Sus­tain­able De­sign in a Toxic In­dus­try /

Latitude Magazine - - Contents - WORDS Pip Golds­bury IM­AGES Em­mily Harmer

Lucy Pol­son is mak­ing a name for her­self on the in­ter­na­tional tex­tile scene

Fol­low­ing her pas­sion for cre­ativ­ity and de­sign, Lucy Pol­son of Geraldine is mak­ing

her name on an in­ter­na­tional scale.

Views of dis­tant hills were a defin­ing mo­ment for award-win­ning tex­tile de­signer Lucy Pol­son. These days she’s a 22-year-old grad­u­ate of Massey Univer­sity’s Col­lege of Cre­ative Arts, but in 2017 Lucy was on a tour of In­dia on a Prime Min­is­ter’s schol­ar­ship. With sus­tain­abil­ity at the fore­front of her mind, Lucy was over­whelmed with in­cred­u­lous hor­ror as she drew closer to the hills and saw them for what they re­ally were – mas­sive moun­tains of global trash gath­ered from across the world and dumped on In­dia.

Work­ing in an in­dus­try no­to­ri­ous for waste and pol­lu­tion, the young de­signer from Geraldine was in­spired to do her bit for sus­tain­abil­ity within the tex­tile in­dus­try. As Lucy says, ‘It’s scary. I think the way the world is go­ing is sad and my gen­er­a­tion has a lot to clean up.’ How­ever, even Lucy couldn’t have pre­dicted she would win an in­ter­na­tional tex­tile de­sign award in the process. Rep­re­sent­ing New Zealand and Aus­tralia, fol­low­ing Aus­tralasian suc­cess, Lucy went on to claim the es­teemed Veron­ica Bell Tro­phy at the 2018 So­ci­ety of Dy­ers and Colourists In­ter­na­tional De­sign Com­pe­ti­tion in Lon­don, beat­ing out in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion from 13 other fi­nal­ists from across the world.

In a com­pe­ti­tion that chal­lenges un­der­stand­ing of colour and sus­tain­abil­ity within the tex­tile de­sign sup­ply chain, Lucy was up against the best the world has to of­fer, a broad range of up-and-com­ing tex­tile, fash­ion and busi­ness de­sign­ers tasked with com­mu­ni­cat­ing a com­mer­cial colour pal­ette to the world.

The mind bog­gles as to how to go about this and even Lucy ad­mits the brief took some time to in­ter­pret. ‘They gave us an at­las of colour called the Archroma Colour At­las. We were to create a colour pal­ette and use it to cel­e­brate the fact we could send a colour code over the world and get it pro­duced.’

At some stage, most New Zealan­ders have been to their lo­cal paint shop and picked out fan­decks of colour, a con­fined ex­am­ple of a chem­i­cal colour at­las. Se­lect­ing colours that she liked from the com­pe­ti­tion at­las, Lucy went on to ex­plore nat­u­ral meth­ods of dy­ing tex­tiles and even­tu­ally pro­duced her own nat­u­rally dyed edi­tion to com­ple­ment the chem­i­cal at­las. While Lucy’s pal­ette has been pro­duced us­ing onion skin, cochineal and indigo plant, a seem­ingly fluid ap­proach rem­i­nis­cent of tie-dyed cloth­ing and hip­pie cul­ture, hers is an ex­act and sci­en­tific method. ‘It’s sus­tain­able be­cause you can re­peat and make the same colour us­ing ex­act mea­sure­ments with no ad­di­tional test­ing to match swatches. You fol­low the recipe and re­peat the nat­u­ral dye.’ With Lucy’s eco­log­i­cal ver­sion of the chem­i­cal colour at­las, there is an op­tion in the fu­ture for a nat­u­ral edi­tion. The colour is ex­act and there is no test wastage.

Show­cas­ing her nat­u­ral dyes, Lucy pro­duced in­spi­ra­tion boards and an exquisite silk dress of mud­died olives, earthy mus­tards, soft blues and pops of pretty pink, hand-painted in­cor­po­rat­ing tra­di­tional Batik wax meth­ods that com­bine graphic de­sign and art. Iron­i­cally, Lucy didn’t like graph­ics

at Geraldine High School. In­stead, her pas­sion lay with art and she credits her art teacher, Re­becca Thom­son, as ‘the best fa­cil­i­ta­tor for my love of art and print­mak­ing – the core part of tex­tile de­sign’. In­deed, it was Re­becca and Lucy’s mother, Linda, who con­vinced Lucy to ap­ply for the Welling­ton-based Massey Univer­sity Col­lege of Cre­ative Arts, from which she re­cently grad­u­ated with a Bach­e­lor of De­sign ma­jor­ing in Tex­tiles with First Class Hon­ours.

