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Curious While Calm

Graduate Final Collection
May 2021  

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A collection that soothes and plays with the senses through a confinement of organic forms and home nostalgia, replicated through curious, multisensory surface textile designs.

Anxiety is something an increasing amount of people have had to deal with on a daily basis, myself included, during the pandemic. I wanted to design a collection that would help to reduce anxiety specifically surrounding the difficulty of making our home spaces feel pleasurable again, as opposed to our incarceration, which they have been for the last year.

This collection soothes and helps us to feel less anxious within our homes and also within ourselves. I have purposefully created intriguing compositions and sensory engaging surfaces which provoke sensual curiosity and intend to distract ourselves from our anxieties. This collection encourages the user to play, to wrap and envelop themselves within, drawing you to the tactile qualities of the various surfaces; curiously questioning the narrative behind the scenic visuals whilst being soft on the skin. This collection’s intention is to soothe oneself within the surrounding space and help to re-focus the mind.  

My space has been the same four walls every day, for over a year. The space where I have to eat, sleep, relax and be creative whilst trying to keep a healthy mindset. I have changed my room round five times this year trying to explore different ways to keep positive, to work, sleep, eat whilst using various stimuli to motivate and encourage a creative mindset. I slept on the sofa as a result of working in my bed. Fell asleep on my floor as a result of working on the sofa; I found it really difficult to eat or relax whilst looking at my work. The ridiculousness of waking up on the floor when there is a perfectly comfy bed gave me the inspiration to create a textiles collection that helps one space feel and function like three. I learned how to weave and knit during the first lockdown which helped give me daily direction and structure. As a result, both techniques, along with tufting and felting have been at the forefront of this project, despite my specialism being in printed textiles.

I reached out and friends and family sent photographs of their home comforts and favourite safe spaces which has been predominantly my visual resources along with drawings of organic forms to represent the growing appreciation for the outdoors during the pandemic. It became evident from many discussions about people’s anxieties and the journey my final project was taking, not one type of textile or one environment would reduce everyone’s anxiety – there had to be a range. Therefore, I have designed three separate textiles-led ambiences and a versatile collection that differs in scale, sensory stimulation, weight, and colour combinations; Play, Soothe and Fuse.

The collection is split into two emotionally led themes; one uses Dijon yellow, forest green and cornflower blue to create organic, biophilic imagery along with gentle compositions to form associations with the feeling of calm and tranquillity. The other uses dark browns, ochres and warm oranges to allude the feeling of warmth and safety. By combining certain pieces within the collection, you can create three different ambiences; Play, Soothe and Fuse. This enables the collection to be adaptable, allowing the individual to create their own atmosphere to help them when they may feel most anxious. I have created three atmospheric playlists which sit alongside each ambience, to enhance the sensory engagement­. The textiles selected for Play, Soothe and Fuse all complement each other in terms of feel, practicality, colour, each one intended to allude different positive emotions, but all intended to soothe and calm. This collection is aimed at the high-end interior market, those who care for quality and sustainably sourced materials. The pieces are bespoke and unique, handcrafted and made to order for interior spaces.

The collection is made up of two rugs, one large tapestry, two textiles wall hangings, four textile paintings (unframed) with the remaining pieces designed to explore multi-disciplinary techniques for my graduate collection. However, for the purposes of my graduate collection, they have been contextualised within an interior space.

All material choices within the collection have been considered in terms of sustainability. Either using all-natural or off-cut fabrics, sourcing my yarns from deadstock trade, charity shops, or buying natural yarns from sustainable and transparent sources whilst using minimum electricity for production.

To sit alongside the collection, I have collaborated with Sasha Delmage, a talented, Glasgow based illustrator and have created the story book, ‘They stroked and squeezed seeds’ which explores the collection’s concept through humorous and heart-warming illustrations.

An additional collaboration with Josh Croll a talented, Glaswegian photographer, ensured my final collection was realised. Together we curated the shoot , ‘A sumptuous day’, where I styled and directed the shoot and Josh photographed and edited all the final shots. This body of photographs perfectly represents my vision of the collection.

Collaboration mentions  /  Josh Croll /  Sasha Delmage

Development and Production︎ 

All rights reserved. Al Bates (2021)