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Irish design students focus on colour and the circular economy

Fashion and textile design undergraduates from four institutions across Ireland came together at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin on 23rd June, for the Irish heat of the SDC International Design Competition 2017. The students were competing to win a place at the Grand Final which takes place in November in Sri Lanka.

The brief was to ‘explore and demonstrate the creative, imaginative, technical and original use of colour in either fashion or textiles suitable for a circular economy’.  

The judges were Judith Neilly John England/Fergusons Irish Linen and Brendan Joseph. Once again, the standard was exceptionally high, and we are pleased to profile some of the entrants and highlight the comments from the judges.

Claudia Tahney, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology

Claudia is inspired by modern architecture and curved linear shapes, which we see in her motifs and the structure of her garment. The scarf that she produced was very commercial. Its subtle tones that would be easily saleable in trend markets. Eco-friendly does not necessarily mean recycled or used, it starts with reduced. The pieces that are enduringly desirable and versatile, even if only for one customer and for one purpose, are her most effective.

Alan Cresswell, Ulster University

Alan’s inspiration is telling stories through textiles – the modern tapestry. He has a great back story and starting point – life in Mount Stewart in the time of Lady Londonderry. As presented, it’s a collage of artworks. His drawings, mark making and individual motifs are strong. If he broke the designs apart into separate ranges it would be strongly commercial with a broad range of potential applications. This is a work in progress, it has a lot of potential, and we look forward to seeing where he takes it next.

Niamh Kavanagh, National College of Art and Design, Dublin

An inspiration in the rolling obsolescence of fast fashion and the loss of consciousness within todays’ society has helped Niamh create her screen and digital prints. Based on music related objects, once cherished, now discarded, she wants her designed fabric to be worn and regenerated to a different use. She sees her customer as being the customer of Stella McCartney – wanting both ethical luxury fashion and a minimal subtle boldness. Niamh’s end product is a range of transparent nylons and lightweight silks. An unusual palette, more of tones and effects than true colour, Niamh communicates the concept of ‘subtle boldness’ in a map-like design with areas of slight highlight.

Rachel Maxwell, Ulster University

Rachel developed a sophisticated, philosophical response to the brief. Her focus was on anxiety – where she felt anxious and where she felt safe – and she selected her palette from her safe haven, assigning positive and negative emotional impact to specific colours. She developed an interesting 3-D shape, changing colour through movement as light hits different planes.

Runner Up: Georgia Dunne, National College of Art and Design, Dublin

Georgia demonstrated a love of her urban environment, extracting a palette from colours that are familiar and yet not obvious. She has created a palette that is both fun and bang on trend for spring 2018. She set out with a clear customer in mind and we could see fashion blogger Susie Bubble writing her blog wrapped up in the throw or the tunics. We can see a level of excellence in her research, exploration, testing and execution in sourcing her materials and yarns, as well as production techniques from hand weaving and jacquard weaving to screen printing and digital printing. She has applied her knowledge and colour palette to great effect in a clear and well-targeted end product.

Runner Up: Niamh Hurley, Ulster University

Niamh’s colour palette is stripped down with discipline and elegance. She begins with her fascination with rust, refining this through a thorough, methodological process, with the introduction of sympathetic colour harmonies to enliven the rust tones and increase their impact. Her handwoven samples, developed for interior accents, are elegant and supple with a strong emphasis on texture. She uses lamb’s wool, cotton, metal, devoré and metallic yarn and print to achieve a symphony of texture and colour in a tightly defined palette. The end products – cushions – show a clear understanding of the theme in a truly innovative and commercial way.

Winner: Eleanore Curley, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology

Eleanore was enthusiastic and proud to wear her own design and garment. She has a great palette with very effective highlights derived from an active outdoors lifestyle and the beautiful clash of accents with sufficient context to provide harmony, like an orange oar hitting the brown/blue water of an estuary. She had a strong focus on, and clear understanding of, the needs and desires of her end customer, the sporty generation ‘Y girl’. In developing this product, fully reversible double-faced sportswear jackets, she demonstrates individuality in her fabric design, colour range and end product. Her samples showed technical excellence and knowledge, clearly built through exhaustive exploration of the design development processes involved. The use of strong colours in a balanced context in a desirable commercial end product is a difficult thing to achieve. It was evident that she had continued to push her materials and explore alternatives until she had the results she desired.

Congratulations to all the students, and we look forward to seeing Eleanore at the grand final in November. Eleanore can be see in the image at the top with Paul Santokhi from SDC’s Ireland Region and SDC past-President Trevor Larkins. For further information about the International Design Competition, please visit the website.






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