Knit and Stitch Show 2014 Harrogate

The Knitting and Stitching Show is the largest and most highly regarded textiles and craft event in the UK, it’s packed with textile craft goodies to buy, workshops and galleries. I went along to check out some of the exhibitors this year and to see what was new in the world of embroidery…

Caren Garfen

‘She Was Cooking Something Up’.

Caren’s work consists of a full-size kitchen installation which brings together all of her research over the past three to four years on women, dieting and body image. Enter the kitchen at your peril!


TOFT Luxury British Knitting

TOFT designs and manufactures quality alpaca and wool yarn and fashionable knitwear here in the UK from British sourced luxury fibres and is based on an alpaca farm in Toft, Warwickshire. TOFT is for the stylish ethically-minded crafter looking for a proper great British story behind their knitting and knitwear. I loved their space at the exhibition, they had fabulous product, creative workshops and many patterns to learn and get involved in!

Jo Beattie

The image below is of a machine embroidery called ‘Playground’. This work is over a metre wide and 75cm in length. It hangs away from the wall, and so you see enlarged images of the children on the plain wall behind. It will hopefully give people the idea of a type of ‘PICK & MIX’ approach where the buyer can choose up to 4 images from the ‘Playground’ to put in a frame for themselves.


Leslie Morgan

‘How many Mountains’ is the title of this beautiful embroidered quilt – the detail of the stitch is amazing.


Olly mason

Main inspirations include urban architecture, surface texture and Middle-Eastern and Asian cultures. Her work focuses on surfaces and the conceptual contrast between hard and soft, incorporating both textiles and concrete. These designs have been created for innovative interior surfaces.


Hanny Newton

Her work is a combination of copper thread and glass on metal pins and industrial felt. Mining is part of the fabric of Cornwall, shaping the landscape while shaping the lives of the people. The Cornish mining story is all about people: the men, women and children who worked hard in dangerous conditions to earn a living.

The technique of layered felt padding is liberated from its conventional home underneath gold work embroidery that would be found on a coronation gown and up scaled to create sculptural rock forms. Gold and silver embroider threads are swapped for copper and tin – the lifeblood of Cornwall.


Bridget Donoghue

Currently studying at the University of Huddersfield on the Surface Design course, Bridget specialises in embroidery and exhibited some of her work at the show. Her work is based on the visual expression of dreams, and inspired by social issues, surfaces and her drawings. The pieces she has created are based on the four stages of sleep and the movement of the brain, by using the Amaya embroider machine she creates detailed movement in stitch textures.


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Whatever happened to Zak?

Cast your mind back a couple of years and if you’ve been reading our blog since around 2012/13 you might recall a Work Placement student at Scarlet Opus called Zak who wrote a whole bunch of posts and helped to create our Autumn/Winter 2014/15 & trend boards. Continue reading

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The Best of The Best Millennial Designers 2014

Last month I visited the Huddersfield University Textile Degree Show preview night; I still find it hard to believe that I was in the same position last year and now, one year on, I’ve returned to check out the new designers as part of the Scarlet Opus team!

There is always a diverse range of Surface Design, Textile Design and Textile Craft work on display that shows a variety of material manipulation, colour and pattern design.

The atmosphere was amazing as usual, all the students had worked extremely hard to display their work and create a fantastic space for the viewers to walk round. I want to congratulate all the students on receiving their results and I hope we see a lot more of these amazing designers in the future (some are exhibiting at New Designers).

