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Texprint alumna’s story: Ffion Griffith, Liberty

15 March 2015 by Roger Tredre in Alumni Stories, Fashion, Sponsors, Judges & Champions

Ffion Griffith was a Texprint designer in 2013 and went from us to a year-long internship at Liberty Art Fabrics that has worked out in the best possible way – with a full-time job as a print and innovative fabric designer.

Texprint has benefited from a long-term connection with sponsor Liberty Art Fabrics. Emma Mawston, Head of Design for Interiors, is a Texprint Council member. Ffion reports to Tessa Birch, formerly print director at Diane von Furstenberg, now Liberty Head of Design for Fabrics.

Tessa Birch says the benefits are two-way: “It’s an honour and privilege to work with Texprint. The calibre of the students is outstanding – Ffion is now an exceptional asset to our team. And Texprint is also a very important part of the design community at large.”

The work Ffion showed at Texprint back in 2013 was outstanding – aiming to revive traditional Welsh weave in an original way, fusing a contemporary colour palette with urban patterning and championing the rich and luxurious qualities of natural fibres. She won the Space Prize for the best fabric design for Interiors.

Two years on, she says Texprint played a pivotal role in her career. “It enabled me to make the crucial step into a highly competitive and relatively small industry,” she recalls. Time for a catchup!

Has your style changed since your graduation collection?

My graduate collection focused on woven interior products such as blankets, upholstery and carpets. These derived from my wish to preserve and promote a threatened Welsh weaving technique.

Heritage and tradition have always played an important part in my work. This passion is equally fulfilled working at Liberty Art Fabrics with its rich textile heritage and priceless archive of over 40,000 articles.

Despite now focusing on textile prints for the fashion market, in my work the same principles apply – thorough research of creative techniques from a variety of sources influencing and inspiring my design work.

Tell us about your job now and how it came about.

My job as a print and innovative fabric designer has evolved from the role I was awarded as a Texprint internship in January 2014. The ‘Fabric Innovation’ internship was an opportunity generously sponsored by the Drapers Company. Quite a few changes happened at Liberty Art Fabrics during the year, including a new Head of Design and I have gradually become more involved in different aspects of the design process.

Ffion with colleagues on the Liberty Art Fabrics stand at Premiere Vision, wearing prints from the range

Tell us about your Texprint memories.

Exhibiting in both London and Paris provided a priceless platform for my work to be seen by industry professionals. And opportunities such as working in a textile mill in Como, Italy allowed me to learn a great deal about the commercial aspects of the industry and to establish a network of professional contacts. As well as the numerous doors it opens, being one of the chosen 24 designers was paramount in giving me confidence, encouragement and belief that I could succeed as a designer within the industry.

Where did you grow up? How did you become interested in textiles and design?

I grew up in rural Wales where – although not as prevalent as they used to be – woven textile mills have an importance in national pride. As I child, I visited these woollen mills but soon realised that the industry was in decline. It was not until my second year of university reading French and Russian that I realised I could no longer turn my back on my textile heritage and made the decision to change courses.

Where did you study before Texprint?

Before Texprint, I studied Textile Design at Chelsea College of Art. The course was extremely open to one’s own direction and interpretation, which allowed for a journey of creative self discovery. I was drawn to specialise in woven textiles and thoroughly enjoyed myself spending hours weaving at the top of the college building, with Big Ben in sight and the clatter of the old manual looms on a repeating soundtrack.

Describe a typical working day at Liberty Art Fabrics.

Describing a typical day is impossible as no two are the same. From organising photoshoots to drawing at Kew, meeting new fabric suppliers, making garments and meeting with interesting customers such as Brora and Nike.

A particular highlight for me is the creatively nurturing and inspiring atmosphere in the studio. I am continuously learning new things and am challenged on a daily basis. I have also been fortuitous enough to have travelled with the Design Team on some inspirational trips to both Berlin and Istanbul.

Ffion (left) with colleagues and Tessa Birch (right) – a behind the scenes shot from the spring summer 2016 look book

Besides print, what else are you interested in? 

I am fascinated by travel and am lucky enough to have not only seen many European countries but to have travelled to Russia, Japan, China and Hong Kong. As I am working fulltime, my travel ambitions are now limited. But as London is the most multicultural city in the world the opportunities to explore different cultures are endless.

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