Material Girl

Material Girl

Sworders’ staff are the core strength of our business and we are constantly amazed by the many interests and passions we share as a team. In a previous life, Natalie Lipscombe, from our Shipping Department, had a successful career as a Textile Designer, and here we find out more about her experiences and how she would go about sourcing inspiration for her work.

20 March 2023

How I got into textiles…

I grew up in East London not far from the William Morris Gallery and spent many school trips there where I was fascinated by his patterns and printing blocks. I loved to copy his nature inspired designs and work out how they repeated. It was the way in which he structured and replicated his patterns that resulted in him being considered such a genius of his time. His patterns were complex, but the repeats were well disguised so that they flowed with a simplicity and elegance.

Years later, I did an art foundation and specialised in fashion and textiles, and I particularly loved the screen-printing studio, so from there I went on to study printed textiles at degree level. I immediately knew I preferred textiles for interiors as I enjoyed designing in large scale; I also liked how interiors are slower paced and more considered than fashion. For me, I found it more satisfying to design full collections where all the designs could work together, for example, we would start by producing one stand-out design, which is normally quite elaborate both in motif and colour, and then bring in secondary designs, coordinating small-scale patterns, stripes and plain block colours.

When I graduated from university, I worked freelance, selling my designs through an agent to interior fabric companies or high street brands, which was good grounding for learning how to churn out designs commercially for the textile market. After that, I went on to work at a fabric company as a print designer and colourist where I worked with a lot of old archival fabrics, recolouring or restructuring them to fit the contemporary market. Then I spent ten years working for a manufacturing and supply textile company who mainly specialised in woven jacquard fabric. Learning to design and colour fabric using its warp and weft construction (the warp being the vertical yarn or thread and weft horizontal) was an interesting learning curve. I would design collections and create a detailed product specification with colourways based on how the warps and wefts would mix, at which point they would be sent to mills in Turkey to be woven into fabric. The final product would then be sold to interiors companies.


Where to find trends…

We would produce a set of around five mood boards twice a year in the autumn and spring, which would cover all the trends and colour palettes we believed would dominate the interiors textile market for the coming season. These trends would be created from visiting trade shows, exhibitions, and high-end fabric showrooms, as well as attending trend and colour talks led by trend prediction companies like WGSN and Trend Bible. These boards would be used as a backbone to design collections around. We would also work directly with companies’ specific briefs to produce designs that they needed to fit with their own fabric collections.

How to incorporate textiles into your home… When we talk about textiles in our homes, we are referring to our soft furnishings: curtains, blinds, rugs, cushions, upholstery, blankets and throws etc. So, you can see the importance they have within an interior setting - they literally cover each and every part of a room. Textiles are also the easiest and most enjoyable way to add personality and life to a home, by switching up light and dark colours between seasons, or adding bold prints and patterns to larger pieces of furniture

The use of just one striking fabric design - whether it is upholstered on a statement chair or dressing a window - can lift the plainest of rooms and introduce a focal point from which the rest of your décor can be built around. For those who are nervous of making such a dramatic visual statement, introducing a range of vibrant, patterned, scatter cushions to a plain sofa is the safest place to start.

An assortment of mix-and-match textures and patterns, varied in scale and complexity but within a colour palette of about three or four complementary shades, are the building blocks to any interiors scheme. However, too much colour, texture and pattern can make a room feel chaotic and cluttered, so it’s about finding the right balance.

2023 Sworders Moodboard 

2023 Sworders Moodboard 

Interiors and Fabric Trends 2023

Warm Tones and Berry Pinks

Warm tones and berry pinks are set to be a hot trend in 2023 thanks to Pantone announcing its colour of the year as Viva Magenta 18-1750, which according to them ‘vibrates with vim and vigour’.


 Looking to traditional and classic styles, and incorporating them into contemporary settings, is also set to be popular over the next season, through the symmetrical lines and intricate carvings of antique furniture and wood panelling, alongside classic damasks and floral William Morris-like patterns in fresh and modern colour palettes.


 A key question for many industries that will continue to loom large in 2023 is sustainability, particularly in the textile industry. More emphasis is being put on the use of natural materials like organic cotton, linen and wool, and many companies are focusing on ways to produce products that are less harmful to the environment. For example, minimising the use of synthetic dyes and making innovations in fabric designs created from recycled materials and vegan leather are becoming more and more of a priority.





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