5 MIN­UTES WITH… tex­tile de­signer Margo Selby

Push­ing the bound­aries of con­ven­tional weav­ing, Margo’s epony­mous tex­tile de­sign com­pany pro­duces care­fully crafted, colour­ful and con­tem­po­rary up­hol­stery fab­rics, car­pets, rugs and ac­ces­sories

House Beautiful (UK) - - CONTENTS -

HOW DID YOUR TEX­TILE COM­PANY BE­GIN?

My grand­mother taught me how to cro­chet and cross-stitch as a child. To my de­light, when I went to art col­lege, I dis­cov­ered I could spe­cialise in tex­tiles – I ex­per­i­mented with knit­ting, screen print­ing, em­broi­dery, and then, fi­nally, weav­ing. I im­me­di­ately took to it and the math­e­mat­i­cal, con­trolled tech­nique of in­ter­lac­ing the ver­ti­cal and hor­i­zon­tal lines. I was in­vited to ex­hibit my work in Paris and Hong Kong and, soon af­ter grad­u­at­ing, in­te­rior de­sign and fash­ion com­pa­nies be­gan to show an in­ter­est in us­ing my fab­rics. Up un­til then, ev­ery­thing I’d made was hand­wo­ven, so I started look­ing for mills that would pro­duce my de­signs on a larger, com­mer­cial scale. I set up my busi­ness in 2003, when I was 26. Be­fore this, I worked as a free­lance de­signer and spent time in In­dian and Bri­tish weav­ing mills, where I found the most in­cred­i­ble and in­spir­ing crafts­peo­ple, whose skills had been handed down through the gen­er­a­tions, some­times for hun­dreds of years.

WHERE DO YOU TAKE YOUR IN­SPI­RA­TION FROM?

When peo­ple con­sider weav­ing, they of­ten think of tra­di­tional linen tex­tiles and muted pal­ettes. Al­though these are beau­ti­ful, I wanted to mix it up a bit by bring­ing sur­face tex­ture, colour and curves to my fab­rics. I love graphic de­sign – it plays a big part in my process, so look­ing at the work of other graphic de­sign­ers is key. I also find in­spi­ra­tion in global tex­tiles. I trav­elled around In­done­sia, Thai­land, In­dia and South Amer­ica when I was younger, where I was able to see plenty of hand­made, indige­nous tex­tiles that were of­ten very eclec­tic and colour­ful, much like my own work. I think, too, that ar­chi­tec­ture can in­spire weav­ing: both in­volve dif­fer­ent com­po­nents com­ing to­gether us­ing straight lines and math­e­mat­ics.

YOU COM­BINE HANDWEAVING WITH IN­DUS­TRIAL METH­ODS. HOW DOES THIS IN­FLU­ENCE YOUR DE­SIGNS?

Wo­ven fab­rics are tra­di­tion­ally de­signed on graph pa­per, but I use a graphic de­sign pack­age to do the same thing, build­ing my cre­ations pixel by pixel. It gives me a free­dom I don’t have with graph pa­per: I can flip the pat­tern, change the re­peat or turn it in­side out. The handweaving process (al­though very slow in com­par­i­son) is just as im­por­tant, though. I can cre­ate care­fully con­sid­ered de­signs that you can’t achieve by press­ing a but­ton on an in­dus­trial loom. I’ve made a con­scious de­ci­sion to keep handweaving in­te­gral to my busi­ness. I make a lot of hand­wo­ven be­spoke art­work, which is then loosely ap­plied to my com­mer­cial de­signs, too.

CAN YOU GIVE US A SNAP­SHOT OF YOUR OWN HOME?

My part­ner and I have just bought a bun­ga­low in Whit­stable, and I’m work­ing with an ar­chi­tect to come up with a plan to mod­ify and ex­tend it – there’s a lot of work to be done! I need to think about how to cu­rate my own de­signs, along with other items that are per­sonal to me and in­spire me. My part­ner is a rug de­signer, so be­tween us we’ve got a lot of rugs and tex­tiles.

We both love ce­ram­ics, too, so the chal­lenge we face is how best to en­joy these pieces with­out feel­ing over­whelmed by them.

I’m hop­ing for big open spa­ces with smaller, fo­cused ar­eas for our work and the things that make us happy.

CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP Margo with her hand­loom in her stu­dio; hand­wo­ven framed art­work, £1,950, Yerba fab­ric (draped over chair), £120/m, Arun­del ke­lim rug, from £195; Rosario tow­els, from £14 each; Assem­bly fab­ric, £190/m; all mar­goselby.com

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