“I wanted to somehow combine my practical skills with my creative practice and research interests, it was a natural decision to combine these to create a brand that enforced the idea of artist-designed textiles for everyday life.” Beki Bright – Artist Designed Textiles
London-based textile designer, screen printer and dyer, Beki Bright is bringing artist-designed textiles to our homes in a multitude of countryside-inspired scenes. Replete with a charming array of colour and whimsical pastoral landscapes, the maker’s plethora of charming textile designs will thrive elegantly amongst your current soft furnishings. Stemming from a love for drawing and colour, rural countryside scenes – often picturing the idyllic Suffolk scenery in which the enki magazine offices are enveloped – Beki infuses her rustic vistas with “narratives of lost traditions and forgotten landscapes”. Notably, all of the maker’s fabrics are screen printed by hand in London, implementing traditional and skilled methods. enki caught up with Beki to unearth the essence of her brand and the plans she has for the future.
What inspired the launch of Beki Bright? How did the brand start?
“I have worked in various roles within the textile industry since graduating with my Textiles BA from Goldsmiths in 2009. I was learning lots of practical skills on the job 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. I especially loved how the artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant decorated Charleston House creating a home that embodied functional art for everyday living. 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. This coincided with a move from London to Somerset giving me the chance to enrol on the MA Design at Bath Spa University where I worked towards launching Beki Bright.”
Talk us through your design background?
“I started my career by working as a Breakdown Artist and Dyer for theatre and film where I specialised in dyeing fabrics and colour matching. I love working with colour and the chance to spend hours colour matching fabrics was a great starting point for me and ultimately led me on a journey to where I am today. After taking a break from the costume world I started working for a textile design studio in London where I have been working part-time for the last five years. Being in this environment has given me access to some of the most beautiful antique fabrics and patterns and has allowed me to travel the world, providing an endless source of inspiration. Everything came together whilst studying at Bath, this is where I developed a business plan and the Harvest collection for my final project, the rest is history!”
Describe a workday. What does this often involve?
“My work days can vary massively depending on what orders I need to make that week. I will normally head to the print studio, print the fabrics needed for any cushions and lampshades I need to make, then head home to get sewing! I schedule time in the week for drawing, research and marketing so my days are pretty varied. I love being involved in the whole making process from start to finish so it’s great that I can combine drawing, printing and sewing into my business.”
Are all of your fabrics hand-printed? Explain a little more about the process behind the creation of your products…
“Yes, all of my fabrics are hand-printed, I specialised in screen printing for my MA so it was really important to incorporate this into my business. I am a member of a print studio in Peckham, which is where I do all of my practical printing work. In the print room I am in my element and absolutely love the physical nature of screen printing. 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.
Last summer I decided to outsource the large scale meterage printing of Apple Pickers to a London-based screen printing studio as I didn’t have the facilities to print more than six metres at a time in my current setup. This has helped me to grow my business at a much faster rate which is great! It has been a fascinating process, seeing 50 metres being printed in one go is just incredible, especially if you’re a screen printing fanatic like myself.
I make all the cushions to order in my home studio and my mum makes my lampshades for me (she used to be a lampshade maker for home interiors brand, Jim Lawrence so she’s a pro!). We also work together on large upholstery projects such as my arm chairs.”
What’s the ethos behind Beki Bright? What is the brand’s purpose and aim?
“The ultimate aim for Beki Bright is to create beautiful handcrafted, artist-designed textiles that bring joy into the home. My designs have been created to be timeless and not to be replaced with changing trends. I want my customers to build lasting connections with their fabrics hopefully becoming part of the life and soul of a home.”
What draws you in in terms of aesthetics? Who or what inspires you?
“I love the work of Enid Marx, Barron and Larcher, Peggy Angus, Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden. Their work is energetic, playful and full of colour, all of which have become important factors within my own practice. Through discovering their designs and artwork I began to see design in a different way. This made me want to start creating fabrics that were highly decorative and functional.
I have always been fascinated by history especially looking into past traditions and folk stories. I fell in love with corn dollies and rural crafts so I was keen to incorporate this into my designs. I’m definitely not a minimal person especially when it comes to home interiors, the more the better! I love using interesting colour combinations, textures and patterns in my own home.”
We’re particularly drawn to the Apple Pickers Fabric and also the Suffolk Corn design (especially as enki magazine is based in Suffolk). Where did the inspiration for these designs evolve from?
“My most recent collection has been heavily 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. This memory has stayed with me over the years sparking an interest in rural crafts and lost traditions of the English countryside. I was given some of his corn dolls which I started to draw, and these eventually developed into Suffolk Corn.
Apple Pickers was inspired by antique etchings of harvest traditions and celebrations. I was keen to intertwine stories of rural life into the design whilst capturing the beauty of the English countryside.”
Is sustainability important to you?
“Sustainability is very important to me. I have only been running the business for a year so it is an ever evolving vision that I’m striving to improve all the time. When starting the business I knew that I wanted to be fully involved in the making process creating the smallest production chain
possible, all of my products are made-to-order as this minimises waste. Any spare cut off fabric gets used for fabric samples or as decoration when packaging up my products. All of my fabrics are printed in water based pigments and are printed on natural fibres which have been ethically sourced.”
Are you working on anything new?
“I’m currently working on a new collection which will be launched this autumn and I am releasing a line of hand-printed wallpapers in the next couple of months, which is very exciting!”
Which of your designs could you imagine filling the enki magazine offices with, and why? Which embodies the spirit of enki most?
“The Suffolk Corn cushion in Rust and Ethel Pink immediately springs to mind. Although it’s quite a statement piece, the colours work beautifully together and it sits with a wide range of interiors and styles. The nature of the design is tied to Suffolk and traditional craft, making it feel very appropriate for the enki offices.”
If you could collaborate with another brand, architect or maker, who would it be and why?
“There are so many people that I would love to work with! I currently stock my products with Pentreath and Hall and Folka, both based in London. I think it would be very exciting to collaborate with them and create a bespoke line of textiles which would be exclusive to their stores. I would also love to collaborate with a ceramist as I would love to see my design on tiles and crockery.”
What do you hope your customers experience and feel when they purchase a Beki Bright product?
“Customers have shared their reasons for purchasing my products and every time their stories link back to location-based memories. Over the last year we have been confined to our homes and have become more interested in nature and how we enjoy it. I am keen to bring some of these elements of the countryside into our homes and hope that my designs will bring a little joy and solace. I would love to think that my products could become treasured items that can be used and passed down for many years to come.”
The Quickfire Round
#1 Natural or metallic? “Natural.”
#2 Vibrant colour or pale neutrals? “Vibrant colours.”
#3 Pendant light or chandelier? “Chandelier.”
#4 Tea or coffee? “Tea.”
#5 Perfect getaway? “Florence, Italy.
#6 Favourite book? “Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day by Winifred Watson.”
#7 Favourite way to relax? “Going for a long walk.”
#8 Favourite wine? “Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc.”
#9 Dream house and location? “A cottage overlooking the sea in St Agnes, Cornwall.
#10 Favourite thing about social media? “Over the last year I have built a wonderful community with other makers.”
#11 Least favourite thing about social media? “I spend far too much time on it.”
Discover more from Beki Bright Artist-Designed Textiles.
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