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Meet 14 of Australia's Most Exciting Textile Designers

TDF Design Awards

Australia’s textile design industry, spanning fashion, homewares, soft furnishings, industrial applications is a source of endless inspiration. Not only are the designers in this field constantly creating new patterns and collections, they’re forever adapting to the changing economic and environmental climate. 

The finalists in the Textile Design category of the TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021 are a snapshot of the local creatives rising to these industry challenges. Shortlisted entries cover everything from socks to carpets, bags, blankets and clothing – all produced via innovative means.

Our Textile Design judges this year are Købn founder Sophie Matson, and design manager at Warwick Fabrics Luciana Wallis, who have assessed all of these projects based on their originality, craftsmanship, function, sustainability, and visionary thinking.

2nd September, 2021

Photo – Molly Heath

Badaam, The Meeting Place

The Meeting Place collection by Badaam encourages cultural exchanges by experimenting with drape, silhouette and patterns found in the Asia-Pacific region. The symbol and line prints represent ancient knowledge systems passed down through carvings on rock or ground, while the rawness and colour of handwoven silk reflect the earth these symbols were first drawn. 

The collection hopes to remind people of the sacred role of creation, and that each shared story contributes to the diversity and cultural understanding of the environment they inhabit.

Amber Days, Wanala Collection 

Founded by Yorta Yorta and Boonwurrung woman Corina Muir, Amber Days is an apparel label inspired by the Australia bush, desert and sea. In Wanala, the Aboriginal-owned, female-led label collaborated with Aboriginal artist Arkie Beaton on a playful print depicting floral energy in bright bursts of colour.

Since launching in October 2018, Amber Days has released five collaborations with female First Nations artists. With each new collection comes a new opportunity to strengthen awareness of Aboriginal culture, stories, and the importance of caring for the country.

Left photo – Victoria Barnes. Right photo – Timothy Robertson

Photos – Jesse O’Brien

Instyle Interior Finishes, Native

Native is a beautiful commercial upholstery fabric designed by Carol Debono from Instyle’s in-house textile design studio.

The inspiration for Native was driven by colour and a desire to create a pared-back textile with a

timeless and versatile appearance at an accessible price point. Working closely with Instyle’s longstanding Australian manufacturing partner, Carol utilised existing yarn qualities made from high-quality Australian wool to translate these into a new fabric design. By using quality raw materials and the simplest of constructions (a plain weave) the resultant Native textile is understated, price-competitive, heavy duty and highly versatile, complementing a vast range of furniture types and shapes.

Nobody Denim and GEORGE, Woven Bag

The objective of this textile project was to reduce Nobody Denim’s footprint and reimagine commercial textile waste. Cut offs otherwise destined for landfill were gathered from the denim label’s cutting room floor, and rerouted into the hands of weaver and designer, Georgina Whigham for her label, GEORGE.

Prioritising a slow approach to manufacture, each bag is meticulously handmade by Georgina using her traditional four shaft floor loom. Completely left to chance, the colour palette of each piece is determined by what denim fabrication has recently been cut at Nobody’s factory. The process takes several hours to complete via the laborious process of cutting, weaving and sewing. 

Left photo – Georgie Brunmayr. Right photo – Hattie Molloy x Annika Kafcaloudis

Photos – Still Smiths

Curio Practice, Australian Woollen Blankets

Curio is a practice in slow craftsmanship and responsible knitting, partnering with ethical local factories and using consciously selected Australian merino wool yarns to create heirloom-quality blankets for the everyday. 

The label’s blankets are made using around 1.9kg of high-grade Australian merino wool sourced from farms across Victoria, New South Wales, and Western Australia. On average, each blanket takes two hours to knit in ethical Melbourne knitting factories, and are then linked, washed and pressed. 

Takeawei, Glaze Test Woollen Blanket

Ceramicist Chela Edmunds of Takeawei collaborated with Geelong Textiles Australia to create a colourful blanket that simulates the process of glazing of clay bodies in the weft of the weave. Unlike symmetrical checks that rely on mirrored elements, the check design is irregular and features large sections of block colour, tonal stripes and small pixelated colour transitions to show the breadth of variation that can be achieved. Edges are naturally frayed from the weaving and milling process. 

The woollen blankets are made from 90% Australian wool and 10% nylon for durability, wash and wear.

Photos – Victoria Aguirre

Photos – Getty Images

Pampa, Eclipse

Working with their partner weavers in Argentina’s Andean mountains, Pampa produced a collection of rug designs inspired by the moon and sun. These celestial bodies are re-cast as universal symbols of warmth, vitality and comfort during a year of instability and uncertainty.

