An interview with KathKath StudioAn interview with KathKath StudioAn interview with KathKath Studio

An interview with KathKath Studio

Fresh from their first showing at Top Drawer last week, we caught up with fashion accessory designers KathKath Studio. This is the collaboration between textile designer Kathy Schicker and graphic designer Kathryn Pledger. Kathy says, "We worked and exhibited around the world, before meeting in the park chasing our small children, and bonding over a love of surface, pattern, colour and design. We pooled our respective talents to create KathKath Studios and launched our high-end silk scarf and accessories collections in late 2013.”

In 2014 KathKath’s ‘Honeycomb’ wallpaper was launched as part of Graham and Browns ‘New Wave’ collective, curated by design journalist, passionate supporter of emerging talent and Design-Nation supporter Barbara Chandler. The collective consists of thirteen of Britain’s best up-and-coming surface pattern designers. Since then KathKath have further developing their range, continuing to add attractive products, projects and retail outlets.

We asked: What attracted you to Design-Nation membership? (It was a rather complimentary answer.)

KathKath: We were attracted to Design-Nation membership for a number of reasons but mainly for business development and exhibition opportunities. Being part of a support / umbrella network has so many benefits - and the kudos of being a member of Design-Nation means the KathKath brand has already been endorsed for quality and product. We also thought the membership would open up opportunities for us to widen our audience and product range.

On a personal level, Kathy has known Liz for many years, bonding in the weave room at Goldsmiths College and working together on a range of random creative projects. We think Liz is an expert in her field and knows many people, so working with her again was another attraction.

Q: And what's been the outcome of being part of Design-Nation?

A: Apart from the networking and meeting other members, the exhibition and retail opportunities have been the best thing for us. Getting our own stand at Top Drawer, albeit last minute, was a fantastic opportunity and we made some excellent contacts.

We took our core KathKath product - which is large and brightly coloured digitally printed silk scarves. We have other product ranges but we wanted the message to be clear on the stand that the high quality silk accessories was what we are all about. Our new range has been designed especially to launch at the show and has vibrant colours and positive feel-good names like Calm and Joy.

Q: What's next for KathKath Studio?

A: We are working with developing relationships with our new stockists and launching our new range of Silk scarves for 2017. We are continuing to develop new product lines and also branching out into offering textiles design courses. We have been accepted onto the Mastered accessories business accelerator programme, to develop our brand further.

Interview by a very flattered Liz Cooper, Design-Nation Programme Manager.

Images courtesy of KathKath Studios: from top Kathy & Kathryn at work; Joy large silk scarf SS17 (90 x 90cm); Hope large silk scarf SS 17 (90 x 90cm). Designs and images copyright the artists. 

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An Interview with Angie ParkerAn Interview with Angie ParkerAn Interview with Angie Parker

An Interview with Angie Parker

Every now and again you find something special that makes you stop in your tracks. Angie Parker's textile work is one of those amazing finds that makes you want to find out more about the story behind the product whilst admiring the craftsmanship and beauty of her woven textiles.  

Angie Parker is an award winning designer and a weaver of some of the most visually striking and beautifully crafted rugs which are made in the UK. Her distinctive and intricate floor art and fabric creations are hand-woven using long established patterns, such as Krokbragd, which she combines with her instinctive and daring approach to colour. It is the creative process of importing a contemporary element to the time honoured techniques of rug weaving and the responses from the viewer which most excite her.
I caught up with Angie after her new collections were showcased at Decorex earlier this year and asked how the show worked as a launch ground for her collections.

'Decorex far exceeded my expectations, and did so in an entirely unexpected way. My realistic aims were to build up contacts with interior designers and press with a view to building up commissions for my practice in the future. 
After a series of conversations about possible manufacturing options with industry specialists (something I've previously rejected), I began to realise that I needed to think differently about the direction of my business, and the second I made the decision it felt as though the floodgates opened.
'Since the show, I've cautiously set about having samples woven overseas with a view to having a manufactured collection alongside the niche range of rugs woven by myself.' explains Angie.
'Without Design-Nation, I wouldn't have been in a position to show at Decorex due to the high costs involved. 
As well as making the show affordable, the support from the other members on the stand was a real bonus, both professionally and for morale.
'I presented a small collection of Krokbragd Rugs at the show. This is a traditional Scandinavian rug weaving technique which lends itself perfectly to the playful use of colour which my work is generally recognised for. The feedback to the work was fantastic as my pieces were rather different to anything else on show. Also, the conversations with interior designers, buyers and journalists were very supportive and encouraging and I was overwhelmed by the generosity of sharing knowledge and contacts in the industry.
'I also received some great press on the back of exhibiting there. I was included in The Evening Standard LDF Highlights, and was selected for Campaign for Wool's Wool BnB project. This in turn led to exposure on social media through the likes of Elle Deco, GQ magazine and the Crafts Council, amongst others, and also a brief appearance of my Prang Rug on Granada TV's This Morning programme during a fashion feature!
'My latest project (running alongside the manufacturing) is, quite by accident, a collaboration. New work for The Devon Guild of Craftsmen's  'Spotlight' exhibition in Jan 2017 is a series of handwoven block weave rugs.
'As a starting point for any new collection I tend to look firstly to my surroundings. In the past this has included the time I spent living in India, and the colourful graffiti in my Bristol neighbourhood. This time I've looked more at the blocks of colour used to paint the render on Bristol terraces which I see on my walks into the studio through Clifton, Windmill Hill and Totterdown.
'The initial designs for this collection bore an uncomfortable resemblance to the work of Dot One, the project of designer Iona Inglesby, which analyses the 0.1% of unique DNA to create personalised prints and textiles. Whilst being prepared to ditch the designs (which I really liked), rather than step on another designer's toes, I decided to contact Iona to suggest a collaboration for this piece. Luckily she was receptive to the idea. We've agreed at this stage that as well as the pieces based on Bristol's cityscape, I will also weave my own DNA for the Devon Guild show and see where it leads. I have to say we're both pretty excited about the possibilities though....'
Angie continues, explaining that, 'It's really important for designers such as myself to have a high quality platform like Design-Nation to utilise, whatever stage they are at in their career. The exhibiting opportunity and support on social media has been hugely beneficial to my practice this year, and above all, as usual, the support and friendships from other members is invaluable when working in a tough industry, which seems to be getting tougher in times of economic uncertainty.'

For me reading about Angie's work and being fortunate enough to have seen first-hand her craftsmanship, and use of pattern and colour, made me realise that Angie Parker is a name that we will be hearing about for years to come. 

Design-Nation supports the growth of emerging and established designers to showcase their works through exhibitions and also through the online portfolio of craft, design and product.

More details of Angie Parker's collections may be found here.

Photos courtesy of the artist.

Written by Andrew Tanner
Brand Ambassador, Design Nation

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