I was using fabrics and papers in designs which I knew I could create and the urge to design again was too strong to ignore. I had only decided to leave designing and look at a new career in 2003 as on my return from living in Pakistan, I noticed that the key trends in the UK were minimalism, woven texture and lots of beige, encouraging me to change my career. Then in 2009/10, when Pattern and colour had firmly established itself again and a "Gold Rush" of very talented young designers appeared, I was excited with the prospect of being a part of it all.
FAST FORWARD to the present. How the Industry has changed.
Without boring everyone in great detail about what has changed in the industry and why etc.... (another blog post, another time, maybe) there were other interesting issues that I have noticed over the last two years and one of them has been the type of surface design training in the Colleges/Universities. I do not want to get bogged down (in this post) with details as this is not a negative criticism but more of an observation as to what may be "missing" from the current programme. Now I would like some Feedback here... it may be missing because it is not necessary or required in the industry... or perhaps there is nobody with the skills or experience to teach.
What I am referring to is old style training methods of master craftsmen teaching (by showing) junior designers hand painting techniques and styles, based on traditional apprenticeship principles.
What I have found interesting is that since I have been doing this blog (just over a year now) the increase in viewers to my "step by step" guides to creating a design. I have also had numerous emails from young designers asking me if they can work with me including students from St Martins in London (one who said she would pay me to teach her hand painting styles and techniques as she was hungry to learn all aspects of design)
I have also had lots of feedback after I had done various interviews for Pattern People and a Chinese Interior magazine.
After numerous meetings with various authorities to see what government funding was available to enable me to set up a working design studio/training school..... lets just say that it has been put on the "back burner". Meanwhile I consider my options concerning sharing my skills.
By now you may ask what are my skills? are they unique? does anybody want these skills or really care?........ Well you tell me! To answer that question will be another blog post, another time....... Too time consuming to put 30 yrs down in one session.
But I do believe that when I started designing at the ripe old age of 17, understudying some amazing artists in studios in UK, Europe and also the textile mills...... I did realise that I was one of the last designers to experience such a wealth of talent which could very well disappear totally unless the few designers like myself pass the skills on.
I think that Designers now are so much more market savvy than I ever was. As an all round designer we were expected to master all styles, techniques for most Interior products over all markets. The studios I worked at created collections for all of the most important companies. Designers today are more niche and focussed on their own identity. But in my opinion there are so many new designers and it is becoming increasingly difficult to make your voice heard above the loud noise of all the others. Will it all reach saturation point?..... What will happen when trends change.... and they will. I never in a million years thought that Ditsey florals a la Cath Kidson would become a key trend, or the "Mid century" 50s retro would have so much influence. How can all these designers with similar skills hope to make a mark or a earn a living in the current economic climate? I have been following on Twitter, a very successful designer Rachael Taylor who has launched an e course for designers, sharing her skills and experiences. Again, designers eager to have more information.
Recently on Linkedin, I had been following, what seemed like a never ending debate about handpainted designs versus digitally created designs. To be honest I do not think that it is a matter of either, or but should be as well as. (Another subject which will be interesting to discuss in another post). If designers had more hand painting skills it would give them another "Tool" to work with and open up so much more possibilities and set themselves apart from the competition. When the trends change, and designs become less simple and more complicated... or just different, then I believe that the designer that has extra skills will lead the way. Which leads me back to the Sharing of my skills. As starting a design studio is not an immediate option, I have recently started to consider either writing a manual, with pictures, or video.... early days yet.... and would I be wasting my time?...... just creating a book or information for the archives? to gather dust....... Seems a shame that all my years of studying something that I am so passionate about may just disappear.
I would love to know what you think...... Please send comments and feedback..... Diane.