Studio Insight with SURFACE 1°22

Our good friend Emily Wills from SURFACE 1°22 has created a specialised course simplifying and demystifying the textile and surface pattern design process. In todays design world we are expected to have multi-faceted capabilities to design across different platforms and product ranges, whether it be a textile concept for a hotel or a swimwear collection. Successful designers are able to translate their skills to fulfil a brief across a broad range of surface applications.

Emily is not only an industry practitioner but also a highly skilled educator, which positions her as an important voice for our industry to help develop skills and knowledge.

We wanted to sit down with Emily and find out more about SURFACE 1°22 and why she has developed an education arm as part of her studio.

Why surface design? What drew you to a career in design?

My background is in fashion textiles, but I’m drawn to surface and pattern design – beyond the body. I have a fascination for the applied arts, ornamentation and decoration, colour, texture and the intricacies of traditional repeat structures. I see possibilities for digital print from a wider perspective, which has enabled me to work across design disciplines, from fashion to home interiors, public art to commercial spaces.

SURFACE 1°22 originally started as a collaborative venture in Singapore you have now directed the studio into a more commercial offering of surface design for product while still doing collaborations. How important do you feel offering both aspects of the business are?

I’m very interested in collaboration and building a sense of community. Designers often work solo, so making time to discuss and share ideas is really important to wellbeing. I love working with people from diverse backgrounds because it pushes me further. I am about to release a home product line with a local lighting designer that has been a super fun project to develop.

You recently did a public art installation in Wagga Wagga, tell us a little more about that?

SURFACE 1°22 was invited by the City of Wagga Wagga to design and install a series of artworks in the Sister City Walkway as part of its 2017 public art program. The site specific wallpapers we designed celebrates Wagga Wagga’s special relationship with its three sister cities – Kunming 24 ° N 102 ° E (China), Leavenworth 39 ° N 94 ° W (USA) and Nordlingen 48 ° N 10 ° E (Germany). This project saw me wrap a public walkway in colour and pattern – and I’m itching to do another one!

You have created an education arm of SURFACE 1°22. With many designers highly skilled in the computer side of digital design, do you feel education does not focus enough on interpreting a design brief?

Our short courses and workshops respond to a growing interest in surface pattern design and DIY culture. The aim of our courses is to introduce participants to a combination of low and high tech techniques which allow them digitise original artwork and create repeat patterns without a degree in graphic design. I believe that good education providers understand the importance of teaching students how to research and respond to a design brief. Understanding target markets and end customers helps designers set parameters and clear commercial objectives for their work.

What currently excites you about Surface and Pattern Design?

I see a groundswell move away from vector-based artwork and computer-aided design software. New designers are embracing low-cost, low-fi technology on tablets and smartphones. It’s going to be interesting to see how the relationship between hand and computer continues to change, and how new digital technologies will impact originality, design process and distribution. From my personal perspective, I embrace the fusion of low and high tech to ensure final outcomes fulfil two things; retain an identifiable and unique design style; and ensure files are appropriately prepared for commercial applications.

Emily has an upcoming four-day Textile & Surface Pattern Design immersive course starting July 22nd held in Carlton, Victoria. For further details see course information here