Textile designers create 2D (two dimensional) designs for woven, knitted or printed fabrics and textile products, to be used in furnishings or clothing. They may also create designs for products such as floor and wall coverings, wrapping paper and packaging.
A major part of the work involves researching design trends and forecasts in order to determine what is likely to sell, and finding out about developments in manufacturing technology.
Some designers work for organisations such as design agencies, manufacturers or retailers, and at each stage of the design process will liaise with clients, technical staff, marketing and buying staff, and colleagues on the design team. They produce initial sketches by hand or on computer, using specialist CAD (computer aided design) software, and either make up samples or have them constructed by technicians.
Freelance designers often have relevant craft skills and may complete all parts of the process, for example hand-printing small batches of fabric, tufting rugs or producing decorative woven or embroidered textiles for wall-hangings etc. They market these either directly from their own studio, through craft fairs and similar outlets, or indirectly through galleries or shops.
Textile designers working for companies usually work basic hours of 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, but might work extra hours when there are deadlines to meet. Part-time work is sometimes possible.
Freelance designers do not have set hours, and will have to divide their time between designing (and possibly making up designs) and marketing their work. They may also need to supplement their income with other types of work, such as teaching.
Travel, in this country or abroad, may be necessary, for example to visit/exhibit at trade fairs, or to visit clients and manufacturers. A driving licence may be useful.
To be a textile designer you need:
Employers include large manufacturing companies or small, exclusive design houses. Some designers also work for design practices or for architects or interior designers. As well as designing, freelance designers may supplement their design work by producing work to sell at craft fairs or by working part-time in teaching or other related areas.
As most design studios and manufacturers’ design departments are relatively small, opportunities for promotion may be limited: progression to senior design positions may be possible.
If you would like to know anything about textile design that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.
Register of Apparel and Textile Designers
5 Portland Place
Tel: 020 7636 5577
Scottish Textiles Network
99 Haymarket Terrace
Tel: 0131 313 6243
Hampton Court Palace
Tel: 020 8943 1229
44a Pentonville Road
Tel: 020 7278 7700
Arts Council England
14 Great Peter Street
Tel: 0845 300 6200
St James's Buildings
Tel: 0161 237 1188
The Chartered Society of Designers
179-181 Bermondsey Street
Tel: 020 7357 8088
The Design Council
34 Bow Street
Tel: 020 7420 5200
Creative and Cultural Skills
Tel: 0800 093 0444
Creative and Cultural Skills
11 Southwark St