It’s kind of a big deal when you find yourself coming across someone on the world wide web who appears to share the same aesthetics, inspiration and goals as yourself. Not in an ‘oh, shit’ way but actually in the interest of creativity – there’s enough room for us all out there and supporting those with a similar vision to yourself can normally lead to a bigger movement later on down the line. When I first discovered Eleanor Bailey on one of my daily Instagram hashtag “spirals”, I knew we were meant to connect and after discovering she was actually still studying I jumped at the chance to ask her a few questions and find out her plans for third year at the seemingly inspired Leeds College of Art.
Eleanor’s work is bright, loud and bursting with pattern, featuring blocks of colour and a hell of a lot of mark making. As she is still studying a lot of the pieces are experimental but in my own personal opinion, this is what actually makes her work so successful. She stays very true to herself through all of her projects but she has the capacity to experiment with anything from digital printing to paper-based processes and beading. By combining her range of interests, Eleanor has created a style that ultimately doesn’t really fit into one ‘trend’ box and within her work I can see references to the Bauhaus, Memphis and Pop Art movements but there’s also clearly inspiration from architecture and her city surroundings – the culmination of all of these things move her work from decorative to slightly more conceptual.
It’s a hard feat to be original in the loud and proud world of textiles these days, especially when there is so much amazing work to subconsciously draw stimulus from yet I think Eleanor’s managed to do her own thing while still taking in everything going on around her. Ultimately this will allow her to flourish in the ‘real’ design world and if you keep on readin’ you’ll soon see that this gal is definitely ready to hit the town with her designs.
Firstly can you give me a little explanation about yourself and why you chose to study Printed Textiles and Surface Pattern Design?
I am currently going in to my third year at Leeds College of Art where I study Printed Textiles and Surface Pattern Design (Ba)Hons. My style of work and design tendencies are still developing, and I have loved watching the evolution of my work over the years. A bold use of colour has remained thematic throughout my folio of drawings, digital collages and collections of printed textiles.
I did my Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at the University of Falmouth. I loved having a break from London and spending my year in such an idyllic sea-side town, but I ended up missing city life more than I would have ever expected. Leeds couldn’t have seemed more appealing, and to this day I still love it! I fell in love with the Printed Textiles and Surface Pattern Design course at Leeds College of Art as soon as I heard about it. Unlike other Textile courses at other universities, the course at LCA offered something more- a dedication to the love of print, colour and form.
Can you tell me a little about the inspiration behind your designs?
I have been so lucky to grow up in such an amazing part of South London; tucked in between Peckham and Brixton, I have been able to experience some of London’s most multicultural delights (from food markets, restaurants and nights out!) but the thing that has always caught my eye the most are the African haberdasheries and markets, narrow and heaving with fabrics visually rich in bright colour and traditional pattern. Walking through Peckham and Brixton regularly, you can’t help but avoid these full-of-life designs, and they really do help bring a smile to anyones face!
During my last year of sixth-form, I began looking more closely into African textile design, VLISCO and the dutch wax fabric trade, becoming increasingly interested with the work of Yinka Shonibare. This led my love for African textiles on to more of a contemporary twist on traditional African design, and the likes of London/Moroccan based photographer Hassan Hajjaj, known as the ‘Andy Warhol of Marrakech’. Although the influence of African Design isn’t always obvious in my own work, studying and falling in love with African textiles gave me with such a huge boost in creative self-esteem and provided me with confidence in colour.
In recent months, I have been extremely fortunate to gain an internship with London based designer Yinka Ilori, who’s bright, bold work and passion for chairs has been gaining great global interest. Working closely with him over the past few weeks has given me a great insight into the world of design and it is something that I truly admire in him and his work.
Who influences your design process?
I am influenced by a wide variety of sources, from artists and designers to places and galleries. In recent months, I have found myself influenced by the work of Camille Walala and Jonna Saarinen, alongside some of my longterm favourites, Henri Matisse, Zandra Rhodes and David Hockney.
I find myself enthused on a day to day basis by companies and brands too, with some of my current interests revolving around the aesthetics and design of Risotto Studio, Atelier Bingo, Dusen Dusen, Habitat, Muji and House of Hackney.
I also gain influence from flicking through design magazines (Wallpaper, Dazed, Vice, Elle Decoration), discovering new Intsagram accounts such as Patternity, Minimalzine, Bricksmagazine, Colourwars, Emmajanepalin, Tamarattiadesigns, Clairesherston, Esthercoxskiosk – to name a few!
(EJP NOTE: Thanks Eleanor, Make sure you check us all out!!)
Any plans for your third year? What can we expect to see from you next?
The beginning of third year unfortunately for me means dissertation, a lot of coffee and a lot of late nights. I have decided to explore how the principles of The Bauhaus have influenced the minimalist aspect in contemporary art and design. I am super excited about this one, as I have been a fan of The Bauhaus and its design tendencies for years, but have never used it as a starting point and I’m not entirely sure why! I shall be travelling to Berlin for some additional research (so if you have any travelling tips, or can recommend any cool places to go, hit me up!), so I am really looking forward to that as it’s so far probably my favourite city! (EJP note: You can find my own list of Berlin tips here!)
Although I’m currently using my time at uni to really explore a wide variety of design styles and processes, I am heading towards a very bold and bright design style that I believe works for me. Alongside uni, in my spare time I have been trying to create some designs totally unrelated to any themes that I have been exploring at the studio. I have loved this and have created some designs that I am really happy with, it has also been quite refreshing to find inspiration in something, and creatively act upon it without the pressure of having to research and adapt any initial ideas. Just go with the flow!
What’s the ultimate dream?
If I’m honest, I know that my ultimate dream will change from year to year. As I can’t put a finger on what my ultimate dream would be for now, I will give you a few little ideas that have popped into my head!
Within the next couple of years I would love to move to either Amsterdam, Berlin or New York and work there interning or working alongside an interior stylist or a textile based design company for a year or two. Eventually I would love to have my own company, Interior styling and selling interior products that I have designed and produced myself.
Having gained experience at a consumer magazine and digital publisher company, Time Inc. UK (formerly known as IPC Media), I have since been extremely interested in the publication of magazines and digital print. It is something that I would love to get involved in again, and perhaps publish my own design-related magazine.
Thanks so much to Eleanor for taking the time to let me be nosy (even while she was working late at Wimbledon) and for allowing me to use her beautiful imagery on her site. Please do pop over to her Instagram to say hello and give her some lovin’ on her own blog. I absolutely cannot wait to follow this lady’s progress and find out what the future holds for her – bagsy the space in your suitcase Eleanor!