Texprint Paris 2013
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Texprint 2014: Meet the Judges, Eifion Griffiths
03 July 2014 by Jainnie Cho
We talk to Eifion Griffiths, Chief Executive Officer of Melin Tregwynt, a century-old Welsh wool products company that’s all about family, quality textiles and keeping tradition alive.
For Eifion Griffiths, a love of high quality textiles runs in the blood. His wool mill business, based in a remote valley on the Pembrokeshire coast of Wales, is a family affair, started in 1912 when his grandfather, Henry Griffiths, bought the mill for £750 at an auction.
The 20th century’s tumult and challenges never broke Melin Tregwynt. The company survived the rationing system during World War II, the 1980s' recession and the 2008 global economic crisis. In fact, over the last five years, the company’s sales and production have more than doubled. Its unique range of wool blankets, throws and cushions – the majority of which is made through the traditional double-cloth weaving technique – has been the secret design ammunition for big name hotels, designers and retailers such as John Lewis, Heal’s, Margaret Howell and the Salthouse Harbour Hotel, among others.
A firm believer in maintaining traditional methods of producing textiles, Griffiths admits he is not a fan of digital print. “[Digital printing] replicates anything and everything, regardless of the process, seemingly without any additional effort from the designer/maker," he tells Texprint. However, he adds, “I am open to persuasion and would love to see a digital design that really explored the potential of the technology.”
Much as the slow food movement prizes local produce, Melin Tregwynt strives to use more British wool and labour. This year, the company plans to launch a range of fabrics using 100 per cent pure new wool sourced from British sheep and spun in the UK.
Talking to Texprint, Griffiths discusses the struggles faced by the British textile industry, the intricacies of creating top quality textiles and Melin Tregwynt’s rich history.
What are your thoughts on an organisation such as Texprint?
I feel very strongly that the industry needs to support its young designers. Texprint helps students negotiate the journey between higher education and the commercial world. It provides support, mentoring, some necessary signposts and maps to make that journey easier.
The textile industry has suffered as work has disappeared overseas. We are beginning to see an improvement as the market is learning to value home based and traceable production. However this is almost too late to halt the rapid disappearance of skills and an ageing workforce. There's a need to get design students and industry apprentices to learn the traditional skills associated with the textile industry and build on that knowledge before all that expertise is lost forever.
Our woollen industry in Wales is an example of an industry still based on family-owned companies and there is a succession issue for those companies whose family members may not be interested in continuing in the business. A demographic time bomb is ticking under what remains of the UK textile industry.
What is great textile in your opinion?
I like designs that have the maker's mark on them. You can see the imprint of the designer’s hand and the judgement of their eye in the finished design. I like it when the way that the fabrics are made/printed/woven partly determines the form of the design. They feel right and have an authentic quality that comes from the interplay of the designer and the process of making.
What differentiates Melin Tregwynt’s woollen products from others?
We work mainly in the Welsh weaving tradition of double cloth weaving. This has its disadvantages but it gives the products an authenticity and integrity that stems mainly from the fact that the design and structure are linked. You cannot alter the design without altering the weave set up, threading, number of shafts etc. It gives the product a depth that mere surface decoration would lack.
What did you do before getting involved in the family business?
Neither my wife nor I were trained in textiles. I was actually an architect before coming back to the family business. Sometimes a level of ignorance about what you can or cannot do is useful, as we have attempted and occasionally succeeded in achieving things that anybody with any sense would have probably left well alone.
How has Melin Tregwynt being a family-owned business for so long influenced the company?
Being a family company gives us a heightened awareness of our own history and tradition. We see the products as a continuation – and each generation has reinvented the tradition to suit its market.
My grandfather used local wool and sold through local markets. There was barter and exchange but the mills of Wales were part of a much larger supply chain where flannels were woven and sold to steelworks, coal mines and army. Seemingly quaint rural mills were actually part of a much larger industrial supply chain. That came to an end after the First World War. Mills struggled to survive but we were lucky and found customers.
In the 1950s, my father discovered tourism and sold directly to visitors to the mill and to other retailers selling to tourists in Wales. When I came back to the business in 1979, I set out to find a market away from the mill that would be interested in our products. Today, we operate in a global economy and sell to a global market place. We are once again part of a large supply chain.