How­ever, Lucy’s flair and tal­ent was al­most lost to the tex­tile world be­fore it even be­gan, but a for­tu­itous gap year on com­plet­ing school gave her time to as­sess her op­tions. Think­ing she couldn’t make a ca­reer out of art and print­mak­ing, Lucy was des­tined to study ar­chi­tec­ture un­til ‘Mum and Miss Thom­son con­vinced me to ap­ply for Massey’. Over­seas at the time, it was her mother and her art teacher who put to­gether Lucy’s port­fo­lio and her ap­pli­ca­tion. They laugh about it now but at the time Linda was cring­ing as she chopped up Lucy’s school art port­fo­lio

‘If you re­ally love art, there’s go­ing to be a way to make a ca­reer. De­sign is so im­por­tant for fu­ture in­no­va­tion and cre­ative minds

are wired dif­fer­ently.’

and stuffed it into a folder as part of the sub­mis­sion to prove de­sign process and abil­ity.

Look­ing back to her time at school, Lucy wishes she’d had the courage to take the sub­jects she loved most in­stead of fo­cus­ing on sub­jects she thought would lead to a ca­reer. ‘I wish I’d taken sewing in Year 13,’ she laments, ‘I wish I’d taken more cre­ative pa­pers. I did physics, cal­cu­lus, sta­tis­tics, graph­ics and art.’ These days, Lucy’s ad­vice to young peo­ple is ‘You should love it. If you re­ally love art, there’s go­ing to be a way to make a ca­reer. De­sign is so im­por­tant for fu­ture in­no­va­tion and cre­ative minds are wired dif­fer­ently.’

While Lucy’s cre­ative ca­reer path has al­ready taken her to In­dia and to Lon­don for the Veron­ica Bell Tro­phy award cer­e­mony, it has also landed her a sum­mer in­tern­ship with Mag­gie Mar­i­lyn, a sus­tain­able New Zealand fash­ion brand, and one that Lucy finds in­spi­ra­tional. Not only did Vogue mag­a­zine pick up on the New Zealand de­signer, turn­ing Mag­gie Mar­i­lyn into an in­stant in­ter­na­tional name, but

Meghan Markle has also been pho­tographed wear­ing the brand. Lucy says of the youth­ful Mag­gie Mar­i­lyn He­witt, ‘She’s a trail­blazer in the New Zealand in­dus­try in terms of sus­tain­abil­ity.’ It’s brands like Mag­gie Mar­i­lyn, Patag­o­nia and Lululemon that Lucy is mo­ti­vated by. ‘Their core val­ues lie in sus­tain­abil­ity and in­no­va­tion. They’re mak­ing a re­ally good prod­uct. I don’t want to con­trib­ute to waste and fast fash­ion.’

These days, Lucy is free­lanc­ing out of Welling­ton as a sur­face pat­tern de­signer through her web­site lucy­pol­son. squares­ It’s here that one can view Lucy’s Grad­u­ate Col­lec­tion, a play on the con­cept of make-be­lieve. It’s an im­mer­sive col­lec­tion dig­i­tally printed on neoprene to re­sem­ble flat pa­per dolls that Lucy says ‘fa­cil­i­tates colour and pat­tern to help adults tap back into a make-be­lieve headspace’. Re­mark­ably, Lucy’s in­ter­na­tional award-win­ning de­sign didn’t con­trib­ute to­wards her grad­u­ate col­lec­tion. In­stead, the in­ter­na­tional gong was ad­di­tional work­load for Lucy, cre­ated for a univer­sity pa­per called ‘Sus­tain­able Coloura­tion’.

Com­ing home to Geraldine gives Lucy a chance to re­lax and re­flect. A keen cook who is pas­sion­ate about fit­ness and nu­tri­tion, it’s a chance for her to catch up with fam­ily and friends. ‘I haven’t fin­ished achiev­ing yet but I love com­ing home. It makes you hum­ble. It makes me happy that it doesn’t mat­ter where you’re from, you can achieve great things.’

OP­PO­SITE / Lucy’s in­ter­na­tional award-win­ning in­spi­ra­tion boards cel­e­brate a con­tem­po­rary colour code us­ing eco­log­i­cally sus­tain­able nat­u­ral dyes. RIGHT / Re­turn­ing home to Geraldine, Lucy has time to re­flect on her achieve­ments as she of­fers a peek at the silk dress that formed part of her en­try for the Veron­ica Bell Tro­phy.

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