Each year, our BA (Hons) Textile Design course hosts an awards evening in which the achievements of final year students are celebrated. In 2021, the virtual ceremony was joined by industry representatives who presented awards.
Keely Russell was the proud winner of the Materiality Award for Fractal Recharge, her collection of printed natural textiles which uses the principles of biophilic design to create soothing living spaces.
The award was presented by Lorna Williams and Karen Quarterman-Crisford, from the design team at Amtico, saying: “We love the combination of the illustrative yet painterly style within Keely’s work. Hand-crafted elements are teamed with strong technical ability and the results are confident and refreshingly simple. Striking shapes and overlay textures create abstract patterns with natural elements. The influences feel relatable to future trends and this really resonated with us.”
As a prize, Keely was invited to undertake a work experience with the company, and in this video she talks to Design Manager Sarah Escott about her time at Amtico.
[00:00:03] Sarah I'm Sarah Escott, I'm a design manager here at Amtico. I'm here with Keely Russell, who's the newest addition to the team currently. Keely's just won an award to do four weeks work experience here in the design team with us. We have a great relationship with Birmingham City University, particularly the textiles course, and we're very fortunate to be invited to go and look at the graduates work, fresh off the line as it were. And that's always a great experience to go and see all the new ideas and all the fresh techniques and so on. And for the last couple of years, we've been able to judge an award at that, and this year we judge the materiality award. And that's why Keely's here with us. Really, it was about her hands-on, crafted quality look and feel to her work, but really overlaid with bold trends and contemporary feel. So the ability to combine that handcrafted with the technical side really aligned itself well with what we do here at Amtico. So yeah, it's been great having her on board.
[00:01:08] Keely I decided to study textile design because I have a really creative family anyway. My mom's really creative. My grandad's a keen artist photographer already and we do lots of photography together - we have done since I was a lot younger and we still do it now as well. And that kind of led into at school just enjoying the subject more because I'd got people that were also passionate about it to talk to you as well. And then that led to me obviously getting my place at university and studying Textiles.
[00:01:47] Keely So the inspiration behind my final project mainly came to me after I had lockdown just before my final year and there was a massive trend of like mental wellbeing, mental health and I did a lot of research into how design can be used to improve mood and boost mood and using colours and things like that to create different user experiences. And I ended up writing my dissertation on biophilic design, and I really enjoyed it, and I found out like so much more about it. Specialising in print, there was a lot of it that was to do with the um, the way we process different shapes and forms and patterns visually and how that can lead to different effects on us. So essentially like using that to live around and having in your home could have a more positive effect on your day to day wellbeing. And so focussed on that within my final project and did loads of research into these different like forms and textures and patterns, and then use that to create a different interior textiles pieces to try and kind of carry across that effect.
[00:03:00] Keely My work experience is four weeks long that I'm doing here, I'm in my my third week at the moment, and I've got one week left. So far I think the thing that I've enjoyed the most is been being able to get onto the AVA, which is and colour separation software. And I've been able to have a go at recolouring a stone on that, which has been very interesting. I never expected to be like trained up so fast on that in my time here. And so, yeah, I've really enjoyed that so far. And the other aspect is how hands-on everything is in the studio. So there's always samples everywhere and pulling out bits together and seeing what looks good together. And as part of that, I'm doing a bit of a laying pattern project with them. So being able to like in the coming week as well get hands-on with putting patterns together and shapes is like, really what I'm into anyway. So yeah, that's been the bits that I've enjoyed the most.
[00:03:58] Keely The close collaboration with the factory on site constantly like samples from the design studio being made up, sent off, pressed, coming back having left the colours and we have like design support team as well. So there's really like close connections between them getting those samples back to the designers so that they can make quick tweaks. And I thought that would be more like an like an end of the process thing. So I thought a lot of places would potentially going through the designing kind of less like real life sampling and then some pull ups at the end to try and get the final product in factory. But having it on site is just means that I can kind of be like a back and forwards thing and get like a lot closer to what they want in the first place. I think the other thing that surprised me is, um, like looking for inspiration, like how far out they look. It's not just hard surfaces and flooring, they look at just soft materials and textiles and different sectors and like emerging trends in other and other kind of design areas, not just like interior design. And that's been really fun to be a part of as well.