of the final pieces and I'm always pleased with them, too.
-Has anything you've worked on gone into production under license? With which companies?
Yes - I've worked on a project with Camira Fabrics, it produces textiles for commercial interiors. This will launch at Clerkenwell Design Week in May as Emma J Shipley x Camira. I've also recently launched a collection of wallpaper and interior fabric with Osborne & Little called Kayyam.
Collaborations with Anthropologie (wallpaper) and Camira (two new fabric designs)
Collaboration with Osborne & Little
-What captures your imagination - as your drawn work is quite naturalistic, do you draw from life or photos?
Inspiration comes from all over the place, but my main visual inspiration is always the natural world. This can come from trips I take (I recently went on safari in South Africa which was hugely inspiring for me), photographs, films, artists and so on. I'm also inspired by ideas and books - especially Richard Dawkins’ book on evolution and Ian Stewart’s on chaos theory. My drawings can take days and weeks, and are never an exact replication of something but are a combination of different inspirations as well as coming from my imagination. So I always work in my studio, using lots of different images and photographs.
-What do you love most about what you're doing, and like least?
I love the drawing and design process the most… I enjoy the business aspects too as its all part of it, but there is a lot of admin, which isn't always thrilling.
-What are your plans for the future?
To continue to grow my label in the UK and overseas, and to work on some interesting collaborations with bigger companies that will raise my brand profile.
Emma has been nominated for the UKFT Rise Newcomer Awards (2013 UK Fashion and Textile Association awards) due to take place on 23 May 2013. We wish her success in this and in the future.
Sample sale, April 2012
©Emma J Shipley: spring summer 2013
Coutts Texprint dinner celebrates textile innovation
16 April 2013 by Editor
As a dedicated supporter of the arts, private bank Coutts again demonstrated its interest in the worlds of fashion and textiles by hosting an elegant dinner in support of textile design excellence.
Held on Thursday 21 March 2013, it was the second Texprint dinner to be hosted by the historic bank at its head office on the Strand, London. Following a champagne reception in the boardroom, which is lined with hand-painted Chinese wallpaper c.1793, the guests were guided to its beautifully appointed private dining room for a sumptuous dinner.
Alan Marshall, executive director of Coutts, welcomed the guests, saying: “Coutts is thrilled to be a sponsor of the Texprint 2013 dinner. It reinforces our commitment to the world of contemporary creative industries and our relationship with young entrepreneurs.The UK is a world leader at creating art, fashion and textiles and Coutts' support of Texprint enables emerging talent to access our experience of working with entrepreneurs in addition to providing mentoring schemes and financial advice."
Left: Marie Parsons (Jaguar Land Rover), Professor Clare Johnston (RCA) Centre: Katrina Burroughs (Sunday Times Home), Katie Greenyer (Pentland Brands) Right: Neisha Crosland, Susanna Kempe (Flying Trumpets)
Texprint’s chairman Barbara Kennington took the opportunity to thank the guests – including leading lights in fashion and textiles, the press and past alumni - for their continuing support for British-trained textile design graduates and without whom the Texprint programme would simply not exist. “Texprint’s programme of mentorship provides a vital bridge between university and the real world. Looking at the autumn/winter 13 fashion collections, particularly in London, what struck me was the increasing importance of textile innovation - an indication of just how important it is to encourage and support the next generation of textile creativity.”
Peter Ring-Lefevre (Texprint), Kate O’Connor (Creative Skillset)
John Snowdon (Worshipful Company of Weavers), Peter Ackroyd (Woolmark Company), Andrew Blessley (Clothworkers Foundation), Hugh Beevor (Texprint)
The Texprint programme has been selecting and mentoring graduate textile designers for over 40 years. And through Coutts’ gracious hospitality, the dinner provided the charity with a means of thanking those who make it possible, among them Kirstie Carey, managing director of Liberty Art Fabrics (sponsor of Texprint’s Pattern prize); Paul Graham, sales director of Pantone EMEA (sponsor of the Colour prize); and Texprint trustee Dominic Lowe represented The Sanderson Art in Industry Trust, which is a Foundation sponsor of the charity.
Italian textile producers and luxury fashion brands have long recognized the excellence of British-trained designers and regularly employ interns selected from the Texprint winners. Texprint was pleased to welcome Luigi Turconi of Ratti, part of the giant Marzotto group; Elena Alfani of luxury brand Salvatore Ferragamo; and Marco Taiana of Tessitura Taiana represented the Como-based creative initiative ComON with which Texprint has long been associated.
Left: Barbara Kennington (Texprint) Andrew Blessley (Clothworkers Foundation) Right: Peter Ring-Lefevre (Texprint), Elena Alfani (Salvatore Ferragamo)
Anne Tyrrell MBE, designer and member of Texprint's Council, said: "It’s a really special evening, so impressive, and it’s a huge compliment that so many visitors from Europe attended."
Marco Taiana (Taiana, ComON), Caryn Simonson (Chelsea College of Art & Design), Joanna Bowring (Texprint)
Katie Greenyer, creative director of the Pentland Group, was delighted to announce during the evening that Pentland would be increasing its sponsorship for 2013, which was fantastic news and greatly appreciated.
The Texprint management team also welcomed Catriona Macnab, creative director of Foundation sponsor WGSN; John Francis, director of sponsor Paul Smith; style director of the Telegraph magazine Tamsin Blanchard; and Michael Ayerst, managing director of wall coverings specialist Surface View, which has so generously provided the dramatic wall murals seen at the Texprint London event for the past two years.
And from Texprint’s alumni, guests included Michael Angove, Neil Bamford of Mint Design Studio, David Edmond, and Marie Parsons of Jaguar Land Rover.
Left: Julius Schofield MBE (InDesign), Philippa Brock (Central St Martins) Right: Anne Tyrrell MBE, Leanne Prichard (Coutts)
Left: Alison Murdoch (Haberdashers’ Company), Gill Gledhill (GGHQ), Terry Mansfield CBE Right: Neil Bamford (Mint Design), Michael Ayerst (Surface View)
The world of interiors has been an area of increased focus for many young textile designers. Neisha Crosland, a Texprint judge in 2012, and Mary Carroll, of luxury interior furnishings brand De le Cuona, attended the dinner, as did Katrina Burroughs, a renowned journalist specialising in interior design who is a regular contributor to the Sunday Times Home section.
The words of after dinner speaker Susanna Kempe, founder and CEO of Flying Trumpets, were greeted with much nodding of heads and agreement as she talked of too many businesses being run by accountants; too few by creatives, stating: “To change that, we have to finally, unequivocally, reject the false opposition between creativity and commercialism. We have to combine imaginative genius with disciplined execution; embrace create effectiveness and demonstrate commercial accountability. If we don’t businesses and boards will continue to be led by accountants most comfortable in a world of timid homogeneity. Businesses should be run by people for whom innovation, clients and brands are in their very DNA.”
