Summer Internship

Experiencing the industry aspect of textiles design has been an eye opener for me this week.  There are many things that you don’t weigh while designing in university that are such a large part of the working textiles industry, for instance the durability of a fabric in one to five years. There are specific standards that a fabric must adhere to or be so labeled, for example upholstery fabric for a public setting versus that for the interior of a home.  I am only used to considering the design of the fabric rather than the structure and the specific use (i.e. indoor/outdoor use).  There are also many other details that I had not thought to consider, such as the fire safety standards around the world.  The UK had the highest and toughest standards, therefore when producing fabric, fabric produced for domestic and international consumption are not the same.  Industry standards could make or break a project, severely impacting the way in which one is able to sell or market a item. Once I leave school and find a job, these thing will rule our process.  The way we think and design an item will be set around these rules.

Once the fabric has passed all the tests and is ready for the marketing, you must have a stylist, photographer and location for your shoot, all with whom you must collaborate in order to achieve the best final result.  I think the collaboration involved in making and marketing a final project/collection is vital and highly underrated.  It really takes a team to make a single project come out in the best possible light.

Now, I realise that I have yet to name the studio/designer/s of the company that I was interning for, however this is because I would like to respect their privacy (and why there are no photos alongside this post) .  For some smaller companies, it is important to keep their studios off of the internet and out of the public eye since it can be hard to control an image once it is on the internet.  It’s easy to take an image off the internet and claim it as your own.  Once it’s out there, all you can do is hope that people are nice and won’t pirate your image.  The only real thing you can try to have a little control over is the release time of said image. It is for this reason that I have not posted any images.  This is an issue that I was not aware of before starting this internship.  It was a very eye-opening experience into a world into which I had not yet ventured and it will drastically improve the way that I look at my future collections and the things that I consider when designing them.

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The last semester

IMG_9067I’m gonna be real and say this term was CRAZY busy and this blog post started off as the end of the spring term post and look at me now in the end of May – yes, that’s how busy this term has been.  I feel like I should sum up not only this term but the whole year and finding my footing, which I really hope I have.  Now that I’m starting to clean out my things, Ican really see how much we did and how much work was generated.  When I come to look at a whole year’s work all rolled up into one I am impressed at how much is there when you really don’t feel it.  Maybe at the beginning of the year I didn’t really understand everything that was going on and what was expected of me: settling into a new course, new friends and a new city is always hard (believe me, I’ve done it enough times now) so although it took some getting used to, I really feel like I’ve got my feet on the ground now.  Working on my designs, I feel like a real door has opened up for me, I didn’t think that I’d done much or improved that much over the course of year, other than gaining a better understanding of what is going on around me, until Ilook at my work laid out in front of me from the whole year and then I can see a marked difference.  Over all, I think that it was such a good experience and that it taught me a lot and there are lots of exciting new projects brewing for next year.  While I’m also looking forward to taking a break for a little bit, I’m also excited about all of the new research do be done over the course of the summer and the upcoming year. IMG_9068

Innovative Marketing Practices

I have picked Lucy Ledger, Rachel Ellen Designs and Emmy Designs  because they were all founded by freelance entrepreneurs who have designed their own products and market their own businesses.

I believe that some of the most successful marketing tools used today include:

  • Instagram: a useful marking to tool that keeps you in the public eye as long as you continuously update and post to it.  It is very visual which is great for designers.  Many people run their businesses entirely off of Instagram as it is a terrific way to share and gives an even platform to all who want to share their work. I myself and my newly created design account have experienced so many welcoming people on Instagram from the warm and wonderful design community there. I was messaged by a few designers with encouraging messages for my new brand which is a lovely thing to have happen when launching a brand and makes me excited to set foot in the world of design!

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  • Blogging: a more in-depth way to keep your readers up to date and where you can reflect on your work as well as share upcoming projects with the public. Screen Shot 2018-03-25 at 16.41.12

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  • Design competitions: pushes you as a designer to design new things and shows that you are able to develop a new style or adapt your own to a prior set brief.  Here is my entry into the design a paper gang box by Ohh Deer, a stationery brand that sends out monthly boxes with new stationery designs that one can register to get as a monthly subscription.

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  • Collaboration with other companies/brands including multi-disciplinary brands: indicates that you can work with other brands and is a terrific way to promote yourself in different settings and expand your personal network.

