Annie Coop comes from a family of hand crafters. ‘I’ve always loved the process and meaning behind art and craft,’ she says, describing an affinity with handmaking that has lasted her entire life. ‘Both my mother and grandmother were keen knitters, quilters and embroiderers,’ she says. ‘Being a maker is in my family.’
Design and artisanal textiles might be in her genes, but they’re also in her training. After finishing school, she travelled around South America and Europe, where she undertook residencies in printmaking and design. ‘Spanish culture is bursting with energy and colour, from vibrant architecture to beautifully simple yet sophisticated textiles,’ the young designer says.
She also tells of her appreciation for the storytelling embedded in Spanish home decoration: the way that antiques bring layers of history to a room, and ornamentation like textiles, lighting and furniture is a way for inhabitants to weave their personalities into a space. ‘The simplicity and subtlety of their colour palettes, often just having one or two colours alongside crisp white, felt so uncomplicated,’ she says. ‘I wanted to bring the vibrancy and fun into my projects. The simplicity of it all makes me happy.’
With all this practical overseas experience under her belt, and the inspiring cultural fabric of Spain and Mexico surging through her veins, Annie moved from Sydney to Melbourne to study Textile Design at RMIT on her return to Australia. From there, she began a career in fashion and interior design projects, in order to learn about client relationships and sustainable manufacturing. Her fabrics are now sold to interior designers and furniture makers around the world!
Annie’s time at university also encouraged a deep commitment to sustainability principles. ‘The textile industry does not have the greatest reputation towards sustainability,’ she admits. ‘So it has always been a priority for me to operate in a thoughtful and considerate manner.’ This involves using water-based printing pigment ink, and digital printing in small runs rather than mass-produced volumes. All Annie’s textiles are made to order and she doesn’t hold stock, meaning her operation subverts the supply-and-demand chain, resulting in no excess waste in landfill. Annie designs out of her home studio in Richmond, and prints her pieces around the corner in Abbotsford, adding to the locality of her practice.
A huge highlight for Annie is seeing her designs brought to life in interiors, on furniture, and in photo shoots. ‘Interior designers, furniture designers, upholsterer and stylists always impress me with how they transform the fabric into gorgeous pieces of furniture, and create a theme within a space,’ she says. ‘The more I see the transformation from fabric to product, the more I want to create and be a part of the process!’