Top Drawer, London SS17 ‘Spotted’ Section Stand SP55

If you are in London next week it would be fantastic to see you – I will be exhibiting at Top Drawer , Olympia from Sunday 15th – Tuesday 17th January in the Spotted section, stand SP55 – please drop by if you can! It is a trade only show and you can register here.

Top Drawer, London SS17

Highlights include BBC2’s Great Pottery Throw Down judge, Keith Brymer Jones who will be throwing pots to a live audience and keynote speakers include Leanne Manfredi from the V&A, Lucy Lines from John Lewis, Bethan Williams-James from Liberty, Sally Bendelow from notonthehighstreet.com and Rebecca Hossain from the Design Museum.

There is also an eco product trail, a GB product trail (which includes my stand, named Niki Fulton), trend tracking fashion shows and loads more too – so wear your trainers, you could notch up several miles!

Like many other exhibitors, I will be launching several new pieces, including the Eclipse print now available in blue plus a brand new collection of bow-ties , both linen and silk pocket squares plus scarves, both silk and wool.

Blue Eclipse Linen Tie by Niki Fulton

Blue Eclipse Linen Tie

Fennel Tangle Linen Bow-tie by Niki Fulton

Fennel Tangle Linen Bow- Tie

Pink Fennel Silk Pocket Square by Niki Fulton

Pink Fennel Silk Pocket Square

Eclipse Linen Pocket Square

Eclipse Linen Pocket Square

…and if you are thinking it’s odd to have graphic prints (Eclipse) and floral prints (Fennel Tangle) in one collection , I have to confess that there are also stripes, abstract and painterly prints (and many colours) …some days I feel very bold and graphic and others lighter and painterly, don’t ask me why, it’s just the way I work so the ‘collection’ is pretty varied but then who wants to wear the same kind of look day in day out 😉

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Craft Scotland, Edinburgh Summer Show

You don’t need me to point out how many events are on just now in the Edinburgh Fringe and Edinburgh International Festival – but I will anyway – over 30,000 Fringe performances alone – it’s the biggest arts festival in the world.  And in Venue 205, Craft Scotland occupies the 2nd floor of White Stuff ,89 George Street, Edinburgh until Sunday 28th August 2016.

IMG_0699

Work by Clod & Pebble, Hilary Grant Knitwear, Warped Textiles, Clare Dawdry.

Thirty one Scottish makers – potters, textile designers, jewellers and furniture makers – were selected to be part of this years Summer Show, unifiedspace being one of them. So I took the opportunity of launching some brand new designs for scarves and ties, discussed in more detail in this interview.

Breton Signal

‘Breton Signal’ 100% Irish Linen Tie & Pocket Square.

I’ve added 100% Irish Linen ties to the range. I’m still producing the original Fife linen union ties (available from Urban Reivers Festival Shop on George Street) but I’ve been asked for slightly more formal ties and the finer texture of the Irish linen achieves a fairly polished look – don’t worry, the ties are not going all corporate in nature, the prints are anything but!

There are 100% silk scarves in the same print – just in case you want to go out ‘matching’?! I’ve also added some gender neutral skinny scarves/cravats, silk squares and gauzy wool and cashmere blends for the Autumn.

scarf Night Hatching 3

‘Night Hatching’ 100% Silk Scarf

Love You, designed by Niki Fulton

‘Love You’ Wool & Cashmere blend scarf

If you would like to hear a little more behind the scenes chat at unifiedspace HQ, Creative Edinburgh kindly arranged for filmmaker David P Scott to shoot this short vimeo.

You might hear in the film I mention a new bespoke service. More about that soon but essentially, it’s about commissioning your own print/pattern – one which reflects your story, your colours, your life – a modern portrait if you like, and one that can be worn.

Also, lots happening next week too so another post will follow very soon regarding the run up to the Paisley 2021 City of Culture bid.

Meanwhile, enjoy the final week of the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe and please pop into the Craft Scotland Edinburgh Summer Show if you can – there’s a special late night opening this Thursday 25th August and I believe even some goodie bags are to be had!

