Liberty Art Fabrics internship marks Texprint’s first UK industry placement
28 April 2014 by TexSelect in Alumni Stories, Sponsors, Judges & Champions
With the aim of selecting and supporting emerging textile design talent, Texprint, in collaboration with long-standing sponsor Liberty Art Fabrics, has established its first industry internship in the UK, funded partly by Foundation Sponsor, The Drapers’ Company.
The first beneficiary is Texprint 2013 alumna Ffion Griffith, a graduate of Chelsea College of Art & Design. The weave designer began her year long paid internship at the start of 2014 with the title of new product development assistant. She is working on innovation for base cloths, undertaking extensive research as part of the Liberty Art Fabrics team.
Kirstie Carey, managing director, wholesale brands at Liberty, says of the internship: “I have always believed that innovation is the lifeblood of a successful business and sustained revenue growth. The investment in our innovation program at Liberty is a top priority. Bringing together the energy and fresh ideas of Ffion and the wisdom and experience of some established industry gurus, allows us to create the Liberty textiles and designs of the future. At the same time, providing an invaluable and supported introduction to the commercial world, for an outstanding young talent at the beginning of her career.”
Carey continues: “Without doubt Ffion will bring ideas and opportunities to the table. With the enthusiasm and freshness of youth, she shares new ideas that are not influenced by years of experience or commercial practicality, challenging our processes and stimulating our production and technical teams. Hers is the 'can do…’ attitude that we nurture at Liberty. During the course of the graduate intern year I anticipate that Ffion will be involved in the development, commercialisation and global launch of three new products that will generate in excess of £1million in their launch year and significantly more in subsequent years.”
Fellow Texprint sponsor The Drapers’ Company, is a co-financial supporter of the new initiative. Andrew Mellows, The Drapers’ Company head of charities, explains the impetus to get involved in the new programme: “The Drapers’ Company is aware of the difficulties involved in finding work for graduating designers today. We understand that internships are a very good way for emerging designers to get their foot in the door. This particular Liberty Art Fabrics internship is a fantastic opportunity for one of these young designers to gain valuable experience within the textile industry.”
Heritage reconsidered for a modern audience is very much the theme that links The Drapers’ Company, Liberty Art Fabrics and Texprint.
To mark this connection, in mid-March 2014 designer Ffion Griffith and Tex chairman Barbara Kennington, were given a special tour of the Drapers’ Hall in the heart of the City of London in the company of Penny Fussel, senior achivist at The Drapers’ Company, and Jane Makower, court assistant.
Ffion Griffith (right) with Jane Makower
Founded over 600 years ago to buy and sell woolen cloth in Europe, the Drapers’ Company is incorporated by Royal Charter and is one of the Twelve Great Livery Companies. Around the late 1800s The Drapers’ Company became a charity and manager of investments, primarily in land and property.
The reception and dining rooms of the Drapers’ Hall boast a wealth of decorative pieces, including many fabrics, tapestries, wallpapers, carvings and carpets specially commissioned from renowned manufacturers past and present such as Crace & Sons, Richard Humphries Weavers, Aubusson, and Morris & Co.
The Drapers' Hall, City of London
“The Drapers’ strong belief in heritage and traditions feeds into our activities across all the sectors,” says Jane Makower, “including textiles; our internal textile working party was established to initiate pilots of textile-related schemes, in the main focused on encouraging young people to develop creative and hands-on skills in the workplace.”
Liberty is similarly grounded by its heritage and story. Ffion Griffith’s first project with Liberty Art Fabrics was to research and develop new base cloths for the internationally renowned Liberty print collections. In at the deep end, Ffion already feels she has learnt so much, visiting Premiere Vision and Texworld in February, and exploring the amazing Liberty archive resource.
She is now working with new head of design Tessa Birch on the brief for spring/summer 2016, and also with Emma Mawston who heads up the new Home Textiles division, developing designs for throws, blankets and cushions.
By working with Liberty Art Fabrics for 12 months Ffion will be fully immersed in the whole seasonal cycle, tracking the creative process from research and exhibition visits, to sketch and print development, to production and presentations to buyers – an extraordinary insight, and a great advantage when it comes to the next steps in her career development.
“The Texprint programme has been a huge help in guiding me at the very start of my career and developing my commercial understanding,” says Ffion, “ had it not been for Texprint, I would not be in the position I’m in today.”
We look forward to catching up with Ffion following her next 9 months at Liberty Art Fabrics.
One of Ffion's sketchbooks, photo taken at Texprint London event 2013