Oscha designer, Evonne, answers your questions about working at Oscha HQ, designing the woven fabrics for our gorgeous baby carriers. These questions were kindly submitted by members of Clan Oscha, our Facebook community.
How does one become an Oscha designer?
Well, I have a degree in Printed Textiles (- not weave like you may imagine!) and Laura, our design assistant, has a degree in Digital Media – so a pretty diverse mix. You need a combination of hand drawing skills, an eye for pattern, repeat making skills and Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator know how.
How do you handle having such an awesome job?
I haven’t, it’s all gone to my head.
Do you work alone on the patterns or in teams?
Both, sometimes someone else will have drawn something and I’ll put it into repeat and get it ready for weave – other times I’ll work on something from start to finish on my own.
Who do you design in mind? Parents? Babies? Trends?
I do research trends at the beginning of each collection, however, I’m very selective with which trends I choose to work with. Oscha’s should be timeless, it’s not fast fashion – these wraps are worn for years and often are converted into other items or kept to pass on to the wearer’s children when they are old enough. I usually think of the sling as being an accessory for the wearer.
When designing a collection; do you start with one initial inspiration?
I usually make a moodboard with a few inspirational images to try and capture the look I want to achieve with the collection. We tend to come up with a group of design ideas at the beginning of the collection planning, and then narrow down the list as we go – only finalising a couple of designs per collection.
As a designer what is your favourite Oscha design and what particular aspects of it do you like?
It’s a tough choice! I’d have to say Raja, I love the way the pattern fits together.
If you could tweak any Oscha traditional design, what would you do?
I already have – I’ve played about with scale on some, such as Kikumini, and made 3-colour, hybrid-weave versions of a few older patterns.
Have any of the recent patterns been your idea? And if so, which is your favourite?
Since I started at Oscha last year the designs I’ve worked on have been Lace, Croft, Sonsie, Nano, Oakenshield, Briarwood and Marina. I’m torn between Marina and Oakenshield as my favourite – Marina because it was so much fun to draw and Oakenshield because it’s so different to anything else I’ve ever designed.
How do you know when a design is right/finished and what’s your process to get there?
It’s a very collaborative office here at Oscha HQ, helpfully a lot of the team come from creative backgrounds too. Usually, when I feel a design is nearly done I’ll show it to other people in the office to get their thoughts and suggestions.
Do you think about the texture of the wrap when you are preparing the pattern?
Not really at the design stage – we’d consider the texture when we are pairing yarns with pattern choices, later in the process.
What makes a wrap design “Oscha”?
I think the best Oscha designs all have an elegance to them, they should feel timeless and not trend-driven.
How do you go from sketch to computer? Like what kind of process is it? Do you scan it in and then finalize with Photoshop?
It depends on the style of work. Some designs such as Nano are created from scratch on Illustrator, but for the majority of designs, we start with a sketch.
I’d usually sketch out designs a few times then trace off a copy in fineliner pen to get a crisp, clean copy for scanning. Then I’d clean up the design in Photoshop and start playing around with repeat ideas. Getting a pattern to repeat is the time-consuming part of the process.
What is your main focus when creating a design? How important are the wrap qualities that a specific design might bring, or is the focus more on the look and the design working well in a range of colours?
I focus on the visuals to begin with, the wrapping qualities come later in the process. I try to strike a balance between visually interesting and being very wearable, I tend to think of a wrap/ carrier as an extension of an outfit so I look to fashion for clues as to colour and scale. The design has to work well in a variety of colours so getting the balance of colour right is super important.
Are you one of those people who loves every color? If not, do you find it difficult to design using colors that you don’t care for very much?
I have to admit I do find it more of a challenge to work with some colours! Zoe and I both have a preference for similar colours so we have to keep reminding ourselves to step away from the teal swatches.
When you make designs, do you get a say as to which colorways you’d like to see the design in?
Once a design is created then any member of the team can re-colour the work for future releases – they all have good taste though!
What are the difficulties that you have encountered in translating a graphic design into a baby wrap?
Definitely getting the line weight right – too thick and it lacks elegance and too thin and it just won’t weave.
Can you always be sure that the weavers can weave your design, or did it take time for you to ‘learn how to design for a woven fabric’?
It took a bit of getting used to – thankfully the weaver makes some samples for us to see before any designs make it to production – so we can always tweak areas of the design we feel need improving.
What do you like about designing for cloth as a medium, as opposed, for example, to paper or canvas. And does it change depending on the purpose of the cloth, for example, wraps or shawls vs clothes vs bed linen.
I studied general Art and Design for a year before deciding Textiles was for me, I liked that it had a practical, real-world application and a tactile nature. Getting to see the end product in use is great – lovely to see lots of happy faces wrapped up in Oscha Fabric.
The end purpose is very important to the design although I’d say the method of manufacturing the fabric has the most impact overall – designing for print is very different to designing for Jacquard weave.
Do you plan for how a design will look as a carrier vs a wrap, and does that influence which designs are made into Cairis/Coorie?
We don’t specifically design for carriers, however, there are some patterns that work better than others for the carrier panels. Ideally, patterns should work well on both. We use a transparent template to select the panel positioning for carriers – this allows us to get the perfect alignment to really show off the pattern. Wish You Were Here is one of my favourite patterns for carriers – I think it really showcases the pattern.
What is your favorite pattern, blend, and Oscha wrap?
I think wild silk is lovely, it’s probably my favourite weft yarn to work with but overall favourite wrap would be Zorro Candlelight – I think the colourway is perfect for the pattern.
Do you have any other ‘arty’ hobbies?
I’m pretty flighty when it comes to arty hobbies – one week it’s ceramics, then lino cutting then jewellery making… in the end it always comes back to drawing for me, I’m a real Illustration nerd and like to draw to relax.