Creative Review; The next generation of Graduate Designers…

I recently visited the University of Huddersfield’s 2017 Graduate Show for the Textile Practice Design Course. The standard yet again was extremely high as the very talented new designers display fresh and innovative design ideas. It was interesting to see more Millennials expressing their political views and opinions through design; interpreting important topics that dominate headlines in todays society.

For example some of the projects included research into sustainability and recycled materials, with a greater consideration to how the outcome of a design project can be beneficial to society or to contribute to the preservation of our planet.

I particularly enjoyed reading the inspirational stories behind each project; understanding the designers attitudes and thoughts enabled a greater understanding of the end concept or product idea. Graduate designer Lo Green visually communicates perceptions of Female Power; questioning why images of women become political statements. Bridget Donoghue illustrates the mental scarring left being on the people and their families coping with cancer through the art of embroidery; a beautifully imperfect creation immortalised through stitch. Commercial designer Thomas Greenwood challenges ideas of the ‘social norm’ exploring gender identity and mental health issues through digital prints in Fashion. In todays society it is more important than ever to push boundaries, disrupt convention and exhibit creative freedom in all aspects.

So here are a few of my favorites in more detail…

Gemma Birrell

The very colorful bedding collection has been digitally printed using hand painted artwork which has been enhanced and arranged into repeated patterns. This designer is tapping into the consumer market of embracing Nature inside the home; the desire to be more connected to and be surrounded by organic and natural materials, surfaces and prints. In a dazzling range of bright pastels this designer creates quirky botanical designs that will freshen up any interior.

Lo Green

Designer-maker and embroidery specialist Lo Green displayed her project called Feminine Race which questions why images of women become a political statement. Each second-hand garment was chosen for the aesthetic; the detailed embroidery enhances the garment through color and composition. The designer plays with juxtaposition and exhibits the idea of ‘reclaiming’ female sexuality through ‘reclaiming’ garments.

Thomas Greenwood

Commercia Designer Thomas Greenwood creates a print collection for fashion called The Sensitised Pellucidity. This collection explores the desire to regain balance between privacy and transparency looking at elusive spaces and being translucent in new ways; suggesting a new sense of truth with the fusion of industrial and organic. The unisex prints are designed with ‘wellness’ in mind; finding calm in the mist of destruction; signifying the release of life anxieties. Within the collection research into gender identity was at the forefront of the project; looking closely at social, political and economical issues surrounding gender identity in the Fashion Industry.

Kathryn Lund

I really enjoyed seeing Kathryn’s work as she pushes the boundaries of classic knitwear. Her colorful and contemporary knitwear collection takes inspiration from personal experiences and a passion for travel. With dramatic color combination, bold patterns and an array of knitted textures, Kathryn challenged what can be considered as ‘wearable’ within Knitwear. The styling of her Colour Regeneration exhibition really portrayed the inspiration behind the collection; an exploration into the abandoned surfaces within urban areas focusing on the rejuvenating power of color. The carefully considered palette relates to the influence of color being pivotal to the reincarnation of lost and forgotten textures; brought to life once more through contemporary Knit practice.

Bridget Donoghue

Embroidery specialist Bridget Donoghue focuses on looking at cancer through the skin; the bruising, the marks, tones and colors. Her collection Irregular Everything picks out the tiniest of details in the irregular shape and shades, enhancing the beautiful imperfections and blemishes and the repairing of something fragmented and broken. Her work is a symbol of the marks behind the pain, the uncontrollable scar pigmentations and the temporary marks that can beautifully become immortalised by stitch.

We wish all this years graduates the best of luck for the future.

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Exhibition Review: Top Drawer 2017

Last week we headed to Olympia, London for Top Drawer 2017, one of the first major UK trade shows of the year, presented are products for the Spring/Summer season. The show focuses on Home, Gift, Fashion and Craft by a range of both emerging designers and established brands from the UK and internationally.

Here are some of the pieces that caught our eye:

Firstly the ceramics by Sue Pryke, she creates stunning home ware ceramic collections.  Her background firmly rooted in crafts, is clearly evident to see in her practice as each piece is individual manufactured by hand. The navy and charcoal sit well with the pastel hues of faded pinks, lemon and duck egg blue, creating an elegant and contemporary palette perfect for spring/summer.Grey and beige remain a prominent combination for display styling as seen in the stand by Sue Pryke and also Blomus. The German retailer focuses on unique, elegant and minimalist design. The collection presented at Top Drawer featured a bathroom collection of a faded low-contrast palette offset with neutrals and anthracite, ideal for creating a muted and calming tone.
In contrast, the vibrant collection by Jansen+co brings a bold and fresh approach to kitchenware. The stand out colours of the cooking and dining products compliment with the functional natural terracotta.
Pantone’s Colour of the Year 2017 ‘Greenery’ was also represented at the show; it was hard to miss. A symbol for new beginnings, health, growth and positivity it will be interesting to see how designers and retailers adopt this colour particularly within products for interiors. We will have to keep an eye out for the Autumn/Winter edition of Top Drawer taking place 10—12 September 2017 as well as other events taking place this year.