Her thoughts were applauded by all – and especially by Kate O’Connor deputy managing director of Creative Skillset, and Anne Tyrrell who responded: “She was amazing. I must say I will attack my meetings with new energy as a result, what an impressive woman.”
Barbara wrapped up the evening, saying: “Our sincere thanks to Coutts for hosting such an enjoyable and hugely useful opportunity for people interested in supporting British design training and textile innovation to get together, to talk and to debate. Invaluable!”
Wool House: feeling warm and woolly!
14 March 2013 by Editor
“Wool is a fibre for the life we lead, the people we love, the planet we inhabit.” The Campaign for Wool
The Wool House exhibition at Somerset House, London, opened yesterday and is on until 24 March. This stylish and richly artisanal celebration of wool is not to be missed encompassing as it does the very best of what can be achieved by spinning, weaving, printing and manipulating this most timeless and enduring of fibres.
Hummingbird by Alexander McQueen for The Rug Company
The lofty and elegant rooms in the west wing of Somerset House have been used to stage a series of room sets as well as displays of fashion and accessories, including bespoke tailoring and hand knitting.
Savile Row bespoke
The importance of wool to the fashion industry is demonstrated with designs by, among others, Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders, Christopher Raeburn; also Dashing Tweeds (Kirsty McDougall, Texprint 2002) and Alice Palmer (Texprint 2007).
Teflon-coated felted lace parka by Christopher Raeburn, headphones by Urbanears, tweed jackets by Dashing Tweeds
Knitted dress by Mark Fast, knitted chair cover, knit and fleece cape by Alice Palmer
As part of the national Campaign for Wool supported by The Prince of Wales, the project also involves a series of interactive workshops and a special educational and innovation room, using hi-tech tablets to demonstrate the processes wool undergoes on its journey from sheep to consumer. This is an exhibition designed to engage and educate as much as to enjoy.
“Wool is all about comfort and beauty. It is a fibre grown, not manmade, with an origin and integrity that has yet to be matched. Natural, renewable and sustainable it offers the most timeless and enduring quality to materials for many different lifestyle products for interiors, fashion, build and craft.“ The Campaign for Wool
Wool fabrics are used to great effect in the room installations. From the dramatic entrance hall with its chequered black and white carpet, to the modernist room by Anne Kyyro-Quinn with its brightly coloured sound-absorbing wall coverings, the fresh and charming nursery designed by Donna Wilson, to the typically eclectic and crafted bedroom designed by Kit Kemp MBE. Dream interiors that beautifully illustrate wool's versatility in use, colour and texture.
Modern Room by Anne Kyyro-Quinn
Nursery by Donna Wilson
Bedroom by Kit Kemp MBE
Event director Bridgette Kelly - working with interior designer Arabella McNie as curator, and all the participating designers and highly skilled artisans - has created a truly diverse and creative opportunity to engage with the fibre’s heritage and future potential.
We would encourage textile and fashion design students and tutors to visit and be inspired!
Wool art installation by Dutch tapestry artist, Claudy Jongstra
Wools of the World
Artisan rug weaver Jason Collingwood in his temporary studio, weaving on a table loom throughout the exhibition
Texprint 2012: weave wizards
09 January 2013 by
Proof if needed that the ancient craft of weaving is in the ascendant: Texprint 2012 weave designers couple patience and precision with a love for the physicality and excitement of creating fabric from scratch, and their work is being snapped up by international fashion and interiors companies.
Lisa Bloomer is passionate about colour and sustainable practices, and is continually exploring new ways to succeed in her ”fight against the geometric.” Inspired by looking through windows at ever changing sky and cloud patterns above the city’s high-rise buildings, Lisa focuses on capturing transitory movement in her work. This spontaneity is tangible in all her designs, she uses colour in a fresh and dynamic way and achieves many unique effects by first hand painting on the warp.
Lisa’s jacquard designs are woven bespoke by Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen the only Irish linen damask weaver still remaining in Ireland. She aims to source local fibres such as European hemp, linen and British wool.
Textile: ©Dominique Caplan
Dominique Caplan creates quirky and energetic concepts for menswear. Fascinated by the technical process of weaving, her primary research involved creating characters and models for games to develop her ideas of fun and fantasy. By working in monochrome with added shots of bright colour, Dominique quietly references Bridget Riley’s black and white optical illusion patterns.
Textile: ©Sophia Fenlon
Sophia Fenlon’s work is inspired by ornate ecclesiastical decoration and stained glass. Catholic traditions and the Renaissance are references for Sophia’s work created for both fashion and interiors. Sophia says, she is “intrigued by the weird and wonderful, and the exploration of extreme extra weft patterning, which gives rise to intricately constructed woven designs.”
Textile: ©Jacquie Lefferts
Inspired by Indian maharajahs, brocades and heavy military embroidery, Jacquie Lefferts creates opulent fabrics using metallic yarns. Jacquie has also re-created lace effects using a Leno weave technique to great effect. Having studied at FIT in New York for two years, Jacquie then completed her BA at Chelsea College of Art & Design before being selected for Texprint.
Fantasy and surrealism are aspects that inspired Alix Massieux’s fabric collection. Although a weave specialist, Alix is driven to mix techniques and experiment with embroidery. To read more, click here.
Textile: ©Sophie Manners
Sophie Manners, a graduate of the Royal College of Art, was selected as winner of the second Woolmark Texprint Award in support of the Campaign for Wool Indigo/Première Vision in September. Sophie won the prize for her superb woven textile designs developed with 60% or more Merino wool. Sophie loves colour and texture and being playful with these two elements. It was her reinvented traditional woven pieces on the theme of hair and fur, and her experimental approach to constructing fabrics with often unexpectedly tactile surfaces, that caught the judges’ attention. In November Sophie completed a seven-week internship with Taroni in Como, a unique opportunity to experience working in textiles in Italy.
Textile: ©Sophie Reeves
Finally, captivated by the physicality of creating woven fabrics and inspired by 1930’s fabric design and Russian Constructivism, Sophie Reeves loves to mix graphic pattern with “random outbursts” of additions such as applied crystal decoration. In November Sophie finished a seven-week internship with Luigi Verga, Como - while there with five other Texprint designers, enjoying an invaluable experience gathering visit to the Missoni and Ermenegildo Zegna headquarters.
Sophie is one of two designers selected by Lululemon Athletica as winners of the inaugural Lululemon Texprint Award, winning not only £1,000 but also a three-month paid internship at Lululemon headquarters in Vancouver, Canada, starting this month (the other winner is Manri Kishimoto).
