FEATURES: Judges 2012

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Sophie Manners: One Year On, now based at Cockpit Arts

29 August 2013 by Editor

Philippa Watkins, journalist, Texprint council member and recently retired RCA senior tutor specialising in weave, catches up with Texprint alumni weaver Sophie Manners.

It has been a busy year for Sophie - since showing with Texprint at Indigo September 2012 (where she was selected for the Woolmark Texprint Award), as well as showing with Texprint in Hong Kong and enjoying a two and half month internship in Italy working with Como silk weaver Taroni, she recently moved into her own studio space at Cockpit Arts Holborn in London.

Woolmark Texprint Award judges examine Sophie's work at Indigo 2013

This was for her an absolute joy. To have been selected for a studio place and bursary, which Cockpit Arts offer on their incubator programme to help talented designer-makers - just being there is a recognised benchmark of quality craftsmanship and designer excellence - has given her a huge confidence boost and a solid base from where she can further develop her own very distinctive design work.

Sophie's studio at cockpit Arts 

Moving in her computerised Harris loom, her hank winder and dyeing equipment, thanks to a grant from the Worshipful Company of Weavers, Sophie is now exploring again her distinctly structured woven designs, including the velvet techniques she developed as a student at the RCA.  Currently she is working on new ideas for HodgeSellers Design Consultancy, a leading textile design consultancywhich works on developing materials and ways of processing new ideas to bring a distinctive edge to fabrics for their international clients, among whom are some of Europe’s leading luxury brands.

As well as commissioned design work Sophie is producing her own woven products prompted by the opportunity offered by the Cockpit Arts Open Studios.  New and distinctive designs for scarves and cushions include tie dyed warps and a novel ‘marbled’ technique which she applies to the warp before weaving, thus producing a beautiful, uniquely coloured effect for scarves. sophiemanners.tumblr.com

But none of this might have happened if it hadn’t been for Texprint.  “Texprint opened up so many opportunities” she says, “it really was the best thing I could have done after graduating.  And I sold quite a few designs at Texprint in Indigo, which was so gratifying - just to know people appreciated my work.”

It was through Texprint and ComOn in Italy, which set up the opportunity for six Texprint designer internships in Italy, that she was selected to work with Taroni Spa, one the oldest silk mills (founded in 1880) in Como, in the production of superb quality silks, including jacquards and prints for fashion and furnishing.  The experience she says was invaluable - to observe at first hand how the industry works, as well as getting some of her own designs into work. And it has provided her with a sense of how to approach commissioned briefs for clients and how to market her work.

Cockpit Arts is an award winning social enterprise and the UK’s only creative-business incubator for designer-makers, whosemission it is to support and promote talented designer-makers from all backgrounds through all stages of their career.   Their incubator studios in Holborn, WC1, close to the Hatton Garden jewellery quarter, and in Deptford SE8, are the centre of an exciting community of artists and craftspeople, both established designer-makers and those who are just starting out. 

Article tags: weave (24), alumni (45), texprint 2012 (27), general (61), judges 2012 (13), indigo paris (13)

WSA magazine: Build inner strength with the talent of tomorrow

23 January 2013 by Editor

Sheree Waterson of Lululemon Athletica with Sophie Reeves and Manri Kishimoto

The January issue of WSA magazine features an interview with Sheree Waterson executive vice president and chief product officer of Lululemon Athletica (Texprint foundation sponsors) focused on the thinking behind Lululemon’s support for Texprint and, in Sheree's words, the importance of infusing “the organisation with new talent that sees the world in new ways.”

The inaugural Lululemon Texprint Award was won by Texprint 2012 designers Manri Kishimoto and Sophie Reeves who each received £1,000 and a prestigious 3-month paid internship at Lululemon’s Vancouver headquarters which started this January.

The article offers insight not only into the ethos of this rapidly growing North American business, but also highlights the cultural philosophy and yogic principles that Lululemon encourages in its work force and that feeds into its success.

In the article Sheree says: “In terms of leadership, the interns are going to be immersed in our culture of vision, goal-setting and personal accountability.  Additionally they will learn our design principles at Lululemon; combining fashion and function, West Coast lifestyle with European styling and creating their designs through those filters.”

Personal mentoring and well-managed internships are the cornerstones on which graduates can build and fast track their experience gathering.  The Texprint programme has long had mentoring at its core and with its sponsor-partners is planning to further develop this aspect of the programme through 2013.

