MADE IN LANCASHIRE
A Lancashire mill has been chosen by talented designer Beatrice Larkin to weave the fabric for her luxurious throws and cushions
Designer Beatrice Larkin was destined for a career in the textile industry from a young age. The daughter of an interior designer father and embroiderer mother, Beatrice grew up surrounded by creativity in a family home draped with the beautiful fabrics that came to inspire a life-long passion.
She began her career studying weave at the Chelsea College of Arts and continued with a master’s degree at the Royal College of Art in 2013. During her graduation show, her woven fabrics were spotted by a buyer from Heal’s but, rather than rushing in, the designer took time to produce her first collection, meticulously sourcing the perfect yarns and searching for a manufacturer that was up to the challenge of producing her work to the standard of the international luxury she intended.
Beatrice was eventually introduced to S Dawes Weaving, a highly skilled, Lancashire-based manufacturer with the ability to produce jacquard weaves and textiles to the designer’s high-end specification.
In the spring of 2016, the first collection was successfully launched, which has been stocked in Daylesford Organic, Heals, Folk Clothing and Kent and London.
Beatrice’s designs are made in Italian spun merino wool, more commonly used in the fashion industry for high end knitwear. Called the ‘Rolls Royce of merino’, the fine, soft fibres of the merino sheep give a beautifully soft and luxurious handle.
Today, Larkin heads up her own studio in London, which specialises in modern woven textiles, accessories and interior products designed and made in England. Often inspired by traditional weave structures, West African textile, Bauhaus style and Brutalist architecture, her designs are characterised by inky line drawings and broken geometrics.
Larkin will launch her latest collection of throws and cushions this October at London’s Decorex International, the leading UK show for luxury interiors. The designs, more freehand than her last, are taken from initial ink sketches. These will draw from the aesthetics of weaving master Anni Albers, inspired in particular by her typewriter studies and paper work. A celebration of 100 years of the Bauhaus movement, it follows a successful collaboration with the Tate Modern on an exclusive range for the Albers retrospective that opened in October 2018.
Here, Beatrice talks about the working relationship she has built with the Lancashire mill and how its expertise allows her to create her popular designs:
What was the process that went into choosing to weave your designs in the mill in Lancashire?
I focused specifically on jacquard weaving for my MA final collection. When I was sourcing mills to take my work into production I had to find somewhere that could replicate the fabrics I wove at college.
I also knew I wanted to keep production in the UK. I think it’s vital that I can visit my manufacturers and keep an eye on the production process. I found S Dawes Weaving, who specialise in jacquard, and was introduced to the in-house designer, Joanna Brockbank, with whom I could discuss my process.
For a new designer who can’t weave large amounts in the early stages, it’s quite difficult to find a mill that’s willing to help you. All the team have been incredibly helpful and accommodating as my business has grown and very responsive when I have queries or want to trial something.
We’re currently filming my journey from initial inspiration to production and finished product, and part of this is filming in the mill. They welcomed a film crew into the mill for a day and were so helpful. All the skilled weavers that are working at S Dawes are such lovely people. You can see it’s a great environment to work in, which just makes me want to continue this relationship further as my business grows.
I have a strong belief in supporting British manufacturing where I can and having that personal relationship with production, and being able to be transparent in the process, is really important to my brand.
Does the mill have any specific technology or production techniques that makes it ideal for your designs?
S Dawes Weaving specialises in jacquard, which is the type of weaving I design for. It allows more freedom in design than dobby weaving.
A big part of my aesthetic is to carry through the hand drawn quality of my initial sketches onto the final fabric. The jacquard lets me represent this freehand, organic look in the finished textile.
For example, in some of my finished fabrics you can see an ink smudge or the quality of the paper I initially drew on. I love this look and think it makes the fabrics look dynamic and unique.
The fabrics are woven in small runs at S Dawes Weaving and then washed and finished in the Yorkshire Dales. They are then sent to London to be made into throws and cushions, labelled and packaged with every step carefully considered.
Beatrice will exhibit her new collection at Decorex International, which takes place from 6th – 9th October 2019 at Olympia London