Yesterday I took the long, long … long (!) trip up to London. Why i hear you ask? because Top Drawer is on!
Top Drawer is a trade event where designers and makers come together to showcase their products, and for a student like me, its practically heaven. Especially the stationer section *drool*.
Up and down the isles of stationery I went, tackling it supermarket style, to make sure that no stand was left unvisited. Once I got past the whole ‘I’m surrounded by stationery! my life is complete’ stage of my visit, I then started looking for inspiration. Not only for inspiration but also layout and packaging.
For our International Greetings brief, I’m almost completely sure that I have to also explore ways of packing and display, and if not, this has seriously helped my ideas when it comes to my degree show displaying.
We all know I love typography, and while yes, I did flee straight to designer which used lots of lovey fonts, I also looked at patterns, colour-ways and co-ordinating designs, and how the designers displayed these, and promoted them within their stands.
I think overall, besides getting to send the afternoon surrounded by paper goods, Top Drawer has really helped my with thinking about professional standards; how to package and present, and also on the merits of displaying and how to properly advertise (with brooches and information cards) interestingly.
While I was there, I came to the stall of Sort Design, where they had a old letterpress machine up and running (to say I wanted to make off with it my bag wouldn’t be a lie) where people where able to print an already set up design, using this letterpress, which also doubled as their business card. Now if that not a great idea, I don’t know what is. But it’s safe to say, these great ideas will be sticking with me and hopefully influencing some of my ideas.
Overall I have found this ‘making connections’ module quite difficult. Having been given so much time to complete this collection, I had too much time and kept over thinking everything I was doing, until I was talking myself out of what I had designs.
Through this however, I have learnt that I work best on a short schedule. I prefer to undertake a lot of research and have quite little time to actually create the designs themselves. My initial responses are usually my strongest, I just have to learn to stick to my convictions and no change them because of over thinking.
Having discovered this, I used it to my advantage during the second half of this module.
At the beginning of ‘making connections’ my idea scope was to broad, my mood boards contained too much information leading to designs that were quite varied and not very cohesive. As a result I found the first term, I didn’t have a clear direction of where I wanted my collection to go, instead I was experimenting with different techniques, getting a feel for which would best suit the client I was working for.
After my field modules however, I found that I was inspired with new ideas and motivation, and as such was enjoying the creation of this collection much more. I was able to narrow down my influences, this then lead to my changing the direction of my collection, for the better.
Through field I found the inspiration I need to really enjoy what I was creating, and was able to find great inspiration in the work that I had been doing with Richard Weston. His work with minerals affected my work greatly. I was able to focus on the minerals themselves, taking my designs from their inner and outer surfaces.
I was also able to narrow down further what I was designing for, table wear — specifically napkins.
I much prefer the technique of printing to embroidery. I prefer the whole process of printing and I love the end results. However, if I plan to expand on my knowledge of textiles practises, I need to experiment with them all, not just my favourites.
Through this module I was able to experiment with both print and stitch, and have really like the results; using them separately and combining the two to create more layered effects — as to mirror minerals — and to create more in-depth and thought out designs.
My formative feedback helped me to further narrow the direction of my collection. With all the relevant imagery and research in place, I just needed to make my designs flow more cohesively as a collection. The feedback, helped me to see what aspects needed to be tweaked and from here I was able to create the collection that I have striving for. I was able to rework colours, background and scale to make sure that my collection worked smoothly, and also to make sure that my designs fitted exactly into my brief and my intentions laid out in my hypothetical commission brief — creating designs that fit with my theme and with the client that I have chosen to design for.
During my first field term I looked into so many designers and completed so much research, trying to push myself to further my ideas; the only problem was that I wasn’t happy with the direction my collection was going in. However, I put this from my mind and tried to immerse myself in field, trying to get the best experience possible.
Working with Richard, I was able to see natural elements at such an intimate level; seeing inside stones and crystals and minerals, to find the wonders inside. They were beautiful, but I couldn’t figure out how I would be able to combine them with my collection. While at Richards, he received a book about the French sculptures Claude and Francois-Xavier Lalanne. It was while looking through this book that I decided, if I couldn’t fit this new, gorgeous inspiration into my current collection, then the collection needed to be changed. The natural influences that are so clearly evident in the work by Lalanne, were stunning. As soon as I saw them, I fell in love and wanted to create a collection that could be used alongside their cutlery set; this is how I came to be designing tableware. It wasn’t until my formative feedback that I swapped this into a wholly napkin collection.
