How has your background in design influenced your style of print?
I learnt my craft two pushing the boundaries of two-colour print onto challenging paper stock; the restrictions forced you to focus on imagery, typography and texture. An obsession for detail and precise spacing probably comes from staring at typography and the joy of wonderfully set type.
What led to begin working in this relatively niche area of fashion design?
I was loosing touch with hands on design spending more and more time managing budgets and overseeing work and needed a change so I returned to Art College to study textiles and surface design. It wasn't my intention to set up in fashion design and I am not a fashion designer, but I loved the fluidity of textiles its myriad of textures and the way you move between 2D and form as a designer. As a designer you have to make your unique mark in a small way, this "niche area” fits.
How do you go about crafting products with longevity when so many consumers drift towards the lures of fast fashion?
Well I couldn’t compete with fast fashion even if I wanted to, so you just do the opposite. Its about quality, quality of the fabric you print on, quality of print, quality of design, quality of finishing, quality of customer service.
How do you choose the materials you use which ensure a high quality is maintained whilst also ensuring sustainability?
Research and a clear ethical mandate is the starting point. Using natural materials as much as possible means the textiles are fully biodegradable and they can be sustainably produced.
The majority of my print is onto silk, silk is not 100% perfect but is one of the best. I am very careful whom I buy my fabric from and only use reputable known producers. Pure silk velvet is unavailable so I print on silk viscose velvet which is a mixture of silk and viscose, viscose does not occur naturally but it is derived from wood pulp, so is the best choice if I want to use velvet. All the printing is here in the UK with our strict environmental legislation and workers rights and pay.
You have to keep an close eye on your suppliers and make sure nothing changes for example I was using tin packaging which was cool and environmentally friendly as it was manufactured in the UK using British tin, however the manufacturer recently changed to using Chinese tin and Chinese production so I had to rethink. It about taking ownership of your creation and know its whole story.
Now, about the influence on your work
One of my favourite pieces is the ‘Tokyo Drain Silk Pocket Square’ – I was wondering how cultural styles influence your design choices?
I travelled to Japan on a study bursary to study the link between contemporary textiles and craft, so this design was totally influenced by Japanese culture I witnessed.
and to follow that up
I notice the work of Norman Foster is often referenced – it would be fascinating to know how you implement architectural styles into the design of your products?
Some of the most influential designers today are architects and the references to the work of Norman Foster are direct responses to the buildings I have visited.