How do you see Melin Tregwynt evolving in future?
We see our future as primarily a retail/design company with limited production facilities whose main concerns are innovation, product design and development. Within this framework we seek to protect existing jobs at the mill and to create new jobs.
We are a native Welsh company and we are committed to manufacturing in Wales. We are actively working with other small manufacturers to create and market the best Welsh designed and manufactured products.
In a textile industry where most products are sourced overseas, we also see ourselves as a possible training resource – an opportunity for textile students to have practical experience of manufacture.
The Woolmark Texprint Award Judging Process
26 September 2013 by
“Beautiful designs!” John Walsh, managing director of Abraham Moon & Sons, said as he looked at Texprint designer Alice Preston’s neon hand-printed designs. Daliah Simble, head of sourcing & production, and Estelle Williams, collection development manager, at Roland Mouret both agreed as they continued to search for a winner of the third annual Woolmark Texprint Award.
Out of the 24 shortlisted designers taking part in the 2013 Texprint programme, all of whom presented their work at Indigo / Première Vision in Paris September 17-19, 2013, the judges looked for a designer excelling in the inventive use of wool in textile design and using 60% or more Merino wool in their designs. Needless to say the three prize judges had a tough time deciding on Wednesday 18 September 2013, prior to the presentation that afternoon.
Signe Rand Ebbesen with Peter Ackroyd of The Woolmark Company
The judges questioned the designers about the end product use and the production costs of their designs: vital knowledge for today’s textile designers. Analysing the designers’ work from both the fashion and interiors side was also a key factor in choosing the winning designer, as John said: “We started showing in interiors eight to 10 years ago and now it is 25% of our business. The interiors market is growing and becoming increasingly fashionable as fashion designers are looking at furnishings – it is a unique situation.”
The judges praised courses, noting the Royal College of Art and Central St Martins, for teaching designers about commercial imperative and the translation of textiles into garments.
After meeting with the Texprint designers and discussing their work in detail, the judges then met for a tête-à-tête to make the final decision. They highly commended weaver Cherica Haye and knit designer Phoebe Brown, both RCA graduates, for their innovative techniques and use of wool. Daliah Simble said: “I really liked Phoebe’s techniques of using plastics and plating in her knitted textiles.” Estelle Williams agreed: “Phoebe’s innovativeness is extremely important and in our role we are both constantly trying new fabrics.” The judges managed to come to a unanimous decision choosing RCA graduate Signe Rand Ebbesen as the winner out of the 24 shortlisted designers.
Phoebe Brown shows her work to the judges
Prize presenter Maurizio Galante, member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture and Woolmark’s Peter Ackroydpresented Signe her award in front of an eager audience. The prize includes £1,000 in prize money and also extensive training on the benefits and uses of wool through the nearest Woolmark International office.
John said the judges selected Signe because of her superb use of texture, her distinctive style and her understanding of the benefits of this natural sustainable fibre which she used to bring her work to life.
© Signe Rand Ebbesen
John commented: “Some of the textures were beautiful and she has also understood the commercial side to her work - she can go far with it.” Estelle agreed: “She has thought about the commerciality of her work which is really important shown by her ability to work to a brief.” Daliah added: “We both loved Signe’s innovative techniques which we at Roland Mouret look for. We would love some of those fabrics at Roland Mouret.
Barbara Kennington, chairman of Texprint, on hearing of the decision said: “We all greatly admire Signe’s work, this award is completely appropriate for her and such fantastic news.”
Roozbeh Ghanadi shows his work to the judges
Katy Birchall shows her work to the judges
Ffion Griffith shows her work to the judges
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.
Texprint alumnae at SIT Select, 4 May
07 April 2013 by Editor
Texprint has been invited by Lizzi Walton, artistic director and CEO of Stroud International Textiles to introduce the work of Texrint alumnae Lauren Bowker (Texprint 2011) and Lisa Bloomer (Texprint 2012) at SIT Select on Saturday 4 May.
A day of textile innovation and design excellence Introduced by Barbara Kennington; illustrated talks from Lauren Bowker and Lisa Bloomer.