My designs were now influenced by minerals, the structures, formation and colours; what could compliment cutlery inspired by nature more than nature inspired napkins? However, minerals are perfect as there are, so how would I be able to use these within my designs? I decided that my designs were going to be much more abstract that what I had been experimenting with already, the colours and shapes and layers would be evident, but the result would be a designs not trying to mimic a minerals, just utterly influenced by them.
My first field placement managed to change the influence and direction of my collection complete, to a point where I was enjoying the creation of the collection again. – My second placement, afforded me the skills to create these designs with much more ease. Using Photoshop became much easier, and I was confident in my drawing skills so I knew that I could draw up my own motifs when the inspiration struct. It was because of the freedom that I had while working in Sacha Pierre, that I was very free with my explorations of techniques during the creation of my final designs. I didn’t limit myself to any one process, instead chose to use multiple to try and show the many depth of the minerals I had found during my time with Richard. They way in which the team at Sacha Pierre laid out their ideas for their collection clearly, helped me to do the same without in my own collection, making the collection much more cohesive. My designs now complimented each other, and showed a range of skills and techniques that i wouldn’t have been able to experience if i hadn’t spent my time with Sacha Pierre.
On Thursday 17th March, we all went on a visit to Chelsea to see London Design Week in the person. Three floors full of different companies that were displaying the designs that they had created for the upcoming season. It was really inspiring to see the colours that were surrounding us, and how they had combined colours to create really effective colour schemes.
We were able to look through the different fabrics and wallpapers and to see how each different company had arranged their designs in displays, to see the collections and the coordinating designs, it was all very exciting. On the top floor however, seeming hidden away, was my favourite area, the tiles!
There were two or three different tile shops which were stunning in themselves, but they also happened to have mineral tiles in their displays! It’s safe to say I got over exiting and was contemplating on how I would be able to smuggle them away under my top.
Sadly I wasn’t able to order samples of the tiles which would have been a really lovely addition to my end of year display, though I did manage to snap a few photos that I can stare at longingly for the time being. Once I had thoroughly scoured the whole designs show, I went to the V&A museum, via one of the curtsey cars outside the design show (never have I felt so posh in my life, not to mention there was two designers in the car with me at the time!), to have a look at inspiring displays there too before being picked up an shipped back home, sans tiles.
During November/December 2015, I undertook a work placement with architect Richard Weston that massively impacted my collection. With background research on my client and the upcoming trends on WGSN, I was able to use my work placement to further my design ideas to a much greater extent than I had imagined. While on my work placement I was constantly observing and learning about minerals; I was able to see their beauty and to let this beauty inspire me; this is what sparked the ideas that I built upon during the creation of this collection.
With this new inspiration, I wanted to experiment with as many techniques as I could. I have a love of printing but I didn’t want this preference to hinder my designing in any way, so I chose to explore and experiment, and I was able to fully embrace my abilities as a textile designer within the creation of this collection. I revisited techniques that I learnt last year and was able to build upon what I had already know; I also used techniques that were new to me, such as digital stitch.
I’ve felt really free to experiment within the creation of this collection. My inspiration was something completely new to me and I wanted to embrace all aspects of textiles so as to find the best techniques that fitted with my style, the collection and the company that I have chosen to design for, Kelly Wearstler.
With a keen focus of mark-making and luxury items, Kelly Wearstler caters for both the residential and contract market. It is the latter that I am aiming this collection at. I have also taken my inspiration from marks and patterns in nature, and this has helped me to know that I have been taking this collection in the right direction. I have mimicked Kelly Wearstler use of luxury materials, creating this collection with the aid of both cottons and linens; I have also kept to their preferred colour scheme, while adding hits of colours from my chosen trend.
While designing this collection I used both the inner and outer structure of minerals as influence; small fissure called dendrites, the abstract nature of quartz and the angular outer surfaces of the minerals themselves. Each elicited different ideas from me, making my collection a compilation of mineral themed designs. With each different design I wanted to incorporate every aspect of the mineral, including their inner beauty; the layers within each mineral gives great inspiration on how to add texture and layers into my own designs, this has helped me to constantly develop my collection.
My collection includes a number of different designer techniques which I have been able to explore, experiment with and combine. I’ve used techniques such as;
- Digital printing
- Machine embroidery
- Digital embroidery
- Fabric manipulation
Recently I’ve really wanted to experiment with fabric manipulation, having never used the technique before, I thought it would be a great way of showcasing the different visual effects that are found within mineral structures. I experimented with hand and machine manipulation, and digitising the results, which has been a really great undertaking. It has opened a new door for me into designer techniques which I plan to fully utilise in the future.
