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Textiles naturales > Blog > 2013 > September

Which fair? 3 design fairs at London Design Week – TENT – Design Junction – Decorex

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Anna Champeney exhibited at TENT 2013

When you´re thinking of going to a design fair it´s often difficult to decide which one.  Here are our impressions of 3 fairs we visited on the 21st to 23rd September 2013 and images of some of the stands.

by Anna Champeney Estudio Textil, Spain (exhibitor at TENT 2013)

TENT

Held at the Old Truman Brewery an 8 minute walk from Liverpool Street.   We were exhibiting as part of the Artesania de Galicia stand with our new collection of hand-woven textiles with natural dyes, “Soft Urban”.   The fair featured larger brands on the ground floor in the Superbrands section with smaller stands and more designer-makers and first-time exhibitors (ie – new designers breaking into the design fair scene).  The atmosphere was very friendly and open and it was great to be able to exchange information and experiences with other exhibitors.  There were quite a few textile stands including weave, knit and printed textiles.

See images of us and our stand at the Anna Champeney Estudio Textil blog here

 

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www.laurafletchertextiles.co.uk

Laura is a first time British exhibitor with a range of both hand-woven and mill-woven cushions.  She prototypes her work by hand on a small-size computer loom and has the work made up by machine looms locally.  This is now the dominant way of working for hand-weavers in the UK who find that hand-weaving functional textiles is simply not profitable enough.  Design skills are fundamental in order to be able to succeed with this model of working.

LouiseTucker

www.louisetucker.net

Louise is trained as a weave designer but the range presented at Tent used basketry techniques.  Each piece is designed and hand-made by Louise and retail at 800 pounds.   This is a revelation for most traditional basketmakers who often find it difficult to charge a realistic price for their work.  This shows how important design, choice of product and context are to craft today.

ToriMurphySevenGaugeStudios

 

www.torimurphy.com  www.sevengaugestudios.com

These are two more established British textiles designers whose work is produced nationally by small factories.  In both cases they are small companies directed and managed by their founders.  They have had more time to grow their product range than the new young designers, however, and their stands tend to be larger and more shop-like in appearance.  Tori´s designs are simple but the focus on achromatic and neutral tones and simple geometric stripes, zigzags, stars, gives it a unified brand-like “look”.  Seven Gauge Studios, specialising in knit, have a very characteristic colour palette with muted colours and neutrals.  Their blankets retail at over 200 pounds, which is quite a common priceband amongst small independent design houses and reflect the individual design process and production costs and necessary markups in order to be able to sell wholesale to upmarket interiors shops and boutiques. Entry price – As an exhibitor I had free entry but I think the show cost around 10 pounds.

DESIGN JUNCTION

Eleanor Pritchard Textiles at Design Junction, London Design Week, September 2013

Design Junction is a newer and larger design fair situated on New Oxford Street in central London, giving it a distinct advantage over TENT in some ways, although it´s my guess that it´s more expensive to exhibit at.  Smaller companies and designer-makers are featured on the ground floor in a section billed as the shop section – where one can buy direct at the fair.  I recognised Welsh blanket makers Melin Trygwynt there.  There were both designer-makers and larger companies exhibiting there.  The second and third floors had larger stand spaces and a more sophisticated feel to them and they were more directed at trade buyers.   The cost of entry was 10 pounds.

Favourite brands of mine included Eleanor Pritchard, Wallace & Sewell and Cristian Zuzunaga of Barcelona whose design range includes hand-woven textiles by Teixidors, the veyr high quality Catalan weave studio whose weavers are disabled.

zuzunaga & lubna chowdhary

http://www.zuzunaga.com and http://lubnachowdhary.co.uk (OK her work is ceramic not textile but it definitely has a textile feel to it!).

