Today we are delighted to share a short interview with Twofold founder Jessica Warner Stites. Twofold is “the online destination for textiles, pillows, throws, scarves, table runners and other textile pieces, created by Australian native Jessica to channel her passion for textiles and showcase the designers she’s discovered, especially through her travels.
Jessica grew up in Canberra, Australia’s capital. After graduating from the Australian National University, she moved to New York, where she worked for the Guggenheim Museum and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. She also nurtured her longstanding interest in textiles with classes in surface design and weaving at the Fashion Institute of Technology. In 2007, she moved to Asia with her family, spending time in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney before returning to the U.S. and settling in Boulder, Colorado.
On Twofold, Jessica offers a carefully edited selection of scarves, bags, table linens and fabric goods from designers who stand out for their inventive patterns and old-world craftsmanship. They come from all over the globe, and their work is energized by cross-cultural collaborations and a meticulous attention to detail.”
Jessica was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about her company and the amazing brands she carries. Enjoy!
What are your methods for selecting artists/brands for Twofold?
The idea for Twofold started when I lived in Japan in 2007 – 2008. I really enjoyed learning about traditional Japanese textile design techniques. I also enjoyed discovering designers who are making contemporary products using these old techniques. At first the idea was to sell Japanese designers to customers outside of Japan but then I expanded the idea to include designers from all over the world who are making beautiful, contemporary products that employ age-old textile-design methods of dyeing, weaving, printing, etc.
What are some of your favorite artists/brands you carry on Twofold?
My favorite designers are from Japan, who have such a unique design perspective. I love how they translate old Japanese traditions into new designs. My bestsellers are the Azuma bag from Kyototo and scarves from NUNO. Interestingly, Kyototo is a new, young brand whereas NUNO is an established brand, known since the 80s for their cutting-edge fabrics.
I also keep discovering young, entrepreneurial couples that have launched textile design businesses. These include Safomasi, an English/Indian couple based in New Delhi; Rouse Phillips, a young Australian couple based in Sydney; LuRu Home, a pair of American friends based in Shanghai & New York who make products using traditional Chinese nankeen fabrics; and Walter G (not yet on the website), a couple of Australian friends who design and develop new fabrics in India.
Tell us a bit about your travels–how have they influenced/informed you and your business?
My experiences overseas have had the biggest influence on my business and my interest in design. I grew up in Australia butas an adult I’ve lived in New York, California, Washington DC, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sydney and Colorado. I’ve enjoyed discovering new designers in all of these places (and during other travels) and seeing the similarities and differences in design techniques and styles. I’ve lived in Colorado for the the past three years and I’ve enjoyed exploring textiles of the American southwest, including the Navajo and Rio Grande weaving traditions. For instance, I’ve enjoyed visiting remote trading posts that have been selling Navajo rugs for decades and also attending a monthly rug auction that takes place on the Navajo reservation. This is a great opportunity to buy rugs directly from the weavers.
How would you describe your design aesthetic? What are you drawn to?
I love color and pattern! I like bold, geometric designs and strong colors. I also like texture – for instance, I love how Suki Cheema and Seema Krish add embroidery to their printed designs.
Do you design yourself? If so what do you like to design?
I grew up sewing with my mum (she’s an excellent quilter). When I lived in New York I took surface design and weaving classes at FIT and Parsons. I like to do periodic textile design workshops — most recently I did a weaving class at Weaving Southwest in Taos, New Mexico. This month I’m taking a natural dyeing workshop at Tierra Wools in Los Ojos, New Mexico. When I lived in Tokyo, I did workshops at NUNO Works and Avril. Last year I took a group of women on a two-week textile trip to Japan where we did an intensive indigo and shibori dyeing workshop, in addition to other workshops and studio tours. I’m planning another tour for 2015. I always wanted to pursue a textile design degree but we don’t live near a university that offers one now.
Anything else you’d like to share that will allow our readers to get to know you and Twofold better?
I really love the connections I’ve made with various textile designers through Twofold. Building these relationships is really satisfying. In the future, I would like to have a bricks-and-mortar store in addition to the online store. Its a lot more fun to interact with customers in person and it helps for customers to see the products in person. I also plan to continue organizing textile/design tours to Japan in addition to other destinations, including Australia.
(Left) Jessica and her daughter outside the new Aspen Art Museum. Designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, it features a woven wooden screen (seen in the photo) around the outside of the building. Jessica is wearing an indigo-dyed skirt, which she made in Japan last year when she led a textile tour there. She’s also carrying a woven bamboo basket, which she bought from the maker in Japan last year. (Right) Bonnie and Neil
Chelsea’s Challenge is a twice-monthly post series in The Textile Design Lab, in which we share design ideas and inspiration to help our students create new work and build their portfolios. The goal of these challenges is to provide a jumping-off point and help spark ideas for prints that may be outside of their usual go-to themes or styles. You can read more about the Challenges here.
Please enjoy two of the stand-out collections created by our members last month, in response to our supermarket-themed challenge!