WSA (World Sports Activewear) is a widely recognised, award-winning international publication for material development in the performance wear market.  Published six times a year it provides an up-to-date analysis of technical developments, commercial trends and offers valuable business management information. To subscribe to WSA go to www.sportstextiles.com

Article tags: texprint 2012 (27), business (54), sponsors (30), champions of texprint (45), collaboration (9), judges 2012 (13)

The Texprint 24: Indigo highlights 2012

02 October 2012 by Editor

Buyers at Amber Sambrook stand

For the Texprint 24 the textile design show Indigo provided their first experience of exhibiting and selling their work alongside professional, established designers.

This prestigious showcase in Paris, September 19-21, is a fantastic platform for the emerging designers and vital to Texprint’s aim of helping to launch the careers of some of the best British graduates, the experience helping to shape the designers’ individual future plans.


Chairman Barbara Kennington was delighted to host this year’s event.  “British creativity has been in the spotlight this year; creativity that comes in large part from encouraging diversity, excellence and high achievement in all design fields, and especially in fashion and textiles.  Smart companies are looking to tap into this rich seam of British-trained talent and connecting with Texprint to support new textile talent.”

Overall Indigo 2012 was the best ever in terms of sales and contacts for the Texprint designers.

Sales to North America were particularly good, with Kayser-Roth Corp from North Carolina buying well; Lululemon Athletica (Texprint Foundation Sponsors), Hollister/Abercrombie & Fitch, Rachel Roy, Tracey Reese and Nike among others, also bought strongly.

Asian and European buyers were out in force too. From Europe: Tara Jarmon herself bought for junior line Mademoiselle Tara, and among others Nelly Rodi, H&M, Topshop, Boden, Custo, Desigual, Guy Laroche, White Stuff, and MD Gera, the German fashion prints manufacturer, were noted.

Buyers at Ying Wu stand

Conversations with these buyers gave the Texprint designers a unique opportunity to explain their inspiration and their work.  Aside from individual sales, many freelance opportunities arose, as well as firm job offers and commissions.

Print designer David Warner notes: “It was such an invigorating experience to meet with buyers, agents, and industry experts. Getting their insight into what they thought of my designs and explaining who I am as a designer, gaining important contacts along the way. The whole experience will live with me and help to inform my future work.”

Philippa Watkins, journalist and RCA senior tutor, at Sophia Fenlon stand

Guido Tettamanti and Marco Taiana, representing sponsors Confidustria Como and the ComON creativity week, again endorsed their support for the programme.  This year they have offered six designers an invaluable opportunity to experience working with Italian companies based in and around Como (up from two last year): Alice Howard-Graham, Manri Kishimoto, Sophie Manners, Israel Parra-Zanabria, Sophie Reeves and Amber Sambrook.

Woolmark Texprint Award judges at Lisa Bloomer stand

The Woolmark Texprint Award in Support of Campaign for Wool was judged at Indigo by James E Sugden OBE, director; James Dracup, group managing director, both of Johnstons of Elgin; and Masahiro Oono, textile design project manager of Japanese specialist wool weaver Nikke, and won by weaver Sophie Manners.

The highlight of the three-day event was the prize presentation.  This took place on 19 September within a special section of the Texprint village where Texprint chairman Barbara Kennington welcomed the esteemed fashion and trend forecaster Nelly Rodi as the guest prize presenter.

Nelly reminded the audience of buyers, press and design professionals of her passion for nurturing young talent and her long-held admiration for the British design education system: “British schools seem take a much freer approach to educating their students, mixing different approaches such as photography, art and fashion, leaving the student to express himself, without imposed rule…Freedom gives a lot of energy to fashion.”

Nelly presented the winners of the four Texprint awards with their cheques: Carlo Volpi, winner of the Body Prize; Tania Grace Knuckey, winner of the Space Prize, Manri Kishimoto, winner of the Colour Prize; and Ying Wu, winner of the Pattern Prize.

Also saying a few words at the event were Gilles Lasbordes of Indigo/ Première Vision, and Peter Ackroyd of The Woolmark Company and Sheree Waterson of Lululemon Athletica; both companies Foundation Sponsors of Texprint.

Peter emphasized The Woolmark Company’s focus on “education, education, education” and again reiterated their desire to ensure that young designers are encouraged to work in wool, and to understand both its properties and its potential for fashion and interiors markets.

