A hybrid way of creating beautiful and bold, woven textiles–In conversation with Beatrice Larkin
If there is one word that comes to mind, as we learn about Beatrice Larkin's beautiful and bold, woven fabrics, it is 'Hybrid.'
Here, the clean lines and geometries of contemporary patterns are paired with traditional weaving techniques and tools such as the Dobby and the Jacquard Loom. However, more than this one pairing, it is the entire process of design and making at Beatrice Larkin's woven textile label, that is hybrid in its nature.
For one, a diverse mix of detailed CAD drawings, sketches and manipulated hand drawings all come together to generate the unique patterns of Beatrice's fabrics.
In fact, there is a conscious effort to create a more organic geometry in the patterns of these textiles. Often a 'flaw' is built in; an intentional pattern mistake, creating a more human, relatable product.
The second, significant attribute is that unlike many textile designers, Larkin work begins by extensive sampling at her very own loom in her studio, before final designs are sent to traditional, specialist mills in the UK for a larger scale of production. This way of working is essential to Larkin, as she is involved in every aspect of creating her weaves and understands the core structure of the fabric.
Why is this hybrid quality, and the process behind it so significant to us? Because we believe it is the backbone of a series of attractive and meaningful products, which appeal at once, to our need for clean, modern lines as well as our reach for a more organic, craft like heritage.
After graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2013, Beatrice Larkin founded her London-based woven textile label with the desire to create design-led textiles for the home. She now creates luxury, woven fabrics in a freehand graphic style. By using traditional weave structures and playing with scale and pattern, Beatrice makes fabrics which use the cloth structure itself as a pattern, resulting in fabrics with a depth of design.
This year, Beatrice joins the talented collective of designers at Form&Seek, to exhibit her work at the London Design Festival of 2016. At this prestigious festival, Larkin will be showing "The Monochrome Series"–A collection of six throws designed and sampled in her London studio and woven from the finest yarns, at a specialist mill in Lancashire. The series plays with traditional weave structures, patterns and scales to create a more softened take on geometric textile design.
Just a few weeks shy of the festival, we spoke with Beatrice and learned more about her unique process, her inspirations and what lies ahead for her!
MD: Beatrice, what you will be exhibiting at the London Design Festival this year.
Beatrice: I will be showing a series of six geometric, monochrome woven throws. They all combine traditional Dobby weaving with the capabilities of the computerized Jacquard loom.
MD: What are the primary materials and techniques you have employed to create your work for LDF this year? Were you involved hands-on in the fabrication and final production?
Beatrice: My throws are 70% merino wool and 30% cotton. I design, and sample all of my fabrics in my London studio, and then send them to be woven by a specialist mill in Lancashire.
MD: Tell us a little about experimentation with materials in the past, in particular, work that has led you to your current, signature work.
Beatrice: While I was studying at The Royal College of Art, I experimented in weaving with all sorts of yarns. I found merino wool to be the most versatile, sustainable and cost efficient yarn, creating fabrics which are incredibly soft to the touch. Regarding the typology of end products–I knew that I wanted to create products for people to have in their homes, and while they are luxury items, my products are also very functional. Additionally, I found that using the merino wool in Weft facing fabrics helps create an incredibly luxurious handle.
MD: Where, geographically, do you think, do the conceptual and material inspirations for your work come from?
Beatrice: The inspiration for my work comes from multiple sources. Perhaps most evident is my love of the bold block-like geometries of the Bauhaus. Additionally, graph paper and grids are a great resource for me, especially when there are faults in the design, whether intentional or accidental. I like creating geometries with a human touch, so I work that into my designs, often trying to build in a ‘flaw’. I use hand drawings which I make, to create spontaneity, and then apply to fabric designs. These sketches are taken from a number of sources, such as the native, hand painted buildings from Tiébélé, West Africa. That painting, on the buildings, is refreshingly honest and beautiful, and I attempt to convey the same spirit in my fabrics. Design, color, structure and yarn all work together to create the finished outcome.
Traditional weaves are also a great inspiration for me; I am constantly looking to manipulate structures to form the design and composition of the cloth. I play with scales, placing larger block patterns alongside smaller designs in the fabric structure. It is important that structure and design have equal importance resulting in a uniquely balanced material.
At the heart of my business, I also feel, is a commitment to quality; in design, material and craftsmanship. I’ve spent a lot of time sourcing the best yarn for my throws, and I’ve found a beautifully soft merino wool which once washed and finished leaves a luxuriously soft fabric.
MD: What reaction to your work are you anticipating and hoping for, from viewers at the London Design Festival?
Beatrice: I would love to get some feedback for my new monochrome collection. It would be great to learn what works and what doesn’t, perhaps leading me to the idea for next season’s collection.
MD: Tell us about Form&Seek as a platform for your work, and your involvement in this unique collaborative of designers.
Beatrice: I’m so grateful to be contacted to be part of this collective.There are some very talented designers involved and think it will be a great inspiration, for me, to be exhibiting alongside them.
MD: Beatrice, we wish you the very best for the festival, collaboration with Form&Seek and all your beautiful work ahead!
Readers you can follow Beatrice Larkin's work on her website and updates related to the London Design Festival that of Form&Seek. Links below!