Breaking boundaries: Texprint 2012’s mixed media specialists
24 November 2012 by
For a unique approach to textile design, many new designers are breaking down boundaries and embracing other media in their work. Texprint’s 2012 showcase revealed four young people who are taking this path to carve out a truly individual style.
Winner of the Texprint Space prize, Tania Knuckey explores the intersection between art and design. She uses many different types of media and techniques revealing a lively and playful attitude. Tania’s painterly and experimental work is often very graphic and evolves in an organic way, encompassing both installation and work for interiors.
Tania Knuckey: chair installation
Tania recently showed some of her chair pieces at The Stables Gallery in Richmond, Surrey: her installation changed on a weekly basis through wrapping new mixed media fabrics around the pieces. She also gave a recent talk on the subject of transforming textiles into animations at the Slow Textiles Group’s studio in Hampstead, London, as well as exhibiting a concept book, created in collaboration with RCA architecture graduate Joseph Deane, at the RCA’s Sustain show.
Neckpieces by Lily Kamper
The enormous BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu temple in Neasden, North London, was one of the main inspirations for Lily Kamper’s distinctive work. The hand carved totem columns taken as a reference that she combined with softer elements in her multi-layered processes. Lily creates fresh ideas for fashion accessories, including fabulously futuristic statement jewellery pieces and bags.
Case with Perspex handle by Lily Kamper
She is fascinated by the possibilities of exploring texture and colour; a favourite theme is combining hard and soft materials to create unusual outcomes, as seen in her recent collaboration with men’s footwear designer, Tariq Mahmoud, where she created the Perspex heels. Lily also recently created the bespoke, hand-made trophies for WGSN’s recent Global Fashion Awards 2012.
Knitted textile by Sarah Burton.
Sarah Burton’s exciting contemporary pieces for fashion combine her passion for knitwear with modern embellishment. Sarah loves the process of knitting and constantly plays with construction techniques, continuing to develop her samples in unusual ways. Favourite materials include fine yet strong yarns such as viscose. Sarah’s inspirational research led her to study the traditions of the circus, looking closely at costume for performance, which demands a mix of the practical and the decorative. Sarah is taking up an exciting new position with Acorn Conceptual Textiles based in Nottingham, in addition to developing a small range of hand-made mixed media accessories.
Embellished woven textile by Alix Massieux.
Finally, fantasy and surrealism are aspects that inspired Alix Massieux’s fabric collection. Although a weave specialist, Alix is driven to mix techniques and experiment with embroidery. Targeting a high-end market, she uses fine yarns such as mercerised cotton and silk, but is also intent on injecting an element of fun into her work, using flashes of Lurex to create vibrant, light-hearted effects.
Pattern Masters: Texprint 2012 print specialists
30 October 2012 by
The Texprint 2012 showcase included nine outstanding printed textile designers, reflecting the strong continuing trend for dynamic pattern, in both contemporary fashion and interiors.
Winner of the Texprint Award for Pattern,Ying Wu has entranced many people since her RCA graduation this summer with her captivatingly original prints. Her inspirations stem from her Chinese heritage and its legends, reflecting a very original and personal narrative; her most recent work imagines nightmarish future scenarios where the natural environment has been devastated, and creatures must find new ways to survive. At Texprint London in July, Ying met, and has since collaborated with, Italian company De Le Cuona; she was also invited to participate in a ‘pop-up shop’ at Paul Smiths’ flagship store in London during September’s London Fashion Week. Further exciting collaborations are emerging, in what is proving to be a dynamic start to Ying’s career.
The vibrant and colourful work of Manri Kishimoto ensured her success as winner of the Texprint Award for Colour, sponsored by Pantone, and as a joint winner of the inaugural Lululemon Texprint Award. Manri’s work is instantly striking - the bold, expressive and graphic shapes of her story-telling designs are inspired by nature, particularly bird motifs. She uses many substrates for her print and multi-media work including knit, leather, silk weave and fine silk mesh. One of the highlights of her display at Texprint London was the large scale swan motif encusted with Swarovski crystals.
Israel Parra- Zanabria
Embracing vibrant colour in a very different way, the work of Israel Parra-Zanabria is inspired by the colours and buzz of his native Mexico City. Israel uses a variety of media, including watercolour, pro markers and pencil to achieve a masterful delicacy and softness to his beautiful depictions of exotic flowers, combining both screen printing and hand painting to translate design to fabric.
Fergus Dowling’s distinctive work is currently inspired by decorative heraldic imagery. Fergus is drawn to the Rococo and Baroque periods; he is inspired by the highly detailed design and imagery of family crests which he deconstructs and then reinvents to create newly contemporary and personal patterns. These, plus his use of reinvented traditional tartans, vibrant colour, and luxurious fabrics, gives his work an elegant gentleman-like mood.
Laura Barnes’ love of drawing and the decorative arts is very apparent in her richly coloured and elegant work. Her wonderfully vibrant sketches and designs are inspired by travel, especially recent trips to Morocco and Spain, and reveal her passion for colour and story-telling. She previously won a scholarship, which enabled her to undertake an exciting and visually stimulating cultural exchange visit to South Korea.
Trinity Mitchell’s fresh, quirky and slightly retro designs were originally inspired by a YouTube video of 1950’s women trying on sunglasses. Her prints have since developed into a celebration of the small, feminine and often quietly humorous details that reflect her eclectic and light-hearted approach to fashion fabrics and headscarf design.
Alice Howard- Graham
Architecture, photography and Russian Constructivism have inspired Alice Howard-Graham’s striking and dynamic work. Using her passion for photographic manipulation yet retaining a hand-drawn quality, Alice employs motifs developed from industrial and mechanical imagery, exploring the potential of both traditional screen-printing and digital methods in her work.
Geometric patterns, maps of the world, celestial charts, strong colour, Pop Art, vintage photos and animals are just some of the eclectic starting points used by David Warner to create his individual take on contemporary fashion textiles and wallcoverings. Quirky, layered designs mix English country traditions with gay culture to create statement placements and allovers.
Amber Sambrook plays with techniques such as laser cutting, and materials such as leather to give her fashion fabrics and accessories their unique and unexpected handle and finish. Her most recent work is dramatic and powerful, inspired by the weather and its changing atmospheric conditions. Contrasts of light and dark, and richly moody patterns suggesting storm clouds are achieved using techniques such as ombre and devôré.
The variety and vibrancy of these emerging talents ensure some exciting new directions for the future of printed textile design.
Genevieve Bennett: bespoke contemporary craft
18 October 2012 by
We were delighted to note recently that Texprint alumni Genevieve Bennett has been nominated for the second time for an Elle Decoration Design Award. Genevieve runs a bespoke leather design business creating beautifully crafted and individual pieces for interiors. She has an imaginative approach to her craft, using many traditional techniques such as embossing, engraving, sculpting and inlay work, in a refreshingly contemporary way. Genevieve spoke to Texprint about her exciting career path since winning the Texprint ‘Breaking New Ground’ prize in 2000.
