The Pattern Guild
This month we meet Amber and Fergus who created The Pattern Guild, a Peckham based design studio creating hand printed products with bold, beautiful and timeless geometric patterns.
Tell us a bit about yourselves. Can you recall how and why you became a maker?
Amber: Back when I was little I would make clothes for my dolls because the ones they sold were all frilly and synthetic. Then I started knitting and making clothes for myself and never stopped. It's been a lifelong process of teaching myself different craft techniques to get to the point where it's like being fluent in another language. Like a non verbal tactile language, achieved through years of experimenting with many different materials.
Fergus: From a young age I was always drawing, skateboarding, making music and juggling. At fifteen, I became very interested in patterns and graphic art, spending hours making abstract drawings and collages using simple lines and shapes. My work is ever evolving, but still deep rooted in early ways of making.
What are your main inspirations and influences for the work?
Amber: anything grid based, a nice shape that can be tessellated, or an image that has a bold colour palette. I like to combine computer aesthetics with traditional craft techniques because they both start with a grid and can easily translate into one another.
Fergus: I'm inspired by music, design and architecture. The grid has also become a huge part of my work, allowing me to organise my designs and turn them into solid repeating patterns.
What is the process?
Amber: When your designing for screen printing applied to fabric you have to think in layers, as each colour is printed separately. I use grids and basic geometric shapes in different combinations and layers to build up a pattern.
Every now and again I go through magazine adverts picking out pages with good colours in them. Then in photoshop I can pick out 5-10 colour swatches from each to play with.
Fergus: To begin with, I like to work quickly producing lots of ideas using pen, paper cuts and the computer. I then go back through the work with a fresh set of eyes, and start pulling out designs which stand out to me. I then focus my attention onto each individual idea and start to edit, re-work and refine until I have produced a final result which I’m happy with.
What do you enjoy most about being a maker?
Amber: having control over the making process means you can keep the quality level high. I'm always honing my techniques and testing the products to improve how it's made and how it functions.
I really have these particular making skills because I can't bear to throw anything away, I like to break things apart and fix them if I can. So by repairing or deconstructing things to make them better, I have gradually gained more making skills.
My making process now is more like problem solving, the end function gives you your design parameters and you have to figure out the steps from fabric to finished product.