We sit down to uncover how an artistic design process informed and inspired a commercial textile collection.
23 August, 2012
Coming to design in his mid-thirties, Ilias Fotopoulos is an intriguing figure.
His story is one that sets him apart in the Australian textiles landscape – not solely for his unconventional path to a successful design career but also for his unique, dedicated, artisanal process.
Ilias’ recent collaboration with Instyle Textiles has resulted in three collections for the contract market: Braille, Blink and Molecular.
How did you first come into contact with Instyle?
I met Michael Fitzsimons (Instyle CEO) when I was exhibiting at 100% Design London – he had not seen my work, I had not seen his, though we were both Sydney based.
How did the idea for the collaboration come about?
I was exhibiting hand printed wall papers and textiles – Michael liked the patterns and concepts but as my techniques were not really suited to the commercial market in terms of durability so Michael expressed his interest in helping me take the designs to the contract market
What attracted you to the idea of collaborating with Instyle?
I found Michael to be supportive and upfront and I liked his business knowledge that, as more of an artist designer, I seem to lack! Sustainability is important to me and, I was interested in instyle’s sustainability credentials (sustainability is a reason my wall coverings are still hand printed in England). Coupled with Instyle’s technical and market knowledge I believed that instyle was the company to take my work to the next level in terms of development and exposure.
How did you choose the designs for the collaboration? Were they already concepts or were they developed specifically for the collaboration?
Oh that was the hard part for me, letting go of a few designs and colour ways and specialist effects that were perhaps not quite right for the Instyle contract market – in the end, some of the designs I loved were not used, but those that were selected were also designs that I loved and had been producing and selling as wall coverings. It was an interesting lesson in not being too attached to your own ideas when collaborating and, being able to take on another person’s expert knowledge.
What was the creative dynamic between you and Instyle? Did you work with their designers?
The conversion of my designs into weave appropriate concepts using CAD programs was something I happily passed over to the experts at the instyle design room – I am simply not good at any design software – I design using my hands. But they understood where I was coming from, what I was trying to express with the Braille design for example, and they kept my core ideas and expressed them in the finished product beautifully.
Braille, Blink and Molecular
Instyle produces textiles on a mass scale, whereas yours are much more limited editions, did this difference in scope affect the creative process?
Oh yes… especially in terms of having to drop some designs and colour ways that I was so attached too… I still think that some of the more “out there” colour ways would look amazing – on my furniture at least. But the investment that instyle make is substantial, they know their market, so I went with their flow.
Is the ’Braille’ design linked to your ’Braille’ project?
Yes it is conceptually though as a weave, we were not able to achieve the correct amount of 3 dimensionality to make it touch readable as Braille. But the concept and the message is there.
Have you any further ideas for collaborations in the future?
Yes I absolutely would love to, I have gone through a 2 year period of, lets say soul searching and I am now working on converting those emotions and feelings in to tangible designs. I also have many prototypes for sheers that I would love to see in full-scale production.
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