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Texprint 2015: Notebook from London

6 July 2015 by Roger Tredre in Fashion, Home, Interiors & Auto, Sponsors, Judges & Champions

Here’s the inside story of Texprint London 2015, from the interview process to show time at the annual exhibition.

Texprint’s London preview was staged during the hottest weather in Britain in many a long year – the sun was truly shining on Texprint 2015.

The 24 young talents chosen for Texprint every year are selected from designers graduating from textiles courses at UK universities and colleges. The methodical and rigorous interview process is time-consuming but hugely beneficial to the young designers, even those who don’t make the final cut. Amy Bairstow, from Bradford, who was one of the final 24, says: “The interview was so helpful, like a tutorial. I thought at the time that whatever happens, it’s been a blessing already.”

Interview panel: Tessa Birch (Liberty Arts Fabrics), Sandy MacLennan (East Central Studio), Joanna Bowring (Texprint), Peter Westcott (Westcott Studio), Peter Ring-Lefevre (Texprint) and interviewee

Texprint creative director Peter Ring-Lefevre and panels of industry professionals interview 200 designers, proposed by their colleges, over a period of four weeks. From the final 24 designers, a panel of distinguished judges selects the Texprint award winners in four categories: Fashion, Interiors, Colour, Pattern.  The shortlist was announced on June 30, but the winners are not revealed until Première Vision on September 16 (the Texprint designers exhibit at Première Vision Designs, the specialist design show formerly titled Indigo, that sits within the main PV and is a major sponsor of Texprint).

Sarah Lowry (Aston Martin Lagonda) with designer Anja Alexandersdottir

On the hot, humid last day of June, the judges meet at the Texprint London showcase held at Chelsea College of Arts to review the designers’ work. Watching them at work and then in discussion is fascinating. For each award category, the judges take it in turns to give their thoughts and highlight a few names. Sarah Lowry, colour & materials designer at Aston Martin Lagonda, starts off, confident and assured in her observations, with precisely observed comments that appreciate the degree of research and thought that has gone into the work on display.

Julie Hall (Bedeck) talks with designer Jessica Pickard

She’s followed by Julie Hall, head of design at Bedeck, which specialises in textiles for bedding and bathroom. Hall has a strong eye for colour and admires simple but sophisticated work. She also has a new special Bedeck award to consider.

Then, joining the judges from Paris, there’s the very experienced Ariane Bigot, associate fashion director of Pascaline Wilhelm, working directly with Première Vision. She has an encyclopaedic knowledge of work on display at PV in previous years to draw on for reference and comparison.

Ariane Bigot (Première Vision) reviews the work of Alex Pengelly

And finally it is the turn of couturier Nicholas Oakwell – one of London’s most in-demand designers – always warm and generous in his judgements, looking debonair and elegant in suit and tie on even this sweltering day.

Nicholas Oakwell (Nicholas Oakwell Couture) talks with designer Bryony Bushe

The enthusiasm of the judges for the designers’ work is palpable. The complementary adjectives pile up: beautiful, powerful, intelligent, strong, sophisticated, outstanding, refined – even “extraordinaire”. A sketchbook full of “amazing” ideas is highlighted. A judge nips back to the Texprint stands to review again one of the designers. The afternoon seems to flash by; steadily, agreement is reached – with no raised voices or fisticuffs!

Peter Ring-Lefevre, creative director of Texprint, believes this year’s group of young designers is pleasingly well balanced. “Some years, print can tend to dominate, but there is slightly less print and mixed media for 2015. Knitwear, for example, is strong, and there is interesting embroidery.”

Ring-Lefevre has one slight concern about the impact of the internet and social media – are these new omnipresent influences affecting the creative process negatively? “It’s a big talking point. The concern is that there may be less free-spirited thinking when you are being constantly bombarded by the internet.”

24 Texprint 2015 designers with Texprint management team

The following day, July 1, is even warmer outside, but the Texprint exhibition space in Chelsea’s Triangle building, is pleasantly cool. The guest list for the early morning VIP breakfast is a Who’s Who of the textile industry.

Professor Jane Rapley, Honorary Trustee of Texprint Council, is an early arrival. “It’s really interesting talking to individual designers,” she says. “Some are very switched on and well informed, while some still need some additional guidance. That’s where Texprint plays such an essential role in preparing the designers for the switch from college.”

Andrea Ferrero, Alfredo Marengo and Louise Somers (all Miroglio) review the work of designer Emma McCluskey

A first-time visitor is Alfredo Marengo, commercial director of Italy’s Miroglio Textile. “It’s really interesting to see lots of talent. Not everyone is right for us, but we are focusing on two or three who have the skills and are already full of potential.”

Designer Stephanie Rolph talks with Andrew Croll and Marie Parsons (both Nike)

Influential print designer Sarah Campbell, who judged Texprint in 2014, says: “The designers are so articulate about their work. They’ve had such an opportunity to experiment – I’m feeling rather envious.”

Designer Ciaran Moore talks with Chiara Pozzi (Pozzi Como) and Federico Colombo (Penn Italia)

In many cases, the designers find out they’ve been selected for Texprint only days before the London show, so many of them are still adjusting to their success. Nicola Costello, a weaver from the University of Huddersfield, says: “I couldn’t stop shaking – I didn’t believe it.”

Sandy Verdon (Hobbs), centre, and team review work

The shaking is over. These designers have earned their place in the spotlight. And the show now moves on to Paris in September.

James Crockatt, Prime Warden of the Worshipful Company of Dyers, an important supporter of Texprint, puts the work of Texprint in context: “One of the constant conundrums is how to bridge the gap from any creative degree to the real world. At the end of the course, you have to earn a living.” And that’s exactly why Texprint exists.

Texprint 2015 designers: Anja Alexandersdottir, Amy Bairstow, Amy Bennett, Emma Brooks, Bryony Bushe, Áine Byrne, Shivani Chavda, Nicola Costello, Emily Grieves, Yasmin Hussain, Jessica Leclere, Emily Maddox, Emma McCluskey, Ciaran Moore, Ellie Pashley, Alex Pengelly, Jessica Pickard, Joanna Robins, Stephanie Rolph, Alice Selwood, Richard Szuman, Hanna Vinlöf Nylén, Rozanna Walecki, Gilles Werbrouck.

Stephanie Binoist (Première Vision) reviews work

Peter Westcott (Westcott Studio) talks with designer Emma McCluskey

Designer Shivani Chavda shows her work to Edwina Ehrman (V&A Museum)

Designer Emily Grieves shows her work to Lorenze Mosca (Ratti)

Katie Dominy (Arts Thread) talks with designer Alice Selwood

Alumna display: Emma Sewell (alumna 1990) of Wallace Sewell

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