Exhibitions are changing, visitors give more time and attention to those companies that have stands that provide experiences, not simply information, products & sales people. Just as they do in today’s retail environment. If you’d like to have a stand/booth that attracts, holds and excites more visitors than ever before; get in touch with Phil …..  Don’t leave it too long, exhibitions are too expensive and improving conversion rates is the key to a better return on your investment.

 

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Surface Texture & Material Design Trends 2017

Designers, graduates and well established brands are continuing to explore innovative ways of manipulating and experimenting with materials to create unique textures and effects for the interiors market.

Here are a few that we’d like to share with you showcased by Material Lab at the Surface & Materials Show in Birmingham. These specific textures and materials relate perfectly to our 2017 Surface Trends…

Evan James Design

This surface design company combines traditional quality craftsmanship with new technologies supporting & encouraging customer individuality for the commercial and residential sectors. They challenge whether a wall has to be flat and also, whether a wall has to permanently stay the same? This bespoke structured surface offers limitless possibilities of pattern, colour and texture. It’s designed to compliment any interior style.

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Our 2017 Trend – In Motion – explores the power of the virtual world being integrated into our everyday life; consider high shine and glossy fluidity that creates dynamic light effects and surfaces with movement. Spirograph, optical grids and dark iridescence are key aesthetics  here.

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Solomon and Wu

A luxury, surface brand crafting beautiful textures and contemporary architectural design features for interior spaces. Their unique collection of textured finishes and sculptured surfaces have been installed in retail stores such as Christian Louboutin and Alexander Mcqueen. We’ve also showcased their samples many times on our Trend Hubs around the world! Colors and finishes across the whole collection can be tailored to add stunning, bespoke elements to your design scheme.

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2017 will see a favor towards refined luxurious rawness, combining gritty and distressed textures with blush silvered metallics. Desert inspired textures appear chalky and matte; parched linens, dried reptile skins and rustic weaves. Gradual colour shifts and tonal hombre’s in indigo tones and sunset shades compliment refined metallics and naturally raw surfaces.

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Grace Gallagher

Grace Gallagher, a British designer, produces surfaces and objects for interiors, that demonstrate a preoccupation with materials and process. There is a mixture of traditional and contemporary techniques, with an honesty to the rawness and irregularity of the chosen material. The monochrome pattern was inspired by the Barbican building in London where each panel is hand crafted using a process of revealing layers.

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The appreciation of everyday materials will be a key attribute of design in 2017, consumers will begin to see beauty in ‘the ordinary’ and value ‘time earnt’, slowly acquired skills. People will embrace traditional techniques with a modern twist to create surfaces that are unpretentious but precise with a hand crafted aesthetic. Think about using saw cut, end-grains and chiseled wood effects for retail outlet design, exhibition booths, kitchens, flooring and workplace furniture. Denim, leather and cork create mixed material surfaces that will look stunning and be desirable in all interior spaces including hotel lounges and restaurants. 

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We are currently carefully selecting the most innovative and revolutionary surface materials for our 2017 International Trend Hubs. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter now to stay informed of our next events, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for daily updates from the team. Email Phil for more information about our ‘show reports’

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All things Stationery…

5 Stationery Brands to Love Right Now

As a passionate stationery enthusiast I love nothing more than scouting trade shows and events for new, up and coming designers and scoping out the fresh product launches from some of my favourite brands. Although technology sometimes takes over our lives, it is clear the love for all things stationery has not subsided as consumers continue to seek fashion-led paper products that we see constantly being blogged or instagrammed.

Here are 5 stationery brands and designers to watch out for…

1.Message Earth

This beautiful collection of greeting cards combines the stunning photo art created by Helena Christensen with an environmentally friendly philosophy. The cards are created with 100% recycled paper, printed using only vegetable ink and packaged in 100% bio-degradable plastic wrapping. A great combination of Danish design, sustainability and heartfelt messages. The unusual but intriguing mix of rusticity with pretty florals is perfect for this coming season!

