Material Girl

A textiles designer reveals her inspiration, design techniques and future plans to Charlotte Pearson.

Brighton-based Imogen Heath always knew she wanted to be an artist of some sort.
“I was brought up in a very creative family. For me, textiles was an easy path to choose as it brought a mix of everything I loved to do with art and design together,” she reveals.

Imogen Heath HR Profile PictureAnd with items being stocked in the Design Museum, London department store Liberty and British furniture and furnishing chain Heal’s it seems she made the right choice.
“I exhibited for the first time as an independent designer in 2011, where the Design Museum happened to visit,” she recalls.
“Luckily they showed interest and invited me to give a little talk about my work to the visitors of the show. I agreed, spoke shyly, but shortly afterwards they placed an order for some cushions.
“This gave me the confidence I needed to get in touch with Heal’s, who commissioned me to design a soft furnishing collection for Spring/Summer 2012.
“By the end of 2012 I had designed my first collection of interior fabrics and secured Liberty as exclusive stockist.”

Growing up in South West London Imogen first moved to Brighton in 2000 so she could study textiles designs with business studies at the University of Brighton.

After graduating she lived in Italy for a year and tried to live in London again but explains the south coast pulled her back and she settled in Brighton in 2006.
“I like the fresh air and living close the South Downs and the sea. I like that you can walk everywhere in Brighton and that friends are never too far away.
“Naturally I compare it to life in London, where everyone is in a hurry. I love the pace of life in Brighton the most I think,” she adds.

After working as a designer in the industry, in which she spent a brief period as a buyer, in 2011 Imogen decided the time was right to start her own design business.

Imogen Heath HR fabricWorking in her studio, Imogen designs and develops everything. Creating decorative fabrics and surface patterns for home interiors, all the fabrics are manufactured in the UK.

With the work using geometric and organic motifs, where does she get her inspiration?
“I am driven by a curious attitude to materials, I am quite experimental and playful in my approach to designing.
“It can be as simple as a broken stick dipped in ink, some photographs that I have taken, or a combination of the two, whichever is best suited to recreating what I have envisioned.
“Every design is different,” she reveals. “Once I have hand-drafted my pattern, I scan all the artwork into Photoshop, which I use to tidy and refine the finished design and get it ready for print.
“My fabrics are created through digitally printing on a variety of linen and cotton based cloths, which are suitable for soft furnishings, drapes and upholstery.”

Wanting to keep the collection fresh, new designs are released throughout the year.
“At the moment I am working on a group of new fabrics for launch in Spring/Summer 2015, and I hope there will be some new patterned home-ware products in there too,” she says.

Imogen Heath HR Dahlia FabricBut does she have a favourite pattern?
“I find it hard to pick just the one, but I do love the simplicity and vibrancy of the meadow lime design.
“A design from my first collection and it still makes me happy every time I look at it,” she replies. “It is definitely standing the test of time in my home; I have cushions, upholstery, blinds, and trays dotted about in this motif, and I never tire of looking at it.
“I can also see the same potential in a newer design, Rosa Blue, which has a vintage floral feel to it.”

So what does the future hold?
“I have recently just launched an exclusive range for trays and tea towels for Heal’s, which I hope will be just the beginning of a larger kitchenware range. It has been wonderful to see the potential of some of my best selling fabrics on new product,” she smiles.

With Liberty and Heal’s on board the future looks bright for the textile designer.

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Pictures by Rachel Whiting