Designer Session: Abigail Weston

Designer Session: Abigail Weston

Student of Central St Martins, Abigail Weston, is the winner of our Student Design Competition for the 10th annual Wool Week, an initiative from Campaign for Wool to celebrate the very best of student design across interiors, clothing and textiles. We were blown away by Abigail's design and caught up with her to find out a little more about the methodology behind the winning design.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you ended up studying at Central Saint Martins?

My current degree in Textile Design is actually my second, after having studied Politics at the University of Bristol before moving up to Manchester to train for legal qualifications.

I'm originally from Potters Bar in Hertfordshire, so found a job closer to home in London, before deciding that I wanted to study textile design.

How long have you been studying there?

My journey began with the Textiles Portfolio short course, it was during this that I found a passion and decided to apply for the BA (Hons) Textile Design degree course. I was lucky enough to be accepted and have just started in my second year.

What made you enter the Student Design Competition?

I thought it would provide a really useful experience in completing a self-led project and would allow me to put into practice some of the skills I'd learnt in my first year of studying.

I wanted to do something that would push me out of my comfort zone, by submitting design work for aesthetic judgement outside of my course environment.

I wanted to do something that would push me out of my comfort zone.

Can you describe what you wanted your design to say about you and your work?

As a designer, I love taking inspiration from the unexpected and finding beautiful details where others might not look. I wanted my final design to reflect this. I really enjoyed my research for the project, exploring brickwork in the Kings Cross area of London, and I wanted my design to communicate the vibrant colour and inspiring textures I found.

I also love making textiles that feel powerful and communicate strength so it was important that my final design achieved this through a bold colour palette and strong pattern.

Tell us about the creative process you went through?

I feel a connection to Kings Cross because the college is located there, so decided to base my research for the project in the area. Given the district's industrial heritage there's an abundance of brickwork, so I began to photograph it and was amazed by the vibrant colours and textures found within.

Back at home I had a huge amount of fun experimenting with mark making. I used bricks from the garden as printing tools, transferring paint onto paper and documenting the different patterns. They proved unpredictable and I enjoyed the uncontrollable nature of the process.

Referencing the photographs taken at Kings Cross, I began to play with composition. While exploring I'd discovered a particularly interesting textured wall with diagonal markings and I began to respond to this with folded and torn paper. I found myself continually coming back to this wall and my final design was ultimately inspired by it.

For me, colour exploration an important part of the design process, so I selected a number of vibrant colours from my research photographs and produced studies that played with different combinations and proportions. I then created four final artworks that explored pattern, colour proportion, shape and pile height before selecting my favourite to submit to the competition.

I used bricks from the garden as printing tools

What surprised you most about the rug making process?

I specialise in knitted and woven textile design and I'm fascinated by the craft of textile construction. I really enjoyed learning more about the processes involved in making the rug. I was certainly surprised by the number of skilled individuals who would be involved in creating the rug from start to finish.

And what did you find most enjoyable and the most frustrating aspects of the process?

I loved the unpredictable nature of both the mark making and the tearing of paper. It was exciting to see these elements come together in the final compositions. The colours were so vibrant and energetic and I really enjoyed seeing the effects of different combinations and proportions of them.

In fact, I had wanted to continue with my development and see what other directions I could push my work in. However, the onset of the coronavirus pandemic was a very unsettling time, and I found it difficult to maintain my creativity in this period. The deadline for this competition actually landed shortly after the UK went into lockdown. I really hope to return to my research and development of this project one day.

How are you feeling about seeing the finished article?

I am really excited to see the final rug on display in the showroom, having only seen photographs of it so far. I can’t wait to see the size of the rug, as I created my final design on a much smaller scale! I also can’t wait to explore the delicate details and to appreciate the skill that has gone into creating it.

You can find out more about Abigail's design and other winning entries over on the Campaign for Wool's website. You can take a virtual tour of the exhibition including clothing and textiles with brands such as Margo Selbey, John Smedley and Hackett.