Last Thursday we had a talk by Lisa Salama who until 6 months ago was the Head Embroidery Designer at Mary Katrantzou and now works freelance. It was great to hear from particularly an embroidery designer about how she got into the industry, how her career has developed and the path she has chosen to take now. It was also really inspiring to hear someone talk about the same ideas and have the same perspective on embroidery as myself and, that she was lucky enough to have a job where she could push those ideas. As a designer I enjoy pushing the boundaries of embroidery, questioning what it can be and its great to hear that there are companies in industry who really value that approach. Although she did say the design approach was becoming more commercial at Mary Katrantzou but the designs are still more experimental than most. Lisa talked about how the design was pushed to the limit for the show pieces and then toned down for commercial sale, which was something I hadn't thought much about in the past. I also thought it was interesting that Mary as a designer does not respond to embroidery artwork drawings and prefers samples to see how a design would work which is generally how I work when producing design ideas. Lisa also spoke about how her job had changed from simply designing in house to then being responsible for overseeing production at the factories and how important the critical path was for production. After listening to Lisa's presentation and having a small group tutorial with her afterwards I have come away with some key points to remember when producing my work which are the following:

  • Don't get too emotionally attached to an idea -  I've been informed designers can and will change their minds last minute sometimes resulting in you having to start again
  • Be open to material ideas - Anything and everything could be a potential material!
  • Be open to techniques - especially industrial ones, Vacuum forming for example.
  • Make your own components -  Don't just use beads/sequins for decoration and to fill designs.
  • Make people question how something is created whilst keeping it pleasing to the eye.
  • Source from everywhere - Ideas/inspiration/materials, everything!
  • Consider finishings - We were informed this was a key element in fashion.

It has made me more eager than ever to start some sampling work and with embroidery inductions taking place this week I'm excited to be able to start using the industrial machines available. From then I can see what I can start to come up with and just need to remember to see the potential in everything...

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