Date: Saturday 4 May, start 1.00 pm – 3 pm
Tickets: £10 & £8 (Friends of SIT & Museum)
SIT Select is the exhibition arm of Stroud International Textiles, their aim to raise awareness and to increase the enjoyment of contemporary textiles and contemporary crafts. Through an extensive programme of exhibitions, talks and open studios, SIT Select challenges the public’s perception of contemporary crafts while increasing active participation in the arts for a wide range of people and abilities.
While at first glance textile art and craft may seem only loosely connected to the faster moving and commercial worlds of fashion and interiors, there’s little doubt that it can inform, guide and inspire. As fashion textiles become increasingly innovative and creative, and production challenges even greater, it is important to be open-minded and explore seemingly less walked routes to discover new directions for colour and materials.
Since leaving The Royal College of Art the routes taken by Lauren Bowker and Lisa Bloomer could not be more different although there are points of connection, particularly around sustainability and textile development to improve the world in which we live, which motivate them both.
Lauren Bowker’s vision - to See The Unseen - lies beyond the world of the traditional textile as she intertwines unexpected materials and technology for the future world of arts, fashion and wellbeing - everything from catwalks to feathers to concrete - always with the human at the heart and with the intention of providing real solutions to real problems, improving and inspiring our lives.
Lauren Bowker for Peachoo + Krejberg 2012/13
Lisa Bloomer’s work, though firmly based in weave, goes beyond the traditional textile approach as she explores dye, print and freehand techniques. Using digital technology Lisa mixes the complexity of cross-dyeing with the spontaneity of mark-making to create sustainably-produced, bespoke fabrics for interiors and fashion.
Lisa Bloomer at Indigo 2011
Textile: ©Lisa Bloomer
The main exhibitions and talks curated by SIT take place in the Museum in the Park, Stroud - check WEBSITE. Tickets must be either booked online or by sending a cheque to SIT. Details are in brochure and on the booking page.
Texprint is pleased to support this extraordinarily rich and diverse programme and applauds the excellence and innovation of UK-based designer makers who are driving textiles and contemporary crafts forward nationally and internationally. CLICK BELOW to view the full brochure onscreen:
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.
Weaver Sophie Manners wins Woolmark Texprint Award
27 September 2012 by Editor
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.
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.
New Horizons: Abigail Gardiner, Nancy Thompson and Rhiannon Williams
24 March 2012 by
Abigail Gardiner’s superb embroidered work has been much in demand since she exhibited with Texprint in 2011. Abigail has been working for Nicholas Oakwell Couture and the designer recently staged an exclusive catwalk show at Claridge’s hotel, London, just prior to Paris Fashion Week. Abigail designed the fantastic embellishment and beadwork for all of the pieces in the collection. She says; “The collection was very well received by clients and the fashion press and was featured on Vogue.com."
Abigail Gardiner for Nicholas Oakwell Couture
"I have absolutely loved this project - I have recently accepted a full-time job as textile and embellishment designer for Nicholas which is really exciting. I am currently working on ideas and sampling for the new collection. Being in the studio much more, I am now able to fully discuss ideas with other members of the team. I have also assisted with other aspects of the design process, such as costing and production management, which have really helped me to understand the business and the production process in the fashion industry”.
Talented weaver Nancy Thompson is employed by UK silk weaving specialist Vanners, which began with a six-month work placement. This arrangement has recently been extended, and Nancy is now working as a fabric designer for the Vanners open collection.
Nancy Thompson woven designs
She says: “I wouldn't have had the chance to do this job without my work placement so I'm really pleased. I've been doing lots of design and development work specifically for individual customers – working closely with the sales team, which I have really enjoyed, so everything’s going very well.”
Vanners, based in Sudbury, Suffolk, is renowned for top quality silk weaving and accessories manufacturing. With a history stretching back 250 years, the company holds a unique archive of over 250,000 designs. Its sumptuous range of silk fabrics is prepared, dyed and woven in-house using state-of-the-art dyeing, weaving and production methods. Vanners fabrics regularly appear in outfits worn by many high profile public figures. Adele wore a Barbara Tfank dress created from a Vanners silk brocade to the Sony Grammy party in February.
