A Reflection on Making Connections

At the start of this project, I was intrigued by designing for children because I hadn’t done it before, and in particular, I hadn’t really considered designing for boys. I grew up with a little brother, so had a sort of idea of what boys enjoyed. To give myself more of an idea of boys interior’s, I researched on WGSN and looked at shops and brands who sell children’s interiors. I discovered that there are more products for girls, perhaps because of the stereotype that interior design or nice looking things are for girls. This was exactly the reason I wanted to design for boys – to get away from pinks and use bright colours!

In the autumn term, my theme was quite wide, including gardening as well as creepy crawlies. After a few samples involving garden tools and vegetables, I realised that young boys wouldn’t want their bedrooms covered in vegetables – in fact in most cases they would probably hate it! As for the garden tools – I concluded that they probably wouldn’t be interested in those either, it’s more of an adult design than for children.

My collection has designs that involve digital design, print and stitch, some more than others as appropriate. I started off in stitch, learning how to use the digital stitch software and machines. I enjoyed learning a new technique, and got a digitally stitched bee out of it! While I wasn’t learning digital, I was using stitch techniques I learnt in first year and created another bee. I think this was the point that I decided I wanted to focus on bugs, as most boys have an explorer in their nature, and discovering bugs fulfils that sense of exploration.

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Digitally Stitched Bee
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Free Machine Embroidered Bee

 

This term, I didn’t visit the stitch room very often, in fact only once to make a digitally stitched appliqué of a ladybird, that would perhaps be the feature point of a cushion within my collection. I didn’t want to involve too much stitch in this collection, as I was wary of the stitch making it too ‘girly’ which is normally a negative thing for a young boy. This is why I used appliqué, so the whole bug wasn’t completely stitched.

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Digital Stitch Appliqué Ladybird

Print is where the vegetable and garden tools samples were created, and I screen printed a couple of designs. I am glad that I realised quite early on that bugs were to be the focus of the collection, I just needed to explore which bugs to use in my designs and how they would be drawn. I did a few drawings of bees, snails, ladybirds and some other bugs, and with a couple, in particular the bee, I did a detailed botanical drawing at first and then gradually simplified the bug. I think this was a successful way of drawing bugs for boys, as it took into account the features of each insect, but it was suitable for children. I did some lino prints of bees in the autumn term, but for me, the outcome wasn’t the type of design I wanted to create, so I decided to stick with screen printing and maybe explore other printing methods.

This term, I decided to give potato printing a go! I used potatoes that had been forgotten about so were no good to eat, and carved little insects into them. I was pleased with the outcome of my potato prints, however I think I should have done them in more than just black. At the time, all I was using them for was to scan in and create designs for screens, but I could have created some lovely prints in colour. The screen prints that resulted from the potato prints however, were successful! I really liked the texture that the potatoes gave to the designs, and I liked how it was unpredictable with each print. I added french knots to some of the bugs as eyes to give them a little character.

Towards the end of the term, I started to develop some digital designs using Illustrator, focusing on bees, ladybirds, caterpillars and spiders. For the bee and ladybird, I used motifs similar to those from the potato prints, simply because I was pleased with how they looked and was happy to keep that motif.

I am very pleased with my digital designs, and I impressed myself, as I had hardly used Photoshop and Illustrator since the digital module in first year. It came back to me very quickly! I like my use of simple shapes, and the change in scale used to create the designs. One of my favourites is the one that features both bees and ladybirds, as it brings all the other separate designs together, so a customer could have something in that design and then one of the bee designs and one of the ladybird designs, and it would work. I also really like the leaves that are just an outline – which happened completely by accident! It gives a focus to the caterpillars, which was ideal as the focus of the collection is on the bugs. However, I would like to go back into my digital designs and add some texture into a few parts of the designs, as quite a lot of Scion’s designs involve texture.

Looking back on the module as a whole, there are lots of things I am happy with, such as my appliqué ladybird, and a lot of my digital designs, but there are things I could improve on. I need to draw more, to develop my motifs more. I think I could also go back to screen printing and create some prints that match with my digital designs, giving a more complete and matching feeling to the collection. I have learnt that designing for children is harder than it looks, and that things can’t be left until last minute anymore. Planning ahead is the key to avoiding stress!

Displacement Maps

To show what my designs would look like on real items, I can use Photoshop to transpose my designs onto the objects and furnishings they have been designed for.

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The cushion was my first attempt at creating a displacement map, and I am really pleased with it! It took a few watches of the tutorial but I eventually got the hang of it. I think it’s a really effective way of showing what a design will look like in situ!

I really like the design I have put onto the blind! I think it really suits the blind, but perhaps the repeat would look better slightly smaller, to fit more of it in. The repeat on the bed definitely needs to be smaller, as hardly any ladybirds fit on! I like how the image I chose features colours very similar to those in the design.

