ComOn: the designer’s view from Como
20 November 2014 by Roger Tredre in Fashion, Sponsors, Judges & Champions
Eight Texprint designers enjoyed seven-week internships this autumn at the heart of Como with some of the finest textile companies in Italy. It's part of the ComOn Creativity Sharing initiative, now in its eighth year. We summarise what they got up to and asked one Texprint designer, Frieda Peppercorn, for her feedback.
From left: Ailis Dewar, James Skinner, Charlotte Beevor, Frieda Peppercorn, Jane Zhang and Charlotte Kidger
The Italian companies that generously invited Texprint designers included Erica, Setere Argenti, I.S.A., Canepa, Lisa, Taiana, Tiare and Boselli. Chiara Pozzi of Textra, who is on the ComOn select committee, came to Texprint London earlier this year to personally select the eight. Texprint creative director Peter Ring-Lefevre once again coordinated and supported the designers on their trip.
Enjoying an Italian gelato!
Texprint designer Frieda Peppercorn says: “My internship was at Argenti, a digital printing company which is a short bus ride away from Como. They print for everyone from high end to high street brands. It was quite a contrast to my usual work because I was designing solely on Photoshop. It was so great to see the work all printed out once I had finished. It's so fast paced – a huge factory churning out print after print.”
She adds: “The work I produced may be presented to their clients in the next few weeks, so I could potentially see my designs in the shops next summer. This whole trip has opened my eyes to the textile manufacturing world as I really had no knowledge and experience of it.”
Another Texprint designer, Ailis Dewar, enjoyed herself too: “I have absolutely loved my time in Como and I am very sad to be leaving. I was working with Tiare, which specialises in high-end technical woven and printed fabrics and has a star-studded clientele! I started getting to know past collections in the archives of the company and researching upcoming trends, then moved on to factory trips and fabric/yarn meetings. The last month has been spent heavily involved in the S/S16 collection, creating hand-drawn designs and colourways. The experience has given me a very structured insight into the design process at industry level.”
Designers preparing for their Creativity Week presentation
One of the highlights of the interning is the Creativity Week, part of ComOn, which opened on October 6 with various workshops and launching 'Poems written on Paper Boats' on Lake Como. There were visits to Ratti and Canepa with their internationally highly regarded textile archives and printing facilities. A Streetscape3 Art project was launched involving local artists making art installations, sculptures and huge wall paintings around Como streets and buildings.
Frieda Peppercorn says: “Creativity Week was great fun. I loved visiting Ratti, such a fantastic place, so vast and so passionate about new and exciting printing and weaving techniques. We could see lots of drawing and painting going on in the design offices. It was so fascinating to see the vast production using more or less the same machinery and techniques that we have at university, but of course on a much larger scale and just a little more high tech!”
She notes: “I also loved visiting Curve Pericolose which was a small lingerie design studio, just a few rooms where they design and produce prototypes. Such a successful business all situated in this little house. I love the variety of textile manufacturing here, from vast factories like Ratti to small studios like Curve Pericolose.”
Cristina Vigano of Argenti, and part of the ComOn team, organised once again an exhibition of innovative fashion garments and accessories created by Como fashion schools and displayed in the Antonio Ratti Cultural Space.
With Margherita Rosina at the Antonio Ratti Foundation archives
The Creative Sharing programme for the interns included visits to the Como Silk Museum, Antonio Ratti Foundation and archives where there was a retrospective on Emilio Pucci. Other highlights included a TrendsOn presentation by Nelly Rodi's Paris office and a visit to Serico's textile lab offices.
Emilio Pucci retrospective on show at Antonio Ratti Foundation
Texprint designers also joined ComOn designers from other countries for a two-day seminar run by David Shah, publisher of Textile View magazine and a well-known industry consultant who has long supported Texprint. This year's challenge from David was 'Nostalgia'. Each designer was asked in advance to prepare and present their four chosen 'Nostalgia' subjects from 1920 to 1990. Four groups were then created across nationalities, each with a tutor steering the proceedings. David reworked these groups into four based on similar cultural backgrounds: the British, the Northern Europeans and two Italian groups. The results were later presented by David under the title, 'The Passion for Nostalgia', at a ComOn event at the Chamber of Commerce.
Working with David Shah
For Frieda, the project was another highlight of the trip. “David really got us thinking. The task was very tricky: it was a really good exercise trying to think about what the world will be like in 20 years time.”
Peter Ring-Lefevre of Texprint concludes: “The Como textile industry has really set a world-class precedent in organising some 20 internships for young textile graduates. The global textile industry should take note of the success of this initiative. This kind of relationship is crucial for the industry's future, ensuring a constant flow of raw, bold and innovative textile creativity.”
Archives at Canepa