Before I started my final year, I was going through a mixture of emotions which was feeling nervous but most of all excited, as I was really looking forward to kick off the new academic year fresh and new, working towards new live briefs. For your information, giving you an overall positive outline, that third year has been the best year out of my three-year degree course. This was because I learnt so many creative processes in both first and second years and also many lessons from lecturers and technicians; experimenting with different materials and techniques in an innovative manner and creating new ideas are examples of the lessons learnt from my  second year. All this hugely made a positive impact on my work as a textile designer and maker, as I came out of my comfort zone into my third year.

Joules – Joules was the first live brief that we were given and were allowed to adapt our colour palette that was given by Senior and Junior Textile Designers. This was one of the live briefs that I have enjoyed across my textiles degree, as I have thoroughly enjoyed the ‘British Seaside’ concept. As I developed the ‘British Seaside’ concept further coming from the initial research documented in the ‘Seaside research’ blog, I visited St. Ives again and developed textural rubbings further and took more photographs exploring unusual angles in order to make my designs look engaging in conversational styles. I interpreted the conversational pathway relating to the seaside concept, by carrying on creating and developing lots of drawings focusing on boats, sea waves, flip flops and beach huts influenced by Remy Goddard, a Printed Textiles graduate from Leeds Arts University.

I produced four concept boards, initial starting point, colour board and a visualisation with four final designs suggesting a collection of rectangular cushions for textiles for soft furnishings, influenced by DFS who used velvet cotton and cotton fabrics. This was the project I had found the most exciting out of the live briefs that I have done at university because the ‘British Seaside’ theme allowed me to explore textures and bold lines from drawings, experimenting with different mediums. I prepared a live brief presentation to a Senior designer and a Junior designer from Joules and I was very confident to talk about my work for three minutes after the preparation I had done.

Initial starting point

Colour board

Final collection of samples


Society of Dyers and Colourists (SDC) – For this competition brief, I bought lilies florals from Marks and Spencers creating blooming movement from the central point, relevant to the ‘Nature and Colour’ theme. I decided to focus on lilies florals as I am very drawn to colour and patterns within the botanical theme and the ways in which they change form in shape and its hidden intricate details; particularly their petals and transformation. This allowed me to explore a mixture of intricate and simplified drawings with mark making images, by paying attention to directions and pattern, influenced by this concept. The Lily floral was interpreted into a biomimicry context by looking at how the Lily flower bloomed and observed how the flower changes from a bud through to the fully bloomed flower.

I produced drawings using different mediums and did textural rubbings using lily petals, in different shape forms and perspective angles, making lily designs more abstract. I decided to focus on tufting using woollen and silk yarns to create a three-dimensional aesthetic to my sample development. This was the technique I wanted to explore to further add value to my work and used the tufting process for further practical projects towards the end of the final year.

Next, after I handed in my practice-led dissertation and a practical module, ‘Research and Experimentation’ successfully, I received the last two module briefs based on my professional development and Final Major Project. I was really excited to receive those briefs so I thoroughly immersed myself as a creative and innovative textile designer, bringing along new tactile ideas to the table towards both practical modules.

Adapt, Make and Respond

While I was evidencing lots of opportunities that I took up in the summer 2018 and third year and researching possible opportunities and job vacancies into my Professional Development Practice (PDP)  module, I did a mini project called Adapt, Make and Respond. This involved revisiting any project that I had done on my course and adapting the original design/drawing into something new and innovative that can easily take practical risks even further.

I chose to re-visit the SDC (Society of Dyers and Colourists) competition brief, which was the lily design that I originally collaged my drawings and paintings together. It took many forms in patterns, colour and is an abstract image taking inspirations from different artists and painters. I have broken down the three words, to show how I responded to each of those three words into different suggested product ideas.

Adapt – I approached this word by closely looking at the abstract marks and patterns into close-up details referencing back to the lily collage. It allowed me to explore adapting the image into bespoke ceramic plates using stoneware clay which involved engraving natural textures onto plates, linking back to the Market research.