From graphic structure designs to abstract experiments, I have explored different avenues in my quest to create my twelve designs. To create effects that I had seen within minerals, and their structures I explored with both painting and marbling. Both techniques were helpful in the creation of my designs. I have been able to manipulate and experiment with them so that I could then place them into later designs, to further tie my collection together.
To bring added texture into my work I experimented with applique, and layering fabrics which I really enjoyed. I added embroidery into the mix to give detailed focal points within the designs. I then further experimented with embroidery; using this technique as a way to lift my hand printed designs, and to add that level of sophistication and elegance that is known of Kelly Wearstler.
Towards the end of my time creating this collection I was thinking less about the different aspects of what I needed to have in each designs, and instead was focused on the different techniques I could use, and enjoying these as much as I could. I feel that because of this, I have created designs freely, and have been more open to different kind of experimentation, and joining these techniques to explore the best results.
This collection has changed slightly from what I had originally planned, but I feel that this is a very positive step. I have not tried to force my collection into the set ideas I had at the beginning, instead I let myself try out different paths to see which ones conveyed my designs in the best way. I have thoroughly enjoyed using different techniques that I wouldn’t usually have during the production of my twelve designs, because I have been able to broaden my skill set and really enjoy all aspects of textile design.
I feel that my exploration into all these different avenues is clearly seen within my twelve designs. I have tried to make each design link in with my chosen company, theme and with my own personal style and feel that I have achieved this. Each one of my twelve designs is linked by the inspiration subject that I had chosen, and by techniques that I have explored. I feel that my response to each different designs has helped me to grow as a designer, considering techniques that I might not have before, and being open to explore all aspects of textile designs. This openness and willingness to experiment and develop will be extremely helpful when the time comes to further refine these designs.
I’ve decided to name this week Croquis Week; from Tuesday onwards I have been designing, experimenting and creating croquis.
On Tuesday there was a lecture about croquis which helped a lot with all the niggling confusion about what I was aiming to create; sizes where talked about, layout, as well as coordinates (which I had been struggling with) and then tasks were set. From your motifs, experiment with layouts before finally painting a croquis, using gouache paints.
I wasn’t happy with the motifs I had to start making my croquis straight away, so I went back to the images I had gathered and started a fresh, and what a good idea that had been. From these motifs, and my tutorial with Helen, I was inspired and wanted to start creating.
Firstly was working with layouts, I photocopied my motifs and started to play with layout using photoshop. I find it much easier, and faster to consider different layout approaches on Photoshop. Once I had pinned down a layout that I was really itiching to paint, I set to work. While painting each different colour, I created colour chips which I could then display with the finished croquis.
With the help of my hairdryer, the overall process was much quicker that it could have been. The background was easy, the next layers not so much. I found it quite difficult to keep the graphic nature of my motifs while using paints and a brush, but once the whole thing was completed, I still liked what I saw. I think the colours work well together, although if I could, I would have had a lighter background. One thing I can say is that while I was painting, I couldn’t help but think how I would be able to change little bits, like the background colour, easily on photoshop. But once I’d seen the overall effect of the hand painted croquis, I could definitely see the difference between something created by hand, and something created digitally. Not that I couldn’t see the difference before, but because I’ve been working a lot with photoshop I’ve stopped seeing the effect of hand painted designs.
With my first croquis completed I moved on to the next task, which was to create the same motif but with a different process; I chose collage.
I love paper. Coloured paper, patterned paper, textured paper, you name it, I love it. Searching through my paper stash I selected a few different textured and coloured papers, while making sure that it still linked in with my colour scheme, though not necessarily the first croquis. Where my painted croquis is quite refined and plain, my collage wasn’t. The papers I chose were loud and colourful, with beautiful patterns; one that compliments my work with minerals, and one I chose because of the colours and design.
I didn’t expect to like the collage but once I looked at the finished article I feel in love. The textures and colours mixed amazingly, made better but the edition of free machine embroidery on the mineral detailing.
The two croquis, while having the same layout were completely different to create. The collage was very fast to make; I didn’t find it difficult to chose the papers. I saw what I liked and chose it, nor did it take long to cut the shapes of the minerals. The painting took quite a while, the mixing of the right colours wasn’t fast, nor was tracing the different minerals to get them into the right position before painting the five different layers.
While I love how the collage looks, I think that the painted croquis is much more appropriate for my client. Working for the high-end contract market, my deisgns have to be refined and sophisticated while speaking of luxury and elegance. My ‘client’ (the company I have chosen to deisgn for) Kelly Wearstler have very paired back designs, using minimal colours and marks. I feel that my original croquis would work quite well for the company, whereas the collage might be too loud and experimentative.
