British textile designer and artist Laurie Maun is the latest maker to be showcased in the Barbican Shop as part of our Makers initiative. Based in East London, her work celebrates colour and texture, creating beautiful, handmade products. We catch up with Laurie to find out more about her work and her Barbican range.
How did you get into textile design?
My core study is textiles but I guess I can be viewed as more of a multidisciplinary artist these days, spreading into mediums such as printmaking, drawing, painting and photography. I like to explore the relationship between texture, colour and shape mostly based on abstract form, but also sometimes observational, figurative matter. I’ve had this obsession with slow hand made processes for as long as I can remember, it’s maybe not the easiest route to choose career wise but when you’re passionate about something I think you should at least see where you can go with it. Using my hands has always been really important. Whether it be sewing, painting or drawing, there’s an intimacy developed in hand made pieces that’s hard to imitate.
‘The best work comes from combining it all, making a mess and seeing what happens’
It was my time studying in Manchester that encouraged my exploration into different mediums. There was a strong encouragement between fellow artists that you didn’t have to conform to just being a painter, or a designer, or a musician, but instead the best work comes from combining it all, making a mess and seeing what happens.
I moved to London in 2014 to pursue my dream career of working in fashion as an embroidery designer, but I found the fashion world unfulfilling. With little to no creative input on the pieces I was creating and an obsession with immediate turnaround, it wasn’t for me. Essentially I just wanted to be my own boss, which can feel like a leap when there’s a strong temptation for more secure, regulated work but I’ve always been quite idealistic in terms of what I want to spend my day doing and what I want to achieve for myself.
What does a typical day (if there is one….!) look like in your studio?
I’m forever tidying up the mess I’ve made from the day before so that’s usually where it begins. I’ll make a pot of coffee, stick on NTS Radio and geek out on a usually unmanageable to do list for the day.
I don’t work 9-5, sometimes I wish I could but most of my days are more of an 8am-10pm job. Things have really started to take off this year so most of my day is spent making. The majority of my pieces are made to order so my online sales tend to dictate what I’ll be doing that day.
‘There’s a serious movement at the moment, people are buying independent and they’re buying well, it’s nice to see the Barbican supporting this’
What made you apply for the Barbican Maker?
The Barbican Maker is a great way to celebrate and highlight the exciting work that is coming out of London and I’m thrilled that they’ve asked me to be a part of it. There’s a serious movement at the moment, people are buying independent and they’re buying well, it’s nice to see the Barbican supporting this.
What can people expect from your commissions for the Barbican and what is the inspiration behind your designs?
The pieces I’ve made for the Barbican reflect my love for simplistic but playful design. I wanted the collection to be fun yet grown up and be a solid representation of me as an artist. Expect to find a selection of cushions, hangings, bags and cards.
I’ve been asked to work on a series of exclusive hand embroidered wall hangings inspired by the Centre. My inspiration hasn’t only been taken from the architecture and unique shapes found amongst the Barbican estate, but the pieces are also a nod to some of my favourite exhibitions seen over the years including Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion and Bauhaus: Art as Life.
Can you explain a little about the technique behind the production of your designs?
What began as an interest in merging traditional techniques with contemporary colour and design quite quickly evolved into my own home textile collection.
I’m obsessed with a hand embroidery technique called couching. This is a technique in which yarn or other materials are laid across the surface of the ground fabric and fastened in place with small stitches of a different, usually finer yarn. It’s painstakingly time consuming but so visually rewarding when complete and this is how I create the design on each of my cushions and hangings.
I still get great satisfaction in producing each piece myself but as things grow (which excitingly they are) I need to begin outsourcing production. With this, I’m keen to explore textile cooperatives from around the world that are helping to create new jobs and ensure craft preservation.
‘Being surrounded by like-minded artists and makers makes the journey a little easier’
Do you have any advice for artists looking to work in textile design?
Collaborate, become a part of a supportive community. Living and working in Hackney has seriously shaped the designer I’ve become and being surrounded by like-minded artists and makers makes the journey a little easier.
Saying this, it’s all pretty dependent on what route you want to take. Textile Design is such a broad market, I essentially wanted to become my own brand and for that I’d advise; work a part time job be a bit skint for a couple of years, spend evenings, weekends and any spare minute you have on your own practice. It’s the opposite of glamorous but if you’re driven and determined it’ll pay off.
Browse Laurie Maun’s collection for the Barbican Shop
Head to our Instagram to see more of Laurie Maun’s products @barbicancentre.
Meet more of our Makers and designers in our Design collection.