Graduates to watch
Spanish textile designer Irene Infantes is not the only textile graduate to watch out for. ‘This year’s textiles graduates are a talented lot, but the cream of the crop use their textile training as the base to explore other media,’ says design critic Corinne Julius, as she selects five of London’s best textile graduates, with promising multidisciplinary futures, for COVER magazine:
From Central St Martins, Bo Mi Hwang has concerns about the volume of plastic in the environment. Let Me See-Through, her laser-cut lacy textiles in bright colours, incorporate recyclable plastic materials such as plastic bottles, fruit nets and protective meshes for bottles. Looking through the layers is rather like looking through a shop window, her inspiration for the work. ‘I started my adventure through photographing the distortions created by the designs and letterings embedded on the glass. In order to preserve the transparent features of the glass, I explored multiple techniques to incorporate plastic in my work.’ Hwang uses ruching and a contemporary smocking to create a 3D effect, interweaving the fabric using plastic straps, produced from her own custom-made plastic bottle cutter.
From the RCA, Jie Wu’s intricate wood and resin boxes, with their swirling patterns and intense colours, are complete worlds in and of themselves. ‘Their patterns,’ she says, ‘are born out of the wrestling dance of the organic and the plastic in various experiments.’ She investigates the inherent potential of the materials and seeks to find new ways of using plastics. Her work Living in the Anthropocene is a political comment on the way man pollutes the natural world. ‘The world has become human-made,’ says Wu, whose work interrogates what human beings value and undervalue. Her colour inspiration comes from the work of David Hockney and fashion designer Peter Pilotto.
RCA graduate Sam Wilde specialises in bold, ornate, immersive, fantastical, repeat prints based on the natural world, and as he says, ‘the magic of nature’. Wilde originally read Natural Sciences at Durham, followed by a stint as a senior trader, before graduating with a Textiles Print MA from the RCA. His collections, which he produces under the brand name Vespertine, are based on a creative approach that visualises relatively unfamiliar biological phenomenon, like the giant Orr fish or the camouflage of moths’ wings and spins them into fantastical narratives, founded on scientific truths, to create their own visually escapist worlds. He combines this with a love and aesthetic of 90s video games. ‘I want,’ he says, ‘not only to produce striking textiles but to highlight the paramount importance of conserving nature’s majesty for generations to come.’
A CSM, Materials Futures MA graduate Jen Keane explores collaborating with microbes to weave a new generation of hybrid materials. In This is Grown, she employs an organism-driven approach. Keane merges modern industrial textile practice with future bio-tech principles, which she hopes will change the current approach to both making and a reliance on petrochemicalbased materials. ‘By manipulating the growing process of k.rhaeticus bacteria, I have developed a new form of “microbial weaving”, working with microbes like bacteria and yeast to optimise the natural properties of bacterial cellulose and create a new category of hybrid materials that are strong, lightweight, and potentially customisable to nanoscale.’ In traditional parlance, Keane creates the warp and the bacteria make the weft. As the bacteria are so tiny, there are fewer restrictions of directionality and less yarn is required.
Graduate of the RCA, Domenica Landin’s beautifully-coloured, folded aluminium panels An Exploration of the Wind as Yarn ‘expresses,’ she says, ‘the unseen patterns of the blowing wind.’ Landin adapts textile processes for use on aluminium, including screen printing to directly colour the metal, creating striped, zinging colours, which are intensified by the 3D asymmetrical folding of the metal. Each panel can be joined to the next to create a long sculptural piece. As an artist and designer who applies textile thinking to spatial installations, she is interested in adapting the process to create external and internal sculptural works. However, she is keen to see her work used by interior designers and was selected to exhibit with Future Heritage at Decorex London this September.