New Designers 2021 Winner: Andrea Gonzales

Final year BA (Hons) Textile Design student, Andrea Gonzales, recently won the Habitat Future Design Award – Textiles and Surface Pattern Design at this year’s New Designers awards ceremony.

The brief called for designs that could sit alongside Habitat’s curated collection of beautiful, sustainable and functional products and furniture, and Andrea’s design was chosen as the winner.

Babilkbayan is a collection of woven jacquard and printed fabrics for interiors inspired by Andrea’s Filipino culture. With a particular focus on the textile traditions and wooden cut carvings that are distinctive within certain provinces, the ethnic patterns have been translated into woven jacquard designs and lino prints to create a coordinating series of fabrics that celebrate the craftsmanship of weaving that is still deeply rooted in the Filipino culture.

As Andrea explains: “Balikbayan is a Tagalog word which means to return to your homeland so it was a play on words of me returning home to my culture. It’s inspired by traditional Filipino wood carvings that they would sell to tourists. When we go back to the Philippines, my family and I would go over to different provinces to buy these wood carvings which are made to secure the provinces from bad omens.

The competition brief was about creating a happy habitat and I wanted to make a warm atmosphere in the home. During the pandemic, I was missing home a lot so it was about bringing my culture into my home and drawing on the intricate designs of the wood carvings which are about providing security in these difficult times.”

New Designers is the UK’s leading exhibition of emerging design talent, providing a unique platform to connect graduates with industry professionals, creative businesses and consumers, for creative exchange, career opportunities and collaboration.

“I am very humbled and overjoyed to have received the Habitat Future Design Award! I wasn’t expecting anything, it was such a surprise! I was just having fun with my project and it was such a personal journey, I didn’t expect to win. I thought, because we live in a digital world, I’d be more likely to win with print designs but I appreciate that they recognised my traditional work as well.”

Andrea will graduate from BCU this summer after completing her Textile Design degree. She spoke about her favourite aspects of studying at BCU:

“The facilities are really nice and the teachers are so supportive. It was hard to adjust to remote teaching during lockdown; I missed the workshops and the help we received from technicians but they kept in touch nearly every day. It made me want to make the most of my final year, which I think I did!”

Andrea’s success at New Designers means she will receive mentoring from Habitat’s Senior Designers where she’ll gain invaluable industry experience. Her Babilkbayan design will be purchased by Habitat and she will be supported to get her products manufactured.

Considering life after graduation, Andrea commented: “I have so many things I want to do! I’m volunteering at the Museum of Carpet in Kidderminster where I demonstrate weaving techniques to visitors. They have two big industrial looms so I can just weave away!

I’m looking forward to visiting Habitat’s design show room to see where that will take me. I’d like to work in a weaving mill so I can learn about the production process and how the woven fabrics are made, and in the long-term I want to be a woven fabric designer.

I’d also really like to volunteer in the Philippines or do an internship with a weaving company there so I can learn more about the traditional weaving techniques, and perhaps bring some things back to inspire my future projects.”

All at the School of Fashion and Textiles offer their congratulations to Andrea on her award and look forward to seeing what she achieves in her future career!

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