Rhiannon Williams's distinctive, witty pieces are building a steady fan base. Her work has been exhibited in According to McGee, a well known art gallery in York and Rhiannon sells some of her pieces through their on-line shop.
Rhiannon Williams; printed and embroidered pieces
In addition, she has just finished an internship with JRC Imports Ltd, a digital fashion print company. Rhiannon says: “This experience was really insightful. JRC Imports is a lovely, friendly company – they specialise in womenswear and their fabrics are used by many high street retailers. My role was to assist the design team with preparing their prints for the buyers, and to create mood boards and design commercial collections based on researched trends. I learned such a lot about print design and using Photoshop - so it was a positive experience. It has me really excited about digital techniques and opened my eyes to the fashion industry.” Rhiannon is currently in the process of applying to study for an MA.
Andrew Stevenson’s sprint start to a career in textiles
28 February 2012 by
Andrew Stevenson has enjoyed continued success since he graduated from the RCA in 2010. Andrew scooped both the Texprint Interior Fashion Prize and the Chairman’s Prize that year. Andrew landed his first design job at Paul Smith, and last February he moved on to take up an exciting opportunity as a fabric designer for the prestigious Tom Ford brand.
How did you secure your current position with Tom Ford?
A designer at the Yorkshire mill, Hield Bros Ltd, put me in touch with the fabric director at Tom Ford as they were looking for someone new to join the design team. I was interviewed there in February last year - and they offered me the job!
Andrew Stevenson textile detail
What does your job involve?
I am the fabric research designer for womenswear. The role allows me to work creatively within the design team to develop new and exciting fabrics. The team is very small and I am involved in all aspects of fabric research for both the ready-to-wear range and special projects.
Can you describe a typical day at work?
It depends on the time of year - every week is different and I am never bored! Usually there is a lot of work to do at the start of each season preparing mood boards and researching new ideas, as well as working on special projects for celebrities. I usually come to the studio most days and I’m involved with meeting suppliers and selecting fabrics with the design director, preparing for meetings with Mr Ford and working on the colour palette for each season. A lot of the job involves helping to design new prints and jacquard weaves for the collection. During show time it is very full-on - helping with the final fashion show. My favourite aspects include travelling, visiting fabric archives, working on colour and of course designing. It’s a very demanding industry which includes a lot of late nights and weekends... but at the moment I’m not complaining – it’s very exciting and a lot of fun!
Andrew Stevenson sketchbook and research
What inspires you in your work?
I am often drawn to favourite artists such as Matisse and Hockney as well being inspired by film, photography, antique and vintage fabrics and unusual colour combinations.
Choosing textiles as a career.
I started off doing fashion design in my Foundation year, but soon realised that I was really drawn to fabric and constructed textiles. I then specialised in weave for my degree at Duncan of Jordanstone in Scotland; fascinated with constructing cloth and the possibilities of texture and colour. As well as learning the technical aspects of design for weave, there was also a lot of emphasis on drawing and experimental mark making, which I found really opens you up, developing your technique. Then, the MA at the RCA was a whole new world... completely different to going to going to art school in Scotland. At MA level it is a lot more intense and focused – so I really pushed both weave and print design. Great tutorial support and ‘live’ projects helped me to design in a considered and intellectual way.
What qualities are needed for a successful career in textiles?
I think you need to have a good sense of colour, scale and composition to really visualise a small drawing, photo or design and see it as a garment or interior or art piece. I chose to specialise in textiles for fashion as I find it fascinating to see how a print or woven textile will emerge as a garment - and how it looks on the body.
Andrew Stevenson receiving the Chairman's Prize from Sir Stuart Rose of M&S in 2010
What have been the significant moments or events in your career so far?
Being accepted into the RCA, and winning a scholarship from the Worshipful Company of Weavers really helped me to make contacts - which led to jobs. A further significant moment was being selected for Texprint – as this really gave me a lot of experience in exhibiting and selling my own work in both Paris and Hong Kong. It really enhanced my understanding of the marketplace and the different levels in the industry.
Advice to new graduates?
Work HARD, focus on what you love - and prepare a diverse portfolio, with different projects, clearly presented. Target your market as soon as you can in order to gain work placements and jobs or to set up your own business.
Plans for the future?
