Blessings in Disguise

Juliana Velasco Asensio is a second year multimedia textiles student at the University of Loughborough.

How did you get into textiles?

I have always had an interest in art and how it can be translated into fashion. But during my foundation year is when I really was able to see the aspects of it. The textiles element to fashion was the most exciting part of the course to me. It’s such an exciting process seeing an idea you have in your head and knowing how to create it! 

What type of techniques do you use to create your textiles?

There are so many techniques that it would be hard to pin point one. My work varies from very traditional hand stitches and embroidery to working with fine metals and glass. In my last collection titled ‘Decorative Architecture’ I hammered large eyelets into jersey and used materials like latch hooks. 

What are your favourite types of textiles to create and why?

I like creating textiles that are colourful and playful. Most of my designs have large geometric shapes that are contrasted by delicate beading and fringing. Textiles is such an important part to a piece of clothing – I usually imagine my designs on fashion garments as most of my pieces have details that if placed on the body have a lot of movement like fringing and beading which make a piece really stand out. 

What other textiles techniques would you like to learn about?

There are so many techniques I have yet to learn and there are probably a lot that I don’t even know about, but with every single project I’ve done over the past few years I always find myself at one point or another turning to knitting. I would love to properly learn how to knit and learn the different techniques and effects you can get from it. Most of the knitted pieces I’ve done are machine made but there are certain effects you can only achieve with the traditional knitting needles, so if I could I’d love to really further develop my knowledge in knitting.

How are you finding studying at Loughborough? What do you enjoy?

I’ve been studying at Loughborough Uni for three years now (if you include my foundation year). I find that Loughborough has a very positive learning environment and really pushes you to try new techniques and explore beyond your comfort zone. The tutors are all very supportive and open minded when it come to new ideas. I specialise in multimedia textiles so we are pushed extra hard to view textiles in a more unique way, whether it’s using unconventional materials like metals, glass and wood or combining traditional techniques like knitting with new techniques like laser cutting. What I enjoy the most is how no day is the same, with multimedia you’re exposed to such an array of techniques that every day you find yourself learning new techniques and a new kind of fabric to experiment with. 

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I get my inspiration from a lot of places I have visited and different cultures I’ve been exposed to. Whether I’m looking at London’s architecture or exploring new and exciting places like Thailand, Hong Kong or Spain. My inspiration tends to come from where I am at the time I’m beginning my research. Although, I’ve come to realise that a lot of my work is highly influenced by my roots. Being born in Colombia and the exposure I have had to the diversity of cultures there has definitely influenced my work.  I find many of my projects are inspired by Colombian imagery of nature, and Colombian art, which is why I love using so much colour and combining different textures to fabrics.

Who would you like to collaborate with?

There are so many amazing and talented arts that I would love to collaborate with! I think it would be amazing to collaborate with someone who’s aesthetic is different to mine to create amazing, colourful and unique work. In terms of collaborating with a fashion designers, ideally I would like to work with Josep Font, Alessandro Michele and John Galliano. The artistry and creativity that goes into their Haute Couture pieces, and having an understanding of the work behind a dress is awe inspiring.  At the same time, I think it would also be interesting to work with a big company like Urban Outfitters that create accessible day to day wear that can still have interesting colourful textiles that can be worn to express individuality.

What’s your process when starting a new piece of work?

Every time I approach a project I start with photography. Taking photographs of my environment and getting a feel of what’s going on around you is very important to my process. It always helps you get a feel of what people are after aesthetically and what has been successful or not.

 When I start a new piece of work (although my tutors would probably tell me to not do this), I can’t help but initially imagine what I could create with the information I’ve collected. Usually if I can’t come up with a final idea that excites me from the research I already have I tend to scrap the idea and look for something else. I’ve found that it’s so hard going through with a project that you aren’t particularly passionate and excited about. So, I always take a lot of time researching and I always try to come up with several ideas to avoid having an artistic block which can be the most frustrating thing in the world. I’ve found that going back to basics and just drawing helps me a lot. I initially draw what feels like a very random selection of objects or patterns; then combing that with photography and seeing what works with my drawing. I always find something that I want to push forward.

What are you working on at the moment?

I have just started a new collection called ‘Oppositions and Uncertainties’. This collection unlike the others is aimed to produce final designs that would apply to interior settings. I’m excited because this is very much out of my comfort zone as I tend to apply most of my textiles to fashion pieces. But it’s also a new challenging prospect that will be able to create an interior collection that reflects me as a designer and be an extension of the aesthetic of the textiles I have already produced.

Where do you normally buy your materials from?

It depends what I’m working on but I mainly buy my fabrics at the Cloth House in Oxford Circus, I buy most of the haberdashery and tools at McCulloch & Wallace (also in Oxford Circus) and whenever I’m in need of yarns I order them from Uppingham Yarns.

Lastly, what do you love about textiles?

I’ve always loved art, drawing and painting. Textiles allows me to combine all of those to create something tangible and usable. It’s so satisfying visualising an idea and going through the process of researching it, drawing it out and seeing it come to life. I love how one idea can expand into a whole collection and creatively it allows you to experiment so much that the end result can really surprise you.

I wake up every day and it feels like I look at my work with different eyes because you’re constantly learning new techniques and new ways of creating textiles you thought you could only imagine. Textiles is unpredictable and can be a very emotional experience because of the work that is put into every piece and the fact that it can be such a slow process. Not all your ideas work and a lot of the times pieces don’t turn out like you wanted or the fabric you use doesn’t achieve the effect you wanted. I really enjoy how challenging it can be creatively. My work pushes me every day to become a better designer; unafraid to ask questions and constantly eager to learn. A massive bonus is that even when you make mistakes a lot times they’re blessings in disguise.

You can follow Juliana’s work on Instagram here

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