Here are some of my faves…

Chloe Fisher

Such an interesting and delicate use of materials. I love the unusual shapes created, the intensity of colour and the detailed patterns.

js1600_Chloe_FisherDaniel Matthews

Beautiful innovative illusional digitally printed fabrics inspired by the art of paper weaving and London architecture. I would also like to congratulate Daniel on his success in the SDC International Design Competition.

js1600_Daniel_MatthewsHeidi Beesley

Woven fabric designed around the photography of everyday moments. I love the sophisticated colour palette and simplicity of the presentation.

js1600_Heidi_BeesleyNichola Duce

Love the concept, it’s unique and wonderfully presented. The intricate embroidery adds detail and originality to the product.

js1600_Nichola_DuceAmy Leigh Green

The Eclectic Vibes collection reflects a relaxed, hippie, bohemian style (How very on trend). With inspiration gathered from gypsy cultures which for centuries have fashioned themselves based on floral elements, folkloric patterns and jewellery.

Fantastic use of colour and bold patterns!


Fatima Hussain

I love the minimalistic architectural influence created within the structured weave. Simple but very effective.


Amy Price

Amazing presentation of printed fashion fabrics with beautiful photography.


Adriana Tavares

‘If you can draw it, you can tuft it’ is a collaborative community lead project. This project promotes the educational benefits of crafts. The project challenged the perception of rugs and revolutionised them by pushing the boundaries of shape, colour and aesthetic.

js1600_adriana_tavaresKimberley Harrington

This collection takes inspiration from the growing variations of street art throughout the colourful city of Berlin. A very bold use of bright colours, it’s exciting, energetic and the ‘organised chaos’ presentation makes it unique and inspirational.


Melissa Oswald

Surface design at its best, the colour and material combination create inspiring designs!



js1600_scarlet opus edit

Intense use of colour, disorderly pattern and precise themes define this year’s final shows.

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Being A Trend Forecaster

victoria polaroidAfter I’ve presented a trend seminar it’s usual for several audience members to come and speak to me about some piece of information or another that particularly interested them,  and without fail each and every one of them will comment on how brilliant it must be to be a Trend Forecaster (which of course it is!) … and they will also normally ask me exactly what my day-to-day job entails.  It seems no matter where in the world I present seminars, and no matter what market sector the audience members are from, Trend Forecasting is a job that fascinates people.  So I thought it would be interesting to give you an insight into what it is I do all day:desk

final pic for blog

Basically I lead the trend forecasting and creative projects at Scarlet Opus and spend my days thinking about, discussing and writing about the future! 

Outside of the design industry few people seem to know about the work of Trend Forecasters or how our predictions help to guide the designing, manufacturing and buying activities of the world’s best known product brands and retailers.  In fact few end consumers have any idea that the vast majority of the products they buy have been created in line with the predictions of international trend forecasting agencies like ours, and that this process of forecasting all started a couple of years before the product ever became available for them to buy in a shop:  

MONTAGE workAs you read this post we’re completing our Autumn/Winter 2015/16 forecasts for some of our clients and beginning to think about Spring/Summer 2016.  I know – it’s kinda crazy!  Many of our clients want to know about trend predictions just 1 year or 18 months in advance, so whilst we work on reports looking ahead 2 years, we’re also translating trends into product ideas for our clients who want to stay focussed on Spring/Summer 2015 at the moment … and that’s fine too because we want to work at the pace that is right for our clients:

COVERABOVE cover image: New hand-embroidered fabric collection from Fameed Khalique

First and foremost being a Trend Forecaster is about research and information gathering.  Then analysis and translation of that information.  Then drinking cocktails & attending lovely events.  That’s the order of the work tasks for a Trend Forecaster.  Just to be clear – let me show you that as a diagram:



Essentially what I’m saying is that a lot of my time as a Trend Forecaster is spent online finding information on the global events planned-in over the next few years, as well as sifting through the reams of information the team gathers, reading lots of thought-provoking online articles and reports from specialists and experts in diverse fields of study, and reading-up on everything from future film releases to underwater architecture:

