Q&A: Gemma Kay Waggett

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Is textile design something you always wanted to do, how did you get into the industry?
I’ve been sewing since the age of four when I got a pack of punch-hole animal stitch cards as a birthday present. Throughout my childhood I spent a lot of time drawing and painting often encouraged by my Grandad (Gordon) who was a carpenter by trade but also a prolific artist in his spare time. At my secondary school one of the Design and Technology pathways was Textiles and so at eleven I learnt to use a sewing machine and made my very first cushion. In my teens I toyed with the idea of being a Fashion Designer (as I’m sure every young creative does…) but during my Foundation Course at Central Saint Martins realised that my true passion was for material, pattern and colour and so I chose to go to university to study Textile Design and it’s all just gone from there really…!

There is so much abstract, geometrical shape in your work, where do get your inspirations from?
I am captivated by colour and shape and gather some form of inspiration most days – from the mundane, to at markets, though found objects and on trips away. I often store my findings and sort together for development into a project at a later date. I use drawing and collage to reinterpret my visual research and photography to develop patterns and form.

The starting points for ‘Beyond Woven’ my RCA graduate collection was a newly built skate park in Gloucestershire, a DIY book on wicker and woven furniture restoration and a 1986 geometric stamp set.

You recently graduated from the Royal College of Art, how did your work evolve at there and where would you like it to go next?
Before I started at the RCA I had been working full time for almost three years – always in creative environments and on creative projects but never as a textile designer and never on my own work. Therefore my time at the RCA allowed me to concentrate on further developing my own identity and to strengthen my use of pattern and colour.

Whilst I am interested in gaining employment within the fields of colour and material I would also like to work on my own collections and on collaborative projects with different brands and individual designers.

Textile design spans across a huge variety of industries but is still studied under one umbrella, do you think this is reflective of the industry?
Textile design is typically studied in specialisms of print, knit, weave. I feel that this is important to enable a focus and allow one to become a master of his/her field. At the RCA textile designers work with architects, vehicle designers, product designers and scientists (to name just a few) – we love to collaborate! I think in the future we may see new courses evolving that allow individuals to become textile experts within these fields – ie, a colour and material pathway within automotive design but I think that this will always be as a postgraduate choice as one will need to understand the grass roots of textile design first.

Tell us a bit about your blog and retail project, Nothing But Navy?
After graduating from my BA at Central Saint Martins I moved back to my hometown of Stroud in Gloucestershire. I noticed a gap in the market for Christmas shopping here and so decided to hold a pop up event for the month of December based on my love for the colour Navy Blue – all navy products from stationery to homewares and accessories. I invited friends and contacts that were independent designer/makers to sell navy products through the shop and went to Paris sourcing all blue goods. The event was a real success and so since December 2011 I have held approximately ten events selling navy items to customers in Stroud, London, Bristol and Hay-on-Wye. We also sell a small collection of products online.

I keep also keep a record of my navy sightings atwww.nothingbutnavy.tumblr.com

My navy goods have been on the shelf since Christmas but now the MA is complete I plan to focus more time on developing the brand and so please do look out for us again later this year…


Nothing But Navy Pop Up at The Goods Shed

You not only sell many brands and designers work but also pop up in interesting stores around London. How does working with so many different types of people influence your work?
Working with others is incredibly important to me – I believe that it is essential in order to learn, stay current and to generally have more fun.

In December 2012 Nothing but Navy shared a retail space with OTHER on Berwick Street to hold a collaborative pop up event together – we both loved navy blue and whilst I do stock a few garments do not have a dedicated line of clothes and so it was fantastic to be able to offer my customers their products and vice versa.

Is Nothing But Navy ever a platform you would consider to sell your own work?
One day I would like for all products to be designed and made exclusively for NBN – by myself and by others. I already design and make some products for the brand but generally these are unlabeled and so yes, definitely – but these items will probably be a diffusion line of specific products.

What has been your biggest success, or source of pride?
I’d always wanted to study at the RCA and so getting into there and graduating was a real triumph.

Also, at the recent RCA show I felt a real sense of joy that the collection received compliments from people of all ages – I love the idea of my work appealing to all so this was fantastic!

What advice would you give to aspiring textile designers, bloggers, or in fact, entrepreneurs?
Stay positive and keep your ears and eyes open.

What’s in the future for your work?
I have a few more chapters of my ‘Beyond Woven’ project to explore so will continue to work on those ideas over the next few months…  I will hopefully be working with lots of interesting people and on some commissions too!

To see more of Gemma’s work check out gemmakaywaggett.com or visit nothingbutnavyshop.com for her edit of navy goods.









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