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2. Studio Sweet and Sour

Studio Sweet and Sour is a Dutch design studio who create wonderful stationery and gifts that are out of the ordinary. Their aim is to make things fun and to put a smile on your face (it definitely worked for me). They have a big love for detail and pay as much attention to the inside as they do the outside including interesting metallic foiling and neon edging. With contemporary colour combinations and exciting surface finishes; this is a product collection your don’t want to miss!

11224123_710628455741297_8356482309376643333_nimg_46843. Men’s Society

I love this award winning brand… Men’s society is your one stop shop for stylish and quality gifts designed specifically for men. They source unusual, quirky and classic items that will never date but rather improve with age and use. Many of their products are handmade using only the finest tools; this connects perfectly with our Analogue Workshop Trend for 2017. I will no longer struggle to buy presents for the men in my family!

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4. Ohh Deer

Launched in 2011, this brand aims to bring quirky illustrated products to the mass market. This modern collective is made up of many unique illustrators who create anything from homeware to stationery and everything in-between. I particularly loved the dark floral notebooks designed by Susan Castillo, it fits perfect with our Heathland Trend for this coming winter.

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5. Katie Leamon

Katie Leamon is a luxury card and stationery brand based in London, their family run production studio is based in the English Countryside where they design, create and deliver beautiful, hand finished collections of original paper products. The collection can be found at Selfridges, Anthropologie and Harrods.

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Top 5 Tips for Stationery Product Photography for your social media

  1. Lighting – Get the light right and you’re nearly there, it doesn’t need to be sunny you can set your scene near a window and create softness with a curtain or a sheet.
  2. Set the Scene – To shoot lifestyle, shoot detail, shoot wide – make sure you shoot a mix of ways to capture the scene adding some lifestyle elements that compliement your asethetic.
  3. Details – It’s all in the detail, look at the scene you’ve set – does it work? If not tweak.
  4. Edit – Use free editing software to edit pictures.
  5. Be Consistent – Get yourself a trademark style.

(Tips curtesy of Paperfest London as seen at Top Drawer)


For further stationery inspiration see our 2017 Stationery Trend Report; includes great ideas and inspiration for stationery designers and manufacturers, whilst also being superb stock purchase & merchandising guidance for retailers. Don’t forget to follow our ‘All Things Stationery‘ Pinterest board for the latest trend direction.

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Huddersfield University Graduate Show Review

Last week I visited the Huddersfield University Textile Practice Graduate Show to check out new and emerging talent. I always enjoy returning to the place where I studied and it is great to see the fantastic work displayed by the students. Here is a round up of some of my favourite designs…

Laura Ensinger

‘Poetic Profusion’ provides a print collection that’s bursting with artistic integrity, challenging fast paced and impersonal digitally generated design. This project is truly commercial with a quality made, ‘mix and match’ collection that has a beautiful painterly hand drawn aesthetic. 2016-06-11 13.14.56

Jordan Evans

‘Priceless Possessions’ is a project created for the luxury menswear market, these highly intricate and beautiful embroidered fabrics bring a unique and stylish element to detailing on fashion items. In particular this idea relates to the growing desire for handcrafted and to a greater extent personalisation.

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Becca Buttons 

Scandi Stitch offers a combination of traditional 50’s Scandinavian design with a contemporary, colourful twist showcasing a range of playful embroidery designs into hard materials and fabric. These pieces are intriguing and unique; a perfect addition to a modern interior.

Becca Buttons offers a bespoke made to order service. Each piece is beautifully handcrafted and made from laser cut Perspex which is then slowly hand embroidered into.

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Gemma Blackwell

I love how experimental and playful this project is, ‘Oddity’ adopts a curious approach to exploring the use of materials in relation to embroidery. This project investigates a combination of traditional techniques such as print and embriodery with unconventional material use and embellishment. The outcome inspired sample development for wearable luxury fashion fabrics. This project relates to our ‘Play’ trend which embraces materials such as foam, neoprene, silicone and plastics.

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Sophie Lee Wilkinson

Inspired by the traditional methods of craftsmanship, this project incorporates hand-dyed British Wool and hand-woven fabrics to create a unique collection that celebrates the integrity and skills required during the making process. Indigo is a key colour for 2016 and this technique allows us to fully appreciate it’s dynamic and pleasing application to textiles.

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Jessica Moor

The ‘Honesty’ collection embraces the delicacy of nature with the peeling back of layers through time. It is designed to explore the hidden beauty of nature through print techniques on transparent flowing fabrics. I think it works beautifully as a collection, where the intensity of the colour palette creates an intriguing dark atmosphere, perfectly in-keeping with our Autumn/Winter trends of re-establishing our relationship with nature.

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To see more projects please visit the Textiles Practice Blog.

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