I would really like to stay at Tom Ford - it is an amazing team and I would love to be part of the company as it grows. I love what I’m doing right now – and maybe in the future... to be the creative director of a brand.
New Horizons: Marie Parsons, Allison Pilling and Ruth Duff
07 January 2012 by
2011 was an eventful and exciting year for all of Texprint’s 24. In the second of a series of updates, we highlight some of the exciting developments in the burgeoning careers of these talented textile designers. Here Allison Pilling, Marie Parsons and Ruth Duff share some of their Texprint experiences.
Marie Parsons, decorative trunk
Marie Parsons began an exciting new job in September 2011 as colour and material designer for the luxury car company Jaguar, based in Leeds. She says: “I am really enjoying the unexpected direction in which my career is moving.” Marie’s distinctive and imaginative mixed media work has application for both fashion and interiors.
Marie Parsons, shoes
She explains, “My new job is really opening my eyes, I am learning so much and really enjoying the challenge. I also intend to start working on a range of my own accessories in 2012 and will I continue to sell embroidery and mixed media work as a freelance designer, which I have been doing successfully since 2008.” For Marie, exhibiting with Texprint was a great opportunity to showcase her work: “I found that that the direct discussion and communication with industry professionals was one of the most insightful aspects of my Texprint experience. It was really valuable to listen to buyers and designers discussing how they would potentially use my fabrics and reproduce my techniques.”
Allison Pilling, printed textile
For printed textile specialist Allison Pilling the experience of exhibiting with Texprint in 2011 was confidence-boosting and career-changing: “I was excited about exhibiting at Indigo, Paris, and then I sold 26 designs! I was in complete shock. I sold 10 designs to a Brazilian company and then within 10 minutes I sold another 10 designs to a French company. Everything happened really quickly! I also sold five designs to Agnès B.
Allison Pilling, printed textile design
Exhibiting at Indigo gave me such a great insight into how the design world works. I hadn't previously considered working for myself - but I now know that this is possible - and that my designs would sell. It has opened so many doors - to work with companies from around the world. When I left university, I was dreading being out in the ‘big bad world’ – but now I'm really excited.”
Ruth Duff, selection of woven fabrics
Finally, weave specialist Ruth Duff is now working at Lovat Mill in the Scottish Borders. The company is renowned for its production of tweed fabrics and Ruth is working in the design department during a year’s placement. Ruth found her time as one of the Texprint 24 incredibly valuable. She says: “Indigo, Paris was a fantastic opportunity and a great experience. I didn’t know what to expect from the week but it was a real confidence boost to have interest and sales from design companies in the industry. It was a big learning curve; displaying and valuing my work and sticking to the original price that I had worked out was fair - through to writing invoices. I had a couple of sales at the show and I spoke to many designers from various companies who gave me some great feedback about my collections. I now have many contacts for future commissions.”
Look out for further updates on more of the Texprint 24 coming soon.
New Horizons: Emma Shipley, Momo Wang and Harriet Toogood
23 December 2011 by
2011 has been a momentous year for all of Texprint’s 24. In the first of a series of updates, we highlight some of the exciting developments in the fledgling careers of these talented emerging textile designers. Here, Emma Shipley, Momo Wang and Harriet Toogood share some of their Texprint experiences.
Emma Shipley’s design work - a wonderful mix of fine draftsmanship combined with vibrant colour - has attracted a long queue of clients. Emma’s covetable scarves are now on sale at the prestigious London designer store, Browns. Added to this, her collaboration with Tomasz Donocik, Jewellery Designer of the Year 2011, resulted in a display in November 2011 at London jeweller Garrard; a unique combination of Emma’s silk scarves with embellished jewellery elements. This display has now transferred to the Garrard concession at Harvey Nichols in London until January 2012. Other projects include design for interiors, both fabrics and wallpaper, which will go on sale in 2012. Emma will exhibit at London Fashion Week in Feburary 2012, launching her new accessories collection for autumn/winter 2012/13.
Emma Shipley at her stand, Indigo, Paris 2011
Limited edition prints of Emma’s beautiful drawings were recently on show in the Great Room of interior design company 1508’s building in central London. The interest in the drawings themselves came about through exhibiting with Texprint. Emma has also been commissioned to create an installation piece for apparel giant VF Corporation’s Innovation Summit, to be held in March 2012 at its headquarters in the US.
