Get­ting to know

What’s it like to work for Liberty? Keigh­ley Shep­herdly lets us in on how the de­sign team cre­ates the iconic Bri­tish la­bel’s fab­rics

Mollie Makes (US) - - CONTENTS - Words: jes­sica bate­man Pho­to­graphs: rachael smith

Liberty Fab­ric de­signer Keighly Shep­herdly

The name Liberty Art Fab­rics has been syn­ony­mous with beau­ti­ful, cut­tingedge de­sign ever since Arthur Lasenby Liberty first opened doors on Lon­don’s Re­gent Street al­most 140 years ago. Col­lab­o­ra­tions with cre­ative mas­ter­minds of the day, such as Wil­liam Mor­ris and Dante Gabriel Ros­setti, helped es­tab­lish it as the place for artis­tic Vic­to­ri­ans to shop, and it was in­stru­men­tal in shap­ing de­sign move­ments such as Art Nou­veau.

Fast-for­ward to the 21st Cen­tury and the mock-tu­dor build­ing – con­structed in 1924 from the tim­ber of two ships – now houses beauty prod­ucts, fash­ion, in­te­ri­ors, and a hab­er­dash­ery, and its fa­mous art fab­rics are used by crafters all over the world as well as in col­lec­tions by brands such as Bar­bour and Nike. Liberty’s in-house de­sign team con­tinue to cre­ate fresh col­lec­tions that pay trib­ute to the brands’ her­itage, mak­ing use of its 40,000-strong print ar­chive and work­ing on ex­cit­ing col­lab­o­ra­tions.

With such a rich his­tory, we couldn’t wait to sit down with de­signer Keigh­ley Shep­herdly and find out all about life at this world-renowned de­sign in­sti­tu­tion. Your job at Liberty sounds amaz­ing – how did you land it? I did a sand­wich course at Cen­tral Saint Martins, study­ing fash­ion print with a year in in­dus­try. I won a de­sign com­pe­ti­tion run by Liberty, which led me to in­tern there dur­ing my third year. It was only sup­posed to be for a few months but I ended up stay­ing for the whole year. When I left, I was of­fered a per­ma­nent job af­ter fin­ish­ing my de­gree. Did you always want to work in print de­sign when you were young? I was always cre­ative and I did Art and Tex­tiles A-lev­els. I ac­tu­ally found a draw­ing I did when I was lit­tle re­cently – it was of a dress with a pat­tern on it, and the words ‘I want to be a de­signer.’ I also used to sew with a child’s sew­ing ma­chine. How does the cre­ative process work at Liberty? We have a core team of six de­sign­ers, in­clud­ing Emma Maw­ston, the head of de­sign. Ev­ery six months Emma will re­veal the next sea­son’s brief to us, which is then bro­ken up into sub-briefs for us to work on in­di­vid­u­ally. By the time the new briefs come around, we’re so ex­cited and can’t wait to get started on some­thing new. She gath­ers us to­gether and gives us the briefs in Liberty-print en­velopes.

‘We’re so ex­cited by the time the new sea­son briefs are re­vealed to us’

Can you tell us about some of the past sea­sons’ briefs? Spring/Sum­mer 2014 was all based on the phys­i­cal Liberty store, and we were each given dif­fer­ent rooms in the store to cre­ate de­signs in­spired by. One of mine was the Bath Shop – I was re­ally in­spired by the Nesti Dante soaps we sell and their beau­ti­ful flo­ral pack­ag­ing, and cre­ated a de­sign based on them. I also had the Beauty Hall. For this I found a flo­ral print in our ar­chive that re­ally in­spired me, then I went round the store try­ing out the makeup as draw­ing in­stru­ments. I looked a bit strange! It was ac­tu­ally re­ally pleas­ant work­ing with makeup – foun­da­tion gives a lovely smooth base layer.

Pre­vi­ous briefs have in­cluded the senses for Au­tumn/Win­ter 2013 and chil­dren’s il­lus­tra­tors for Spring/Sum­mer 2011. You also work on col­lab­o­ra­tions – can you tell us about a few of th­ese? Each sea­son’s col­lec­tion will con­tain four or five de­signs cre­ated with out­side col­lab­o­ra­tors. For the Au­tumn/Win­ter 2013

col­lec­tion, which was based on the five senses, we col­lab­o­rated with Jamie Oliver for “taste.”We took him to see the ar­chive so he could pick out de­signs he liked, and it was great to meet him. He’s just like he is on TV – re­ally lovely! In the end he cre­ated a print us­ing his in­gre­di­ents – like a potato print – and we made it into a dig­i­tal de­sign. For “touch” we worked with a tat­too artist called Mo Cop­po­letta – he cre­ated three de­signs in­spired by Liberty that also work as tat­toos.

