Meet the Alumna: Irene Infantes, Print Designer
13 August 2018 by Meghna Sarkar in Alumni Stories, Features, Home, Interiors & Auto
Spanish designer Irene Infantes made a big impact with TexSelect in 2016 with her large-scale experimental and richly textured artisanal wool designs. We asked her what’s happened since then.
Back in 2016, Irene Infantes, who studied Print for her Textile Design BA at Central Saint Martins, was selected for the TexSelect programme which took her to London and Paris. Her work is large scale and ambitious, exploring abstract geometric shapes, combining screen printing and needle-punch felting.
It’s two years since you were with TexSelect (formerly Texprint). How did the experience change you – and help you? It helped me in many ways, but most importantly I learned how to price my work and how to protect it – a lot about copyright and the ways of dealing with customers. Also about looking professional and feeling secure about my work’s value. It definitely changed the way I look at the textile industry. I learned so much about how it operates.
Tell us about what has happened since then. What projects have you been working on recently? After Texprint, I exhibited at the London Design Festival and, thanks to that, the rug company I am now collaborating with – Christopher Farr (www.christopherfarr.eu) – contacted me. Thanks to Texprint, I have also been selling my work with Surface View (www.surfaceview.co.uk), which helped me in a very positive way as I was featured in Homes & Gardens magazine. And I sold a couple of my pieces for a Netflix and BBC1 upcoming series called Wanderlust.
Sample work for Christopher Farr rugs…
I have been exhibiting and selling my work in different spaces in the UK and in Europe, including the Museum of Arts & Design in Hamburg, the Lethaby Gallery at Central Saint Martins, the London Business Design Centre, the MoOD innovative materials fair in Brussels and Première Vision in Paris.
I recently worked with a women’s association in Spain where I painted a mural for their offices for International Women’s Day 2018 representing women’s strength. I have also been commissioned to paint an eight-metre mural in Seville for the Contemporary Art Festival next May: I am working at the moment on all the prep for that.
Painting a mural for International Women’s Day 2018…
Has your own design aesthetic evolved since you left college?
The size has definitely changed as I’m not able to print at that scale in my studio, but the aesthetic is still colourful and bold. I’m trying to play more now with shadows and layers so the viewer have more of a 3D impression when looking at the pieces. But I still like to mix organic shapes with lines and geometry.
Your work is indeed often very large scale. Is this a problem? How do you ‘sketch’ or plan your designs? Yes, I love big scale, even if it takes longer to make and produce. I like the idea of people moving their eyes around when looking at my pieces. Even if I reduce or increase the scale, the process is still the same. From an idea, I start researching, then I take photos. after that I draw and paint until I get to the final design.
Big scale is obviously more time-consuming than small pieces, but I am always more satisfied with the final outcome from the big ones.
One of the finished murals…
Where do you find your inspiration? Does your Spanish heritage inspire your colours and work? I find inspiration in almost everything, as I believe it’s not about a thing but the way you look at it. However, I definitely feel passionate about heritage, ancestry and symbolism, even if my art and design can look very geometrical or with a digital look. There is always a story behind it, a time in history – I usually get inspired by the past rather than the future.
My Spanish heritage has certainly inspired me. I am from Seville, in southern Spain, where it’s sunny most of the time and we see lots of bright colours. The streets are full of orange and lemon trees. As kids, we would play on the streets all the time, painting stones with colours we made out of flowers, grass or sand.
I am very interested in Spanish materials – for example, my Texprint collection in 2016 was based on Spanish merino wool. I’m also interested in Spanish craft: my grandfather José was amazing at palm-leaf craft, and I would spend hours looking at him while making bags. I sadly still regret I never learned that skill from him.
What are your plans for the future? The collection of rugs I designed for Christopher Farr are selling in London, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, which is so exciting. Also, I have been working on a project to create a limited edition of large-scale wall hangings and throws that will launch next September. And I’m working on new pieces for my series titled Envoltorios that investigates the memory of paper and fabric, about how much a wrinkle can tell us about the past of both materials – that’s for my first solo exhibition next October in Seville.
Irene at work in her studio…