Textile design

Textile design is essentially the process of creating designs for woven, knitted or printed fabrics or surface ornamented fabrics. Textile designers are involved with the production of these designs, which are used, sometimes repetitively, in clothing and interior decor items.

The field encompasses the actual pattern making while supervising the production process. In other words, textile design is a process from the raw material into finished product. Fiber, yarn and finishes are the key elements to be considered during the textile design procedure.


Textile designing is a creative field that includes fashion design, carpet manufacturing and any other cloth-related field. Textile design fulfills a variety of purposes in our lives.  For example, our clothing, carpets, drapes, towels, and rugs are all a result of textile design.

These examples illustrate the significance of textiles in our daily lives. The creations of textiles are not only important for their use, but also for the role they play in the fashion industry. Textile designers have the ability to inspire collections, trends, and styles. The textile industry, while being a creative art form, is a very business savvy industry.

Textile designers marry a creative vision of what a finished textile will look like with a deep understanding of the technical aspects of production and the properties of fiber, yarn, and dyes.

The creative process often begins with different art mediums to map concepts for the finished product. Traditionally, drawings of woven textile patterns were translated onto special forms of graph paper called point papers, which were used by the weavers in setting up their looms.

Today, most professional textile designers use some form of computer-aided design software created expressly for this purpose. Some of the latest advances in textile printing have been in the area of digital printing. The process is similar to the computer controlled paper printers used for office applications. In addition, heat-transfer printing is another popular printing method to be used in the textile design. Patterns are often designed in repeat to maintain a balanced design even when fabric is made into yardage. Repeat size is the distance directly across or down from any motif in a design to the next place that same motif occurs. The size of the repeat is determined by the production method. For example, printed repeat patterns must fit within particular screen sizes while woven repeat patterns must fit within certain loom sizes. There are several different types of layouts for repeated patterns. Some of the most common repeats are straight and half drop. Often, the same design is produced in many different colored versions, which are called colorways. Once a pattern is complete, the design process shifts to choosing the proper fabrics to get the design printed on or woven into the fabric.

Designers might want to use the method of dyeing or printing to create their design. There are many printing methods.

Historic figures

Zika Ascher

Zika Ascher introduced the mohair cult and the flowered prints launched by íIṆňĪChristian Dior which were found in Vogue. Zika Ascher came to England from Prague in 1939 and established a small textile business in London with his wife Lida. During the 1940s the Aschers commissioned leading artists such as Matisse and Henry Moore to design a collection of headscarves to brighten up the dull postwar British wardrobe. From 1946 Ascher supplied fabrics to the international fashion industry. They opened their own printworks and became known for lively screen printed designs. Ascher textiles, especially the artist designed ones, now feature regularly in exhibitions and at auction.

Terence Conran

Terence Conran established two manufacturing companies during the 1950s, Conran Furniture and Conran Fabrics. He wanted to make attractive, affordable design available to the general public. In 1964 Conran opened the first Habitat in Brompton Cross, London. He sold contemporary home furnishings that weren’t available anywhere else in Britain. Prices were low to enable customers to replace these household items every few years as fashions changed. The products were mass-produced and easy to acquire. By the end of the decade, Habitat had nine UK branches and maintains its reputation for inexpensive, appealing design.

Hull Traders Design

Hull Traders had acquired a reputation for their fabric designs by winning several awards. Shirley Craven, who designed textiles for the company, also selected designs by freelance textile artists and oversaw the process of printing these onto fabric. Designers who carried out work for the company included Eduardo Paolozzi, Althea McNish and Humphrey Spender. Hull Traders was initially based in London before moving to a converted mill in Trawden, Lancashire. All the designs were screen printed by hand using pigment dyes. The aim was to produce short runs of avant-garde textiles, sold in Hull Traders’ showroom off Oxford Street in London.

Eddie Squires

Eddie Squires was the chief designer of Warner fabrics. The company was established in the 1870s in Spitalfields as a silk weaving company, Warner & Sons was one of the best known 20th century Great British producers of high quality domestic woven and printed furnishings. Squires was interested in all aspects of modern art and design, from pop art to space travel. The V&A owns a series of his scrapbooks in which he collected material that inspired him visually, including packaging, postcards and photographs. His research allowed him to create furnishing fabrics, which capture the spirit of the decade. Sue Thatcher was a colleague whose designs were also influenced.

Gunta Stölzl

Gunta Stölzl was a German textile artist who played a fundamental role in the development of the Bauhaus school’s weaving workshop. She created immense change within the textile field by uniting art practices taught at Bauhaus with traditional textile techniques and became the first woman Master at the school. In her teaching, Gunta applied ideas from modern art that she acquired in the classes ofJonannes Itten (color theory), Paul Klee (visual thinking) and Wassily Kandinsky(abstract art) into a new weaving practice. Her and other students took courses and learned the craft outside of the school, soon becoming experts. Lack of technical guidelines at the Bauhaus School allowed her and her colleagues to experiment with different materials and techniques, changing traditional textile and weaving techniques. Stölzl became the weaving Master in 1925 when Bauhaus relocated to Dessau. Weaving practices at the department soon became of a more functional nature following the needs of contemporary industrial design. Under her direction, Bauhaus Weaving Workshop became one of its most successful facilities.