ATV:Part 3 colour studies Research point 1

ATV: Part three Colour studies

Project one: colour palettes and proportion

Research point one

Research the colour work of these textile artists and designers

Voyage Decoration

“Aspiring to be colourful…we express our vision in soft watercolour painting and drawing brought to life in our own studios by our talented team of artists. Using our state of the art in-house print facility we utilise British woven cotton, linen and wools to translate our artwork into fabrics and home accessories.”-


  • Voyage Decorations signature way of using colour is in their watercolour painting style. The designs are hand painted by their artists and then translated into digital print which allows them to use a range of colours across one design.
  • Each collection has a theme or inspiration and the colours and pattern in the design come from that theme.
  • The watercolour designs seem to focus on flora and fauna and have a ‘country living’ feel to them.
  • Due to the watercolour style of most of the pieces I feel that the colour is what is most important in this case. Obviously the design is important too, but many of the pieces have no outlines, just washes of watercolour making up the design, giving the overall design an intensity and lightness of colour that can only be achieved with watercolour.
  • The designs are gentle and calming and have a light and airy feel to them and I feel that this is what makes the designs from this company very distinctive.


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“Strikingly inventive patterns and the clever use of colours. In fact open minded and unpretentious, we champion creativity. It is the art of printmaking.”-

  • Started off as a small textile printing company in Helsinki in 1949. Young artists were recruited to create new and striking designs, however although there were a lot of admirers of the designs, there were no buyers so Riitta Immonen was hired to design clothes using the bold printed textiles which sold out immediately, boosting the company’s image and brand.
  • Designs have a limited colour palette and many use tones of the same colour creating a very balanced overall look. Others use bright clashing colours that somehow work even though you feel they shouldn’t!
  • Many designs are printed in different colour combinations and unlike Voyage where I felt this indicated that the colour was the more important aspect, in this case I feel it is the design that is the strong point and the colour is secondary to that.  The designs are strong enough that they can carry any colour combination really.
  • Designs are bold, repeating, graphic and geometric with a few floral designs. Many of the earlier designs have made a comeback giving them a real retro feel.
  • Ironically, one of the most famous prints is the Unikko (poppy) designed by Maija in 1964 in protest after Armi Ratia said that Marimekko would never be a flower print company.
  • Marimekko have designed for Microsoft surface- sleeves and skins available in four iconic prints, 2 of which, Unikko and Kaivo were designed in 1964, proving that Marimekko’s designs seem to be timeless and still making their mark today. Also they have recently teamed with Clinique for a limited edition collection of beauty products and Maija Isola’s Kivet (stones) pattern designed in 1956 is featured on Finnair’s planes.

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Mary Katrantzou

“Digital print allows me to experiment with print in a way that fine art and other methods could not. It opens up a huge spectrum for possibility; I can create possibility out of impossibility, surrealism out of realism and both vice versa.”-


  • Her prints are constructed through digital technology, often using clashing aesthetics such as floral with gingham for example and she uses innovative embellishments to finish the looks.
  • I wouldn’t say that Katrantzou has a signature way of using colour. Although you can recognise her style through her collections and use of digital prints, each one has to be viewed within the context of her theme for that particular collection. For example her spring/summer 2018 collection was based on- “What would kids’ crafts look like from a couture point of view?” ( resulting in quite ingenious designs like sequined Lego block skirts and painting by numbers dresses. The painting by number dresses were black and white prints partially coloured in places teamed with black and white polka dot prints or stripes of partially clashing colour (like purple and orange). This collection had a wide range of colours inspired by her theme not a set colour palette.
  • I would say that Katrantzou designs are more important than the colour she uses. Her first collection had a signature design of trompe l’oeil prints of oversized jewellery on jersey dresses. It was the prints which gave the signature look not really the colour.

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Wallace Sewell

“Wallace Sewell are known for their use of colour, structure and yarn in surprising geometric formats. Inspired by paintings, they create individual contemporary fabrics with strikingly bold, asymmetric blocks and stripes of varying scale, which bring together a plethora of elements within one piece.” “Strongly influenced by Bauhaus for its aesthetic and design ideology….” –

  • All women company
  • They design on hand looms but then have the fabrics woven in industrial mills
  • Use stripes and blocks to create geometric shapes and designs
  • Every year they have an artist whose work they refer to at the start of a new collection which helps create their colour palette- e.g. David Hockney for their spring summer 2018 collection
  • They have designed for London Transport, embedding London landmarks in the fabric pattern for the seats. For Cross Rail trains they rode the train line taking photos of buildings and stations. “ There was a shed on one side of the track that was a beautiful green colour and that ended up as part of the design”-Sewell
  • The same design but in different colour palettes was used on Cross rail
  • They designed two lamb’s wool scarves inspired by Robert Rauschenberg for the Tate Modern. They created mood boards first and picked colours from there to create the striped woven design- no design images just colour proportions from the mood boards make up the design.
  • In much of their work the colour is the design- there are no images as such, the design is based on the colour and the way it is weaved.

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Cole and sons

“…innovative designs which help create beautiful, distinctive and inviting interior environments through colour and pattern.” –

  • Founded in 1875 by John Perry the company used block printing to make wallpaper for a number of notable houses including Buckingham palace and the Houses of parliament. The company was bought by A.P Cole in 1941 and inherited the largest archive of historical wooden printing blocks in the country. As part of its bespoke service customers can buy reproductions of historical designs in various colourways.
  • They have a range of collections- florals, geometrics, archive/vintage, stripes, curio
  • They use different designers for different collections, for example, Martyn Lawrence Bullard has designed collections with inspirations from merging eastern and western cultures.
  • They often revamp their archive designs using new colour palettes or foils, e.g. new contemporary two “a bold collection originally created in the 1950’s by artists defining the exciting post war period. Bright inspiring colours and the use of foils ensure that Contemporary 11 is as cutting edge today as the originals were back in the 1950’s and 60’s.” –
  • I don’t feel they have a signature way of using colour, they seem to go with current colour trends or with the designer’s inspiration colour themes. Many of their designs are available in a range of colours, again making me feel that it is the design, not the colour which is the most important aspect with this company.