Great news about your nomination for the Elle Decoration Design Awards – how does it feel to be included in this prestigious list again? (Genevieve won an award in 2006, and was nominated in 2007).
I was delighted - it’s a fantastic honour! Originally the awards were judged by eminent designers such as Terence Conran - a great opportunity to get their attention. Now they are judged by the public which in some ways seems fairer and makes for a more interesting contest. The awards are useful too for international recognition as there is so much press coverage.
What are the main projects that you are currently working on?
I have just finished two large commissions for an interior design firm in Hong Kong, three very large sculpted panels and 100 relief tiles for private residences. This was a great opportunity to work with established companies and gain international presence. I am currently building a relationship with a distributor in India for my leather tiles, and have just set up a relationship with an agent in New York for the bespoke sculpted panels, which will I hope lead to some interesting projects.
I am also selling and distributing the work I launched last year at the London Design Festival and will start new design work within the coming months for launch next year.
Genevieve Bennett: Damask
What inspires you in your work?
I am inspired both by pattern and 3D forms. The initial inspiration for my sculpted panels came from the wood carving of 17th century master craftsman Grinling Gibbons. Other 3D inspiration comes from paper engineering techniques. Pattern inspiration comes from anywhere - specific loves are ceramics by William De Morgan, Moorish lustreware, Art Deco embroideries, Chinese lattice screens, and patterned tiles of all kinds.
What drew you to working with leather?
I used to create sculptural forms in paper and card, but I really wanted my work to feel more permanent, for it to be longer lasting and not always reliant on framing for protection. I also wanted to move from panels to actual wall coverings thinking these would appeal to a wider audience. I chose leather as it can have similar sculptural qualities while is more durable and flexible in terms of possibilities of application.
Are there other materials/techniques that you like to work with?
Yes, I’m keen to work with a wider variety of materials. At the moment I’m thinking of working in felt - on its own and in combination with leather – and perhaps wood too.
You have been working as a freelance designer for over 10 years now – what are the advantages/drawbacks?
I enjoy being involved in the whole process, so on any new project I work in-house with the manufacturer for several days a week. I find this a more rewarding and collaborative approach. Freelance work offers you the opportunity to get involved with a variety of projects and ultimately to gain a wider experience. I tried selling designs on a one off basis but was not very successful!
The work I did at Habitat was fantastic; I worked freelance on pattern designs for a huge range of products. However, it was the full time design managers who were able to travel abroad, spending time in the factories and developing the products. I missed being involved in this aspect of the process.
Genevieve Bennett: Camellia
You have worked with some prestigious companies as a freelance designer – is there a particular project that has been a favourite?
The work I did for Wedgwood provided a very special opportunity to work with the 250 yr old pattern archive of a heritage British brand. One of their major markets is Japan, and I made regular visits to learn about the Japanese market. This was a very unique and exciting experience.
Can you describe a typical day?
I get to the studio at around 9am and start my day dealing with emails and admin - I find it hard to concentrate until this is under control. With any small business this can really take over, so I try to limit it to an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon.
I then focus on the current project, depending on the stage it is at; sculpting the leather shapes, preparing artwork or a layout, ordering leather, getting shipping quotes etc. I then try and spend part of the day creating new designs for my future work or for a new client. I usually leave at 5pm to collect my son but then continue working from home until around 10pm. I almost always have a sketchpad to hand!
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your work?
Creating new designs, drawing, testing out new ideas, and then, seeing a finished product in a shop, or in situ in someone’s home.
And the least enjoyable?
Legal contracts and negotiations. As small business I have to oversee all aspects from design, to sales, to contracts; sometimes these can seem confusing and daunting, but I am learning.
Genevieve Bennett: Deco
What are your plans for the near future?
New designs! New leather tile designs, maybe looking at screens and other applications other than wall. New sculpted designs, looking at introducing new materials into my work, such as felt. I would also like to develop the overseas distribution of the tiles and build on the existing business.
I would love to work with on more projects with interior designers - they always transform your work into something you could have never imagined!
Looking back, is there a significant moment in your career that stands out?
Developing my research and ideas at the RCA where I started to work with leather – and connecting with Spinneybeck, the North American leather specialists, was significant too - they really opened my eyes to the creative possibilities.
You won the Breaking New Ground Prize in 2000 at Texprint – what did this mean to you?
It was a fantastic confidence boost. I sold a lot of work at Indigo in Paris, which enabled me to establish a studio and buy equipment. Winning also encouraged me to believe that experimental ideas are important and can ultimately be developed into something commercial.
Advice for those graduating this year?
I feel I could perhaps have learnt more about manufacturing in a shorter period of time had I worked full time for a year or so with a major brand. Building experience by working freelance took longer, but at the same time working on a variety of projects was invaluable. I would say if you have a product ready to go and which you believe in, then don’t wait around, go for it!
In my experience: Grace Smith
01 August 2012 by
Grace Ink: Quirky Doll Family
Grace Smith (Texprint 2007) runs her own business, GraceInk Design in the Scottish Borders. A screen printing fanatic, she creates her own quirky textile and paper products, selling them online through her Etsy.com shop, as well as in small independent stores and at craft fairs. In addition, she helps to run screen-printing workshops and is chairperson of the Crossing Borders arts collective. Grace talks to Texprint about her hectic but fulfilling lifestyle as a designer-maker.
Running my own business is great - but I never switch off.
It’s amazing to do a job that is just part of life, that makes you smile and that you enjoy getting up for in the morning. But it isn’t without downsides. I seem to be working 365 days a year, even on holiday - it is like my baby. I have also started running screen printing workshops which are proving really popular.
Downsides include the dreaded Tax Return.
I try to keep on top of it all and not let administrative stuff build up. Hopefully one day, I’ll earn enough to employ other talented people to do it for me.
Grace Ink: 4 Dolls Paper Print
I’m chairperson of the Crossing Borders collective.
The organisation runs an Art Trail every September, which I’m involved with. Many artists and craftspeople in the Borders area open their studios to the public.
I’m inspired by my beautiful surroundings, travel and different cultures around the world.
Setting up my own business has been very time consuming, and financially difficult, so a lot of my travel is now a lot closer to home, but this still provides inspiration. Living in the Scottish Borders, around lovely, rolling green hills is very calming for the mind, and provides clarity when working on new ideas. It is very important for me to be in a creative environment and working alongside 13 other artists in a studio really helps me to get inspired.
I’m in love with the screen printing process.