waterAs a team we discuss these architectural projects, hotel openings, film productions, museum shows … and a myriad of other planned events, whilst also assessing social change, examining popular culture, and the economic climate in a broader sense.  And of course we keep a keen eye on new works being created by Designers and Artists around the world.  We analyse all of this information, also taking into account current global events, in order to translate it all into a prediction of future design trends.  We need to anticipate what end consumers will want to buy way ahead of them ever developing the desire.  From our research we know what will be on people’s radars at a given point in the future and what they’ll be looking to buy into.  Our job is to help ensure that at that point, the products they want, in the colours, patterns, styles and materials they want them, will be available in stores to answer this demand.  All of the pieces of information we gather together and discuss are like pieces of a jigsaw that fit together to give a bigger and more complete picture of future design trends.  We can then begin to build colour palettes and establish the ‘look’ and key design characteristics of each of the season’s trends:

montage 1

Once we’ve established our 5 trend predictions for a season we can begin to build trend boards and create the seasonal reports for our clients.  The first step is to start image gathering – finding wonderful images of fantastic products by great Designers to feature on the trend boards that will come together to provide a clear visual of the trends.  We contact each of them directly to ask their permission to use an image of their work, and slowly but surely the trend boards begin to be built using InDesign software.  Alongside the creation of the trend boards we begin to build our seasonal Trend Report and Presentations, and record the audio commentary that our clients find so useful: 

trend board work

ABOVE: ‘The Vision’ trend board & color palette; Dress by Eri Matsui; ‘Ruined Polaroid’ by William Miller ; ‘Adrift’ (floating crystals photo) by Kirk Johnson

Then it’s time to get out and present our latest forecasts to clients – Manufacturers (Like Kimberly-Clark, Le Creuset, Quick-Step, Interface, Steelcase and sappi), Retailers (like Lakeland), Service Providers, Product Designers and Interior Designers (like Show Business Interiors), or Trade Associations (like BHETA).   Sometimes our trend presentations are held at their offices for just their in-house teams to attend; sometimes our clients invite some of their suppliers along (and that’s fine with us – the more the merrier!); sometimes we give trend presentations on behalf of our cleints to groups of their clients or potential clients!  Whatever works for them works for us, and we LOVE talking about future design trends, and sharing our expertise – informing and inspiring groups large and small:

trend presentation montage

When I’m back in the studio I write posts for our blog (I especially like our ‘Today I Love …‘, ‘Hot Spot‘ and ‘Exhibitions‘  posts), and I write articles and quotes for magazines and newspapers, as well as doing interviews for trade magazines and exhibitions.  Recently a trend forecast feature was published in the 2014 Interior Design Yearbook (pages 170-175) and it’s also going to be featured in the consumer edition out in December.  I’ve also given a telephone interview about ‘Wellbeing & Design’ to the team behind 360° magazine which will feature in their January issue (67).  And earlier this week I did an interview for a feature entitled ‘Gearing Up For SURFACES‘ for the December issue of Floor Focusmag montageAnd that rather neatly reminds me to mention our involvement with both the SURFACES show in Las Vegas and The Flooring Show in the UK.  For both of these trade exhibitions we design and curate the Trends Hub (an open space for show visitors to learn about the trends for the year ahead and see inspiring products from their industry … as well as being a space to relax, work or hold a meeting).  We also present Trend Forecasting seminars, and at the moment I’m working on our events for Designer Day at SURFACES on Jan 29th 2014 (full details HERE) which includes: a 90min seminar on Design Trends for 2014/15; leading 2 ‘Speed Trend Tours’ out on the show floor of exhibitors booths (ably assisted by Phil as our navigator); PLUS daily Live in the Hub talks from the team across the durarion of the show (28th – 30th Jan 2014).  Phil & I have selected the exhibitors who will be on the Speed Trend Tours and now I need to start writing the tour script and building the seminar slides.  Meanwhile Catherine (our Intern) & I are devising, purchasing & making props for the Trends Hub.  It’s a really creative and exciting time in our studio.

