I came across the label Tessuti recently. I was sat drinking coffee in someone else's studio, and the gorgeous cup I was drinking out of was from Tessuti. I found that as well as the gorgeous cup, Tessuti prints textiles, makes fashion accessories and is involved in a range of interesting projects. The woman behind all of this is Edinburgh based Fiona Mcintosh, and I was pleased to catch up with her a couple of weeks ago.
patternbooth: You are best known for you work on fabric. How did you get into textiles?
fiona: I think my passion for textiles has been ingrained in me since childhood when I was taken round every haberdashery department and fabric shop in Glasgow, by my mother, who loved making clothes for herself and me. This led me to apply and be accepted for the textile design course at the Scottish College of Textiles in 1980, graduating 4 years later.
patternbooth: Tell us about Tessuti. You set up in 1985 and you must have been on quite a journey since then...
fiona: The mid 1980's proved difficult to find a job in the textile industry especially as I wanted to stay in Scotland, so the logical step seemed to become self-employed. I spent a year looking for premises and gathering all the equipment I would need. Since then my work has evolved with time and it was quite a journey to find what I wanted to produce i.e fashion accessories. I have also been involved in producing prints and work for other companies which all helped to pay the bills! It's really only now after almost 28 years that I feel I'm really doing what I want to do.
patternbooth: What inspires you?
fiona: My current collection of prints are inspired by imagery from the 1950's which is a period I love, just because so many new ideas seemed to occur then in post-war Britain.
I love working with different types of fabric as it's a challenge seeing how they react with the discharge method of printing which I primarily use. I dye all the fabric myself and love working with colour which this technique is great for.
My sketchbook is never far away from me and I'm always scribbling ideas for new prints and colourways and products. I work closely with a friend from my college days, who in fact does all of my sewing for me. If I have a new idea for a product I show her my 'scribbles' and she makes it into the finished piece.
patternbooth: How did you go from fabric to ceramics?
fiona: One of my other passions is collecting ceramics. It seemed a fun idea to try some of my prints and apply them to a completely different surface. it's interesting also to have a dabble into the homewares market and see if my prints can translate onto a totally different product.
patternbooth: You seem to have more stockists in the US and Canada than you do in the UK. How did that come about?
fiona: Although I regularly take part in shows in the UK I've been exhibiting at the New York International Gift Fair since 2004. I am now going there twice a year. The American market is so huge, and the buyers there seem to have a love for all things 'handmade' which really suits what I do.
In an age where there is a lot of digital printing around I feel that screen printing has now become almost unique, and by printing on fabrics such as Scottish cashmere and lambswool there is a real story behind what I'm doing. All of these factors have helped me have success finding stockists in the US and Canada.
patternbooth: What are you up to at the minute?
fiona: I love working on collaborations with different designers, and I have just printed 3 metre lengths of silk habotai, to be made up by a local fashion designer into classic womens shirts.
I also co-own a shop called Concrete Wardrobe in Edinburgh. The shop primarily sells fashion and interior pieces made by Scottish trained and/or Scottish based designers. I find the shop is a great platform for me to try out my new products, and test customers reactions to them. Having a shop like Concrete Wardrobe also keeps me on the ball about what's going on out there in the design world.