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TexSelect 2018: Meet the Judges, Michael Angove

12 June 2018 by Nina Webb in Alumni Stories, Fashion, Features, Home, Interiors & Auto

Fine artist and textile designer Michael Angove talks about British gardens, the phoenix mentality, and how to make it as a new designer. Michael joins the TexSelect 2018 judging panel in July to select this year’s prize winners.

Welsh-born Michael Angove is the personification of his minimalist-meets-maximalist aesthetic. Just after offering a critical analysis of the design industry today, he launches into a lively story about how a scorpion once landed on his leg in Italy. As fate would have it, he’s a Scorpio himself, so he resolved to include the exotic creature, within a British landscape, in his own designs. “I’m very much an extension of my work,’ he explains. ‘My designs are flamboyant and fun – but my fine art work is much more cerebral; sometimes witty, sometimes quiet.”

Michael’s drawings developed for bespoke soft furnishings…

He’s a TexSelect veteran – initially participating when he graduated with a BA from Winchester in 1995, and again after his Royal College of Art MA in 2000. Since then, Michael has collaborated with a broad variety of brands from Agent Provocateur to Jo Malone London, producing larger-than-life chinoiseries, which always feature a hidden surprise. In 1995, he scooped the Liberty Print Prize, as well as the Marks & Spencer Breaking New Ground prize, which gave him excellent recognition, but, most importantly, led to his meeting people he’s still friends with today. While spending some time living in Italy, Michael worked for Jean Paul Gaultier and Hugo Boss before returning to England, being talent spotted by Liberty, and founding his own company. He sells his hand-drawn fine art worldwide from Hong Kong to Miami and now resides in the Wiltshire countryside, taking an occasional break from his busy work schedule to walk his Jack Russell, Audrey.

Michael’s maximalist designs are full of colour and life, whether it’s the brilliant red of roses set against a pink background in his Jo Malone packaging, or the chinoiserie of a fir tree crossed with Berberis thorn for his Agent Provocateur wallpaper. The idea of hiding something in his designs so that they tell a story – “like leaving a little breadcrumb trail” – was born out of creating wallpaper. “I wanted to have a wallpaper people didn’t get bored with… so I hid into it the beak of a bird or antenna of a bug… People phone me up two years later, and say, ‘I just found this incredible beetle on my wallpaper that I’ve never seen before!’ ”

Packaging for international beauty brand Jo Malone

His minimalist artwork, meanwhile, is influenced by his Welsh upbringing in the coastal town of Barry, an “honest, and humble and simple existence”, as he puts it. He’s currently working on a solo show of drawings of simple, Georgian articles to be exhibited in November – from sugar crushers to brooches. “This isn’t just an ordinary sugar crusher made out of glass… it’s 200 years old, it might have fed 100 people or 1000, who knows?” he muses. He wants his drawings, like his textile designs, to tell a story.

Michael’s fine art drawings…

Michael is inspired by those, like him, who “have got that strange, quirky, British sense of individual design and style.” They include Elizabeth Blackadder, a Scottish watercolourist, as well as Grayson Perry and Alexander McQueen. “There’s definitely a sense of Britishness in my own designs… I always refer back to this moment in my childhood, playing in the garden and climbing up lilac trees, finding bird’s nests and butterflies. My design work is hugely inspired by British gardens, as they’re unlike any other gardens in the world.”

Michael Angove wall coverings developed with Surface View…

His BA in textile design was very analogue. “I just had a pot of paint anda toolkit of materials. By the time I did my MA at the Royal College of Art, digital designing had really come on board… everything I did at the Royal was 100% digital.” Judging by his process, starting with 3D scans of flowers or insects – often found in his own garden – you wouldn’t have thought that he’d ever had any trouble with technology. “Back in the day, at the RCA, we had to be taught how to switch on a computer… I learned to crawl, drawing, and then learned how to run, being on a computer.”

The RCA’s logo is a phoenix, and the “rising from the ashes” idea has influenced Michael personally. “It’s that kind of mentality that you can always do better, that you can always revisit your work. That’s a part of me now, as well.”

What advice would Michael offer to young designers today? “Persevere. And try everything… digital and analogue are two different worlds, but every good designer needs a balance of both of them.” And, most importantly, he says, know your value. “Really, good design affects everything. It’s the car you drive, it’s the clothes you wear, it’s the ergonomics of the toothbrush that you use in the morning… Right now, there’s a lack of understanding about it. But we’re here to change that.”

Michael’s drawing used for a collaboration with Swedish brand, Jamida…

Michael Angove wall coverings developed with Surface View for Agent Provocateur…


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