The patterns featured on the curtains co-ordinate with the design on the blind, and I think they work very well on the curtains, because they are both stripes, that use a feature of the original pattern.

Chelsea Harbour Interior Showrooms

On Thursday, the whole Level 5 cohort took a trip down to London, primarily to visit Chelsea Harbour Interior Showrooms. The building itself was beautiful, comprised of three atriums with the showrooms around the edges over multiple floors.

I found myself particularly drawn to fabrics with stitch on them, because I enjoy texture. I had forgotten how much I like to feel fabrics! I spent a lot of time making oohs and aahs at the feel of materials throughout the day. The first things I saw which I loved were the cushions pictured below – I loved the colours and style of imagery, and could imagine owning this pair!

Something I saw a lot of was textured carpets/rugs, where the height of the carpet varies to create interesting shapes and shadows, and they were mostly geometric. I also really loved this feather covered wall!

These fabrics really reminded me of Josef Frank’s designs, with the bright, contrasting colours!

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I loved both of these fabrics, and I think the one with the pink background was my favourite of the whole day! I loved how the pattern was created with a straight stitch, just up and down, creating a rough outline to the motifs – as well as adoring the colours. I like the floral fabric because of all the embroidery stitches used – it would have never occurred to me to design something using only hand stitching.

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The orange and blue cushions stood out to me because of the colours – they work well alongside the designs, as well as the trims (which I am really attracted to!). I loved the floral cushions, as they reminded me of cross stitch, which is becoming popular again! It also reminded me of a pixelated image, a simplified version of a picture – but not normally done on purpose! I really wanted to get myself one of these!

I also came across these designs, from a collection called ‘Jaipur’. It reminded me of my time in Jaipur during the second field module, and I think the essence of Jaipur was captured within the collection.

I fell in love with this chair! The foiling combined with the blue teal colour are to die for – there were so many things at the showrooms I wanted to buy!

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I think the day at the Chelsea Harbour Interior Showrooms was useful for me, as it made me remember what I enjoy about textiles, as well as seeing current trends and how collections are put together. I think it has informed and inspired some of my future work too!

Repeating Patterns

After a talk on different types and structures of repeats, we completed a task showing three different types of repeating patterns. I created a block, half drop and mirrored half drop repeat, using a simple spider motif.

We were also shown how to create a perfectly repeating pattern using the lightbox. It was useful to learn this, as I now understand how a croquis can turn into a perfect repeat (with a lot of adjusting!).

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My Perfectly Repeating Bee Pattern

Potato Print Screen Prints!

After using my scanned in potato prints to create designs in Photoshop, I exposed them to a screen so I could print them.

I am pleased with my prints, especially the caterpillars and bee/ladybird designs that use two different colours. I didn’t plan to use two different colours for them but managed to do so by taping out the parts I didn’t want printed, and above, you can see the caterpillar design halfway through. I realised just before printing that for the ladybirds and bees to be more accurate I should have exposed the opposite parts but I think it works well even though the colour is where it should be black! I like the motifs I have used here, and think I will continue to use them.

Colour Matching

As part of our croquis exercises, we had to find a design that came in two or more colourways, paint up colour chips for each and compare dominant and similar colours. The design I chose is from a collection by Scion, my chosen hypothetical design brief company. I chose this design because it was one I could get a few free sample of as well as me loving owls!

The dominant colour in each colour way is different on each design, and gives each one a different feel. For example, the colour way with the pale pink gives a girly feel to the design, whereas the ones with blue and green feel more boyish or grown up. Apart from the base beige and white, there is one blue that is consistent throughout all four colourways, linking them together. My favourite colour way is the third shown, with the mustard yellow and blues and greens. I am really loving that tone of yellow at the moment!

Croquis Designs

After learning what a croquis design is, and what purpose it serves (a rough draft, which most textile designs are first created as, only implying repeat), the group was set a task to complete a set of painted croquis designs. I used a caterpillar motif, linking my croquis’ to my theme.

My original design used quite bright colours, so for my two colour ways, I wanted to use more muted tones; as different clients would be looking for a different feel. For the mixed media design, I used the same colours as my original design, with tissue paper and fabric. I liked the texture this gave the design.

There are some improvements that I would make to my designs, the first being eyes! The caterpillars look a bit life and characterless, which is a bit strange for a children’s range. Also, on the designs where the legs and antenna are black, they stand out, being the place where the eye is drawn to first. The grey colour on colour way 2 is more subtle and looks better.

I really like my bee design, I think the simplicity works well; as well as the colours. The one improvement I would make is the drop in the pattern, but as croquis are only an indication of repeat, it isn’t too much of an issue. I like the ladybird design, but again it has no eyes, making it a bit characterless. I also had a bit of an issue getting used to using a ruling pen to get a thin outline!

Croquis are a very good way of creating a design without it being a perfect repeat, taking a lot less time and giving you an idea of whether it is a successful design or not.