From here I moved on to creating more croquis. I had started to think about what my coordinating designs could look like; because I have a tossed layout in my original croquis, I decided to go for a very set pattern of stripes. Instead if painting this croquis (which I plan to do on Friday) I spend the day embroidering it first. I already new what I wanted the deisgn to look like from my layout experiments on photoshop, so i jumped right into the creating. I decided to use appliqué and free machine embroidery to create my designs; linen made up the background of my croquis, I decided to use organzi as the base for my mineral forms. I used two different coloured threads, a golden brown for the lighter shadows and a dark brown for the outline and dark planes.
This technique was completely different from both painting and collage, though it was much more similar to painting. It took a lot of time and preparation, but the creation was very methodical and I enjoyed be process. The collection I am deisgns is for table linen, therefore I don’t know how appropriate embroidery is. I really liked the added texture of having different materials and surfaces mixed together but they could easily get ruined if used for what they are intended. That’s being said, I decided to take my croquis and scan it into photoshop, where I started to experiment with having the look of embroidery, which wouldn’t get ruined half as much as the real thing.
This then inspired me further. As you know I’ve been experimenting with fabric manipulation with the idea of designing table cloths, but Helen suggested that i scan in the manipulated fabric and manipulate it further digitally, so that the result would be a design that featured the look of the manipulation, but not the feel. This way the deisgn could be used for any table wear fabric. I’m really enjoying the idea and the process of creating these deceptive deisgns. I’ve experimented with different colours and have found that I’m really loving the results.
I plan to paint my two coordinating corquis on Friday, and moving on to alternative colourways on Monday.
Over the past four weeks I have been working with Sacha Pierre, a Home Textile Design Company, who has just started to develop their next collection. With the success of their first still hanging in the air, their next collection is full of excitement and fresh ideas which I got to be a part of.
At the beginning of my fours week I was quite nervous to be going into an established company, though this was unnecessary considering how accommodating the team at Sacha Pierre have been.
I came into the office at a great time, with the start of their new collection having just begun. I have been able to help develop the imagery within this new collection by completed many paintings that were either asked of me or that I thought would work well within the collection.
I was given the opportunity to learn about the style of Sacha Pierre and their influences for the next collection by creating their mood-boards; this helped me a lot in trying to understand the style and effect that they were reaching for in their next collection.
There were a few days when I was unhappy in what I was creating or designing, but having experienced this in my last work placement I was well equipped to stop what I was doing, save it and move onto something else. This enabled me to free myself of that certain piece of work, with the possibility of coming back to it or learning that that was the wrong direction, for which I am better off for having discovered.
I was still not as confident in my own work as I should be, I caught myself a few times waiting, before showing what I had creating, not yet ready to hear what they thought. In this aspect I have disappointed myself, I should have been confident or strong enough to say, this is what I have created, let me know how to improve. It’s better than I can learn to do this so that what I am creating doesn’t suffer from not having this critique experience.
As with my last placement I have really enjoyed creating designs. At first I found it a bit shocking when I was told to just play around, but I soon got over it and started to do indeed that. I was able to use my own motifs as well as the teams to create some really interesting designs that I think I linked well with the overall feel of the Sacha Pierre Company and how they represent themselves.
I was asked during the placement whether I was excited that my drawings could potentially end up being printed in the collection; this is when I had to spot myself from squealing with excitement. I am so beyond thrilled at the thought, and how this would look in my portfolio. Again I had the experience of being a designer, and this was brought home to me when I showed the team what I designer and they had liked it. That was a really good day for me, and such a confidence booster.
So my last week with Sacha Pierre came and went but I can honestly tell you that I am so happy for having completed this work placement. I have learnt not only new tools and tricks that will help with my career within textiles but I have learnt about myself also.
Before this placement I was loath to do any sort of drawing or painting. I hated how previously, any attempt at these two techniques has always been rushed and stressful, with myself thinking that I don’t actually have the ability to pull it off, but since being with Sacha Pierre, I’ve learn otherwise. I still don’t like feeling rushed to finish a painting but I no longer think that I can’t do it or that I don’t have the skill, because the work that I have done for Sacha Pierre proves otherwise.
I’m quite sad to be leaving, having spend the first month of the new collection helping out and helping to develop, I’m quite disappointed that I won’t be there to see how the rest of the collection pans out.
I have been invited back and I going to see if I can join them over the Easter break as well as during the summer. I have also been invited on the next photo shoot, which will be for the next collection, where I get to spend some time away learning about yet another different aspect of being a designer.