 

 

The Fruitmarket Gallery Design Market

If you are in Edinburgh this weekend it would be great to see you at The Fruitmarket Gallery Design Market which will be running from Friday 10th, (Preview 5-9pm) Saturday 11th, 10am-6pm & Sunday 12th, 10am-5pm. Around 40 independent makers and designers will be showing and selling their work.

silk scarf

‘Love You’ Silk Scarf

 

I’ve been experimenting with some new prints and will be assessing which designs to take forward to the Craft Scotland Summer Show during the  Edinburgh Fringe Festival so I will have several promotions on over the weekend to hopefully encourage feedback.

silk scarf

‘Eden’ Silk Scarf

Most designers bring out a cohesive ‘collection’ each season but because of the way I work, my prints are fairly discordant – you have been warned!

The way it works for me, perhaps you are the same (please let me know, I’m really interested) is that when I am least expecting it (usually when I am about to drop off to sleep), a fully formed image falls into my mind. The next day I go about recreating this image – an image that seemed to appear from nowhere. The ‘mysterious’ image however, can easily be traced back directly to an experience. So as we all have many experiences in life, the ‘pot’ to draw from is pretty extensive (hence the diverse prints). So that’s why, for me anyway, it’s imperative to get out as much as possible and explore because every time I do, my mind is busy in the background drawing from the experience and creating the next print.

So that’s the process or perhaps an explanation.

silk scarf

‘Breton Signal’ Silk Scarf. Photo by Abi Radford

 

The prints are unisex (can a pattern be gender specific anyway?!) so you will see prints on both silk scarves and on linen neck ties.

linen tie

‘Eden’ Linen Tie

I will also be bringing a new product – long wool and cashmere open weave scarves – only a few – so if you would like one, please be quick.

wool scarf

‘Fennel Tangle’ Wool & Cashmere Scarf. Photo by Abi Radford.

Another new product is the wool ‘Charger Pouch’. Ok, yes, I know, that’s a bit specific and they can be used for other purposes too – coins, lens caps, lipstick, jewellery bag – but I find them especially useful while travelling. Having a brightly coloured soft wool pouch to pack my phone charger in (I can’t be the only one who fuddles about in my bag searching for said charger, can I?) is of great comfort. They are designed for the minimalist at heart who craves a block of tactile colour and has a very guilty secret pleasure (sssh, I won’t spill the beans on you but they have a patterned lining – linen off cuts from the ties to be precise, we don’t like to waste at unifiedspace).

wool and linen pouches

Wool (and linen) Charger Pouches

So new prints, new products and many other designers all housed in the Fruitmarket Gallery which of course is also home to Milk Cafe . It would be great to see you this weekend! (10th – 12th June 2016)

If you have a sec, can you tell me what your favourite colour to wear is please?

 

 

 

Notes From Premiere Vision, Paris

Having immersed myself in the vast textile trade show, Premiere Vision last week, I can report back on some key trends – but without images – photography is strictly forbidden (taking notes is not even allowed near the stands – stands being white pens with frustratingly high walls with a humid murmur leaking out from within, akin to a set from a Margaret Attwood novel) as the textiles and designs being sold are for 2017 collections and are therefore not even launched.

Red

If colour trend forecasting leaves you cold and you put it on par with reading ones horoscope, you just need to attend a seminar at a trade fair and you will find a frenzied atmosphere, a room bursting at the seams with the worlds top decision makers in fashion and interiors – as we know colour can kill or cure a business so they need time to gear up their production to get their pieces out in time to feed our every whim.

Of course there are several trend ‘stories’ which gives a platform for a variety of colours to shine but they were mostly underpinned by a juicy, meaty red. Red, we are told is in gutsy opposition to our move towards a plant based diet (although I’m sure the food writers have this covered by giving us lots of other juicy reds from pomegranates to beetroots 😉) It’s quite an impertinent colour trend really as it celebrates  fake shiny food, artificial substances, think plastic sushi cartons, rubber cups, and bright synthetic palettes. The colours may seem a touch violent and frantic, but it works because only two or a max of three are used together.

The theme is really all about contrast, sweet and sour, rough with smooth, futuristic mashed with antique. It is designed to shock, invoke a reaction, look odd and unbalanced. In fact the stranger the better. Individualism is key. Wonky prevails.