Taking its cues from Bauhaus, Eclipse is an exercise in colour play and architectural form. The result is a series of textiles that are bold, bright and expressive. Handwoven in luxuriously soft sheep’s wool, each piece takes many hours to weave and is entirely unique in its craftsmanship.

Tara Whalley, New York Fashion Week Collection

Created specifically to show at New York Fashion Week in 2020, Tara Whalley’s uplifting fashion collection was inspired by bright and joyful flowers, from those spotted on strolls through her Melbourne neighbourhood to the striking blooms Tara admired in Japanese markets on her honeymoon. These references were channelled that into a bold collection that includes apron dresses, boiler suits, kimonos, loose-fit pants, silk scarves and eye-catching ball gowns. 

The 28-piece collection as always features Tara’s whimsical, hand-painted artwork – a mix of pencil and gouache, translated into digital prints. Each piece is designed to be trans seasonal and inclusive.

Photos – Caro Pattle

Photos – Jenny Wu

Caro Pattle, Woven Vase & Cup

Using machine-made textile remnants sourced from a neighbouring dead stock merchant and her own wardrobe, Caro Pattle reproduced contemporary domestic objects including a vase and cup in handwoven form.

Woven Vase & Cup are the result of an iterative research and development phase that focused on creating the perfect balance between process and material. The vessels are a collaboration between industrial and hand-crafted techniques, combining industrially produced fabric with the ancient technology of coil basketry. Woven from a single cotton/elastane textile remnant, the objects pay homage to the unique properties of the gauzy fabric. In restricting the material palette, Woven Vase & Cup offers a moment of aesthetic appreciation for an undervalued resource.

Oat Studio, Capital Collection

Textile label Oat Studio’s Capital Collection integrates iconic architectural shapes and lines into a printed fabric design. Inspired by Australian modernism, the collection expresses a love for these bold architectural forms, and expresses them through the contrasting soft tones and textures of natural fabrics. 

All Oat Studio fabrics are printed-to-order to eliminate waste. The studio uses water based inks and recycled paper by-products, and works with printers who have achieved a Sustainable Green Print Accreditation.

Photo – Mike Baker

Kuwaii, ‘Chronicle’ For Spring/Summer ’20

Melbourne fashion label Kuwaii reimagined the colourful painted pieces of local painter Charlotte Alldis onto silhouettes in their summer 2020 clothing and footwear collection, Chronicle. 

The range was inspired by story telling, and fully made up of archival Kuwaii styles spanning our 10 years of business. Designed to be worn over and over, Kuwaii imagined pieces to be like ‘walking artworks’ – pieces customers would keep and would remember forever. Pieces were constructed in Melbourne on a selection of natural fibre based cloths (linen and cotton).

GH Commercial, Oceanic Commercial Carpet Collection

Combining non-traditional graphic elements with functional comfort, the designs for the Oceanic carpet collection by GH Commercial are inspired by ocean ecosystems in the Great Barrier Reef and the Tasman and Coral seas.

The objective of the carpet collection was to enhance user experience through striking patterns and biophilic design elements, but also providing exceptional comfort underfoot and reduced noise reduction in busy commercial spaces, providing a more pleasant indoor environment. The cohesive collection features three different carpet mediums to provide an extensive array of patterns that work as standalone solutions or grouped together. 

Photo – Christian Koch

Photo – Sam Wong. Set design – Nat Turnbull

Ikuntji Artists + Publisher Textiles, Clothing Collection

Aboriginal art centre Ikuntji Artists partnered with Publisher Textiles to release a collaborative collection of 100% Australian designed and made clothing. Prints were created by both established and emerging artists in order to show the breadth of Ikuntji designs, provide a diversity of prints for different markets, and provide income to artists. Each piece was crafted by Publisher and the fabric screen printed by hand.

Artists drew their inspiration from their personal Ngurra (country) and Tjukurrpa (Dreaming). The designs are unique to Central Australia, particularly the sand hills, waterholes, jagged mountains and sandy plains of the West MacDonnell Ranges.

Paire, The World’s Comfiest Socks

Paire socks are made from a hybrid wool-cotton fabric that combines the comfort of the former with the durability of the latter.

The Melbourne label developed their unique yarn-blend from scratch, made up of 50% Australian merino wool and 50% organic cotton. The smoother, softer, moisture-wicking and odour absorbing fabric is a true chameleon that’s warm in the cold and cool in the heat. The socks are cut at 90 degrees, hand sewn shut so there’s no irritating seam, and contain cloud cushioning for added support.

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The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.