DECOREX

This third fair is held at Kensington Palace just off the Bayswater Road in the Notting Hill Gate area of London.  Unlike the previous two fairs this is more orientated at Trade only clients although the last day, Tuesday 24 September, was open to the public.  Entrance to the fair is considerably more – 25 pounds.  I´d have preferred to have paid less and not had the free fabric bag for collecting info at the fair (!).  The fair is far more classic in feel than Tent or Design Junction and I got the impression that exhibitors are far more focussed on attracting the attention of interior designers than shops as clients.  Bespoke carpet design and specialist tecno-textiles rubbed shoulders with blanket producers but the fair mainly featured furniture suppliers, fabric suppliers-by-the-metre.  Two exhibitors caught my eye, being smaller producers / designers.  However they were not as cutting-edge as designers at TENT and Design Junction.

TwigUK and Pure lana

www.twiguk.co.uk  www.purelana.com

Twig UK features over a dozen new blanket prototypes designed by the TwigUK designer-founder and then made up at a British textile mill using a standard twill pattern and rolled fringes that characterise such work.  She takes orders at the show and then liaises with the mill to make the orders up.  The distinguishing factor in the designs was the use of coloured bands in different proportions.  Pure Lana is a British-based company whose designer works with Argentinian suppliers who use hand-makers to produce the work.   I was pleased to see tea being used as a natural dye in some of the work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lotte Dalgaard and Ann Schmidt: New collaborative exhibition of innovative handwoven weave design and fashion launches in Denmark (2013)

 

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September 2013

These are some hot-off-the press images from the new exhibition by Danish hand-weave designer Lotte Dalgaard and innovative fashion designer Ann Schmidt which launched just a few weeks ago in Denmark.

Each garment in the show is a one-off piece and the result of a painstaking process of creation.  Garments are shown next to the work of a well-known Danish photographer, whose images were chosen or specially taken to complement the textiles.

The ideas for Lotte and Ann´s distinctive one-off dresses, tops and jackets often emerge from previous projects and through the act of talking ideas through.  Each garment is a design project in itself and none are destined for quantity production.  These are truly one-of-a-kind art pieces.

The process of working these ideas up into finished pieces involves lengthy and complex processes including making maquettes (in paper or fabric), sampling on the loom, modelling fabrics on a mannekin, making sketches and of course the creation of the complex weave draft which Lotte will use to weave every centimetre of the fabric in a specific way.  Shibori techniques and pressure steaming is sometimes used – depending on the fabric and the garmen – to fix the fabrics into permanent hard-edged pleats which can run vertically along the warp of the fabric or on the bias of the fabric, forming more gentle pleats.

The idea for the finished garment may be sketched out on paper for Lotte to translate onto the loom and weave into precisely considered cloth.  Instead of a uniform rectangular piece of fabric the length may include sections which are wider than others or with areas of different textures, areas woven as partial tubes, or areas which combine double fabrics which feature special joins which sometimes become fin-like elements of the design.  These features which are central to the identity of these garments – can only be developed through a close process of collaboration between fabric weaver/designerand the maker of the garments.

Interestingly, the challenge of designing garments “on the loom” has fascinated hand-weavers for centuries and has always been considered a kind of measurement of the weaver´s skill.  But perhaps, as weave is now understood by fewer and fewer people generally the accomplishment and skill is not as easily appreciated.

Collaborations like this between hand-weaver/designers like Lotte and Ann Schmidt are very rare indeed and depend not only on the right personal chemistry between the two but a shared passion and willingness to be open to and learn from the other – over a long period of time.  As such this type of collaboration truly enriches each designer-maker – in a creative rather than economic sense (as with all creative innovation and development work the sheer investment in time is hard to quantify in mere economic terms) – the divisions between the different disciplines of fashion design and hand-woven fabric design become far smaller.  The result is something truly original and innovative which it is impossible to imitate.

It is the intimate nature of the collaboration which results in such extraordinary garments which are closer to fine art or sculpture than simply fashion.

Each section of the woven fabric is sometimes precisely worked out to correspond to a particular piece of the garment design.

Sometimes Ann sews the garments up by hand – not because of a particular devotion to the hand-made but simply of a recognition that it is the best way to achieve a particular effect.

The attention to detail in these garments is phenomenal.  An example of this is how Lotte will also sometimes incorporate manual manipulation techniques when weaving for special effects.  Only weavers will appreciate the technical mastery involved but the degree of sophistication in the fabric itself can be appreciated by anyone with aesthetic sensitivity.