Peter Ackroyd of The Woolmark Company, Sophie Manners, Rebecca Sharp of The Woolmark Company, and Nelly Rodi 

Sheree created a buzz of excitement with her no-nonsense “Texprint rocks!” accolade.  Since becoming Foundation Sponsors earlier this year, Lululemon has shown itself to be the most enthusiastic and forward thinking of companies.  Sheree’s original plan to employ one intern to work in Vancouver for three months soon became two interns - Manri Kishimoto and Sophie Reeves - as Sheree realized she could not choose between them when making her selection back in July at Texprint London.

Lululemon believe that working with Texprint and its exciting young designers is the very best way of driving innovation into their design process and of giving back and nurturing the next generation. An attitude we strongly applaud.

Buyer at Fergus Dowling stand

Print designer Trinity Mitchell sums up the designers’ appreciation for Texprint and in turn Texprint’s sponsors: “I can't express just how grateful I am to all of you at Texprint. I have had such a wonderful time and I am so thankful to have been part of it all. I never would have made the contacts I did if it weren't for Texprint, and I look forward to those contacts hopefully turning into jobs and work!”

Article tags: texprint 2012 (27), woolmark (19), general (61), sponsors (30), indigo (15), judges 2012 (13)

Weaver Sophie Manners wins Woolmark Texprint Award

27 September 2012 by Editor

Buzz of excitement as judges examine Sophie's work

Weaver Sophie Manners was selected as winner of the second Woolmark Texprint Award in support of the Campaign for Wool last week at Indigo, Paris.

Sophie, a graduate of the Royal College of Art, won the prize for her superb woven textile designs developed with 60% or more Merino wool. The prize has been created in support of the Campaign for Wool with Patron HRH The Prince of Wales and honours the inventive use of wool in textile design. 

Texprint chairman Barbara Kennington, Sophie Manners, prize presenter Nelly Rodi and Peter Ackroyd of The Woolmark Company

The prize was judged at Indigo by James E Sugden OBE, director; James Dracup, group managing director, both of Johnstons of Elgin; and Masahiro Oono, textile design project manager of Japanese specialist wool weaver Nikke.

They selected Sophie out of the 24 shortlisted designers taking part in the Texprint programme this year, all of whom presented their work at Indigo. She received £1,000 in prize money, which was presented by this year’s Texprint prize presenter, the esteemed trend forecaster Nelly Rodi, and The Woolmark Company's Peter Ackroyd. As part of her prize, Sophie will also have access to training on the benefits and uses of wool through her nearest Woolmark Company office.

Nelly Rodi selects fabrics from Sophie's collection

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.

Sophie’s weave tutor at the RCA, Philippa Watkins, says of her work: “Sophie is a clever weaver with a good grasp of woven techniques, including a velvet technique, which she explores to great effect using a variety of yarns and materials to create some extraordinary surfaces with a sometimes very surprising touch.” 


Mr Sugden said the judges selected Sophie because of her technical excellence and the commerciality of her weave designs.  She has a distinctive style and Mr Oono praised her tremendous imagination.

The Woolmark judges also commended printer Israel Parra-Zanabria, a graduate of Glasgow School of Art, for his translation of ideas to commercial execution.

Article tags: weave (24), texprint 2012 (27), woolmark (19), business (54), sponsors (30), indigo (15), judges 2012 (13)

Texprint Paris special prize presenter 2012: Nelly Rodi

16 September 2012 by

“I’m delighted that Nelly Rodi has agreed to be this year’s special prize presenter at Indigo,” says Texprint’s creative director Peter Ring-Lefevre. Indeed, the entire Texprint team are thrilled to welcome the esteemed creative director and founder of the eponymous trend forecasting company to the podium of the Texprint Village at Indigo, Paris, on Thursday 20 September at 3.30pm where she will be guest of honour at the annual prize ceremony.

Mme Rodi herself has been recognised for her achievements in the world of creation, receiving the Legion of Honour in 1998 from the French President and Officer of the Legion of Honour in 2009.

She founded the NellyRodi Agency in 1985 and the company counts the cream of international fashion and beauty brands such as L’Oréal, Tommy Hilfiger, Marks & Spencer, PPR and LVMH among its clientele. The Agency is known for providing a very sophisticated forecasting service, founded on research and analysis, which considers sociological, creative and marketing influences on future trends. As well as publishing regular Trendlab® forecasting books across several markets and end users, the company works extensively on brand repositioning and bespoke consultancy projects.

Peter is full of praise for the way in which Nelly approaches creative development and design work and recalls working on a project with her in the early 1990s when he was product development manager, menswear, at the The Woolmark Company office in Paris (then called IWFO and part of IWS).