Emma says: “It was fantastic to be selected by Texprint, and to win the Pattern prize. I had the opportunity to exhibit in London, Paris, Shanghai and Hong Kong, as well as travelling to Como to visit some great traditional silk printing mills. The response to my work was so positive, and I’ve made some great contacts with potential clients, stockists and suppliers.”
Momo Wang’s playful spirit and love of colour and texture is distilled in her imaginative mixed-media work.
Momo Wang's textiles showcased in her graduate collection 2011
Momo has now established her own studio in Dalston, London and has launched her own brand called MoshrooM. Her funky, fun handcraft line is now available to buy through the website Etsy.
Garment detail, Momo Wang
Momo says: “It was such a lovely experience for me to exhibit with Texprint. It has been so helpful - I sold designs and I’ve got all the payments! I’ve been commissioned by a Shanghai company though exhibiting at Indigo and I’m now designing for them. I am so happy to go to my studio every day and do my work.”
Fabric detail, Harriet Toogood 2011
Finally, Harriet Toogood’s outstanding work in weave saw her scoop two prestigious awards this year: the Space prize at Texprint London, and then the Woolmark Texprint Award in support of the Campaign for Wool at Indigo, Paris. Harriet’s bold work is characterised by her creative use of materials, such as mixing plastics with wool for a fresh approach to woven textiles. Harriet says: “I haven't stopped since graduating and being part of Texprint London. Without Texprint I would not have had the opportunities or experiences that I have had over the last few months, I have loved every minute of it!
Harriet Toogood (centre) with Chloe Hambiln and David Bradley visiting a Ratti print facility during ComOn 2011
Each trip - London, Shanghai, Paris and Como - has been of great benefit and also fun! I’ve now started a six-month paid placement at Camira Fabrics in Leeds, and I’m there until April.“Through Texprint, it was really interesting to see what other graduates are doing across the country and I have made some really good friends along the way.”
Look out for further updates on more of the Texprint 24 in early 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
Harriet Toogood wins first Woolmark Texprint Award
25 September 2011 by
The first winner of the new Woolmark Texprint Award in support of the Campaign for Wool was chosen on September 21 at Indigo, Paris.
Woven textile by Harriet Toogood.
Harriet Toogood, a graduate of the University of Brighton wins the inaugural prize for her superb woven textile designs which were created with 60% or more Merino wool. The prize has been created in support of the Campaign for Wool with Paton HRH The Prince of Wales and honours the inventive use of wool in textile design.
The prize was judged by Douglas Cordeaux, Managing Director of Fox Brothers & Co and Keith Walker, Managing Director of Linton Tweeds - and presented by renowned designer Agnès B. They selected Harriet out of the 24 shortlisted designers taking part in the Texprint programme this year, all of whom presented their work at Indigo. She recieved £1,000 in prize money at the event, which was presented by Woolmark's Peter Ackroyd. As part of her prize, Harriet will have access to the Woolmark Company and it's global support network.
Harriet's highly individual approach includes incorporating discarded materials such as brightly coloured nylon string, black bin bags and plastic sacking alongside wool in her work to create bold, contemporary woven textiles. She adds the coveted Woolmark prize to the Texprint Space prize she scooped at Texprint London in July.
Woolmark judges at Indigo
Speaking on behalf of the judges, Keith Walker said that they had selected Harriet because of her creative use of Merino wool and other materials. He said, "As a weaver, I recognise what she has created: she uses different weaves and a combination of materials - wool included - to create something very unusual, but also practical, it was what I was hoping to find in a winner, and it's what she's achieved".
The Woolmark judges also commended weaver Amy Jo Lewis, a recent graduate from the RCA, for her excellent work.
The Texprint 24: 2011’s wonderful weavers
12 August 2011 by
The talented weavers taking part in this year’s Texprint programme have diverse approaches and create widely varied end products. They also bring contemporary freshness to this age old craft. Often incorporating other processes or using unexpected materials, they all share the same dedication, developing their individuality and skills through this specialist craft.