“I was inspired by textures on vegetables & fruits. I love to mix mark making, crafts and textures ideas in my design. In this collection, I’ve experimented with tissue paper to create the textures and collage-like feel. I’m very happy with the handmade results and then edited them in Illustrator & Photoshop. It’s an enjoyable process, thanks for viewing.”
You can connect with Kelly via her Pinterest page.
Akiko da Silva
“For the supermarket challenge I chose my local Lawson’s convenient store as my source of inspiration. It’s like a miniature supermarket and chock full of colorful products and packaging. For this set, I created patterns based on bento meals, the typography of ramen packaging, snacks, and the branding elements of Lawson’s itself. All design elements were first hand-drawn then scanned, traced, and composed in Illustrator.”
See more from Akiko at www.akikodasilva.com.
Check out more student responses to this challenge and others on our Chelsea’s Challenge Pinterest board!
Amy Sia is a London-based licensed artist and textile print/fashion designer known for her distinctive bold use of colour within joyful, energetic, feminine and painterly designs. Amy’s designs have been used by fashion designers all over the world including Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Anthropologie and many others, and she also has her own product line. We are delighted to have Amy join us as our guest expert for September in The Textile Design Lab!
Today we are sharing an excerpt from Amy’s full interview posted in The Lab. Join us today to gain access to the rest of the interview, as well as Amy’s free training on the different ways of earning a living in this industry that she has experienced– commissions, selling through an agent, and licensing and manufacturing her own product–which will be posted exclusively for Textile Design Lab members later this month. Enjoy!
Tell us a bit about your design background. How did you become interested in textile design?
I’ve always loved art and fashion. In my final year at school I was deciding between whether to study fine art or fashion design. In the end I chose fashion design and studied at RMIT in Melbourne Australia. After graduating I worked in the fashion industry in a few different roles including design and production for high end design brands but also for mass market producers, in the womenswear and childrenswear market.
You have a very recognizable style to your work–is this something that developed naturally or did you have to make a conscious effort to create a cohesive body of work?
My style did develop naturally. I just keep doing art that I love and this usually involves painting and lot of bold colours!
A very distinct style isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing. I have fallen into the work I do because my work is very distinct. If your style is very changeable and you have a lot of different styles you might be well suited to working for a textile print agency where you are required to work on different briefs and within different styles.
Tell us a bit about your design process. What media/design tools do you like to use?
For my own work I usually begin my process by looking for inspiration. It can be anything something I’ve seen while out, something I’ve seen at an exhibition or gallery, something online from a blog or Pinterest. That might spark a composition idea, colour idea or a theme idea this is usually just a starting point. I will then do a large amount of painting sometimes I’ll experiment with another art form (marbling, drawing, collage etc). Once I have gathered enough material I’ll scan everything in and start experimenting with it in Photoshop. Sometimes I’ll tweak things only a little but often the original piece is unrecognisable when next to the finished design.
I like to experiment with things, but I am constantly using my Wacom tablet, Photoshop, Colortrac scanner and Dr. Ph. Martin’s radiant concentrated water colour, watercolour paper. I also use Scola marbling inks, gauche, traditional watercolours, pencils and metallic inks.
Do you have any words of advice for aspiring designers trying to make their way in the textile industry?
I’d say persevere but don’t be afraid of change. Sometimes it takes a while to develop and realise what area or areas of the industry you are suited to working in and to develop a style and body of work that is commercial.
Try to separate your work from yourself. Rejection is normal it happens to everyone and it doesn’t reflect on you as a person. It’s something I still find difficult but it’s important to know! Just because you get a “no” doesn’t mean you are never going to get a “yes”.
Finally, it takes times, so be patient but work hard.
Join us in The Textile Design Lab to read the rest of the interview!
We fell in love with Kelly Ventura’s “fresh florals, playful prints and organic hand-painted patterns” when we first featured her in our Surtex preview back in May, and we are over the moon to get to share more of her recent work! A surface designer based in Michigan, she creates pattern and art for a variety of clients in the home, gift and children’s industries.
“Through her experience working for a home decor and gift wholesaler in Chicago, Ventura quickly realized her love for pattern and product. In 2011, she started her dream company, Kelly Ventura Design and hasn’t looked back. After months of preparation, Ventura reached one of her business goals earlier this year and debuted at Surtex, leaving the show floor with a great response to her work. On any given day, you can find Ventura painting in her studio; creating fresh watercolor pattern and prints for a number of recognized national and international brands. She currently has product assortments with Bloomingdale’s, Crate and Barrel, Minted and West Elm, with a few new collaborations launching in 2015! She can now officially share the news that she has partnered with Windham Fabrics on a collection called, Flora, which will launch in April of 2015! Stay tuned for her watercolor patterns featured on quilting cottons and cotton lawn!”
sneak peek of the Windham collection
Visit kellyventura.com to see more from this mega talented designer! Enjoy your weekend!! -Chelsea