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Meet the judges: Sarah Lowry, colour & materials designer at Aston Martin Lagonda

16 June 2015 by Roger Tredre in Home, Interiors & Auto, Sponsors, Judges & Champions

We talk to Texprint judge Sarah Lowry, colour & materials designer at luxury British sports car manufacturer Aston Martin Lagonda.

The distinguished judging line-up for Texprint 2015 includes designers from many different categories. It’s great to welcome Sarah Lowry from the automotive sector this year.

As colour & materials designer at Aston Martin Lagonda, she has a demanding, varied job that requires a complex set of creative skills.

How did you start out professionally?

Having studied for a masters in woven textiles at the Royal College of Art, a group of us were awarded funding by the John Dunsmore Travel Scholarship to work with women in rural Nepal weaving with nettle fibre. I have always loved making products, and so back in the UK I was keen to get experience in manufacturing and was lucky enough to get a job as the carpet designer at Botany Weaving Mill, Dublin, which produces textiles for the airline industry. From there I went to work as a C+M designer for the airline industry at JPA Design, London.

Were you always interested in the auto industry?

I was always interested in materials, design and process. These passions are what naturally brought me to automotive after working as a C+M designer in the airline industry.

What are the specific challenges of designing for Aston Martin?

Our customers expect the very highest quality materials and we have to ensure the car looks fantastic, whilst still meeting our program timing, the specific industry testing standards and not forgetting production feasibility. It’s a challenge!

How important is it for you (and Texprint of course) to support the next generation of designers?

It is hugely important. At Aston Martin we offer internships, but for me it is more than that. The industry always needs fresh ideas and outlooks. Our next generation consistently bring these ­– and we will always need them.

What do you look for in great design?

In great design I look for something that does one or more of the following: introduces new techniques and processes, brings people together, creates more sustainable manufacturing methods or encourages us to question what we thought we already knew.

Why is the UK educational system so good at producing design talent?

We are an island and as a nation I think we are very proud of our individuality, striving to be different. We attract people from all over the world to our art colleges. This results in our students taking inspiration from many different cultures. The UK colleges are a melting point of ideas and determination to stand out from the crowd.

Can you explain the parameters of your job? 

In the C+M Design department we develop the colour and material strategy for specific programs and for the cross car line material offerings. Among many, this includes designing materials such as leather, quilting, veneers, exterior paints and metal finishes. In order to deliver our designs we liaise with external suppliers. We also work with different internal departments to make sure we are aligned with the exterior and interior design, product marketing and program timing. All this  is while making sure we are up to date with the latest trends.

Bespoke Aston Martin DB9 produced by the Aston Martin Q team

What's a typical day like for you?

One of the elements I love about my work is that there is not a typical day. Just to give an idea, one day last week involved tasks such as approving sample colours, creating a spec for marketing cars, reviewing the gloss level requirements of a finish with the quality department, reviewing the colour strategy for an engine bay and meeting with a supplier to discuss their latest developments.

Where do you find your inspiration?

When I was studying I often got the best ideas for a new sample when I was weaving other samples, when I wasn’t looking for inspiration. I find inspiration in the gaps, those moments that we almost do not notice.

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TexSelect is a registered charity, entirely funded by the generous sponsorship of industry, by British charitable foundations, and by individuals connected to the industry. All believe wholeheartedly in supporting the next generation of textile design talent and in encouraging innovation and excellence.

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