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In discussion with Rachel Evison


Design Guild Mark - February 16, 2022 - 0 comments

Rachel Evison

Textiles designer Rachel Evison made history in 2018 by becoming an inaugural holder in our 2D category for the Alchemy collection for Bute Fabrics. In 2021 she returned with new Bute fabric collections Identity and Strata, designed in collaboration with David Irwin.

The Identity and Strata collections are inspired by the island of Bute and intricately celebrate the company’s heritage, its location, and its people.

Like 2018, Bute’s collection impressed our judges but this time it was also named the best in its category and awarded the Jonathan Hindle Prize of Excellence.

Having worked at Bute Fabrics since graduating from university, Rachel is now senior designer for the company. We caught up with her to find out more about her career to date.

Who is your design hero?

My design hero is Anni Albers, who was a woven fabric designer. Her work is truly inspiring in the way she experimented with colour and pattern, and it still has a timeless look today. I was lucky enough to see her designs and artwork at an exhibition in the Tate Modern.

When did you first decide you were going to be a designer?

I first decided I was going to be a designer when I was 13. When I was really young I loved sewing and creating, but I thought of design as a glamorous unachievable job, but my amazing textiles teacher said that I had potential to be a designer, so from there that was my career goal.

What was your first big break in the industry?

My first big break in the industry was in third year at Heriot Watt University. As part of the course Bute Fabrics set a design brief for the weave students. I managed to win first prize for the project, which was a placement at the mill, I absolutely loved the mill and the island. Once I graduated Bute Fabrics asked me to join the design team.

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What was the first product you ever designed?

The first product I designed was the fabric collection Alchemy for Bute Fabrics. The design is a contemporary take on the classic tweed fabric with a vibrant colour palette. It was really fun to create and experiment with the colour combinations. The fabric looks really special when upholstered so it’s great when I see furniture with Alchemy in the market.

What do you enjoy about being a designer?

I enjoy the process of designing woven fabric as it is very experimental, sometimes the best designs come from happy unexpected accidents. Combining different colours in the warp and weft is a really fun part of the process due to the way the shades affect each other and blend to create new colours.

Which design are you most proud of?

The design I am most proud of is Magic, which is a fabric in the Bute fabrics collection. This is due to the melton fabric being created from 100% recycled fibre. The yarn is created using unwanted wool fashion garments which are broken down and respun into yarn, which we then weave into the fabric. The cloth also has a great handle and colour palette.

What is your creative process? How do you get in the mood to design something?

I find as a designer you never really switch off from being inspired by what is around you. This could be from the surrounding landscape or from looking at what people are wearing. I particularly find inspiration from discussions with other designers to new spark ideas.

What influences you?

Working at the mill on the Isle of Bute and commuting by ferry every day certainly influences me, the surrounding landscape can look so different depending on the weather. So I find this can be an influence when looking at colour and texture inspiration.

Is there a product you wish you’d designed?

I love the signature textured fabrics used by Chanel in their fashion garments, they have such a classic recognisable look. The playful yarn combinations must be challenging to use but also rewarding to see in the final product. There is also such a high-level detail and intricacy.

For more information about Bute Fabrics, go to https://www.butefabricsltd.com/

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