Our January Artist of the Month is the talented Margo Selby, a woven textile designer. We have asked Margo about her techniques and what she has learnt along the way...
Where does your inspiration come from?
I am stimulated by highly decorative design that incorporates lots of pattern and colour. I love travel and have been looking lots at indigenous textiles over the past 2 years. Our recent collection combines inspiration from Japanese textiles, which are sophisticated and delicate with pattern from African tribes which are bold and rhythmic. I am constantly gathering images and ideas and collating these into cohesive groups, which can then be translated into fabric collections. Much of my work is also inspired by the process of weaving itself, and our patterns reflect the organized nature of the craft. In terms of my flooring collection the designs were inspired by hand woven deflected double weave cloths that I had been developing on my handloom for the past few years.
The work of the Bauhaus designers has always been an inspiration to my design process. I can compare myself to them in that I am equally passionate about creating a piece of weaving which celebrates the beauty of a woven textile as an artform as well as developing ideas in weaving which are suitable for industrial production. Weaving is my passion and starting point for all I do whether it be a one-off artpiece or a commercial design. The two are intrinsically linked and symbiotic.
Who are your design icons and how have they influenced you?
Peter Collingwood is a hero for his innovation with looms and handweaving. I also am a huge fan of Jack Lenor Larsen who created a commercial business closely linked with hand woven textiles.
Who do you collaborate and who with and who would you like to work with?
I have been fortunate to collaborate with lots of organisations in the past including Tate, Habitat and The Old Curiosity shop. Collaboration is a great way to shake up ones approach to design and look at things with a new perspective. Last year we collaborated with designer carpet manufacturer Alternative Flooring to create our first broadloom carpet designs and I loved seeing the designs in this new scale and learning about carpet weaving techniques. We have some exciting projects in the pipeline this year which I am looking forward to getting stuck in to. Something I would like to do in the future would be to collaborate with a leather goods brand and see the fabrics in juxtaposition with leather for accessories.
How do you see the role of craft in modern life?
Contemporary craft is associated with care and quality as well as great design. I think people want products that add colour and texture to the home whilst investing in quality so these products become heirlooms of the future.
Woven art – how did this begin and why are these important to you?
For several years I have been experimenting and building a portfolio of hand woven designs using a technique called Lampas which I learnt at Atelier National D’Art Textile in Paris. Recently the scale and ambition of these designs has developed into larger scale framed artworks which I have started to exhibit. Through weaving and selling these woven artforms I am able to develop and explore my understanding of weaving and colour. In these pieces I am exploring how colour and structure unite, how yarn can be blended, revealed and concealed in a textile to create abstract colour studies which celebrate woven textiles.
What direction would you say design is going in and how is the future looking?
I think people are becoming bolder with their choices and are able to use their imagination when it comes to styling their home to create an individual space. People are doing this by adding colour and texture to their homes whilst investing in quality, seeing their purchases as lifetime investments.
How have colour trends evolved and what trends do you seen time and again?
Colour is a significant motivation in my work and I take my colour inspiration from a wide range of sources including indigenous textiles from around the world, graphic design and architecture. I always keep an eye on interior and textile trends but I am also influenced by my own instinct, particularly when it comes to colour. There have always been key colour palettes that work well in interiors such as neutrals, rich reds and purples, blues, greens and greys which I have returned to time and time again adding my own twist to make them my own.
What was the best lesson you learnt along the way?
Keep making, keep designing, stay fresh and collaborate with other designers so your work stays alive.
There seems to be a whole new generation of designers and makers in the UK. How come?
There is tremendous support for creativity in the UK.
We have many great art colleges and once you have graduated there are all sorts of networking groups and support schemes to help creative businesses to grow.
What do you love about Britain?
I love the creative energy here as well as the cultural diversity.
What is the best thing about being your own boss?
Being able to work freely and creatively without traditional structure.
How important is success for you?
I feel creatively stimulated and happy with my life. This is success to me. I try to create success for all the employees in our team by creating an environment where people are happy, challenged and continuing to grow and unfold.