Chelsea College of Art graduate Chloe Hamblin is inspired to create exuberant, decorative woven fabrics by observing the expression flight in birds. Chloe scooped the Texprint Colour Prize – the judges were impressed with her beautiful combinations of bright colour references derived from feathers.
Harriet Toogood, winner Texprint Space Award
Harriet Toogood, from the University of Brighton, gleans her inspiration from the discarded materials found in everyday life and around the farmyard. Her individual approach sees her incorporating materials such as brightly coloured nylon sacking, black bin bags and plastic string - translating these into bold and fresh woven fabrics. Harriet was awarded the Texprint Space Prize, the judges recognising the potential of her work for use in interiors.
Heriot-Watt University graduate Ruth Duff takes her inspiration for her wonderfully colourful woven fabrics from botanical gardens. This inspiration from the natural world is reflected in the pattern, structure and colour of her accomplished pieces, combining both organic and geometric elements. Ruth often adds a subtle element of discharge printing onto her weaves, creating rich complex textures. Ruth was chosen to part of Li Edelkoort’s Talking Textiles exhibition at the Milan Furniture Fair earlier this year.
Amy Jo Lewis
Amy Jo Lewis graduated with an MA from the RCA. She creates rich, sophisticated and subtle woven textures using silk and cotton, combining both digital and hand craft techniques. She often works beautifully blurred graphic patterns in her covetable fabrics, which have a wide, contemporary appeal.
Nancy Thompson, a graduate of Central St Martins, creates gloriously colourful fabrics which are inspired by Mexican shrines and her own quirky, object collection. She combine silk and wool in her flamboyant weaves which sport funky flamingos, pineapples and lobster motifs. Nancy won the Worshipful Company of Weavers Award at the New Designers showcase in July.
Finally, Francesca Colussi from the University of Derby, presents a comprehensive textile collection that she calls Personal Geographies. She takes her inspiration from maps, aerial views and emotions. Her experimental woven fabrics have innovative surface textures, which are enhanced by a range of complementary prints.
All 24 designers will present their work at Indigo, Paris, part of Première Vision Pluriel, September 20-22, 2011. While at Indigo the designers will be judged for the Woolmark Texprint Award in support of the Campaign for Wool. Prizes for this award will be presented by the renowned French designer Agnès B.
Sarah Podlesny’s whirlwind year after Texprint
05 June 2011 by
Sarah Podlesny, winner of Texprint’s Breaking New Ground prize last year, has had a momentous year. Her talent and skills were recognised during her participation at Texprint’s London showcase and she was offered a job by Laura Miles, a Texprint alumna who has created her own successful weave studio.
Sarah’s job with Laura Miles Studio is varied and exciting. Laura creates fabrics for many designer labels and produces a jacquard collection for Vanners, one of England’s last remaining silk weavers. As Laura’s assistant, Sarah says her day to day tasks can involve, “Anything from weaving samples for a New York trip, then maybe putting some designs in repeat for the Vanners collection. I could be testing out structures and colours on a woollen warp for the tweed collection. I thread up warps and create technical files for fabrics to send out with the designs. Some days are filled with appointments to show the collections in London, but sometimes we spend a whole day developing a fabric for a new project.”
Sarah explains, “I have been really lucky to land a full-time position doing something I absolutely love. My job is full of variety, I am learning constantly. The fabrics that Laura designs are varied too, so I never get bored. I travel a lot – I was in New York recently, and was able to see Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which was really inspiring. I get to meet a lot of interesting people. I am really happy with where I am now, I wouldn't change anything. It has been a massive learning curve- no two days are the same.”
Sarah has just bought a loom in order to develop her own work further, and is looking to try out some new techniques, such as ikat weave structures. In the future she wants to further explore interactive and ‘smart’ materials. She has this advice for new graduates; “Take something from every opportunity and experience and don't always play safe. Don't be afraid to try something a little different. You don't have to be commercial to guarantee yourself a job. If you have the creativity and work really, really hard then go for it with your idea! If you think there is nothing out there just keep looking.Get your work out there in as many ways as you can, start a blog for example. And don't worry if you have a creative block, it will go away”.
The Chromatic Landscape at Collect
17 May 2011 by
One of the many highlights of the recent Collect contemporary art fair was the collaborative installation commissioned especially for the show, The Chromatic Landscape created by UK weaver Ptolomy Mann and ceramicist, Lubna Chowdhary.
