Celebrating 10 years in design, textile and product designer Donna Wilson makes knitted 'creatures' that she manufactures in her East London studio and dispatches to the world. Sharing business insights and experience between designers is not always easy when you live in different parts of the world and paths don't naturally cross. But textile designer Donna Wilson and her team came up with a solution. Earlier this month they held a live Q&A Twitter session for recent textile graduates and students who were encouraged to quiz Donna about the industry, her company and how she got started.
Her story is a classic tale of designer/maker and the unexpected big break. Her company launched in 2003 after making knitted animals for her final year show at the Royal College of Art, London, with everything selling out to collector Murray Moss. Since then she has built her business designing and making a collection of curious cushions, luxurious lambswool blankets and what she happily describes as her 'creatures' – an odd-bod collection of characters including Suki Mushroom, Smokey Cat, Jasper and Billy Broccoli. From a studio and workshop in East London, Donna and her team of designers knit, sew, pack and send out products to more than 25 countries, and like the work of lighting designers Roll & Hill in Brooklyn, New York, use local manufacturers and suppliers to keep the craftsmanship alive.
True to her roots at the Royal College of Art, showing her work is an important part of her work process. She recently exhibited 'Endangered Species', a solo show of knitted sculptures and paintings at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. In the accompanying film Donna talks about designing a new tartan 'Homecolours' for the city of Aberdeenshire in collaboration with local kids and an Aberdeen textile mill.