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Norma Starszakowna

“…she focuses on the 3 dimensional surface qualities that can be achieved during the printing and dyeing process.”-


  • Very difficult to find any information on her processes or images of her work. She doesn’t appear to have her own website, or not that I could find. Considering the article below says she is one of the most exceptional textile artists in the country I am wondering why I can’t find information or images of her work? This link gives a detailed account of her childhood
  • “Norma Starszakowna is one such tutor. In six years the dazzling vividness of her students’ work in Dundee has alerted the design industry in Britain and overseas to the powerful creative verve pulsing in the textiles department at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art. Yet if it were otherwise it would be extraordinary for Starszakowna herself is acknowledged as one of the most exceptional textile artists in the country.”-
  • – Hinterland 2004 – just shows one image
  • – this link gives a little bit of information on her Diasporas piece
  • Pinterest had images of her work but most of the links were dead. From what images I have seen her work seems to suggest urban decay- using digitally printed organza and various other print medias to create textures that depict rust and neglect. Colours are neutrals, browns, greys, white with maybe a hint of colour here and there like a bright orange in amongst the rust colours.

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Paul Smith

“Smith’s greatest attribute is simplicity. He has described his designs as “well-made, good quality, simple cut, interesting fabric, easy to wear” and often adds a splash of vibrant colour, a floral print or his signature multi-coloured stripes.” –

  • a Good video where Paul Smith talks about how he uses Art Palette from google arts and culture. You can pick a colour or upload a photo and google will give you artworks that have the same colour palette. Smith uses these colour palettes and paintings to influence his designs.
  • He creates ‘simple’ clothes so he “uses colour as a punctuation mark”
  • His clothing designs are quite simple and tailored so it is the colour that gives the design its ‘pop’. Influenced by anything and everything he goes his own way with splashes of colour or bold prints or his signature stripes.

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“For over 170 years, Vlisco has created more than 350,000 original textile designs. Many of these designs have become cultural treasures, bestowed with special names and meanings by the merchants of Central and West Africa.

New designs are produced each year alongside traditional classics to hearten the new generation of Vlisco enthusiasts. Vlisco’s highly expressive and creative customers transform the fabrics into fashionable looks, which are one of a kind.

Inspired by Africa, made with a technique derived from Indonesian Batik, designed in the Netherlands, Vlisco’s heritage and design signature is a multicultural melting pot of beauty and industrial craftsmanship.”-


  • Founded in 1846 by Pieter Fentener Van Vlissingen when he took over the cotton printing mill that used block printing, in Helmond, The Netherlands
  • The original designs were based on batik that Pieter’s uncle Frits saw being made in a small factory in Java (Indonesia). Frits sent samples to Helmond asking if they could print imitation batiks (original batiks could take weeks or months to complete). He told Pieter to keep in mind that all the colours and patterns had their own codes. Certain colours indicated noble descent, clear white signified mourning or death and some of the parang patterns could only be worn by royalty. To recreate the colours they only used natural dyes like indigo and alizann.
  • “Intricate colour-use is an essential feature of a Vlisco design. The colouring on the Super-Wax fabric is created with a maximum of three blocking colours. By clever colour-application, our team builds up the palette one on top of the other. With this technique, depth is added and different parts of a design can be highlighted. This special blocking technique will have you thinking you’re looking at different designs. Only when you look closely, you will realise it is the same design.” –
  • Traditional indigo is still Vlisco’s most used dye even though their fabrics are available in a wide range of colours. They say that by using indigo it connects the fabric to the historical and cultural value of the dye.
  • Every season designers work on new colour cards to add to the designs. They still apply mainly traditional techniques to create deep and highly saturated colours that are not normally found elsewhere.

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Ptolemy Mann

“Channelling a modern-day Bauhaus philosophy of art and product making she emphasises the importance of colour theory to underline everything she does. A constant production and exploration of hand dyed and woven artworks during this time has enabled her to master her Ikat signature – a dip dyed warp technique for which she has become well known.” –


  • The Ptolemy Mann website was being re-vamped when I researched so was unavailable.
  • She is a weaver and her signature work is very linear and colour orientated with subtle graduations of colour which she achieves using the Ikat technique to dye her warp threads. (Ikat is a dyeing technique that uses resist dyeing on the yarns prior to dyeing and weaving the fabric.)
  • Her inspiration comes from modernism and abstract expressionists but also from landscapes and photography.
  • Her work is geometric and linear in design and I would say that colour was the more important aspect of her designs. She works with the transition of colours, using graduations of light to dark or vice versa and she says she is particularly interested in the ‘in-between’ colours that you pass through to get from one colour to the next.
  • Describing a floor runner she made for her home- It’s a “gelim” weave, an old technique that achieves a soft, feathered effect, a beautiful graduation of colour. The wool is dip-dyed through a series of dyes before weaving.-

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It was good to research how these different designers and companies use and apply colour. There was a varied range of designers to look at, covering traditional and more modern. I did find it difficult with some of the designers- especially Norma Starszakowna, in finding any information about her processes or even images of her work. This made it hard to explore how she uses colour.  In the Paul Smith video you can see him with yarn wraps comparing them to paintings just like students do in this assignment.