Last night as I lay in bed, I slipped into a little fantasy. “Show me EVERYTHING” said Hugh Jackman, with a flirtatious grin and a twinkle in his eye. My heart pounded and I trembled from head to toe as I lay before him… the designs for my new fabric range.
(Oh, sorry, I should have mentioned that Hugh is playing the role of Head of New Fabric Design for Ella Blue in this fantasy.)
“I call this range Silver Linings” I said proudly. “As you can see, it’s based on the weather. These clouds and colourful umbrellas are perfect for fussy cutting, and these swirling winds make great blenders. I particularly love the metallics I’ve used in some of the raindrops and stylised sun rays. And look how clever I’ve been here with representing snow! The wet watercolour effect I’ve used for these solids is gorgeous. Who knew there were so many beautiful colours to be found in a stormy sky?”
“It’s amazing! I’ll transfer six gazillion dollars to your account immediately. Unless you’d like to be paid in… exposure?” said Hugh, as he started unbuttoning his shirt.
“Nah, cash is fine.”
We had a little fun in our Modern Makers group this week with the question “If Ella Blue knocked on your door tomorrow and said ‘you are our new feature designer’ what would your first fabric line look like?”. Although my response above was
mostly partly slightly in jest, it did set me thinking about how hard it actually is to design fabric.
Firstly, you need an idea that hasn’t been done before. Then you need to take account of the different sizes of images required for various purposes, and make them all play nicely together. Once you’ve spent the best part of half a lifetime deciding on the colour scheme, you’ll need to tie it all together somehow with a theme, and come up with a cute or catchy name for it. Finally, you need to sit opposite Hugh Jackman’s twinkly eyes, trying not to drool all over your lovely new designs.
My first instinct was to think about my favourite fabric ranges and imagine I’d make something similar, but when you really think about it, the designs you love and use yourself may not be where your own design talent lays. For example, I immediately thought “I’d love to design something like Alexander Henry’s Lost At Sea”, but slight problemo in that I can’t actually draw. What I can do though is doodle. Lines and swirls and simple shapes are within the realms of possibility for me. Next I found myself wondering “who am I?”. Not in a Zoolander-staring-into-a-puddle-reflection kind of way, but more “what’s in my blood?”. The first thing that sprung to mind was nature. I started thinking leaves and foliage, trees and bark, but again I didn’t feel like I’d have the artistic talent to carry that off. I needed something more graphic. And that’s when I was hit by a strong weather front. I’ve always loved the little symbols used on weather maps: the cute little cartoon clouds, the raindrops, the blowing wind. Also, I’m British, and weather is our second favourite subject of conversation (surpassed only by the roads we took to get to wherever it is that we’re having the conversation). Once I had my theme, the ideas came as thick and fast as a London fog on the M25.
Now I’m no expert on the subject of fabric design – I’ve only ever had one fantasy meeting about it for example – but it seems to me that designing fabric is partly inspiration, a fair sprinkling of graphic design or artistic talent, and a huge chunk of your very own, unique personality.
Whether or not you’ve just witnessed the germination of a future fabric range by The Baroness will remain to be seen (you’re more likely to be pulled up as a witness in my Hugh Jackman stalking case), but I totally recommend indulging in a little fantasy now and then. At the very least it gives you huge respect for those designers who churn out amazing fabric ranges over and over again. But you never know, you might actually come up with an fabulous idea that, one day, you find yourself pitching to the real Head of New Fabric Design at Ella Blue. Just make sure they keep their clothes on.
(aka The Baroness)