Monday, 3 December 2012

Visit to Sir Paul Smith's design HQ, London 29 November

Rachel Richardson-Jones who set up a textile design business through the Interiors & Lifestyle Futures Venture programme, reports on her meeting with fashion designer Sir Paul Smith.

Sir Paul Smith’s HQ at 20 Keane Street is a very impressive building not far from the heart of Covent Garden. I visited him with a group of MA students from Birmingham City University. We were all surprised and delighted when he came to meet us himself in the reception area.

Paul Smith London headquarters

His office on the fourth floor is jam packed with toys, books, objects and paintings, which act as inspiration for his collections. 180 people work in the building and he produces a staggering 26 collections per year. He has a hand in all the collections overseeing his design assistants.

Rachel Richardson Jones (wearing one of her own designs) and Sir Paul Smith

Paul suggested we visit art galleries to get ideas for our work, saying that: “outfits are like a picture in a frame” He also told us not to copy fashion trends because the work already exists, but to try to be inspired, and give it a newness “train your mind to think, and look and see”

The most exciting area for me was the print design studio, where his team of surface designers, produce designs for digital, screen and rotary printing. He told me that his digital printing is produced in Italy by a factory in Como. I also found out that, the fabrics need to be ready eight months before the garments are made and there are four to five strike-offs before each batch of fabric is finally approved for printing.

Paul showed us one of his collections that used several different fabrics within each garment. One shirt in particular, had five different fabrics within the construction. He also gave us tour of one of his five showrooms within the building, which are full of his merchandise and accessories. Astonishingly, he even rode a bicycle around the showroom!

I very much enjoyed my visit as it gave me a valuable insight into the mind and character of a member of fashion’s royalty. I even managed to get a photo with him while I was wearing one of my own button shirts!

Toys, books, objects and paintings inspiring design at Paul Smith