As for patterns, designs are asymmetric, off balance, and shaky. Patterns are ‘placed’ rather than repeated and ‘colouring in’ is imperfect. Registration is ‘off’. Trusty old stripes are back (and so is gingham) but think huge, spectacular and sometimes flawed. No subtleties, no mush, just dynamism.

But then I look at my notepad and see I have written ‘epidermal pales’ and ‘angel skins’, ‘palpable paleness’ with ‘chalky finish’, ‘grating simplicity’ and ‘vapours of powdery, sage, ash and clover’ …mmm, perhaps not all red then…but then I did mention contrasts 😗

So like anything, frame your colour and design choices around the story of its creation, that’s what is important, it’s your individualism that gives your designs integrity and provenance – we all like a good story after all, and trend forecasters are brilliant at doing just that.

 

Now Stocked by Wear Eponymous

Just a quick post today to announce the great news that the full collection of linen ties are now being stocked by Wear Eponymous .

Wear Eponymous

Wear Eponymous brings,

“the cream of current design talent UK wide and beyond. This isn’t the place for fast fashion or disposable purchases, this is the destination for investment pieces, stand-out accessories and unique treats”

Take a look through their site if you are looking for ethically produced independent brands and if you are quick they are currently running a great competition to win a beautiful leather VVA handbag designed by Sarah Haran.

Next post on recent travels to Norway and the London Design Festival coming shortly…

The Journey of a Linen Tie

The Slow Food Movement has been an inspiration to many and knowing that we have superb textile mills in Scotland I was very keen to produce a product with similar credentials. Scroll down and see the faces behind the various stages of production of my new range of linen ties.

Twenty nine miles from Edinburgh lies a bespoke weavers, Peter Greig, which has been weaving from the same site since 1825. 

Stacking the Flax.

Stacking the Flax. Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Flax which is used in the production of linen used to be grown in Scotland and Ireland but as Angus Nicoll, Managing Director of Peter Greig explains, our climate is not as well suited as the Benelux countries.

“All the retting that used to happen in Scotland and Ireland was Water retted rather than the standard Dew Retting that is now the norm in the Benelux Countries. The problem with the Scottish and Irish climate is that through July and August we cannot rely on clear skies and warm weather. The climate in Holland, Belgium and France is far more reliable and so the flax straw can be turned daily in the fields and the Dew rets (rots) the straw off the outside of the plant as it is damp in the morning then dried during the day. With our inclement weather the rain comes solidly through all of July and August and the whole plant never dries in the field and as a result the whole plant goes black and rots”

So, the flax is now grown and spun into yarn in the drier European countries before being prepared and woven at Peter Greigs.

Linseed Pods. Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Linseed Pods.
Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

 

Warping the Yarn Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Warping the Yarn
Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Weaving in Progress. Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Weaving in Progress.
Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Weaving the Flax

Weaving the Flax

Inspecting the Cloth Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Inspecting the Cloth
Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

And meanwhile, I design the patterns for printing onto the linen from my studio in Edinburgh

Dreaming up my next textile design

Dreaming up my next textile design

Then the plain linen is delivered to sisters Solii and Zoe at BeFabBeCreative, a printing bureau in Edinburgh where they print my designs onto the Fife linen.

Solii Brodie at BeFabBeCreative

Solii Brodie at BeFabBeCreative

From here, I take the printed cloth to Nina Falk, Creative Director at Kalopsia Collective, Edinburgh who stitches the cloth into ties. Kalopsia search for industrial equipment that is no longer being used and save the pieces from being scrapped. They refurbish them and the machines are used in their micro manufacturing facility at Ocean Terminal. Zero Waste Scotland are supporting this venture as it is a great example of the merits of a circular economy.

Nina Falk, Creative Director at Kalopsia Collective

Nina Falk, Creative Director at Kalopsia Collective

Once the ties are stitched, I package them with the story behind the inspiration for each design and Edinburgh photographer, Abi Radford, photographs them.

Photographer Abi Radford and model Jo Radford.

Photographer Abi Radford and model Jo Radford.

The passionate Gordon Millar of Scot Street Style launched my collection of  ties during Tartan Week in Brooklyn, New York earlier this year and their Edinburgh launch was at Design Weekend at the The Fruitmarket Gallery in May.