Last year (as you can see below) we went with a Lab styling for the Trends Hub that was bright and industrial-looking with a scientific twist.  The 2014 Trends Hub theme is VERY different and I can’t wait to get to Vegas in the New Year and start working with the fantastic builders to put it all together and make our design a reality!

hub montage

So that’s essentially what it’s like Being A Trend Forecaster i.e. completely fascinating and completely all-consuming!  But I feel completely privileged to have spent the last 10 years helping people around the world to have a clearer view of the future!

You can read more about all the stuff we do, and can do for you, HERE.

miss v jpg

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University Design Degree Show Highlights

js1024_zak2On Wednesday 19th June,  I visited the University of Huddersfield Graduate design show. It was my chance to gain an insight into how to prepare and display design work at the graduate show – because this time next year it will be my turn!

Each year the ratio of students studying each creative course and specialism changes.  This year I came across lots of Surface Pattern designers, Crafters, Weavers and Knitters showcasing their work, compared to last year when there were quite a lot of Textile Printers.

The studios were filled with amazing new talent waiting to break through into industry:

First up is a collection from Laura Dobson studying BA (Hons) Surface Design.  She created ‘Tainted Essence’ which consisted of both hard & raw materials (such as metals), and soft fabric elements. It was an inspiring collaboration mixing techniques of digital print and laser cut wall pieces. Her concept was concerned with “Imperfection within Fast Fashion”. Personally I love the clever use of rust shades blended with muted subtle tones of grey and silver, which are emphasized via a dominant deep blue palette. The way in which Laura experimented and mixed medias together created an amazing look for her designs which had hidden depth and originality. This concept – that the designer has no control of the exact outcome – is very risky, but with every ‘mistake’ there is the oppurtunity for further creativity, and Laura uses this method to her advantage:


Student 1 Close upLaura Dobson – Surface Design

Morta Kazenaite is studying BA (Hons) Surface Design and had a devised wallpaper prints which were built layer upon layer. I found the designs fascinating as they contained a combination of words, inked backgrounds and incredible hand drawn bird images, giving a sense of mystery and storytelling. I feel the monochrome colour theme added to the drama and leads the viewer into the unknown. The layering is beautifully balanced – blending together it flows and creates a complete, coherent pattern. Morta has also created a sense of pleasing dynamism by introducing storytelling elements via the use of text:js1600_Student_2

Student 2 Close upMorta Kazenaite – Surface Design

Deborah Scott studying BA (Hons) Surface Design created ‘Emotional Sanctuary’ – a collection inspired by nature and light reflections. The fabric had been laminated and ceramic printed onto glass. She uses patterns from nature, light reflections and concepts of natural growth as a background, blended within an everyday city environment, and combines them on frosted effect glass and print. Deborah’s style is very effective as it feels like the outside world has come inside, which would give any interior space her work is used in a calm, relaxed atmosphere:

Student 3a

Student 3 Close upDeborah Scott – Surface Design

Justyna Kmiecik is a Print designer who created a collection entitled ‘Hidden Beauty’.  The style she used is familiar and currently trending in the Fashion, but the originality of her work was in striving to make her design technique and products sustainable. Her inspiration comes about from her close up photography combined with simple line drawings.  The basis of her collection idea was to adapt her images many times to reduce waste during the priting process and to print on different types of fabric to create a new look organic design:


Student 4 Close upJustyna Kmiecik – Print Designer

Mark Choi is a BA (Hons) Surface Design student who focused on creating bespoke works.  He used a glass effect combined with ink imprint. The ceiling simulation (below) was futuristic and unique, and really caught my attention.  Mark uses linear and geometric shapes in blocks or mirror repeats to create his images. The use of colour is kept simple and limited in order to draw attention to the intricate detail within his patterns.


Student 5 close upMark Choi – Surface Design

Overall the University of Huddersfield had exceptional students whose work I look forward to seeing more of in the coming years.

This time next year I will have completed my degree and qualified … and then the world’s my oyster!  So watch this space as maybe you will use my degree show designs for inspiration!!!


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