Make – I decided to make rug samples using a variation of yarns, woollen and silk to give a textural depth to the whole lily image, experimenting with the opposite using scale and alternative colours. I decided to explore pastel colours, to link back to the market research, Luke Irwin and Heals, because of using similar techniques and mediums used and the influential use of pastel colours.

Respond – Next, I pushed the level of practical innovations by exploring different processes into further depth through loose yarns and resin, glass, natural dyeing, knitting, screen printing with puff binder, macrame and 3D wallpaper inspired by Aurielle Mosse.

I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the mini project, because it helped me to investigate different innovative textile techniques that is relevant to a practical project and textiles. I was very pleased with the way my work and my textiles samples had turned out at such a professional level.

Final Major Project – Tactile Textiles – I decided to focus the concept of ‘Tactile Textiles’, because I really wanted to deepen my understanding and interest into taking the touch and sight senses further from my practice-led dissertation, extending abstract animal patterns further. I took the origination of my practice-led dissertation into a concept of ‘Tactile Textiles’ by experimenting with scale and pattern coming from the inspiration and market research that was evident in my research file.

Abstract animal patterns such as giraffe shapes, tiger and elephant lines, cheetah circles lemur stripes and peacock shapes were my starting points, as I am very drawn to colour and patterns within the nature theme and the ways in which they form in shape and its aesthetic; particularly encapsulating the two of the five senses, touch and sight. Taste was naturally ruled out because of the textile nature of this project. This had originally been informed by my dissertation research which has thoroughly opened many doors to tactility. This allowed me to explore a mixture of intricate and simplified drawings with mark making images, by paying attention to directions and pattern, influenced by this concept and interacting with its adaptability.

The animal patterns were incorporated within the context of autism by exploring how autistic individuals would be familiar with their surroundings and engage with animal imagery; due to these factors supporting autistic individuals through their hyposensitivity tendencies. I explored how the chosen two senses could be visualised in textile interior products as a textile designer and maker myself.

In order to kick off my ‘Tactile Textiles’ project, I visited Paignton zoo taking photographs of animals and their natural patterns, developing them into abstract drawings, mark makings and paintings and then collaged different ideas. Next, I selected the drawings into sample development using textile processes, such as hand embroidery, pom poms, screen printing, tufting, devore, puff binder which was all influential by the research explored in my dissertation research.

Cheetah circles

Elephant wrinkled stripes

Peacock spots

Lemur stripes

To conclude this blog to a close, third year was the overall highlight of my textiles degree, not only I had achieved successful practical projects but I also took myself out of my comfort zone from taking opportunities that were offered to me, including work placement with Zandra Rhodes in London involving screen printing, interning with Studio 102 learning new things and taking part in exhibitions and achieving a design placement with Frugi.

Another prestigious experience event was winning the Board of Governors Student Award with a £250 prize. The Board of Governors student prize is given to a student who has highlighted and celebrated outstanding achievement, who overcomes personal difficulties to educational achievement, raised the university profile and demonstrated a significant contribution to college life. It involved being shortlisted out of five students across the whole university and showing my strongest portfolio of work with my practice-led dissertation for the judges to read to get an idea and perspective of my practice. I even managed to link the tactile aspect to different projects created because of how I had approached tactile qualities of my work. This was when I was given lots of positive feedback from the Board of Governors judging panel. I felt the judging process was successful due to the presentation preparation I had done to visually show a clear journey. I was told that I was the winner for that award, the judges deliberation later on in the evening.

My advice to you all who are going into their final year of university is to make sure that you make the most of the project briefs that are offered to you by trying lots of different processes further than textiles. This would help to make your work innovative, different and outstanding. Evidence every opportunity you take into your Professional development modules. Finally, PLEASE PLEASE give yourself lots of time to prepare your dissertation research, by doing lots of reading from different primary and secondary sources. It will definitely help you to make a head start to writing your dissertation. Make your subject relevant to textiles and innovative that has not been researched before.

Love Farrah x

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