I have been working on the concept of linen ties since January so having worked for the last seven months with the wonderful creative people I have introduced you to in this post, it gives me a huge amount of satisfaction seeing the finished product and importantly selling this locally produced tie to people who are searching for ethically produced textiles from Scotland. The ties have a distinct character and attitude (I like to refer to them as my bad boy ties!) and I’ve been told offer some good chic-geek vibes around the office (!) so mix up your wardrobe and add some Scottish linen or if you are fed up with ‘double denim’ go the full hog and start a movement for ‘triple linen’ 😉

Thank you everyone who have helped make and launch the ties and thank you to all those buying them too.

And there is a new design coming out at the end of this week, it’s a special summer tie called ‘Prufrock’, one to be worn with white flannel trousers to walk along the beach…any guesses where the inspiration for this ones lies?

Fashion Revolution Day

Who made my clothes?Colours threads

This is what Fashion Revolution are asking today. They remind us,

On 24 April 2013, 1133 people were killed and over 2500
were injured when the Rana Plaza factory complex
collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Social and environmental catastrophes
in our fashion supply chains continue.

Fashion Revolution says enough is enough.

They ask us to be curious and look at the labels on our clothes. Find out who made your clothes.

And remember to look what you have on your doorstep.

In Edinburgh we have many designers – look at Emily Millichip and 13 Threads and their cutting edge pieces. We have micro manufacturers Kalopsia Collective, supportive shops Concrete Wardrobe and brand ambassadors Scot Street Style. Together they not only make fashion exciting, bespoke and unique but they make it ethical.

Tonight Edinburgh College of Art will stage their 2015 Fashion/Costume/Textiles Show where their next generation of designers are propelled into the spot light. These young designers are hungry, motivated and will hopefully be the people designing and making our clothes in the future.

Do you have an art school near you? Have you been to see the students work? Do you have exciting local brands near you? If so, let us know who they are and what their story is so we can all support them.

And remember, look at your labels.

Fennel, a Blouse and a Bag

Have you ever been obsessed with a plant?

I am intrigued with how a plant can become so profoundly influential and evocative. Early memories of brushing past great fronds of wild fennel on the white sand dunes of Northern Brittany have well and truly got into my system.

fennel, Brittany

A few years ago I tried to turn a small corner of Scotland (my garden) into a taste of Brittany by planting fennel and artichoke seeds.  I can now report that both plants thrive in conditions here in Edinburgh and this summer I returned from holiday to find a fennel jungle staring back at me. At this point I was reading a novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, The Language of Flowers , and I was not surprised to discover the Victorians associated fennel with strength and vigour – highly appropriate as my supremely healthy fennel plants had colonised every little crevice they could find, including cracks in the tarmac drive! 

Of course I did the many obvious things with the crop, like eating the bulb, the fronds and the seeds (fresh and dried) and I had huge vases of the decorative stalks in the house which dropped hundreds of beautiful tiny balls of pollen which I gathered to use in a colour study (still thinking of Wolfgang Laib exhibition I saw a few years ago in Washington D.C. ) When I mentioned the pollen to a chef friend from Timberyard he told me the pollen is a great ingredient to add to bread to give it a honeyed aniseed flavour, a good texture and lovely colour. This was news to me but I have since spotted the pollen, often called, The Spice of Angels,  for sale on various specialist spice sites and I have thoroughly enjoyed experimenting with it in my own kitchen. If you are after more ideas, pump in ‘fennel’ to Kellie’s  Food To Glow blog and you will learn about the anti cancer flavonoids present in fennel and find a multitude of great recipes too.

But now for the other influence the plant has had on me – some new work.

Fennel Tangle, silk

This is my most recent design called Fennel Tangle. I had it printed onto 100% Habotai silk by Solli and Zoe at their brilliant Edinburgh print bureau. Although it’s normally homewares that I am involved in, I decided this print had to be worn. Over at Make Me a Frock, you will find Claire, an incredibly talented seamstress (and also a real perfectionist and poet) who has razor sharp observational skills and I knew she would interpret the fabric into a beautiful garment…and by golly she has. Below are images of the blouse she created for me. I am blown away by the design and microscopic stitches on the extremely fine silk. The blouse has that rare power that very occasionally clothes can give – it’s my new ‘cloak’ of strength and vigour, thank you Claire.

front of blouse

back of blouse

I’ve also added several cotton canvas bags to my shop, one of the designs, surprise surprise features a fennel head.

fennel bag

DSC_0006

What is your favourite plant? Do you have early memories of a particular plant? Have any plants played a role in your work? 