“Nelly had a wonderful way of understanding wool as a natural fibre. She stretched the imagination and technical side of what could be achieved with the fibre in the developing stages,” he says. “She had lots of new ideas, right down to the benefit for various consumer levels. She has a very thorough way of working.”

Texprint takes an equally rigorous approach to selecting the most dynamic and talented new textile designers from UK art schools and universities to take part in the annual mentoring programme.

“British schools seem take a much freer approach to educating their students, mixing different approaches such as photography, art and fashion, leaving the student to express himself, without imposed rule…Freedom gives a lot of energy to fashion,” says Nelly.

As a creative force with a deep understanding of the fashion and interiors industries, Nelly will offer a wealth of advice to the 24 selected textile designers when she visits the designers’ stands at Indigo, part of Première Vision Pluriel. She says she is interested in work that has “an artistic approach, close to an artistic concept, mixed with texture and colours. For drawing, I look for hand-drawing and motifs which are not too commercial or based on actual trends. Technology comes after...”

“Nelly understands that the industry needs to be behind young and creative textile designers,” says Peter. Indeed, Nelly says: “The younger generation brings a lot of positive energy and modernity needed by our ‘old’ textile industry. We find new approaches by looking after the work of the new generation.”

She signs off with the following advice for new graduates: “Don’t be depressed by the textile recession. Make direct contact with leading international garment brands. Keep your freshness and freedom. And dare to create what you have in your hearts.”

Thank you Mme Rodi, we look forward to seeing you in Paris.

For more information about Texprint and to arrange an interview with Nelly Rodi at Indigo, Paris, ahead of the prize presentation at 3pm on Thursday 20 September please email events@gghq.co.uk or call Delphine Thwaites on +44 (0)20 7250 0589.

Article tags: woolmark (19), general (61), business (54), sponsors (30), champions of texprint (45), paris (4), indigo (15), judges 2012 (13)

Woolmark Texprint Award judge: James E Sugden OBE, director of Johnstons of Elgin

13 September 2012 by

The Woolmark Texprint Award in support of Campaign for Wool will once again recognise a Texprint designer who excels in the use of Merino wool in his or her fabric design. The winner will be chosen from this year’s 24 Texprint new graduate designers who will present their designs at Indigo, part of Première Vision Pluriel, Paris, September 19-21, 2012. Texprint and Woolmark are proud to introduce James E Sugden OBE, director of Johnstons of Elgin, who will be combining his seasoned opinion with fellow judge Masahiro Oono to pick this year’s winner.

In his 20 years at Johnstons of Elgin, Mr Sugden successfully developed the company’s worldwide reputation for woven and knitted fine cashmeres and woollens. It now counts the likes of Burberry, Chanel and Louis Vuitton as esteemed clientele. He currently applies his expertise to Johnstons’ knitwear mills in Hawick; continuing to cultivate the UK’s largest independent vertical woollen manufacturer. Mr Sugden was awarded a prestigious OBE in 2011 by HM The Queen for his contributions to the textile industry and is considered an international aficionado on luxury textile manufacturing.

Mr Sugden brings over 40 years’ textile manufacturing experience to the judging panel and is keen to support the next crop of British-trained design talent: “It’s important to nurture the immense amount of talent that the UK has to offer at the earliest stages of a designer’s career. Texprint gives them a platform that they wouldn’t have access to otherwise to internationalise their talents.”

A recent resurgence of UK-based manufacturing has been led by businesses looking to support well-made product. As the Johnstons customer moves away from low added-value products, they look for ways to set themselves apart from the crowd. Mr Sugden insists that “customisation is the key to differentiating product” and has ensured that Johnstons has the capacity and technology to cope with demand.

“The technology is there, but it’s the creative spirit that drives us forward,” he says. “If we don’t push the boundaries, the industry will never progress. That’s why we need young designers with conviction and the boldness of youth.”

The design talent coming from the art colleges here in the UK is revered worldwide and Mr Sugden believes that it’s crucial to help young designers find a platform for success. He hopes to find someone with “a focused perspective and a comprehensive knowledge of colour, weave and texture” to champion the Woolmark Texprint Award.   

Article tags: texprint 2012 (27), woolmark (19), general (61), business (54), champions of texprint (45), indigo (15), judges 2012 (13)

Woolmark Texprint judge: Masahiro Oono from Japanese wool specialist Nikke

11 September 2012 by

Textile designer Masahiro Oono from Japanese wool specialist Nikke joins judging panel for the 2012 Woolmark Texprint Award in support of Campaign for Wool prize.