For Spring/Sum­mer 2015 we asked jew­elry de­signer Alex Mon­roe to work on a print. He drew a beau­ti­ful drag­on­fly gar­den, which we turned into a de­sign. Can you tell us a bit about the Liberty ar­chive and how you use it? We mostly use the dig­i­tal ar­chive, which our ar­chiv­ist has cre­ated. It’s kept very se­cret, and you can only look for a few de­signs at a time – she searches key­words for you, such as types of flow­ers. The phys­i­cal ar­chive is based near Bices­ter and is amaz­ing – it’s full of huge draw­ers full of beau­ti­ful hand­drawn orig­i­nal art­work. What’s you fa­vorite Liberty print you’ve ever de­signed? That’s dif­fi­cult be­cause we get so at­tached to them all.We also name them af­ter peo­ple we

‘I just have to go home and spend the week­ends sew­ing with Liberty fab­ric’

know, which makes them ex­tra spe­cial. For Au­tumn/Win­ter 2013 I cre­ated one based on “sound” – I lis­tened to Coun­try Gar­dens by Percy Granger and sur­rounded my­self with art ma­te­ri­als, then blind­folded my­self and started draw­ing in time to the mu­sic. My brother came home and thought I was mad, so I named the de­sign af­ter him, “Joshua Gra­ham,” as he loves mu­sic. It’s one of my fa­vorites. I’m also very fond of “Sheree,” named af­ter my Aun­tie, from Spring/ Sum­mer 2014, which was in­spired by Nesti Dante soaps. Do you also work on per­sonal pro­jects in your spare time? I don’t get a chance to do much draw­ing out­side of work, but I do make lots of things out of Liberty fab­ric. We’re sur­rounded by so much beau­ti­ful fab­ric that I just have to go home and spend the week­end sew­ing with it! I make gifts for peo­ple or clothes, such as skirts, for my­self. Who are your cre­ative he­roes? When you work on dif­fer­ent briefs you always dis­cover new he­roes. Some of the

most in­spir­ing peo­ple to me are the rest of the Liberty de­sign team – it’s won­der­ful be­ing in the stu­dio, sur­rounded by peo­ple pro­duc­ing amaz­ing work.We all love dif­fer­ent things and are in­spired in dif­fer­ent ways, so it’s great to see what ev­ery­one’s work­ing on. Ev­ery sin­gle day is in­spir­ing at Liberty! Where do you like look­ing for in­spi­ra­tion out­side of work? For me, in­spi­ra­tion can come from any­where. Flow­ers and na­ture are a fa­vorite, but I can be walk­ing along and sud­denly spot a cob­bled wall or a great color that could work in a print. I love go­ing to gal­leries to re­search briefs too – re­cently I vis­ited both the Tate Bri­tain and Mod­ern, and on the walk between them I saw some­one blow­ing bub­bles, and the colors were amaz­ing against the sky. Fi­nally, what’s the best piece of cre­ative ad­vice you have been given? I can’t re­mem­ber whether this was ad­vice some­one gave me or ad­vice I gave my­self, but when I re­turned for my fi­nal year at univer­sity I re­al­ized that I’d been do­ing work to please my tu­tors. I de­cided to just do what I loved, and af­ter that, I en­joyed my de­gree so much more. Do what you love, and some­one else will love it, too.

01 Keigh­ley made her own skirt us­ing “Pene­lope,” a fur­nish­ing fab­ric from the Lib­erty Ju­bilee col­lec­tion. 02 Lib­erty’s hab­er­dash­ery depart­ment is a trea­sure trove of de­lights for crafters. 03 In­spir­ing bits and pieces are pegged up in the de­sign...

01 A shirt by Ses­sun made from Keigh­ley’s “Jess and Jean” fab­ric, from the Spring/Sum­mer 2014 col­lec­tion, hangs in front of other Lib­erty print shirts. 02 The de­sign process al­ways starts with draw­ings or paint­ings. 03 Prints are fi­nal­ized and then...

01 Keigh­ley stands out­side the front of the iconic Re­gent Street store. A fresh florist’s stall greets shop­pers daily. 02 Silks and swimwear gar­ments from the up­com­ing Spring/Sum­mer 2015 col­lec­tion. 03 Keigh­ley’s orig­i­nal draw­ing for “Sheree,” her...

01 Keigh­ley in Lib­erty’s Bath Shop – one of her sub-briefs for the Spring/Sum­mer 2014 col­lec­tion – with the Nesti Dante soaps that in­spired her “Sheree” de­sign on the ta­ble. 02 “Sheree” (on ta­ble) and “Jess and Jean” fab­rics from Spring/ Sum­mer 2014.

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