The Clothes Our Parents Wore

Having recently embarked upon designing my own textiles, I asked Mum and Dad to look through their photo albums and send me any snaps they had of Mum’s dresses in the late 1950’s. Well I wasn’t disappointed. Mum and Dad appeared looking out of the vintage, slightly crushed photos looking massively stylish…and look at the printed textiles.

These photos were all taken before I was born but I clearly remember the colours, designs and even textures of the cloth Mum and Dad both wore while I was growing up. It made me think how we all subliminally influence our children. The designs Mum and Dad chose are imprinted in my mind and have certainly affected my own taste as an adult (interestingly my eldest teenage son has just bought spectacles which are exactly the same as the ones my Dad, his Grand Father, wore in the late 1950’s).

How clearly I remember interior textiles that surrounded me too. The curtains that hung in our houses tended to be flat blocks of colour in varying but simplistic shapes, something I still crave and indeed base my own designs around. They favoured Danish furniture, something I do too. And then I started thinking a bit harder about my childhood interior and I remember a cylindrical copper suspension lamp shade that Dad (who is a scientist, not a designer) made for the dining room – all before Tom Dixon was even born!

The 1950’s and 1960’s were of course extremely creative decades where people had the confidence to experiment, customise and have fun with clothes and interiors. A time before the dominant big huge brands  that many seem to crave now. However, a wave of bespoke and individual designers which have global platforms like etsy and t.v programmes such as The Great British Sewing Bee have shown the public a glimpse of how much talent is out their and believe me, if you have any spare time, surf through etsy and be prepared to be amazed.

Do you remember the textiles your parents wore? If so, do you think they have influenced your choices as an adult?

January = Creative Time

So, here we are in January scuttering back to work but oddly enough it’s one of my favourite months. Being the first month of a brand new year, January gives me renewed focus and an excuse to try out new techniques (in other words a month where I feel no guilt about spending more time on creative projects and less time on administrative and business tasks!)

clay men by Lawrence Epps

Clay Commuting Men by Lawrence Epps

For those of us living in Edinburgh, another bonus about January is that the National Galleries of Scotland  mount a beautiful Turner exhibition. The extensive collection of paintings was bequeathed to the Gallery with instructions that they must be ‘exhibited to the public all at one time, free of charge, during the month of January’ and this has been faithfully adhered to for over 100 years.

As its normally abstract expressionism that inspires me, I find visiting the Turner exhibition each year a great way of shifting my ‘normal’ way of thinking to considering other ideas.

Butting blocks of solid flat colour against each other is something I will never tire of as the energy that is created between two sparring colours or indeed the harmonious marriage of related colours discovering each other is an infinite source of enjoyment for me. However, the pure romanticism of the Turner paintings with their semi-transparent colour washes capturing stunning moods across the paper, or as Johannes Itten described as “a psychio-expressive medium to lend mood to a landscape” made me think about translucent colours and colour gradation.

air colour gradation

As you know, colour gradation has been a popular trend over the last year and  Danish brand Hay have designed stunning textiles using this technique. You will probably have noticed shop windows filled with clothes in colour gradations and teenagers adorning ‘dip dyed’ hair.

Shop window, London So with this in mind and with the plan to have some textiles woven by one of our  fabulous mills in Scotland (and there are many with incredible craft men and woman producing staggeringly high quality textiles), I am currently working on designs with gradients punctuated by solid beams of colour. It’s early days and I am still at a messy creative stage in the process but that’s what January is all about.

My etsy shop is now up and running as is unifiedspace on facebook and pinterest and I have an alternative blog, nikispace, for those short on time and  just looking for a picture rather than words – I told you I was having fun in January!

Photo taken in the Rolf Sachs 'Journey of an Ink Drop' exhibition

Photo taken in the Rolf Sachs ‘Journey of an Ink Drop’ exhibition