Screen printing is very versatile, allowing very intricate hand drawn designs to be transferred to fabric and paper – most of the time without having to use a computer. Achieving brush strokes and pen lines on fabric really gives a special handmade quality, which can be lost with many modern processes. I love the first reveal of a new screen print - there is a real buzz of excitement.I’m also very fond of linen and linen mix fabrics, which I use a lot in my work. My birdcage design is a firm favourite – I created it at university, but it hasn’t lost any of its appeal in the five years since then. It’s ended up on pretty much every product I produce.
Grace Ink: Birdcage Print Bag detail
I’m passionate about my work and teaching.
I love to teach - it’s a great feeling when my students have learnt something and had an enjoyable time too. Meeting new people and talking about what I do for a living, is great - I can get quite over-excited at times!
Texprint was invaluable at the start of my career.
I remember receiving the phone call to say I’d been selected. It was a surreal moment where I believe I asked ‘are you sure?’ It made me realise that I had created a collection that was appreciated, and that all the hard work that I’d put into my time at university was finally paying off. I was given the fantastic opportunity to take up a work placement in New Delhi, India. This provided me with lots of new inspiration, and I doubt I would be on the path I am currently without this.
Grace Ink: printed cushions
I’m planning expansion for my business – and maybe a road trip around Scotland.
I’m currently looking into licensing certain designs and also expanding the scope of retail outlets that I work with. I’d love to do some more travelling at some point and possibly work alongside artisans in Australia or my ultimate goal - Japan. I also want to produce some work inspired by Scotland and do a road trip at some point. I have a map that my Gran produced when she was about my age, of a road trip she did around Scotland. I would love to recreate that.
My advice to new graduates is: get some experience, apply for everything and never say no.
(Well for the first few months anyway.) Then you can be pickier with what you agree to… When I first started out, I’d done a couple of years of exploring, trying different things, seeing what I wanted to do with my life. Just after graduation is the best time to do this. When I set up in business I just assumed that I would be successful but the last three years has taught me that this is definitely not an easy task. I’ve felt like giving up on countless occasions, but I’m lucky to have family and friends who pick me up when things don’t go the way I intend. Most of the time I love it - my days are busy, varied and interesting.
Texprint London: four prize winners chosen by industry luminaries
18 July 2012 by
Texprint London - the must-see presentation of the best new graduate textile designers from the UK – took place July 11-13, 2012 at Chelsea College of Art’s Triangle Building.
Press, fashion and textile industry guests turned out in force to support and encourage the 24 successful designers.Texprint’s chairman, Barbara Kennington said: “This was undoubtedly our most successful and buzzy Texprint London show to date, the feedback overall was terrific, which bodes well for future support.”
Judges Sheree Waterson & Paul Stamper veiw the work
Four world-renowned decision makers and designers in the fields of fashion and design selected the winners of four special prizes at the event:Caroline Burstein, creative director at Browns Fashion; textile designer Neisha Crosland; Paul Stamper, senior designer at Renault Design; and Sheree Waterson, executive vice president and chief product officer for Vancouver based sportswear company Lululemon Athletica.
Selection of work by Ying Wu
Ying Wufrom the Royal College of Art scooped the Pattern prize for her highly imaginative work. Ying’s latest pieces are fantastic visual projections of a world where the environment has been polluted and almost destroyed. Her nightmare scenarios remain beautifully colourful and decorative despite their dark content, creating fascinating and thought-provoking artistic textile pieces.
Knitted structure by Carlo Volpi
Knitwear specialist Carlo Volpi, also from the RCA, was the judge’s unanimous choice to receive the Body prize. Carlo’s great sense of colour, texture and 3D structure mixed with a light-hearted sense of fun made an impression on many visitors.
Beaded textile design by Manri Kishimoto
Also commanding much attention,Manri Kishimoto from Central St Martins College of Art & Design won the Colour prize for her bold, graphic and distinctive printed and mixed media work. Manri is inspired by nature and by birds in particular. Her work is often based on stories and features striking motifs and wonderfully detailed beaded embellishment and appliqué.
Tania Knuckey embellished leather
Finally, Tania Grace Knuckey from the RCA won the Space prize, given for the best textiles for use in interiors. The judges were impressed with Tania’s versatility and the wide variety of materials she has explored in her work including many fabric bases, leather and metal.
The prize winners each win a £1,000 prize, courtesy of prize sponsors The Clothworkers’ Foundation, Liberty Art Fabrics and Pantone X-Rite.
The Selection Process 2012 – in conversation with prize judge Neisha Crosland
06 July 2012 by
Neisha Crosland established her textile design label in 1994 and is best known for her wallpaper and fabric designs. She also applies her style to stationary, tiles, scarves, fine china, rugs as well as home and fashion accessories for Hankyu Department Stores in Japan. Her body of work has propelled her to the forefront of UK design, and in 2006 she was honoured with the title of Royal Designer for Industry. Open, frank and passionate about design, Neisha shares with us her route to creating an international design brand and the importance for designers to experience the world first-hand.
What and where did you study before doing an MA in printed textiles at the Royal College of Art? I took a foundation in art at Central and then two terms of graphics at Camberwell. I wanted to paint but my father didn’t understand ‘art school’ and I had to do something that would give me a qualification to get a job. I chose graphics as it was fine art-based. One project was to illustrate a Dylan Thomas story and I made a 3D build up of card. The tutor said it would be printed in 2D and I would need to translate it, think about typefaces... I lost enthusiasm.
Why did you switch to textile design? I went to see an exhibition on William Morris and the Kelmscott Press at the V&A Museum and got lost in the textile department. I saw Ottoman Empire textiles with bold tulips that were abstract and simple and I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
The textile design course at Camberwell is fine art-based. Yes, there’s a lot of drawing. You mix your own dyes, crunch up beetles for red, mix up gum Arabic to glue the fabric to the print tables, make your own screens... I learned to understand the alchemy of the process which hasn’t left me. When I went to the RCA I kept experimenting.
Did you launch your own range straight after graduating from the RCA? In the first hour of my degree show I received a commission from Osborne & Little. I had printed on old velvet curtains which gave them a medieval spirit. They invited me in to do a collection with this look. I learned the whole process, from great idea to the marketplace. It’s important to know how a 2D design will translate onto cloth. It’s the step in between that makes it work. I am interested in that end look.
Which led you to create your own scarf brand? Scarves were an experiment in rectangles with cloths that didn’t need rub or colourfastness tests. There were no production minimums. I worked with velvets, playing with the design at the Belford Prints factory. I was asked by Debenhams to do diffusion line; my designs would cost £20 rather than £250 at Harrods. When pashminas came in and I started to work in cashmere but they cost a fortune to sample and were not commercially viable – I still have boxes of the prototypes.