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Enterprise & Employability

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Architectural drawing of our future house in Gloucester, MA (studio included)

I have always been a forward thinker: I have been planning to go to university in England since the age of 9 so rest assured that I know how to plan ahead.  I like to make plans and set goals, especially the long term ones. For the first two years after I graduate I plan to work as a freelance consultant in Denmark (where my husband is currently living) at a Surface and Pattern design studio, of which there are several of repute in Copenhagen.  We are planning on moving back to the US in two or three years and once we are there, have plans for a house and studio where I will be able to work digitally as well as print with ease and where I will be able to build my own stationery brand which I could easily run from my home.

Here’s how I plan to grow my brand and gain experience over the five years after I graduate:

  • Year 1: Work in a design studio to get an insider’s feel for the market and gain experience in a professional setting.
  • Year 2: Start to build my own brand with a strong online presence by selling my designs via Etsy and my website.
  • Year 5: Expand my brand to other markets, onto other websites that are selling similar products and into store fronts so that my brand will gain even more éclat.  Expand my studio space and streamline my production process to minimise cost and bring my product to market in a more timely manner.
  • Year 10: Hire three employees and have a stable and successful brand that is sold internationally on many different platforms.

 

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Architectural drawing of our future house in Gloucester, MA (studio included)

 

Round two: Welsh Heritage

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After finishing the last module in a an intense two weeks after Christmas vacation, it feels like I have been gone for ages.  It is an odd sense, as if we have come back from the holidays and are starting up again, which in a sense is true as we are starting a new project, but not, however, with such fresh eyes as the holidays are long past.  It’s ironic: last week I was dying for a new project and this week I am dreaming of going back to my old project, something where I’m not floating around in a sea of ideas and empty space.

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In my research for this final new major module about Welsh heritage with a special focus on Swansea, I have looked at the Welsh uprising of 1400, the history of the ship trade and types of Welsh flowers.  Having done that, I think now that I am going to go with the second idea, the nautical theme.  Considering that I used to be a competitive sailor, things nautical are close to my heart and this gives me a chance to connect with my love of the ocean and uncharted waters and by working up nautical themed stationery, I get to work with two things I love: things nautical and stationery.

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The sea holds a special place in my heart, having spent my childhood summers by the sea, both at the beach but more importantly learning to sail. Gloucester, Massachusetts is a fishing town with a long history.  The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger was based on the real perfect storm which did in fact take place in Gloucester.  It is also the summer home of many artists who visited the idyllic seaside town.  Winslow Homer painted many watercolors of Gloucester harbor.

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I began sailing at the age of eight and as I improved I moved on to competitive sailing which started off as summer racing but as I traveled further afield for sailing I also sailed for longer into the year and before you know it I was flying down to Florida to sail during the winter.  A lot of hard work later and I was able to sail for the US at an international event which, happily brought me to Wales for the first time, where I sailed at the British Nationals in North Wales:

http://www.patriotledger.com/x920795239/15-year-old-defends-title-at-Squantum-Yacht-Clubs-Lipton-Cup-Regatta

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Today I get to combine my love of sailing and the sea, which led me to Wales for the first time, with the current reason I am here now, to study, and this very project to create a stationery collection, bringing me almost full circle.  The connection between Swansea and Gloucester makes me feel right at home and this project has both lots of memories and new things to be discovered.

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The relevance of having stationery in your home after the digital revolution has changed radically, as before it was must and now it is not as essential because we have computers and iPhones where we can take notes, set reminders and send emails.  Why do we need to write things down anymore?  Besides the fact that it is a satisfying task, studies have shown that you remember what you have written down better if you use a pen and paper than if you make notes or write on your computer.  Besides the statistics of it, stationery has an aesthetic to it; like other aspects of design, stationary is another branch in the world of pattern.

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It is also important to connect with the place that you are living in.  In this day and age it’s so easy to get caught up in your computer/work/movie,what have you and forget to go outside and see the things that are right in front of your face, and I myself am also guilty of that.  I’ve lived here almost six months and hardly know the neighborhood that I live in.  I live next to the beach and the marina, two places that as a child I used to love so much and now live in the midst of, yet have hardly glanced at it.  Therefore I jumped at the chance to be able to gain intimate knowledge of my new surroundings when assigned this brief, something that I am doubly in need of as a foreigner.

