We’re so excited to have teamed up with forward-thinking textile house Flock. This amazing London-based brand help to develop up-and-coming British design talent, so we can all get our hands on some incredible fresh fabrics. But rather than us bleat on, we’ve been speaking to inspirational Creative Director, Jenny Wingfield.
Tell us about Flock.
When I was part of the fabric team at Liberty I noticed a lot of crossover between brands. It was all about the same trend-based style. Then in 2012 I visited the New Designers Show in Islington and was blown away by the ideas new graduates were coming up with.
So with Flock, I wanted to create a platform to help young designers get their designs made. It’s not easy turning years of artistic study into a commercial enterprise! Flock’s all about collaborating with young designers. We don’t just take their designs. Their name appears on every piece they come up with and they get royalties every time one is sold. It’s about nurturing talent and getting the designer’s name out there too.
And, of course, we get to create a collection that appeals to artistic-minded shoppers!
What are the best and worst things about your job?
The best has to be unearthing new talent! Going round graduate shows is such a fun time of year. The worst? Problems with printing (trouble at t’ mill!) Fabric’s a natural material so prints don’t always work out quite how you imagined they would.
Why did you want to collaborate with Sofa Workshop?
I’ve always admired Sofa Workshop for their bold fabric choices and exciting shapes. For a print designer, it’s thrilling to see your designs flat on a big space! Seeing the scale of the pattern on the sculpture of the furniture’s curve is just incredible.
I love the way Sofa Workshop’s furniture is clearly designed. Not just doing the traditional thing. There’s a real mix of styles.
Of course, we support British design and we love to support British manufacturing as Sofa Workshop does. (Flock’s fabrics are digitally printed in Lancashire – an area with a rich heritage of textile mills.) An awareness of where things are from is important. You get a knowledge of the quality and to feel in control too.
The Sofa Workshop / Flock collaboration will be showcased at the Festival of Furniture. What trends are you seeing at current design shows?
I’m really enjoying the attention to detail that’s emerging right now. Incredible polished finishes on product and furniture… And it’s created with an amazing range of materials – I’ve come across Mother of Pearl and brass recently.
Please share some of your designers’ stories.
Touching Elbows designed three of the fabrics that will feature on the Sofa Workshop collection. They joined us in May after I came across Kate Gibb (one half of Touching Elbows) on Instagram! She was producing silk screen prints for album covers, including The Chemical Brothers. She does super colourful, graphic, often fluro prints.
When I got in touch she told me about Touching Elbows – how her and creative partner William Edmonds ‘jam’ in the studio. They build up silk screens together – taking it in turns to add to each other’s prints – resulting in some truly beautiful ‘happy accidents’! I found shapes, patterns and marks I liked in their screens and we pulled these together into a print. They use lots of white space – creating movement but a moment to stand out too.
Rachel Parker was one of the first designers Flock worked with. We spotted a tiny collage she created, scanned it and blew it up to create a repeating pattern for textiles. She works in handmade and digital, giving cross-stitch and embroidery a pixelated form. I love the way she starts out handmade (not designing on a computer). It’s how she gets a real texture and quality of line on the fabric.
Lucy Rainbow’s just completed her MA at the Royal College. Her designs are simplistic and elegant. And because Lucy’s concerned with ethical printing, she uses natural fabrics and techniques that don’t waste water. Her Aldgate Mustard print started life on a hat! The arrowhead that’s repeated was inspired by the spike on Whitechapel Art Gallery – we loved that shape!
Flock fabric in “Grapefruit Coast” designed by Touching Elbows.
Who are your design heroes?
For colour and pattern, it has to be Josef Frank. (1930’s Swedish designer.)
Frank’s designs at Svenskt Tenn, Stockholm are so inspiring and the brand creates some fantastic pieces. It’s my design mecca! Upholstered cabinets… upholstered walls… they’re definitely not afraid to use pattern.
Where do you find inspiration?
Rather than follow seasons’ trends, at Flock we try to create something more ‘classic’. London is so creative and inspiring. There are always new gallery openings and shows, with loads of smaller independents in East London where I live. So I try to absorb all that’s going on. It’s a natural, organic way – choosing what I’m drawn to.
Jenny in her London Studio
And have you got a favourite sofa?
Well I shouldn’t be biased…But I do love the Fancy Nancy!
You can see our sofas, created in collaboration with Flock’s gorgeous fabrics, at the Festival of Furniture, Tottenham Court Road from 6-9th October. Enjoy!