Profiles Feature: Beatrice Larkin. If you appreciate wonderful woven textiles, you’ll love this modern and luxurious collection. With her trademark inky line drawings and broken geometrics in monochrome, the end result is a surprisingly subtle and soft effect. These patterns are used to create cushions and throws made from the finest Italian spun merino wool. I caught up with Beatrice Larkin to find out more.
Meet Woven Textile Designer Beatrice Larkin
Beatrice tells me about her background, “I studied BA woven textiles at Chelsea College of Art (2007-2010) then an MA in woven textiles at The Royal College of Art (2011 -2013). After that, I joined The Crafts Council’s Hot House scheme for emerging makers. Following this, I was lucky to receive an award from The Worshipful Company of Clothworkers and a subsidised studio space at Cockpit Arts.”
After a few interesting work placements with Wallace Sewell, Elle Decoration magazine and Labour and Wait, Beatrice realised she wanted to start up her own business. She reveals, “I grew up with both parents’ being self-employed in the textiles industry. My father has a fabric and wallpaper shop in Canterbury and my mother is an embroidery designer. The family home was always full of beautiful fabrics and vintage pieces and I think I caught the bug from there. I was aware from an early age about the satisfaction of running your own business along with the difficulties! But ultimately, I was undaunted by it.”
Monochrome Woven Throws
Beatrice elaborates, “I set up my business in 2003. I began by handweaving but eventually focussed on more computerised jacquard weaving. I worked with a mill in Lancashire to develop my designs in small production runs. Dalesford Organic was a great supporter as they paid upfront for my first collection with them. In January 2017 I received a business loan through Virgin StartUp which has been fundamental to the progression of the business. This certainly helped with cash flow, allowing me to manufacture my product and hold a little stock.”
Monochrome Woven Cushions
The business is located in Dalston, Hackney in London. Beatrice is lucky to have her studio located close to home. This is a creative part of the city which Beatrice taps into for inspiration. Being the only employee of her company, everything is down to her from the designs, sourcing materials, organising manufacturing, social media and the accounts. However, Beatrice does get assistance from family members and employs freelancers to help with photography, graphic design and marketing. In the future, she is hoping to invest in a loom so she can sample hand weaves and create production pieces. Having an in-house team is something Beatrice also has in mind. For now, she is happy with the set-up, Beatrice comments, “When I achieve something and see my business growing there’s no better feeling.”
View The Beatrice Larkin Woven Textile Collection
Beatrice describes her collection, “I create monochrome woven textiles characterised by inky line drawings and broken geometrics which are subtle and soft. These are all made from the finest Italian spun merino wool. This currently includes throws and cushions with plans to expand the range in the near future.”
The second range is on the way, Beatrice reveals “I’m in the process of launching my second collection. The Sketch Series is a continuation from Monochrome. This one is more focussed on my hand drawings. I’ve started to be known for my monochromes, so I’ve continued that colour way again. I like to design outside of trends, and I find that black and white (actually nearer black and grey) is timeless.”
The design starts with Beatrice’s hand drawings, she elaborates “a simple doodle in a sketchbook will be manipulated on the computer I play with scale and repeat this while working in the weave structure I want to use. The jacquard mill in Lancashire then takes these designs and weaves them in lengths. The computerised jacquard loom allows me to create more intricate designs than I could on a traditional dobby loom. This means that the fine qualities of that initial hand drawing can be seen in the finished fabric.”
Inspiration for Beatrice comes from “geometric patterns, stationery, tiles, brutalism, Bauhaus, African mud cloths and traditional weave structures. I seek outlines, and broken lines, a bold or subtle geometric. My weave hero is Anni Albers and she has always been a big inspiration. In terms of business, I would say that Labour and Wait were early influencers. The owners, Simon and Rachel are the most down to earth, lovely people and their brand values of simple quality well-made product resonated with me. “
Buy Beatrice Larkin Woven Textiles
To find out more you can visit the Beatrice Larkin Website. You can buy the products online which includes throws and cushions. To give you an idea of prices, throws are £260 and cushions £85 (44cm x 44cm) and £105 (60cm x 60cm). The products can be shipped overseas. Beatrice often works with interior designers on larger projects such as hotels. Sometimes this might be changing a colour or a size. On other occasions, she will design exclusively for a company in which case there might be a separate design fee. If you are interested in a bespoke design or product you can contact Beatrice through the website.
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Courtesy of Beatrice Larkin.