Versatile, strong and natural: Merino wool provides textile designers with yarns and fabrics which are luxurious and sustainable, whether used in interiors or in apparel. The Woolmark Company, the not-for-profit organisation owned by over 29,000 Australian woolgrowers, invests in research, development, innovation and marketing along the global supply chain for Australian wool — the largest source of this noble fibre.

The Woolmark Company encourages new designers to explore the design possibilities and benefits of Merino wool through the sponsorship of the second annual Woolmark Texprint Award in support of Campaign for Wool. The award recognises design excellence in fabrics created with 60% or more Merino wool, whether presented as printed, woven, knitted and/or mixed media fabric.

A winner will be selected from among the 24 designers who will show their work in the Texprint village at Indigo, which is part of Première Vision Pluriel, September 19-21, 2012. The Woolmark Company and Texprint are delighted that experts in woollen textile creation will be choosing the winner.

In the first of two profile focuses on the judges, we speak with Masahiro Oono, project manager of Nikke Group’s textile design and marketing department in the Osaka-based organisation’s textile and clothing materials division – otherwise known as the Japan Wool Textile Co Ltd.

Nikke was established over 110 years ago, starting as a manufacturer of wool products and has since expanded into six different domains with the aim of providing “products and services to meet customers’ demands and make a contribution to society”. Its textile and clothing materials division includes the development, manufacture and wholesaling of products for apparel primarily incorporating wool. Like wool, Nikke’s corporate philosophy is to be “gentle and warm toward people and the planet”. ­

On meeting with Mr Oono on Nikke’s stand at textile exhibition Première Vision, Paris, he presents what he describes as the company’s signature fabric: a superfine wool chiffon gauze weighing 120g per meter which costs in the region of €35 per meter, which puts it in the realm of luxury brands. Indeed, he lists Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Jil Sander and Burberry as top customers.

The most popular colours selected by buyers in February were sky blue or mustard, however for Mr Oono, achieving technical excellence is more important than using colour in design: “Nikke has a long history and a large archive, and we do a lot of work from the archive. I try to do what other can’t or aren’t able to do.”

Mr Oono joined Nikke 25 years ago. With two generations of kimono artisans in his family, he says his parents were happy when he decided to study fashion and textiles. “Since I was a child I have liked clothing. When I was deciding what to do at university, new stylists such as Yohji Yamamoto were coming through and I wanted to do something in this field,” he explains.

To the question ‘why would you recommend that new textile designers experiment with wool?’ he replies with another question: “Maybe students think that wool is thick and not interesting? But high end wool has so much potential. It’s important to know the possibilities of wool. If you don’t know wool and wool fibres you will never become a good textile designer.”

Mr Oono is a great advocate of wool and praises its inherent nature: “It’s natural, and comes from sheep and there’s a long history of man weaving sheep’s wool. You can do so many things with it: felt, twill, crêpe... there are so many possibilities. It’s also strong.”

As a Woolmark Texprint Award judge, he says he will be looking for designs that show “something unusual, that no one else has thought of, a new way”.  As well as lending his expertise in judging the competition, Mr Oono will be a source of advice and inspiration for the 24 designers taking part in Texprint this year as he meets them and reviews their design work while looking for the winner: “We need young people – we need new ideas. Textile design is very creative work, work that gives you the possibility to realise your dreams.”

Article tags: texprint 2012 (27), woolmark (19), general (61), business (54), sponsors (30), champions of texprint (45), indigo (15), judges 2012 (13)

Texprint London judging: the thoughts, decisions and debates!

30 July 2012 by

This year’s Texprint special prize judging panel comprised a group of design professionals working in diverse fields from cutting edge fashion to auto design. We feel it important to highlight their comments and views on the judging process, on the four special prize winners whom they selected with almost unanimous accord, and on the future.

Judge Caroline Burstein, the creative director at Browns Fashion and founder of Molton Brown, noted that in order to select the winners it was important to see the designers’ whole portfolios, to meet them and understand their personae and the way they present their work.

Fellow judge Sheree Waterson, executive vice president and chief product officer of active sports company Lululemon Athletica, agreed, adding: “We’re being introduced to the artist’s personality. Everyone’s work was so compelling and interesting. It’s all beautiful. The twist, the deciding factor in choosing a winner, was originality.”

Renowned interior fabric designer Neisha Crosland commented: “We had to be careful we were choosing original things that we haven’t seen before on the high street.”

