With the launch of our SS15 Home collections, have you ever wondered how our new products come together? After months of planning, our Home teams have certainly been busy sorting through archive prints, designing new styles and researching interior trends. Taking a behind the scenes look at one of the key design stages, join us as we discover the happenings of the Laura Ashley Cad room…
Within each new home collection brings the arrival of fresh prints to coincide with that design story. Making an appearance on wallpaper, fabrics, cushions and accessories, our prints play a signature part in each collection. Initially chosen by our Head of Design, our prints are either commissioned from hand-picked artists or they are taken from our iconic archive and reworked to give a unique modern look.
Bringing each print to life, let us introduce you to Mike from the Laura Ashley CAD Room. Having worked with us for over ten years, textile designer Mike transfers prints taken from old textiles and transforms them into a digital format, enhancing them to suit each collection. This could be anything from altering its colour way, adjusting the size of the print and changing how many times it is repeated.
Talk us through your typical day at Laura Ashley H.Q…
I start the day by waking up our CAD room equipment, checking our two large printers to make sure everything is in working order and that they are printing the correct colour schemes.
In my role I work with both the fashion and home teams. When they have chosen their selected prints for each collection, I will transform each print to ensure it suits their design needs.
Firstly I will scan the print into our CAD system and ‘flatten’ the design into its specific groups of colour. An initial print design can be made up of millions of different colours, so it is important for me to separate each tone so that they can be recoloured into our shades of the season at a later date.
Once the colour work is complete, I will then put the print into a repeat design to suit the dimensions of the product. For example if the print originated from the archive, it invariably won’t be in a correct repeat size, so it needs to be manipulated into our industry sizes, especially for fabric and wallpaper designs.
Over all the prints you have worked on, which one has been reworked the most?
Our iconic Summer Palace design. It was one of the first designs that I redesigned on the CAD system in 2004 and has been re-coloured many times! Inspired by its signature style, several designs have originated from Summer Palace including Oriental Garden, Elveden, and Farleigh.
You’ve been with us for quite a while! What’s your favourite print of all time?
It would have to be Josette – such a beautiful classic print, the two colour design is subtly decorative.
Tell us, what prints did you work on for SS15?
Francesca originated from a cushion design that our home team commissioned. I took the artwork which was initially a square painting and transformed it into a fabric option. Slightly altering the original design, I had to mimic areas of the design to create new flowers and elements without compromising the watercolour feel.
Last but not least, what is the most interesting textile you have adapted?
Back in 2007, we came across a piece of beautiful red damask material to use for our Autumn Winter collections. The repeat pattern fell over two yards so it took over 30 scans to process it into the CAD system! Then I used it as a template to redraw over the whole design, so I could introduce two tonal shades and recolour the design. Fully transformed it became an ombre stripe with an element of texture, now known as our Connemera print.
What an exciting role ! Take a peek at the new designs he has worked in our new Spring arrivals online now.
Tell us, is there an area of Laura Ashley you would love to learn more about? Leave us a comment below.