And you decided to diversify into wallpaper and furnishing fabrics? I did not need to borrow money from a bank; my father died and I inherited a bit of money, otherwise I don’t think I could have done it. I built a brand name. Which led to a contract with the Japanese department store Hankyu, and it paid an advance royalty. Then the Rug Company came along. Everything I do now is under licence. But I had to go through that first, painful bit.
And now you design for a multitude of objects. I put 52 designs a year on different products. Some might be the same, but I do a lot of work with the right partners with the right sensitivities to translate and proportion the design for a rug or an espresso cup. It takes a lot of studio time. I just don’t hand out the designs, I mother hen them to the final product.
As a judge, what will you look for in the work of Texprint’s prize winners? I’ll be looking individuality, idiosyncrasies and an aesthetic personal to them. With digital printing you can put anything on a cloth, a million colours doesn’t cost any more. Colour separation is a skill. I’ll be looking for sensitivity, not just taking a cool image and plonking it on a cloth.
What is your advice to new designers? Don’t be influenced by the high street. People are lazy. There’s a big difference between sourcing a mountain scape on Google and going to it. Something happens with your brain when you experience things first hand rather than through a screen, you’ll get that extra something that feeds into your work. I almost want to take computer screens away. When you look at 17th century French Huguenot silks by James Leman or Anna Maria Garthwaite, you can see fantasies and brilliant drawing skills. We will never go back to that nor should we but we must not lose sight of the good things from the past and join them with the new. The act of hand drawing out these fantasies takes time we no longer can afford but the process of drawing and dreaming brings a wonderful meditative process - we must not lose sight of either.
In my experience: Susie Foster
16 June 2012 by
Susie Foster (Texprint 2010) is a freelance textile designer, specialising in mixed media. Drawing is the foundation of her practice and her delicate, sensitive pencil studies are often snapped up in their own right. Here Susie shares her insights into launching a career in design:
I work on a lot of different projects at one time.
I’ve created new prints for the Surtex fabric exhibition in New York. I’m developing needle punched fabrics for the spring/summer 2012/13 collection for menswear designer Manish Bansal. And I am working on accessories ideas with Sandra Murray, a Scottish designer I met at [textile design show] Indigo, Paris. I’ve also just designed a greetings card for the Barbican shop.
Susie Foster pleated textile detail
Being a freelance designer isn’t an easy option.
I feel incredibly lucky to be doing something I enjoy. Although there are some low moments, there are great days too and that’s what keeps me going. It can be tough staying positive and motivated but I was prepared for that - it’s a really competitive industry.
It’s hard to switch off.
Working as a freelancer means there can be a lot of uncertainty, which can be stressful. I’m glad I’m not on the nine to five treadmill, but it can be really difficult to switch off and take a break, especially if you live and work in one location. There’s also all the non-creative work that comes with being self-employed, dealing with tax, chasing payments etc, luckily my sister is a tax adviser, which helps.
Susie Foster: printed and pleated textile.
A typical day is a varied mix of the creative and the necessary.
I try to get a balance of the less interesting bits (invoices, emails etc) and the creative side (drawing, making, research etc). I enjoy the freedom and variety; it’s great to be in charge of your own time and to work on a range of projects. I like new challenges and working with different people, it’s exciting - and keeps you moving forward.
I’m inspired by nature, artists and the unexpected.
My inspiration can come from something quite unexpected but most frequently it’s found in nature. I find the patterns, processes and structures of the natural world are a never-ending source of inspiration. Also, the work of artists such as Antony Gormley, Bridget Riley, Mark Rothko, Eva Hesse, Andy Goldsworthy, Louise Bourgeois… it’s an endless list!
Susie Foster insect drawing
I love drawing and experimenting with materials and varied techniques.
During my MA studies at the RCA I started to explore scale, creating larger pieces, considering new ways of making and thinking a lot more broadly. I also started working with needle punching and it’s remained a favourite technique. I think it has a lot of potential still to be explored and I like that process of continual discovery. I still try to draw every day - it’s crucial to my textile work but it would be great to start exhibiting and selling pieces as an artist.
My Texprint experience in 2010 was hugely beneficial.
It was fantastic being chosen for Texprint. Just from the interview I got some great feedback and advice and made a contact that led to the sale of two large pieces from my portfolio. To show at Indigo was invaluable; I sold four pieces and met people that I continue to work with now.
Susie Foster: embroidery design for menswear designer Manish Bansal. Far right: butterfly pencil study
My plan is to keep going and keep the variety in my work.
I want to continue with my collaborative work for fashion and also to sell print designs. It would be amazing to work at couture level, where practicality is less of an issue and there’s more opportunity for elaborate and experimental textiles. I’d love to see my fabrics on a McQueen or Vivienne Westwood catwalk!
I’m working on some more of my own interior art pieces and developing my origami collages for print. I’d love to work with the Rug Company to produce designs for interiors. I’d also like to devote more time to drawing as an end in itself. I’ve been involved with teaching and community arts projects too and that’s something I also want to do more of.
Textile graduates need to persevere.
New graduates need to realise that it might take a long time to get where you want to be - but you can enjoy the journey and learn a lot along the way.
Congratulations to Dashing Tweeds - Scottish Textile Brand of the Year
13 June 2012 by Editor
Hosted by British style icon Alexa Chung, the Scottish Fashion Awards saw Dashing Tweeds win Scottish Textile Brand of the Year (sponsored by House of Fraser). Deserved recognition for this exciting and creative textile company.
Christopher Kane picked up the crown for 'Scottish Fashion Designer of the Year' at the red carpet event held at the Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow in association with InStyle.
Dashing Tweeds, founded by photographer Guy Hills and woven textile designer Kirsty McDougall (Texprint 2002) is rapidly making a name for itself. By using the best British mills and workshops, and designing heritage tweeds with a contemporary, colourful and often humorous spin, they have created a truly original British brand. They will be showcasing their latest collection at London Collection: Men, 15-17 June, alongside other British brands at The Hospital Club in Covent Garden.
Dashing Tweeds collaborates with a diverse range of partners from fashion and interior designers to architects and scientists.
Palvinder Nangla: decorative textile art and design
04 June 2012 by
Images above: Palvinder Nangla, Bless This Home & White Indian
Texprint alumnus and creative maverick Palvinder Nangla talks to Texprint about his decorative and distinctive approach to textiles; the creative path of his career; and some timely tips for those about to graduate.
Your approach to textiles is highly individual - what drew you to embroidery and mixed media?
I come from a Punjabi background where embroidery plays a huge social role. My grandmother and I used to stitch for hours while chatting and drinking tea. The fusion of traditional hand embroidery with the elements of mixed media has given me new ways of expression.
Are there particular qualities needed for this discipline?
I guess it is very important to be patient. Stitching requires meticulous labour and it can take a lot of time. To be open-minded and passionate about your work helps too.