The panel chose Royal College of Art graduate knitwear designer Carlo Volpi as the winner of the Body Prize. Caroline explained their decision: “We all felt the same way. His use of different yarn weights, the way he put his photo shoot together. He didn’t need to explain his work. It speaks for itself. You understood where it came from. It wasn’t just one look. His colour sense is impeccable, very bold.”

Knit/mixed media designer Sarah Burton from Nottingham Trent University was chosen as the runner up. Her work focused on garments that could be worn under clothes and the judges liked her exploration of movement.

The Pattern Prize winner Ying Wu also graduated from the RCA. Neisha explained her decision making process: “At first I thought, here we go again, digital prints. Then I did a complete U-turn, the scarves could be Hermès. It’s street and skate gone up market and done exquisitely.”

Caroline was taken with Ying’s use of imagery: “You can see the culture, you can see the symbols, you don’t know what they mean but you want to know.”

The runner up was Fergus Dowling from Leeds College of Art. Paul was impressed with the “intensity into his subject” he showed in his collection of prints for menswear.

Carlo Volpi, detail of work, winner Body prize

Ying Wu, detail of work, winner Pattern prize

The work of Sarah Burton, runner up Body prize, and Fergus Dowling, runner up Pattern prize

For the Space Prize, Tania Grace Knuckey won over the judges with her multimedia work incorporating metal, textiles and more. Judge Paul Stamper – senior designer, design perspectives, Renault Design at Renault - said: “Once we saw the portfolio, it did it for us. I could relate it to something I was doing at college. She can turn her hand and make something out of anything you throw at her. It could be translated into repeats, multimedia.... She’s the wild card and that’s why I like her.” The judges were taken with Tania’s articulate explanation of her design work.

They selected RCA graduate Lily Kamper as the Space Prize runner up. Neisha remarked: “The jewellery and use of materials is beautiful. Her work could be applied to interiors, car interiors – there is coherence.” Paul commented that he could envisage her work being used for high-level luxury concept cars.

Colour Prize winner Manri Kishimoto was a universal favourite. Caroline said: “We loved her for body, pattern, we loved her for everything.”

The judges were particularly entranced with the Cental St Martins graduate’s printed garments. Sheree Waterson described her work as “outrageous, mind-blowing”. And Paul Stamper said: “You could frame and sell the illustrations of her costumes, put them in Colette now!”

RCA graduate Lisa Bloomer was chosen as runner up for her woven design work.

Tania Knuckey, detail of sketchbook, winner of Space prize

Manri Kishimoto, graduate show, winner of Colour prize

The work of Lisa Bloomer, runner up Colour prize, and Lily Kamper, runner up Space prize

The judges noted that three of the four winners and two of the runners up are RCA MA graduates. Caroline commented: “It goes to show what that extra two years does. They stand out, what can you do? Hopefully this will inspire people to further their education.”

RCA graduates Neisha and Paul agreed: “You’re absolutely ready for the market when you leave the RCA.” The Texprint management team pointed out that six out of the 24 selected designers this year are RCA MA graduates. Texprint’s chairman Barbara Kennington said: “When interviewing the 200+ graduates put forward, the interview panels aim to assess purely on the quality of work presented, as well as the individual’s commitment to succeed, but this year it was harder - we did feel that overall the standard of BA graduates had slipped – or maybe it was that the RCA MA graduates had forged ahead! We strongly believe the standard of BA has been and can be higher and better. It’s still a three-year course and there’s time to do strong work. We need to find a way to have a debate and raise the bar.”

She added: “Texprint is trying to develop and support the highest standards of textile design and creativity. We hang on by our fingernails to keep the programme going.  Industry needs to also recognise that design is where it’s at and do their bit to support us.”

In conclusion, Sheree Waterson said: “Something I’m thinking about is, the world is shifting and we are going from the very complex to people simplifying their lives. It’s not government or churches any longer, it’s business and creatives that are actually changing the world. That’s who’s going to be changing the world. It’s the creative muscle that has to be exercised for everyone. These guys are paving the way for the future. They are all hugely important.”

Article tags: texprint 2012 (27), business (54), texprint london (19), champions of texprint (45), judges 2012 (13)

Texprint London: four prize winners chosen by industry luminaries

18 July 2012 by

Judges Caroline Burstein and Neisha Crossland view the work

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.

