BA Textile Design students recently displayed their talent in the most vibrant ways through their Colour project and exhibition at Chelsea. Second year student, Hannah Miles, originally from St. Albans, is one of our student ambassadors. She tells us about her Chelsea experience, her very colourful practice and life as a Textile Design student here at Chelsea.
Describe your Chelsea experience in 3 words?
Explore, Develop, Create!
What do you enjoy most about studying at Chelsea?
The flexibility of my course. In first year we had the chance to experiment with the 4 key areas of textiles (print, knit, weave and stitch), and had projects across fashion, interiors and installation. The course has such a broad grounding, and even as you specialise by 2nd year, the open-ended nature of the briefs, allows you to interpret them through your own interests, and create work that is personal to you as a developing designer, and also as an individual. So far I have made garments, accessories, and even a community installation at my local bus stop.
I find this variety really engages me as a designer. I also love the friendly atmosphere at Chelsea. People are generally very constructive and supportive, and you feel like your peers and tutors want to see you develop and grow in your work, rather than putting you down unnecessarily. There is an emphasis on experimentation and trying things, even if they don’t produce the perfect outcome. You learn so many skills and use them to improve your practice. I think this kind of environment is highly valuable.
How are you enjoying living in London?
It’s an amazing place for inspiration through endless museums, galleries and exhibitions. Chelsea College’s location in Pimlico is lovely by the river, with central London within easy reach, and yet set back in this tranquil space where you can think and create. Being opposite the Tate and having daily access to their latest exhibitions is a bonus, too! I love sitting at the top of a London bus to travel, and just watching the city bustle by beneath me. Of course it can be overwhelming at times, but there is such energy and life here.
Where do you live?
Stockwell, Southwest London.
What’s your neighbourhood like?
It’s really convenient for college, either by bus or tube, so a lot of students on my course live in this area of London. I like taking walks to Brixton market, or to the green open space at Clapham Common. Stockwell is also really well located to get quickly into central London. I was amazed how quick it was the first time I took the tube to Oxford Circus in around 10 minutes!
What has been your greatest challenge so far on the course and how have you overcome it?
One of my greatest challenges has been in trusting my own process. I often find I have a lot of ideas at the start of the project, and it is knowing what to run with, and what to let go. You have to learn to trust that your instinct of what will work, and to believe that if you try your best, it will be enough. I’ve also had some health issues since starting university, but the support services here are helpful in making sure that people and systems are in place, so that any needs you have are supported alongside your studies.
What are your greatest achievements/awards/exhibitions?
In the first year I did a project using lots of floral imagery, and my tutor suggested I should enter a ‘design a floral t-shirt’ competition, that was being run at the time by a London based company, ‘bags of love’. To my great delight and surprise, I won, and had my design digitally printed onto t-shirts, a bag and a few meters of fabric. It was really satisfying to see my designs physically realised in this way, and I think it’s a great boost to be able to share your work and have others appreciate it, too! In the first year we also had a mini fashion show as part of our course, where we worked in groups to create different elements of a whole collaborative outfit.
Second year gets quite exciting exhibition wise, as we’ve just finished our first term with an exhibition of work from our ‘colour’ project illustrated below. My project is inspired by my time volunteering in developing an African village in summer 2014. In the spring term, we are heading to an industry tradeshow in Paris, where Chelsea has a stall that displays student work in a professional setting. It’s great to have these experiences as a student!
What do you see yourself doing after your studies?
I love to design and make, so my main wish is just to keep creating! I want to make playful things that remind people of the beauty and fun of life! I’ve always liked the idea of designing for a children’s wear or playful women’s wear line, as I love bright colours and tactile surfaces. My recent developments into jewellery pieces has also made me feel that accessory design is something I’d like to pursue further.
I think it’s important to keep an open mind while you’re still studying. You never know what opportunities may come your way, or what internships or placements could be on the horizon. So it’s good to just enjoy the moment, work hard, develop your style, hone your skills, and be ready for whatever happens!
And lastly, what would you say to anyone thinking of doing your course?
Go for it!If you want a creative atmosphere to discover your own potential as a textile designer, and are excited by the idea of experimenting, researching and making, then this is likely the course for you!
Be bold in your choices, explore ideas that inspire you, and don’t play safe. It’s about having fun and finding out new techniques, processes and ways of working.
Follow Hannah Miles and her wonderful work on her website.