Ptolomy is well known for her wonderfully colourful, one-off woven artworks and Lubna for beautiful, bespoke ceramic pieces. Both graduates of the RCA, they share a painterly aesthetic and a passion for the power of colour. This is the first time the pair has collaborated, and the installation on the top floor of the Saatchi Gallery was a much admired success, occupying the whole of the back wall.
Six panels took the eye on a journey from the cool serenity of a blue/green palette through to the vibrant heat of orange, yellow and pink. The high gloss and bright colour of the ceramic pieces perfectly complemented the precise, matt, graduated colour in the weave.
Wallace Sewell’s creative partnership
06 May 2011 by
Wallace Sewell is a design partnership – aka Harriet Wallace Jones and Emma Sewell – which has built a truly successful business while retaining the two designers’ creative integrity. With an impressive track record that spans 21 years, they are both friends and business partners.
Emma, a Texprint alumna, met Harriet at the RCA and they joined forces following their graduation in 2000. They each have complementary creative and business skills that have enabled their company to flourish, sharing the design work. Emma explains: “The diversity of our approaches continues still, yet because we trained together we understand each other inherently and can discuss our design work at great speed.” The shop and studio in London WC1 sells the company’s jewel- coloured woven products, throws, cushions, and scarves. Wallace Sewell also supplies a swathe of high-end retailers including Anthropologie, the Tate in London, and Barneys in New York.
The Wallace Sewell partnership champions British manufacturing - its textiles have always been made in UK mills. The product range spans womenswear, menswear and interior textiles. The company has also won prestigious commissions for Transport for London. Emma and Harriet have created iconic moquette fabrics for seating on London Tramlink, London Overground and East London Transit. Last year, the duo beat 350 entries from all over the world in a public competition to create a new fabric for the refurbishment of the Central Line trains. The tight design brief allowed the designers to use only four colours. But as Emma says of the experience: “It was so interesting and such a challenge – proper design.”
Emma credits Texprint with having been a great confidence boost in the early days, she says: “The chance to show and sell work internationally at Texprint was a great experience. Just two years later, we launched Wallace Sewell at Chelsea Crafts Fair and we took our first trade orders.”
Emma has this advice for emerging designers: “Be ambitious, aim to produce work that is always pushing forward and evolving, and that you believe in. Understand your strengths and also your market or niche. Charge correctly. Network, be open to advice - and always be aware that you do not stop learning after leaving college.”
Wallace Sewell will be showing new products at Pulse, Earls Court, London June 5-7, 2011.
Warp + Weft at Smiths Row Gallery, Suffolk
15 April 2011 by
Warp + Weft is a major contemporary showcase of the craft of weave, currently running at the Smiths Row gallery, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, until April 30, 2011. It features the work of some of Texprint’s most successful alumni, including design duo Wallace Sewell and Margo Selby.
The exhibition – which is on tour from the Oriel Myrddin Gallery in Carmarthen and curated by weaver Laura Thomas - reveals unexpected woven textiles by artists who respect tradition, yet are embracing new technology and making methods. The focus is mostly on the UK with a selection of work from some of the very best contemporary weavers producing innovative fabrics and products.
A sister show, Warp + Weft: from handloom to production, also curated by Laura Thomas, reveals the work of some excellent weavers who have developed their craft practice into the commercial world, through their collaboration with mills. This exhibition shows the visitor the development of a design from the handloom through to the finished product.
The work included in the main Warp + Weft exhibition is diverse and ranges in scale from small pieces that can be held in the hand, to three-dimensional architectural pieces that act as sculpture. Some pieces have been created especially for the exhibition and these include Ainsley Hilliard’s sophisticated woven and printed hanging; dramatic colour blocks by Ptolemy Mann; Sue Hiley Harris’s cubic forms; and Ann Richard’s neckpieces which use silk, linen and steel threads to create complex shapes.
The exhibition will also feature striking works by Japanese artists Hiroko Takeda, who uses yarns as diverse as mohair and Lurex; and Reiko Sudo who is famous for her design work for the NUNO corporation. The work of renowned British weavers Ann Sutton and Peter Collingwood is also on show.