Article tags: print (31), knit (15), exhibition (24), home & interiors (28), mixed media (24), texprint 2012 (27), fashion (36), texprint london (19), colour (8), judges 2012 (13)

Chief product officer for Lululemon Athletica champions Texprint

12 July 2012 by

Sheree Waterson is the charismatic chief product officer for Lululemon Athletica; the Vancouver-based company that creates apparel for people taking part in active sports. Working with a team of over 100, Sheree oversees the design, merchandising, planning, sourcing and production of the fast-moving brand which is sold through 165 stores in Canada, the US and Australia. Lululemon’s website is a source of more than clothing; it is a portal into the company’s energising ethos of community interaction and positive living. Texprint is delighted to welcome Sheree to Texprint London where she joined the special prize judging panel and began the process of selecting a winner from among Texprint’s 24 star textile design graduates of the first Texprint Lululemon prize of £1,000 and a three-month paid internship in Vancouver.

The Texprint team were thrilled to meet you and your team at Indigo, Paris, in September 2011. What was it that inspired you to launch the inaugural Texprint Lululemon prize and internship?  We have always been attracted to a certain part of Indigo. And we didn’t know what it was about this certain corner that we felt compelled to go see. But we have come to find out it was Texprint and the exceptional talent we saw. What’s exciting about Texprint is it supports, develops and nurtures the creatives that are involved in textiles.

How important is it for you to support the next generation of textile designers?  The world is changing and we are going from a society of consuming and conquering and we are moving into one of simplicity and beauty. People who are right-brained and creative are going to be the ones who lead the way for a new future.

What does ‘trained in Britain’ mean to you?  The UK has a phenomenal track record for producing talent that’s unparalleled and the rigour with which the curriculum is constructed results in the best talent in the world. They have to work really hard and be extremely passionate to graduate. The talent at Texprint is the best of the best and it’s international.

Will you be looking for a particular personality type as well as design talent in your choice of winner?  We are looking for talent. We are looking for somebody who can create a future that isn’t already out there someone who is pushing the boundaries of creativity. And we are also looking for someone who can fit into the culture. So there is an energy and enthusiasm, a passion about what they do. We find the people who are successful at Lululemon are naturally intellectually curious and are anxious to be in a relationship with people that share the same values and creative energy.

Will you be looking for someone with an understanding of technical fabrics or a particular aesthetic?  At this point we are looking for an aesthetic. Combining beauty with function is what our brand is about. So taking the beauty of what is created here by the designers at Texprint and juxtaposing that with function, creating something new that’s never been before - that’s what we’re interested in. The person who will be an intern will be a pioneer with us.

And three months in Vancouver!  Vancouver is the perfect spot for Lululemon to be born, Vancouver is a city where people are constantly outdoors and doing something physical. Whether it’s yoga for yoga’s sake or yoga for cross training, for run, ski, paddle boarding, kayaking, snowboarding… then go out and eat great sushi. It’s a physically beautiful place, it’s very vibrant and it’s a young city.

Tell us about the Lululemon lifestyle, do you have breakout yoga sessions?  (Laughing) We do have yoga and training classes in our main office building. All of our design team are athletes; everything we do is authentic because they are partaking in the sport they are designing for. And a big part of the power of the Lululemon brand is the relationships that we have with the community at a grassroots level which are very powerful. We support the yoga studios, run clubs... that we love and uphold our values and in turn, they do product testing for us, so that we understand how to improve the function and the fit and so forth so that we can be the best in the world.

In certain ways, what we’ve said to one another is, if we weren’t a yoga company we would be a leadership company because the product is really the entrée or conduit to the conversations with our guests to teach them to have a life that they love, fulfilled, through goal-setting, personal responsibility, creating their own life - attracting great things.

Article tags: texprint 2012 (27), general (61), business (54), champions of texprint (45), collaboration (9), judges 2012 (13)

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.

Article tags: home & interiors (28), texprint 2012 (27), general (61), business (54), texprint london (19), champions of texprint (45), special events (11), judges 2012 (13)

The Selection Process 2012 – judge Paul Stamper, lead designer Renault

04 July 2012 by

Texprint judge Paul Stamper has used his background in textile design to foster a career that spans multiple creative sectors, commerce and education. During his 20-plus years in the industry, he has held a range of positions including stylist and designer at the trend forecasting agency Nelly Rodi, creative director for the initial Urban Outfitters in the UK and, most recently, lead designer for French automotive giant, Renault. Paul’s international successes have earned him recognition as a respected name in the field of textiles and his various roles as a university-level educator have always worked in tandem - allowing him to give back the support that he was once received.

