How is it made? The story of Adriana Homewares
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London Design Festival 2017
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Pulse has come and gone, and what a show it was! Whether you were able to join us or you just couldn’t make it, here are some of our favourite collections that you can still discover and buy…
12-Jul-2017 Comments (0)Share
designjunction returns to the spectacular King’s Cross site 21-24 September for this year’s annual London Design Festival. Following the success of the 2016 event, which attracted 27,000 visitors over five days, designjunction will expand across new King’s Cross locations.
With a few tricks under her sleeve and with the use of Ink, brush and scalpel, Alison share her story with us!
Meet Alison designer and co-founder of Alison Hardcastle Contemporary Paper Goods. An enthusiastic designer who takes great pride on creating her designs.
What inspired you to go into design?
"I was an illustrator with a burning desire to not only design but to make things which people could pick up, look at and use" says Alison.
Tell us a bit about yourself..
I studied Constructed Textiles at BCU and specialised in weave and graduated 5 years ago. Once I graduated, I knew I wanted to carry on weaving. So I gained funding and support from the Prince's Trust which allowed me to buy my first loom and set up a small studio in Leeds.
I spent a few years making fabric and soft furnishings to sell at craft fairs and did textile art commissions, mainly for hotels.
In March of 2016, my brother-in-law came on board and we launched Adriana Homewares to introduce our 100% British wool fabrics and soft furnishings to a wider market. Simon is a qualified accountant with commercial experience for some of the biggest companies in the UK. This makes us great together, as I run the design and production side of the business and he looks after the finance and marketing side (though he is also good with a sewing machine).
We sell our fabrics as handmade soft furnishings (cushions, throws, lampshades) and by the metre. Later this year we will be launching contract fabrics and also using our fabrics to create a range of dog and cat accessories (collars, leads, coats, beds).
What we believe makes us unique is the whole package of what we do, We use only British materials, manufacture in Britain (in fact just in Yorkshire). By using only British wool, we achieve long lasting quality designs.
What goes into making the products?
I hand weave all my designs in our Leeds studio, influenced by my love of Colour Theory and the mathematical structure of weave. Using Pantone colours, I select what colours and shades I want to use. Each collection that is launched is made up of 6 colours across 6 designs. While designs are being finalised we work on starting the manufacturing process. All this can take some time as we are involved in every element that goes into making fabric.
First, we work with a Yarn Spinners in Yorkshire to create a yarn to our specific requirements. This ensures we have a durable yet soft yarn and hence, fabric. All our fabric carries the British Wool Board Platinum Certification, the only mark that 100% guarantees the yarn is made from 100% British wool.
Once the yarn has been spun it takes a short journey to our local dyers. The yarn is then dyed to our specific Pantone shades. Another short journey and the yarn arrive at our commission weavers, who use state of the art machinery and looms to create the designs on a longer weave run. The fabric is then quality controlled and sent to a local finishers.
Here the fabric goes through a process of being cleaned, dried and scoured to create a soft durable roll of fabric. We test samples of fabric through the different finishing process to ensure it comes out with the correct feel and look we want.
We then receive the fabric back at our studio. We then hand make into throws (with beautiful blanket stitch detail), lampshades and cushions. We supply all our cushions with 100% British wool cushion pads which are manufactured locally for us. This makes them plump, naturally hypoallergenic and recyclable. In fact, because we only use wool (and the odd bit of cotton) in our products they are all 100% recyclable.
The reason we use wool is because of the great properties it has for interiors. Wool is a natural, soft, hardwearing material, fully recyclable and great at absorbing noise and odours. It is also sustainable!
As a brand, we are conscientious about our environmental impact. Using wool and other natural fibres means our products are 100% recyclable. We keep our production within Yorkshire, in fact a 30 mile radius, reducing our carbon footprint. Our aim is to become a carbon neutral business.
What have you learned since you started?
We have learnt many lessons through the years. Don’t get too much fabric made until you have demand, was probably one of our first. But mainly, understanding the buying process for interiors. Many people don’t really feel the impulse of buying soft furnishings, they need to think about it or see it in a room set or in magazines/social media. So understanding the buying process has been important. As a result, we choose our exhibitions more carefully to ensure the right customer base will attend, our social media and PR is about showing what the customer can achieve with their interior.
We are aware of the fact that many of our consumers don’t understand the benefits of wool and also that the cost of the product relates to the fact it is long lasting. As a business, we spend a lot of energy educating the consumer as products will be better and cheaper over the full lifecycle.
What inspires you when you’re creating new ranges?
I am influenced by colour! How colours work together allows for an infinite amount of possibilities. I can be walking around and just spot colours next to each other and can love how they work together; it is often how light reflects off different materials throwing out different colours from that of the base material. Nature is always a winner at doing colour as well. I work in an urban environment but live in a more rural setting so I get the best of both; seeing how man-made world plays with colour and how nature does too.
The second part of my designs is how weave actually works. The mathematics to the structures of different weaves is fascinating. Making small changes to the colours used in the weft or the warp can help create a completely different look and feel to the finished fabric.