Banksias and the Roaring Twenties amongst students’ winning rug and textile designs

Eight Art & Design students have created outstanding designs for domestic and international markets.

Rebecca Rego The End Of The Season

Rebecca Rego's A home among the gumtrees ‘The End of a Season’, 2019, digital print. Image: Supplied.

A combination of gumnuts, gum leaves, the bush, red desert, banksias and pink cockatoos inspired third year Bachelor of Design student Rebecca Rego in her design for leading rug company, Designer Rugs. 

The End of a Season is one of four UNSW Art & Design creations chosen by the company to be hand tufted in India into a 190cm x 280cm rug made from a New Zealand wool blend and made available for sale. 

Ms Rego says her design was also inspired by the "orangey pink skies and bushy greens" found in the outback when the sun is setting. 

"The End of a Season design was directly taken from a rough sketch I did in chalk of a dried-up banksia pod," Ms Rego said. 

The design competition was part of a Semester One project involving third-year UNSW Art & Design students, Designer Rugs and textile print studio, Karolina York. 

For the rug part of the project, students were required to create a collection of four designs for an interior rug, something Ms Rego had never been exposed to before. 

"I learnt about how important rugs are in a space," she said. "They really set the mood for the entire room and how it looks; it can make or break the space." 

The 21-year-old is currently specialising in textiles and jewellery and although unsure of her career direction, says it will be “definitely something down the path of working with prints in fashion and interiors.” 

"Brands and designers such as Marimekko and Gorman are what attracted me to pursuing a career in the art and design world," Ms Rego said. 

She said the Textile Industry Forecasting course was challenging and gave students a really good insight into what working in the industry and working to specific briefs is like. 

But the highlight of the project was learning that her A4 design was selected by Designer Rugs. 

"It was all so exciting. I also loved seeing how everyone else in the course interpreted the briefs presented to us," she said. "Designing repeats for fashion and designing for interiors is something I definitely want to pursue in the future." 

Third year Bachelor of Design student Esther Leung was honoured that her design, Chesspiece Ladies, was one of four designs purchased by Karolina York. It will also be shown at the Premiere Vision-France textile design trade show in Paris later this year.    

She said the design was inspired by American fashion designer Anna Sui’s Fall 2014 Ready-To-Wear runway looks and her take on the Roaring Twenties.  

"I love her era-inspired looks and ability to stay fresh and relevant every season, as much of today’s fashion embodies a throwback from previous decades," she said. "The end goal was a vintage, classic and playful textile piece, by translating a set of 1920s display mannequin heads – now typically seen in op-shops – into design repeats and using it for wearable fashion, that can be literally and ironically worn as part of an outfit." 

UNSW A&D student Esther Leung with her sketchings for Karolina York

Esther Leung with her sketchings. Photo: Lily Foo.

Ms Leung said it was challenging to create something for others in a timely manner, as well as staying disciplined and following set guidelines. 

"The highlight was learning to combine both hand illustrations and using Illustrator CC above normal capacity, then seeing the designs come neatly together," she said. 

"Seeing the print come to life on moving fabric and having others see potential in your work is very satisfying and carries its own joy. For the design itself to also be shown and sold in Paris… I am mind-blown!" 

Ms Leung is majoring in graphic design and textiles and hopes to work in the technical fields of fashion production, or in commercial textile or graphic design after graduation. 

Designer Rugs senior designer Lia Pielli also taught in the Semester One Textile Industry Forecasting course. 

She said the designs are selected based on their suitability for both commercial and domestic interior spaces, and how the designs can add colour and patterns to living and working spaces. 

"Designer Rugs is looking for fresh new designs with a point of difference, while still reflecting current industry colour and design trends," Ms Pielli said. 

"It is always exciting and inspiring to see how the new generation of designers approach the process of designing rugs." 

Ms Pielli said the finalists’ designs this year showed a great combination of use of colour, texture and considered compositions.  

It is the 11th year that Designer Rugs have been involved in the project at UNSW, and the second year that Karolina York has been involved with UNSW.  

Karolina York creative director Bronwyn Ferguson says they were excited to get involved in this year’s project as they sold four students’ designs from last year’s competition to international clientele at the Premiere Vision tradeshow in Paris. 

For 2019 they chose four "outstanding" designs based around creativity and commerciality, along with the attention to technical detail when creating their digital print files.  

"The students selected this year have shown strong technical skills along with aesthetically diverse designs that align with our design brief," Ms Ferguson said.  

UNSW Art & Design lecturer Dr Patricia Flanagan convened the Textile Industry Forecasting course this year. 

She said the course was an amazing opportunity for students to gain industry knowledge and insight as well as establish networks in the textile industry. 

"All the students designs are exhibited, and this helps build their portfolio," Dr Flanagan said. "For the lucky ones, they get to see their design work translated into full scale products. Their designs enter the marketplace and are exposed to domestic and international markets."

She said staff from Designer Rugs and Karolina York are hugely supportive and give generously of their time to come and meet the students and give feedback on their designs.  

"I think that you will agree that the results on display in FORECAST IMPACT: TEXTILES DESIGN are outstanding," she said. 

The four selected rugs chosen by Designer Rugs and the four designs for Karolina York will be exhibited in the FORECAST IMPACT: TEXTILES DESIGN exhibition in the AD Space gallery at Paddington from Tuesday, August 13 until Saturday, August 24.