Yasmin Smith studied BA (Hons) Textiles at AUB, graduating in 2014. She joined Blendworth Interiors as a Design Assistant in 2015 and has since been promoted to Senior Designer
We visited Yasmin at the Blendworth studio in Horndean, Hampshire, to find out what projects she is currently working on.
Was this your first role after leaving AUB?
I worked in call centres for a bit of money when I moved home after graduating. I was there for six months then in March 2015 I joined Blendworth Interiors as a Design Assistant. At the beginning I was working in the studio but I didn’t really do a lot of designing. I was helping the studio as much as I could, doing things like colour work and repeat work, as well as admin. Then when we had a change of management I was promoted to Designer. That’s when we started drawing artwork in house, and now I’m Senior Designer.
What was your first big project here which you look back on as a success?
I’m proud of all of my work here at Blendworth but I would definitely say the latest collection ‘Library’. I had a great time doing other ones as well, but I didn’t feel like they were mine. They weren’t my artwork, they were someone else’s and we just recoloured them. But these ones I painted from scratch – they’re like my babies. I’ve watched them develop from drawings to fabric with my director at the time. We really created this collection together and I loved working with her. I spent a lot of time working on these designs, at the time I didn’t think I would ever get them as detailed as the original inspirations, but after a lot of painting and tracing I was able to get my drawings to slot together perfectly. The end result was loved in the studio, but it was when the design arrived in our warehouse printed on velvet that I was in love.
How did you get the inspiration for this pattern?
This entire collection was based on the archive. The company was established in 1921 and we’re working with this huge archive with loads of really amazing artwork from the 50s. My director spent hours in the dusty archives going through things and she decided what kind of themes we went for. We have everything from floral chintz and traditional tapestries to the tree of life. This design was inspired by the arts and crafts period, which includes lots of detail and mirrored repeats. We wanted to make sure that this collection was modern so I spent a lot of time making sure the design had moved on from its original inspirations, adding my own touch of ‘tropical vibes’. The SS19 collection, which we are working on now, is a continuation from this new look that we have created, bright colours and ornate hand painted designs are still very prominent.
You did BA (Hons) Textiles at AUB but looking at your work it’s illustration based isn’t it?
I was very much, ‘should I do Illustration, should I do Textiles?’. There were times at university when I thought ‘I should have done Illustration’. So my heart pulls to both and I do do a bit of illustration on the side freelance but in this role it feels like the two have come together. I was lucky that my director knew what my strengths were so she let me play to what I was good at and I’ve been able to amalgamate the two quite well.
How far has this collection taken you?
We launched it at the Paris Deco Off in late January. We don’t have our own showroom over there yet, but we were able to use a space on the same Rue as our competitors. It was totally surreal and a real moment for me to see my fabrics in Paris. We had these huge panels made up of the fabric to use against the walls as unfortunately the collection doesn’t include wallpapers so it was a great compromise. They really stood out and we had a great reaction.
What is your next project?
Two years ago we started working on a collaborative project with Celia Birtwell. The first collection was called Celia Birtwell Classics, which was a collection of her most loved designs re-worked for a different demographic. At the moment we’re working on our next Celia collection, I can’t say too much as we’re still in the design stages, but it will be inspired by the more ‘classic floral’ Celia look, looking at her original artwork from the 60s onwards for inspiration, which is so exciting. It’s been great working with her, she is just lovely and an absolute beacon of knowledge.
What one piece of advice would you give to a future creative?
The main thing for me is to stand by what you love to create. When I was at university, I struggled initially to find my own style, I knew what I liked but I felt like I had to change to fit in with what everyone else was doing. I am a big fan of textures and geometrics but I kept trying to do them myself and it just wasn’t for me, I’m much more traditional. I think it’s important to take what you like doing and contemporise it for the modern market. I spent a lot of time worrying that my work was too traditional but I found a balance and that is ultimately what I’m doing now.
Find out more about BA (Hons) Textiles at AUB.