Palvinder Nangla: Self Portrait. Copyright Palvinder Nangla
How have you found working as a freelance designer?
Frankly, I find it quite difficult. It is a tough market out there and it is full of sharks!
What is the focus of your current work?
I have moved on to textile art and surface design. I still make fashion illustrations but now I draw my inspiration from haute couture. I have just finished a set of fashion illustrations made of up-cycled butterfly wings and I’m starting a new surface design project in collaboration with Cor Habeo, an ethical luxury shoe brand.
What inspires you in your work?
The creative process is the most inspiring thing of all.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your work?
When I see ideas naturally grow and take shape until they are materialised and finished. I also love when others enjoy my work and it touches something inside them.
And the least enjoyable?
The financial part, I guess.
Palvinder Nangla: Freedom Pass & The Last Dance. Copyright Palvinder Nangla
You won the Texprint Chairman’s Prize in 2006 - what did this mean to you?
It felt great to have recognition from the textile industry. Texprint opens up a world of opportunities - but as I mentioned before, it is a shark’s world and I’m more of a guppy fish.
Highlights of your career since then?
I have shown with the British European Design Group at interior design shows ICFF, New York, IMM, Cologne and Maison & Objet, Paris. Through this connection, the tableware company Villeroy & Boch chose my work to exhibit at Salone Internazionale del Mobile, Milan in 2010. I also very much enjoyed collaborating with artist Hector de Gregorio who is also an RCA alumnus.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to keep on working with Cor Habeo and to apply my surface design to bags and other fashion accessories. I’m also looking into organizing an exhibition to show my textile art.Long term, I would be happy to make a living out of my art and to be involved in haute couture with someone such as Christian Lacroix.
What is your advice for those about to graduate this year?
Don’t waste your time with egocentrism and work together as a team, collaborate, support each other. Unity makes strength. Keep it real, be humble and love what you do.
Tamasyn Gambell: dynamic prints and ethical practices
27 May 2012 by
Tamasyn Gambell (Texprint 2005) has turned her passion for printed textiles into a successful, rewarding and ethical business. Her dynamic prints are strong and versatile, and are relevant for both fashion and interiors. Based in London’s Clerkenwell, she hand prints much of her work herself. Tamasyn began her career in Paris, moving there shortly after exhibiting with Texprint at Indigo, Paris, where many of her initial contacts were made.
What drew you to specialise in print?
I have always been attracted to pattern and colour. The first time I screen-printed I was hooked. I love the physicality of it, and the way you can change a surface so instantly.
Are there particular qualities needed for this discipline?
You need a good sense of scale, colour, layout and pattern. You have to be patient as the set up can be a lengthy process and things often go wrong. It’s also quite mathematical when designing the repeat.
How have you found working as a designer running your own business?
I have really enjoyed it. It’s been a fantastic challenge and you are constantly learning things. There are definite pitfalls and financial struggles at times – down sides are the long hours and the late payers. But ultimately it’s really rewarding – to know you have been responsible for everything you achieve. I love having the freedom to explore my own designs. I found working for other people very limiting – I have a very clear idea of what I want to produce.
Tamasyn Gambell scarves
What are you working on now?
I am currently working on two collaborative projects. The first is with the accessory brand Cherchbi – I am designing and printing tweed for their beautifully hand-made bags [autumn/winter 2012 menswear range]. Also I have designed and printed the fabric for a range of re-upholstered mid-century Scandinavian furniture pieces, cushions and lampshades being sold in the wonderful new shop: Forest, London.
What inspires you?
I spent some time in Sweden and I was really inspired by the clean graphic prints, bold colours and shapes found in design and architecture. Their sense of balance, and form really made an impression on me. This way of working, combined with a love for strong tribal patterns really informs my design work.
Tamasyn Gambell notebooks
Favourite materials and techniques?
Screen-printing is my favourite technique. I love working with silks, wools and linens - really rich fabrics that absorb dyes and pigments and produce lovely radiant colours.
You are very committed to ethical practices - do you think it’s still slow progress in this area for fashion and textiles?
It’s definitely gaining momentum. People are so much more informed now than they were even five years ago. It’s going to be slow to reach all areas of the market - but high- and mid-end brands are making a lot of positive changes. I believe ethical practices will continue to be adopted and gain a powerful presence over the next decade.
Can you describe a typical day?
I cycle to the print studio in south London – usually arriving at 9am. I change into my boiler suit and begin preparing the screens and the table for a day of screen-printing. There are always new designs, fabrics or products to print. The space is shared with other print designers and small businesses so it’s great to be surrounded by creativity. I work with my assistant, usually printing until about 5pm - then I will cycle back east and continue to work on emails, planning, deliveries and orders until 7 or 8pm.
Highlights of your career so far?
Getting to see my work on the Sonia Rykiel catwalk. Selling my work at the Tate was also a massive highlight for me. My father and I used to love going to exhibitions there together - it was one of our little rituals. He passed away before I set up my own business, so having my work on sale in the Tate Gallery shop was a very poignant moment for me.
Plans for the future?
I am exhibiting at Tent, London and I’m planning some new homeware accessories for this exhibition. I would like to continue to collaborate with other designers, learning from each other and sharing ideas. Longer term, I would love to work with Ercol and design prints for their beautiful furniture!
Advice for those about to graduate?
Enjoy it! Experiment and take opportunities as and when they come. I’ve learned that it can be equally valuable to learn what you don’t want to do as much as what you do.
New Horizons: Alydia Cooper, Holly Holmes and Georgia Dorey
22 April 2012 by
Embroidery and print specialist Alydia Cooper has been very busy since her time with Texprint in 2011. Alydia has created new work including her Under the Sea collection featuring a new range of sea animals depicted in her distinctive, decorative style. She says: “I exhibited at the Knitting and Stitching Shows in Harrogate and Dublin as part of their graduate showcase at the end of 2011. I decided to aim some of my collection towards the childrenswear market and have spent time contacting children’s nurseries and other outlets. More recently, I exhibited at [needlework show] L'Aiguille-en-Fête in Paris in February 2012, as well as continuing to work on special commissions – I’ve done bespoke chair covers and cushions for interiors.” Alydia found her Texprint experience beneficial in many ways, as she explains: “During Indigo, Paris, Agnes B bought three of my designs which gave me great confidence because it proved there was a place in the market for my work. Every part of the Texprint programme was amazing from the interview stage right through toshowing in Paris. I loved the Need to Know pack that we were all given. It has been extremely helpful with every bit of information we could need from sales to copyright terms etc. It was great to have the opportunity to talk to potential international clients and seeing how they would translate my designs.”