The Japanese-inspired jacket in the large photograph, for example, features white threads which “float” free of the main fabric in non-repeating sequences. Each floating thread is placed by Lotte by hand during the weave process.  The effect is delicate and unusual and would be impossible to achieve using industrial weaving methods.  The two different patterns on the garment are achieved on the loom simultaneously, thanks to the technique of weaving two layers of fabric at the same time on the loom – one which features the simpler, darker stripe pattern and the other featuring the floats.  The double-layers are joined, again on the loom – not using a sewing machine afterwards , which produce an additional effect.  To preserve the delicate dashed effect of the selvedge Ann Schmidt sewed some of the panels of fabric together by hand to mimic the same effect and achieve a uniform aesthetic.

Congratulations to Lotte and Ann, not only for the wonderful work, but for providing valuable role models for both the worlds of fashion and handwoven textile design.

New textiles, exhibition and collapse weave book by Lotte Dalgaard

 

110 450 pixWe are very happy to have Lotte Dalgaard with us at Textilesnaturales in north Spain at the moment, not long after the inauguration of her new collaborative exhibition in Denmark.

Lotte is an expert Danish weaver with many years of experience.  In fact Textilesnaturales´ own weave teacher, Anna Champeney, is in fact a pupil of Lotte´s.  Lotte specialises in using innovative high twist yarns in a sophisticated and advanced way.  Decades of experience and her commitment to experimentation and innovation place her in the top eschelon of European weavers today.

Textilesnaturales will soon have a couple of copies of the English version of Lotte´s book on working with innovative yarns so look out for it in the new online shop, launching 1 December 2013 so contact us if you´d like to reserve one.

If you don´t already know how Lotte works it´s worth explaining.  For she collaborates in a very interesting and unusual way with Copenhagen-based fashion designer Ann Schmidt.

Most fashion designers we know in Spain regard the craftsperson as a specialist technician who simply works up the designs.  However, fabric weavers like Lotte are designers in their own right and it is far more interesting for her to participate in collaborations based on a more creative and open philosophy which reflects a more equal partnership between weave and garment designers.

In Lotte´s case the highly unusual textile design takes precedence and conditions to a far greater extent the design of the garment, its shape, its drape and in particular the edges, particularly the detailing around the neck or arms.

But then Lotte Dalgaard´s Danish textiles are not simply rolls of flat, rectangular fabric.  These are truly original and unusual three dimensional fabrics.  They are sometimes woven in layers or shaped like books or feature fins which jut out.  They can have varying textures, thicknesses and vary in width from one section to another.  All these elements are unique to hand-woven textiles and enable Ann Schmidt to adopt a far more original approach to fashion design than would normally be possible.  The relationship between Ann and Lotte is a continuing “creative conversation” or “ping pong” with every project feeding into the next.    In fact it is difficult to say where the role of the weave designer ends and that of the fashion designer begins, and vice versa.

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The same garment laid flat enables you to appreciate the very different construction compared to conventional design

The woven edges of the fabric may be be scalloped or zigzagged or frilled and as such offer the designer the opportunity to create unusual necklines or cuffs which are loom-formed rather than cut or sewn.  This way of creative fashion is so totally different from the standard model of pattern-cutting and of course results in very different garments.

Usually the pieces are either one-off or form part of very limited series.  The results are craft haute couture, utterly unique and original and of extremely high quality.    Lotte and Ann are totally driven by their passion for experimentation and this is both the strength of their work.  It is also perhaps the reason why their work is not better known.

It also means that the work is – in Textilesnaturales´ view –  underpriced for what it is – it should really command haute couture or fine art prices.  So take note, fashionistas and coleccionistas!  Lotte and Ann´s work is still waiting to be “discovered” by the international fashion scene.

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The natural woven edge forms a beautiful and unusual zig-zag border to Lotte´s woven garments that conventional garments made using traditional pattern-cutting techniques cannot imitate.

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Another example of how the natural woven edge of a hand-woven fabric can be shaped to form an unusual neck part of a garment without complex sewing or hemming.