For the series Good Folk on this blog I have sent interview questions to some really wonderful people who are either making things, running shops, or generally promoting sustainability. I think you will enjoy reading their answers as much as I have, and I hope they inspire us all with the knowledge that there are people doing good in the world!
This interview is with Heather Orr, a Folkestone based constructed textiles designer working with a focus on recycled, reclaimed and sustainable materials.
Tell me about yourself and the work that you do.
I’m a constructed textile designer based in Folkestone’s creative quarter. I’ve worked within fashion and textiles for over a decade and currently split my time between working as a lecturer and running my creative business. Our studio creates innovative lighting and handmade interior products using traditional textile processes with sustainability at its heart. I try to use sustainable, recycled and repurposed materials wherever possible such as our recycled cotton cord and reclaimed lampshade frames. I’ve also spent the last year developing a new series of online workshops and masterclasses each accompanied with a materials kit, delivered to your door so that you can learn a new skill from the comfort of your own home!
How or why did you get started?
I studied Textile Design for my BA, specialising in knitted textiles. I became completely fascinated by the subject and was lucky enough to go straight onto the Royal College of Art to study an MA in Constructed textiles. After I graduated in 2009 I went on to collaborate with fellow RCA graduate Jane Bowler. I designed and made knitwear for Jane's fashion collections for many years using processes such as crochet and macrame. We also developed a series of experimental workshops from Janes’ East London studio. I worked for many small creative businesses over the years as a studio assistant and designed and made accessories under my own label. Having focussed on my teaching career and gaining fellowship of the Higher Education Academy I felt I was ready to focus more of my time on my own business so moved from London to Folkestone and eventually took a studio in Folkestone’s Glassworks, launching my first Home collection at London Design Fair in September 2019.
What is your favourite thing about the materials that you work with?
A couple of years ago I finally managed to purchase a machine for my studio which I use to cord my own yarn, it works a bit like french knitting so it can turn a fine thread or yarn into a cord. I’ve wanted one for years! I also love the reclaimed shades which feature in my collection. There are never two the same. I’m always on the lookout for old lampshades at car boot sales and second hand shops and love giving them a new lease of life. These old frames are stripped back, given a good clean and a fresh rose-gold coating before being knotted by hand. The finishing is always the most time-consuming process in my work but I think its so important.
Where can we find you on the internet/buy your work?