Artisans Stories

In Conversation With Textile Designer Beki Bright | Artisans Stories

artisans story

In Conversation With Textile Designer Beki Bright | Artisans Stories

London-based Textile Designer Beki Bright grew up in rural Suffolk, a county known for it’s quintessential English Countryside landscape which is woven with folklore, both of which continue to inspire Beki’s intricate screen printed textiles today.

“It’s really important to me. My most recent collection was inspired by my Grandad’s Farm in Suffolk. He used to breed Suffolk Punch horses and the farmhouse walls were adorned with memorabilia from past country shows, corndolls and horse shoes.”

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There is a nostalgic quality to Beki’s designs. Each printed pattern tells a story, whether of apple pickers, inspired by antique etchings of countryside traditions and celebrations, or patterns inspired by vintage rural craft books and corn dolls passed down from her family members.

The designs are then brought to life and given a contemporary twist with a carefully chosen palette – soft greens, blues and pinks, complementing the traditional origins of the design whilst fitting perfectly into the modern home.

“I realised that so much of these traditions of rural life were going to be lost over time, I really wanted to create designs that highlighted these crafts and traditions bringing them to life in a new way through colour pattern and design.”

Growing up, Beki was always drawn to art and textiles and she always felt it was inevitable that she would take a creative path in life.

“I moved to London to study Textiles at Goldsmiths. After graduating I worked as a Breakdown artist and Dyer for theatre and film. I was learning lots of practical skills on the job such as screen printing and dyeing and spending my free time drawing and painting for fun. In the last ten years, I have become obsessed with researching English 20th century artist-designers.”

Beki admires how artists such as Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant decorated Charleston House, “creating a home that embodied functional art for everyday living”, something that Beki now considers as part of her own design process.

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“This influenced the way I approached my designing and drawing. I wanted to somehow combine my practical skills with my creative practice and research interests, so it was a natural decision to combine these to create a brand that enforced the idea of artist-designed textiles for everyday life.”

About the same time, Beki made the move from London to Somerset where she enrolled on the MA Design at Bath Spa University and specialised in printed textiles, working towards her goal of launching Beki Bright. “The rest is history!” she adds excitedly.

Now with a successful business up and running, Beki is still at her happiest when drawing.

“When designing new collections I love collating all of the initial research. At this point there is no internal pressure of thinking about end goals, especially the more technical aspects of product design. I love the freedom of exploring new ideas. There is an excitement of not knowing where a drawing may end up, a lot of my designs start off by instinct. You will often find me in my small home studio surrounded by scrappy bits of paper collaging them together. I’m happiest sitting amongst my drawings and my research, listening to a good podcast.”

All of the screen printing Beki does in a printing studio in Peckham London.

“In the print room I am in my element and absolutely love the physical nature of screen printing. Each step of the process has been fine-tuned over the years becoming a part of my creative instinct. The great thing about screen printing is that once you have worked out all the technical details in the designing process, everything is then set up and ready to go, making it really easy to print on demand.”

“I sew all of my cushions in my home studio as well as bespoke upholstery projects in my fabric. Sewing and upholstery are also areas which I enjoy. I love being involved in the whole making process from design to finished product.”

“Research plays a large part in my designing process. I spend a lot of time collecting references and objects of interest, visiting museums and locations which I will then draw to use as a starting point for my collections.”

Beki works primarily with screen printed textiles, sometimes incorporating lino printing into her design process “in order to achieve the desired aesthetic” for her screen prints.

“The beauty of block printing is in the imperfections and I am fascinated by the textures and marks created when using the wooden and lino blocks. I worry that screen printing can look a little flat so it works really well to incorporate these textures into the designs.”

Considering her future folklore inspired collections, Beki believes that there is still plenty for her to explore.

I feel that I have only scratched the surface of the design possibilities surrounding the theme of Harvest . It’s such a big subject and I’m aware that I have a lot to learn and explore. I have been collecting lots of vintage craft and rural life books from charity shops and car boot sales which are providing endless inspiration.”

“I am keen to explore the endangered crafts and cottage industries that are recorded in these books and incorpate them into my work. I am currently working on a new collection that directly links back to my Grandad’s farm. It’s about to be sold so it’s important to me that there’s a lasting reminder of the farm, and what it has meant to me and my family.”

Despite her work having an enduring sentimentality and links to the past, Beki is a forward thinking creative.

“I think that as a society craft is slowly becoming part of a mainstream shopping culture in the UK, which I hope will continue. I really dislike the fast fashion, fast shopping culture that is so ingrained into our everyday lives. I want to see people investing in handmade, long lasting products that will be loved for years to come.

“With that in mind I hope that craft industries will be much more valued, with makers and designers being celebrated for their innovation and creativity. With more exposure, buying from craftspeople will be much more accessible. There’s a lot to be said for knowing where your products have been made from, knowing that the environmental implications are much lower and your products will be long lasting.”

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