Paul has worked with Renault since 2000 as a designer involved in automotive fabrics and has worked with numerous international companies to develop innovative textiles in the field. As of 2010, he has been working as a lead designer - developing programmes and initiatives to nurture creativity and support innovation within the Renault design department.

“I am 100% supportive of nurturing young design talent, especially those from the UK,” says Paul. “I just love the exchange that I get from mentoring young designers. The stimulating energy and creativity is inspiring. Guiding a student and helping them to take their work in a new direction is what I love about teaching the next generation.”

Paul still recalls the great admiration and excitement that he felt for the Texprint selection process while training for his own MA in constructed textiles at the Royal College of Art. Now that the tables have turned, he is proud and excited to have the chance to inspire new talent through the Texprint programme, seeing as he attests his British education to a fruitful, well-rounded career.

“Being educated in the UK has been the biggest benefit that I could ever have wished for in my career,” says Paul. “When I visited companies abroad, I would show them my portfolio and they would always be impressed with the level of professionalism I had achieved. Being UK-trained has opened up a lot of doors for me.”

Paul now works on an international level as a key liaison between Renault and a variety of design schools around the world including the Domus Academy (Milan), Strate College of Design (Paris), the Eindhoven Design Academy (Holland) and, his alma mater, RCA. On 11 July, he will yet again have the chance to indulge his passion for discovering new design talent and giving back to the education system that served him well. 

Article tags: texprint 2012 (27), general (61), business (54), texprint london (19), champions of texprint (45), technology (9), judges 2012 (13)

The Selection Process 2012 – in conversation with prize judge Caroline Burstein

04 July 2012 by

Caroline Burstein is creative director at the designer clothing store Browns Fashion and founder of the luxury bath and body range Molton Brown. Founded by her parents, the legendary Joan and Sidney Burstein, over 40 years ago, Browns is renowned for discovering new talents, such as John Galliano, Comme des Garçons and Hussein Chalayan. Browns was the first store in the UK to stock some of fashion’s biggest names including Armani, Ralph Lauren and Jil Sander through its boutiques centered around London’s South Molton Street. We discuss the value of supporting the next generation of designers and what she hopes to see at Texprint London 2012.

Browns is known as a champion of new designers. Why is it important to support new textile design graduates?  Talented people in all fields are born to create - it is a gift that they possess and it has to be expressed. Their talent contributes to the pleasures of life and it has to be supported, nurtured and respected. Textile graduates are no exception, their contribution to design cannot be underestimated.

Do you think textile designers are overshadowed by fashion designers because one creates a finished product and the other may be further along the supply chain?  I do believe that this is so. People generally do not consider what goes into a print or a weave, the thought, the skill, the inspiration and the love. This is no doubt because we all live our lives on a fast and superficial level. In the fashion world the media always focuses on the designer and end product when often the very thing that has made the collection strong is the textile design. You see this everywhere right now as colour and print are so in evidence.

Browns has selected the work of some of Texprint’s alumni – such as Clare Tough and Emma JShipley – what do you look for when you work with new designers, do you consider business know-how as well as creative flair?  I am always looking for excellence, for an individual point of view, also the energy and personality of the person behind the work is important - right energy and attitude counts for a lot.  A basic business knowledge is necessary but it can be learned and if not the artist should have someone beside them that they can trust with that knowledge to guide them through.

Why do British art and design schools produce such extraordinary talents in fashion and textiles – regardless of where they come from originally?  I think that our colleges in Britain have always nurtured experimentation – they are not afraid of the new, in fact they seek it and embrace it. Our tutors are all creative talents themselves and encourage students to reach out as far as they can. Today more than ever with so many foreign students the rich range of influences is even stronger with more and more diverse cultures bringing their creative force together under the umbrella of our colleges.  I have noticed and experienced that a creative person living here, and in London especially, can have the 'space' to explore their own individuality without being necessarily judged and this is not to be underestimated.

What advice would you give someone graduating in fashion and textile design this year?  Keep going and keep creating no matter what. The design fields are always hungry for good work.  Get as much experience as you can. Be happy in yourself above all.

As a special 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...?  It is all of the above. It is what speaks to me. I am hoping to be moved almost to tears, to be delighted and excited, to have an intuitive and instinctive response to a beautiful and special piece of work whether it is through an amazing technological breakthrough or simply a perfect piece of needlepoint, if the work has that X factor to make a mark and stand out then that is what I am looking for. I just don't want to be bored!

Article tags: exhibition (24), texprint 2012 (27), general (61), business (54), texprint london (19), champions of texprint (45), special events (11), judges 2012 (13)

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