Go boldly

Them’s some eye-catch­ing prints! Meet their maker and Bolt of Cloth tex­tile de­sign com­pe­ti­tion win­ner Nel­lie Ryan.

Homestyle New Zealand - - STYLE - IN­TER­VIEW Alice Lines Wendy Fen­wick PHOTOGR APHY


back­ward in com­ing for­ward, and cer­tainly couldn’t be ig­nored by the judges in the re­cent Bolt of Cloth tex­tile de­sign com­pe­ti­tion: her col­lec­tion Bold & Beau­ti­ful won the an­nual award. Ref­er­enc­ing the jaunty vibe of vin­tage Hawai­ian shirts and the work of two of her favourite artists, Henri Matisse and David Hock­ney, she’s cre­ated de­signs that look like they’d be great com­pany.

How did you get into tex­tile de­sign?

Af­ter com­plet­ing a de­gree in vis­ual com­mu­ni­ca­tion, I moved to Lon­don where I gained work ex­pe­ri­ence with UK fash­ion de­signer Jasper Con­ran, which for­tu­itously turned into an eightyear ca­reer with the brand. It was a rel­a­tively small stu­dio, so I got to work in many ar­eas, from de­sign­ing com­mer­cial col­lec­tions for the high street, to help­ing de­sign prints for the main­line and home­ware col­lec­tions.

I then went on to free­lance for the trend-fore­cast­ing com­pany WGSN, who are about push­ing de­sign and of­fer­ing di­rec­tional ideas, and there I was able to hone my style fur­ther. Af­ter that I moved into il­lus­trat­ing – mainly kids’ books and ed­i­to­rial il­lus­tra­tion for pub­li­ca­tions such as Tatler and for the BBC.

Since mov­ing back to New Zealand, I’ve fo­cused more on tex­tile de­signs for some of our top fash­ion brands and have branched out into home­ware, as well as do­ing the oc­ca­sional il­lus­tra­tion job and ex­per­i­ment­ing with ce­ram­ics.

Can you share a lit­tle about your cre­ative process for this col­lec­tion?

I started by hand­paint­ing lots of ran­dom flora and fauna shapes as I wanted the de­signs to have a loose­ness and en­erg y to them. I then played with the lay­out and colours in Pho­to­shop un­til I came up with my favourite look. I de­cided to keep the de­sign el­e­ments hand­painted as I thought it added to the vin­tage ap­peal.

From win­ning the award to putting the work into pro­duc­tion, how were the de­signs de­vel­oped for print?

I worked closely with [Bolt of Cloth owner] Suzan­nah Tonascia to choose the right fab­ric base and work out which de­signs would be pro­duced. It was great gain­ing an un­der­stand­ing of the process [through the lens of ] her ex­ten­sive re­tail knowl­edge. I then worked closely with the printer to en­sure they had the cor­rect in­for­ma­tion and colour ref­er­ences.

What’s next for Nel­lie Ryan De­sign?

I’d re­ally love to cre­ate more per­sonal tex­tile de­signs and another home­ware col­lec­tion. I’d like to be able to com­bine my ex­pe­ri­ence in fash­ion with my love of in­te­rior de­sign, as I en­joy see­ing my de­signs in peo­ple’s houses as much as I love see­ing them on their clothes.

FUN HOUSE “I wanted to cre­ate fun de­signs that peo­ple could con­nect with and that would have a time­less ap­peal,” says Nel­lie. Her win­ning tex­tiles are avail­able by the me­tre as well as in cush­ion form in store and on­line at Bolt of Cloth.

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