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Beginning this module feels like starting from square one, and of course it is.  After the wonderful and fast-paced Eyle Kishmoto brief, I am now moving onto a much different concept and way of thinking. It’s sometimes a struggle when you have to start from the very beginning, but it’s also very freeing in the sense that you have the ability to explore your surroundings, a new subject and a new way of working. Now we have gone from something very clean-cut and fast paced to something that feels (and I know this bit isn’t true) slower and a little blurry around the edges, not the sharp, bright way of working that was our last brief.  It’s a very hard feeling to explain.  However, I feel like this gives me the opportunity to learn new things about myself along the way, and I always welcome a challenge.

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In the meantime (while I find my footing), here are a few repeats that I am playing with and a couple of doodles:

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Collect: Saachi Gallery

My classmates and I took a trip up to London to visit Collect at the Saachi Gallery.  Collect is sponsored by the Craft Council and is the international art fair for contemporary objects.   Collect, a group of internationally renowned artists and art collectives, exhibit their work in mediums such as textiles, leather, wood, ceramics as well as many others. These artist are picked to exhibit and not all are the same each year – much like art, they fluctuate.  There was a vast range of styles and disciplines in the gallery.  Some pieces were very fine and delicate, while others were quite large and chunky.
I enjoyed walking around Collect and speaking to the individual artists about their work.  What I appreciated the most was looking at the artists’ work as a whole collection or a placement of objects.  Once I took a step back to look at the collections as a whole I saw patterns everywhere. Since we have been looking at conversations between objects, I found that being at Collect provided a wonderful example of how the placement of objects creates a unique conversation, not just within the booths and the artists’ objects, but how the exhibition worked as a whole. Curating something like Collect must be challenging. I would like to know more about the process of selecting artists and curating the exhibition.
I would also like to know more about the woven tapestries and the indigo-dyed pieces of fabric.  I think dyeing is so much more than the coloration of fabric.  When the dye is not even or you do a dip dye you get a wonderful line and pattern effect; every little mistake creates a new pattern or a variation on a patten and I really saw pattern in the indigo-dyed pieces.
As I am currently researching and designing stationery, I was also very interested in the leather covered books, with cut leather and stitching. I saw these:
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With intricate stitching, the metallic thread makes the purple color pop from the black background in a visually pleasing manner in the above photo.
Below are other interesting examples of leather-bound books:
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All in all a really informative trip!

The project’s end

IMG_7478For the climax of the Eley Kishimoto brief, Pattern the World, I produced six repeat patterns that can be used in an interior context, e.g. wallpaper or upholstery fabric.  These were the two kinds of samples that I produced with my designs although they could also be used for different interior contexts like curtains or rugs. All of my designs are produced using Adobe, a design platform I enjoy working on because there are always new things to learn; I enjoy a technical challenge along side the challenge of the design process. It keeps me motivated and constantly on my toes, two things that I think help me make better pattern designs.

Because I’m interested in the Middle East, its cultures, customs and colours, I spent a very long time looking at different combinations of shades of blue which, while I enjoyed it very much, did make my head spin for a while.  It was a long process, and about halfway through the project I lost my way a bit and had a mini extensional crisis where I felt as if I didn’t have any designs that were appropriate. During the winter holiday, I had time to clear my head: I did some work and rethought my patterns as well as made some new ones, the majority of those which you can see in my final collection below.
I spend a large portion of my time sitting staring into space and laying out the details of my plans in my head so that then I can process everything quickly and efficiently.  I like to work quickly: I can do a week’s worth of work in a day and I usually produce a lot of work in a short amount of time.  I do love a bit of a messy start and submerging myself in my research – personally one of the things that drives me the most is my concept. I always like to have my concept set in stone before I start and that is usually the underlying drive for my projects.
For this project, my underlying concept was  based on Middle Eastern history and traditions, two things that I feel are important to highlight due to the continuing conflict in the Middle East. It is imperative to highlight some of the traditions that have been and still are so paramount in Middle Eastern culture in order to preserve them. However, in this project I have realised that sometimes concepts can be a little restricting as I found when I was struggling to complete all the tasks that had been asked of me and yet stay within all the concepts that I had set myself, self-constructed restrictions if you will.  Thankfully I realised this in time to be able to create six strong designs for the outcome of my final project, as well as stay true to myself and the concepts that drive my design process,  However, a little flexibility and fun are definitely required to make it all work.

Firstly are the three final presentation boards, concept, customer profile and context:

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Customer Profile displacementmapping

Next we have the six final designs:

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Following are more displays as to how my designs could fit into your home:

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Living Room Interior

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Here we have a second color way of red:

Blank white pillow case

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