Holly Holmes print design work
Talented printed textile designer Holly Holmes was one of the first of 2011’s group to land a great first job. While exhibiting with Texprint, she was interviewed for a design position with Hodgesellers - a textile studio in London. Holly was selected for the job and says: “My current position as textile designer and screen printer within the studio is very satisfying. I have learnt so much already, since starting in September 2011 - I am really enjoying myself and I feel very lucky.” Holly’s fresh, vibrant style is defined by her confident use of colour and pattern. Successful under Texprint’s banner in Indigo, Paris, she sold some of her designs to both Italian and British fashion companies. Holly says: “It was such a privilege being part of Texprint, getting to meet lots of industry insiders as well as the other graduates. It was really great to get feedback on my work from so many different people – all the information given by the Texprint team was truly invaluable.”
Georgia Dorey, Texprint 2011
Finally, print specialist Georgia Dorey is continuing her studies – currently working towards her MA at the RCA. Georgia says: “My time at the RCA so far has been wonderful. Looking back on my Texprint experience, it was totally fantastic. Being chosen was a massive confidence boost for me at a time when I was just coming to the end of my degree and starting to feel quite scared about the future. Texprint London was a great opportunity to practice my networking skills and to build confidence when talking about my work to others. The time in between London and Indigo Paris was a fantastic incentive to carry on my creative work over the summer. Exhibiting in Paris was an amazing opportunity and I am so thankful for all the Texprint team for making it all possible. I found the first day of selling in Paris quite hard - it sometimes felt like everyone around you was selling design work and you weren’t. But then on the second day I sold nine design samples to Agnes B, as well as two samples and two illustrations to a Belgium-based company the following day, with both companies wanting me to continue to work for them in the future. Texprint taught me an invaluable amount – much of which will see me through the rest of my career.”
Exhibition Alert: Fine Cell Work, April events
17 April 2012 by
Social enterprise organisation Fine Cell Work has announced an exhibition and sale at the Rifles Club in Mayfair, London, on April 26, 2012. Working to assist in the rehabilitation of prisoners through paid, skilled, creative needlework, Fine Cell Work produces top quality, beautiful pieces of work. Prisoners are taught by volunteers, many from The Embroiderers’ and Quilters’ Guilds, and the organisation aims to “foster hope, discipline and self esteem”. Cushions, bags, quilts and other items will all be available to buy at the exhibition, and would make exceptional gifts.
The Rifles Club, 56, Davies Street, London W1K 5HR. Nearest tube: Bond Street. Opening hours 12 noon – 4.30pm on April 26, 2012
Limited edition embroidery artworks by Gavin Turk and Fine Cell Work
Also - catch it while you can – British artist Gavin Turk has collaborated with Fine Cell Work to create an exhibition at the Ben Brown Gallery in London, which ends on Friday April 20, 2012. Over 30 artworks, hand-stitched by prisoners, will be on display. In the creation of these new pieces Gavin Turk pays homage to the work of the late Italian artist Alighiero e Boetti to coincide with Boetti’s current major retrospective show at Tate Modern. Boetti is known for his fascination with words, numbers, dates and games as well as for his use of tapestry in some of his works, particularly in the Mappa pieces, where he harnessed the skills of artisan embroiderers from Afghanistan.
Ben Brown Fine Arts, 12 Brooks Mews, London W1K 4GD. Opening hours 11am – 6pm until April 20, 2012
Wearable Art event at Margo Selby
28 October 2011 by Editor
The Wearable Art event at Margo Selby’s London shop from October 27 until November 4, 2011, is a chance to see and buy pieces from some of the UK’s best textile and jewellery designers. Texprint alumna, Margo will reveal a new range of jackets alongside covetable pieces from 11 specially invited guests: Wallace Sewell, Allison Willoughby, Anne Selby, Carole Waller, Emma Burton, Jane Adam, Lesley Strickland, Makeba Lewis, Liz Clay, Rowena Park and Tammy Child.
Margo Selby store interior
Such an array of respected artists and craftspeople is rarely found in one place, so this is a great opportunity to see their beautiful pieces in close-up, ideal for anyone seeking a special gift in the run-up to the festive season.
Scarves by Wallace Sewell
Among many highlights, wonderful, colourful woven scarves and throws will be available from design duo Wallace Sewell. Anne Selby’s extravagantly beautiful silk and organza scarves and stoles will also be on sale. Created from her clever use of sophisticated techniques including arashi shibori pleating, hand painting and screen printing, the pieces are unique. Emma Burton’s colourful, contemporary digital prints will also feature at the event - Emma’s range includes clothing, accessories and cushions.
Bag by Margo Selby
Also included in the wonderfully varied selection are hand painted clothes by artist Carole Waller and jewellery by Jane Adam and Rowena Park.
Wearable Art: October 27 until November 4, 2011
Margo Selby shop opening times
Monday- Saturday 10am – 6pm
4-11 Galen Place,
Pied Bull Court
London WC1A 2JR
Ella Robinson: trancending textiles
15 June 2011 by
Ella Robinson’s unique work transcends textiles; manipulating yarn and natural materials she creates surprising, colourful and tactile art pieces. Texprint alumna Ella’s work exudes warmth and a playful, nostalgic air. Many of her pieces incorporate driftwood and brightly coloured yarn stripes which conjure up reflections of fun, care-free youth and seaside holidays.
Her clean, graphic shapes are drawn from diverse inspiration sources such as “graffiti or interesting shapes within architecture”. Ella explains: “I suppose I am inspired by mood or emotion; I like to create works that have a positive feel about them, and perhaps this comes through in my use of colour. I want pieces that I create to entice people and to be welcoming. I feel that my works are quite humble, particularly the pieces that incorporate driftwood. They are not hiding anything or showing off, they just are what they are.”
As well as being part of Li Edelkoort’s Talking Textiles exhibition in Milan earlier in this year, Ella’s work was also featured in 6 Hands, an exhibition at the Aram Gallery in London. Ella says of the experience: “This was a personal highlight for me. I love the fact that the Aram Gallery has a special interest in supporting artists and designers in their early careers. The curator, Ellie Parke, was very inclusive, and I was able to have an ongoing dialogue about plans for displaying the work.”
Ella’s year will continue to be busy. Some bold, new work commissioned for The Art in the Garden exhibition is currently on show at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Hampshire. Ella will also have a stand at Origin, during the London Design Festival in September 2011, and later in the year will exhibit at Flow gallery in Notting Hill, London.
She hopes that her career will evolve organically, but she aims to balance this with some regular work running workshops within a gallery or school environment.
Ella acknowledges today’s tough climate and feels that varied work experience should be a priority for those still studying. She notes: “Those people who took a year out and worked within the industry definitely had an advantage when they graduated. They were more employable and knowledgeable. It's a great idea to have a course that involves work experience as part of the curriculum.”