Be it geometric, abstract or more illustrative: Everything is inspiration to her! Particularly when it comes to creating yet another fantastically beautiful print: Meryl Pardoen is a textile designer who creates prints and motifs for textile manufacturers and fashion brands. She is known primarily for her floral designs, which can be found in the collections of countless global brands.
Textile designers tend not to be as present in the public eye as the major fashion designers who create our favorite pieces. However, their work is essential. After all, what would fashion be without chic colors and prints? This is where textile designers come into their own. They are passionate specialists in designing patterns. Their work sees them move in the field of interiors and fashion, but they also create accessories and designs for the automotive industry.
Born in the Netherlands, the designer is a real globe trotter. She has spent most of her life in Spain and the UK, while also taking a number of extended trips. She did her degree in Commercial Interior Design and Technology in London and spent several years working in this area before studying Textile Design. She now specializes in women's fashion and swimwear, as well as outdoor clothing and activewear.
Meryl, you are a textile and surface designer – how did you get into this field?
I started out as an interior designer but soon realized that I preferred working with fabrics and graphical imagery to technical drawing. At some point, I discovered online courses on textile and print design that sounded really exciting, so I ended up deciding to do one of them.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
I like the versatility of the styles and the option to use a range of media: one day, I might be drawing or painting and then the next I could be making a completely digital creation, working with something like CAD. I love creating art that brings other people joy and enables them to express their personality.
Where do you take your inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from a range of sources: from fashion shows, for example, or from the natural world. I also find inspiration on my travels. I find my Pinterest boards and Instagram collections really helpful; I use them to save pictures with interesting elements and styles. I also enjoy photography and take lots of photos of flowers and plants, as well as other interesting things I encounter during my day.
How do you develop a new print?
When I start developing a print, I first make a mood board and put together a color scheme – depending what the end product is due to be used for and what season it is for. Of course, I also work around my client's brief. Then I start to do drafts and save elements that I'd like to use, before editing them in Photoshop later on. At the end of the process, I normally test the prints on products to see whether the scale and colors work well.
How important is it to be unique yet still have a recognizable factor in your work?
I find it relatively easy to create designs that are both unique and different, but I always have to have it in the back of my mind that I'm making the prints for other people. So, for commercial design in particular, it is important to incorporate current trends and have a general understanding of what people like and buy. I often focus on a particular trend, try to incorporate the brand's personality, and then add my own unique touch.
What are your favorite self-designed prints on clothing?
The one piece is a gender-neutral blouse by Reuben Avenue with a planet print, and the other is a jumpsuit by Minkpink with a kind of tropical/leafy print.
Have you got a favorite item of clothing in your wardrobe?
One of my favorite items, which just exudes pure joie de vivre for me, is definitely a yellow short-sleeved blouse by Henry Holland, which is tied at the front. It's got zebras on it and has a Peter Pan collar.
What would you advise someone who would like to start something creative – like a sewing project, for example?
Personally, I normally look at what's already around in the area and collect pictures of it. It's always good to get a feel for why you like certain things made by other people or why not. Then, for example, you can look at how you could improve something or change it to suit your own tastes. Before I start on a project, I like making a mood board. It contains pictures of the style so that I can imagine it, as well as inspiration from various other areas.
What does it mean to you to be creative and what spurs you on?
It is exciting and makes me incredibly happy to create something from scratch: at the beginning, you don't really know what it's going to look like. I think that the thing that motivates me most is creating something brand new unlike anything else there has been before.
Thank you, Meryl Pardoen!