Meet artist, Bhuddist and Thought's talented knitwear designer, Laura
. She comes from a fashion family and has an eternal love of art, pattern and colour.
Thoughtful Women: Meet Buddhist, artist and knitwear designer, Laura
Hello Laura! Let’s start with a bit about you. What do you do at Thought?
Hi! I design Thought’s knitwear as well as contributing ideas and concepts for the range overall and working on our colour palettes.
Where are you based? What are your favourite places in your neighbourhood?
I now live in Frome, in beautiful Somerset, after 25 years of London life. My favourite hanging out spot is definitely the Rye Bakery, set in a converted chapel and home to amazing coffee and, well, baked goods! Lotte’s Bistrot and The High Pavement are my favourite places for eating out and the monthly Sunday Independent Market is always worth a visit for vintage bits and bobs, locally grown and produced food as well as quirky gifts from independent West Country makers.
How did your love of fashion begin?
I grew up in a fashion filled household. My grandmother was a milliner and seamstress in the 1920’s and 30’s, and could turn her hand to pretty much anything. She first taught me to knit and sew. My mum was really into vintage and historical clothing and there was always a copy of Vogue in the house!
Talk me through your personal style. What’s your typical outfit for a working day?
If I’m in London working in the office I’ll layer up a Thought print dress
or put one of our knitted coatigans
together with jeans or cropped trousers. If I’m at home working it’ll be a Thought knit
and a pair of Converse. And if I’m in the studio painting it’ll be an old men’s shirt, paint spattered jeans and some old trainers – very chic!
What’s your favourite piece from the new AW18 collection? How would you style it?
My favourite piece this Autumn
is the Falkirk Tunic
. I love it because it really looks like a painting and reminds me of Joan Eardley’s work, who inspired the season
. I’d style it up with black skinny jeans and boots for a day to evening look, and style it down with a long line cardigan
, blue jeans
and flats for day.
Tell me about your creative process. When putting ideas together for the collection or designing knitwear, how do you source ideas and inspiration?
The process varies according to which part of the collection I’m working on. For overall concept and colour, I’ll look at what’s happening on the contemporary art scene, as well as big retrospective exhibitions and what’s inspiring from the past. I’m also always on the lookout for interesting thoughtful women to give us direction too – they could be writers, artists, scientists – women who’ve changed things and created new pathways. I saw a retrospective of the painter Joan Eardley’s work
in Edinburgh last year and was really excited by the way she used colour, made vibrant lively marks with paint and brought the Glaswegian and coastal worlds she lived in to the canvas. As always, we met as a team to discuss all our ideas and the Winter part of the season was born!
With knitwear, it’s good to take in a real mix of inspirations, as being distinct and unlike the rest of the high street is so important for us as a brand. So inspiration can come from street style, textiles of all kinds, paintings. Wallpaper or tile designs can be a great starting point, as can a drawing or sketch made by an artist. Textures from the natural world may be really inspiring for a stitch idea, or a vintage piece of knitwear may start me off. It’s a really eclectic mix.
Now a bit more about your life outside of work. We know that you’re a Buddhist, a vegetarian, and believe in living a mindful life. Are these things you’ve always practised?
I started out meditating, without ever planning to become a Buddhist! I was in my mid-twenties, very stressed out, and starting to meditate calmed my mind and helped me to be happier and more balanced. As I carried on, Buddhist ideas began to really appeal. It’s a way of life more than anything and the principle of living skilfully or ethically, doing your best not to harm yourself or others, has always inspired and moved me. The Buddha was a very practical teacher, who said you should always trust your own experience and try things out for yourself. Now, through the popularity of mindfulness, much of what he taught has become mainstream and lots of people are discovering its’ relevance for themselves in the modern world, which is wonderful.
Three artworks by Laura. Top: 'Overground'. Middle: 'Coffee'. Bottom: 'Sydenham'. All acrylic on paper/ canvas. Taken from drawings Laura did whilst commuting to Thought HQ on the overground.
Tell us a bit about your meditation and creativity workshops and retreats. How did they begin?
I’ve led or co-led introductory retreats and workshops in meditation and Buddhism for over fifteen years now. However, after years of meditating, I started to make paintings and exhibit too. There’s a definite connection between meditation and the creative process, so running workshops and retreats to support others in exploring their own mindful creativity became a natural development. I love to work in teams alongside other artists, which have included sculptors, printmakers and photographers. Teamwork is one of my favourite things!
And finally, what’s your favourite thing about working for Thought?
Well, to stick with a theme, I’d have to say teamwork! The design, buying and production team at Thought
is made up of great people, all really dedicated to their work and the ideals of the brand. Having worked for the company for over eight years now, it’s been wonderful to see it grow and blossom – and none of that would be possible without great teamwork.
Thank you Laura!
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