The colours and materials we use to bring projects and products to life are increasingly seen as integral components of ‘good design’. With this increase in awareness comes a greater expectation from clients, coupled with even more choice from the industry than ever before. As such, making informed choices about colour and material finishes can be a daunting prospect.
But help is at hand. The past decade or so has seen a rise in material and trend consultants (take Laura Perryman from my interview in February,) a profession that encapsulates a passion for colour, texture, surface and making with an ability to identify and analyse design trends; providing research into the latest design directions and developments in the form of trend reports, presentations and editorial content.
Having graduated from the University of Leeds in 2008 with a degree in Textile Design, Sally Angharad (SA) went on to complete an MA in Textiles at the University of Huddersfield. From an early stage in proceedings Sally recognised that her passion for colour and surface went well beyond fabrics alone and after graduating she pursued a consultancy role. After working in London for international trend forecasting agency Global Color Research for 3 years, she decided to go solo back in October 2014. A move to the peak district followed, where she now works from her home studio with Penny the Cocker Spaniel at her feet.
JB: So how have you found the world of colour and material consultancy since ‘going it alone’?
SA: I’ve really enjoyed it! For the past 4 years I have been working with Surface Design Show as a freelance trend researcher and design writer, and it’s nice to have that steady element to my working calendar. I curate Surface Spotlight Live on behalf of the show, showcasing innovation and talent in the world of surfaces and materials.
I have also worked with Camira since 2015 when we started work on their first Global Trend Directions report. This project is an absolute joy to work on and it’s such a pleasure to work with such a conscientious and inspiring brand.
I also lecture at Leeds Beckett University on BA Fashion. I really love this aspect of my working week and find working with fashion students to give me a fresh perspective when I get back to my studio.
JB: That sounds like a lovely mix of overlapping directions to be working on. Is there a single element to your practice that you always come back to?
SA: Colour is the reason I ended up working in trend forecasting. With a borderline obsession for finding the perfect colour (by mixing my own pigments in the print studio) for my design projects during university I realised quite quickly how deeply passionate I am about the psychology of colour and design and how these inanimate ‘things’ can have a huge impact on our day to day lives; from the clothes we wear to the way we choose to dress our homes, everything is telling a story and affecting how we think and feel.
JB: So how do you go about ‘keeping your finger on the pulse’ of how colours and materials can help to affect our lives?
SA: After spending my degrees focusing on designing surfaces I also learned that it was the process of research and development that drove me to keep making, and continuing on my journey to discover the power of colour and texture. Working as a trend consultant and materials researcher means I am immersed in the world of design. I find I can lose hours reading about the story of a project, wanting to appreciate the outcome for far more than just its aesthetic value. This to me is what makes good design – items, places and projects that have a meaningful story to share.
JB: And what would you say is your primary method of translating and delivering all of this research?
SA: As the Features Editor of MIX Magazine my main role was to translate all the trend research into inspiring narratives. This was when I realised how much I loved to write. I find writing cathartic and have found since beginning an editorial career to be one of the most rewarding aspects of my freelance work. Not only this but I am also passionate about making sure the visual imagery I feature is not overlooked.
JB: It’s a holistic approach to creating and communicating narrative then?
SA: Absolutely. For instance, as a trend consultant and design writer for Camira I am responsible for turning the design directions and creative ideas into four inspiring themes for the season. I spend a great deal of my time researching (and reading) about projects to find the perfect fit for the message being told. This can be trickier than it sounds – just because I find an image that ticks the boxes for colour and design doesn’t mean that it evokes the mood we are conveying. This challenge is something I actually really enjoy though.
For Surface Design Show my focus is on exploring the latest innovations for interiors and architecture – finding out what the general messages and drivers are at any given time and how this can inform the design industry. Something I particularly am honored to do is highlight new talent and businesses starting out on their design journey. Using trends is a great way to categorise the types of work I find along the way and in time helps me see what’s on the cards for the future.
JB: Your selection of innovative new designers is always a highlight at the show and I guess really underlines the significance of materials themselves within what you do?
SA: For me,colour and materials go hand in hand and are always both present within the types of projects I work on. It’s such an exciting time in terms of material innovation and the boundaries are constantly being pushed. Young designers especially are paving the way for think deeper and taking it further – who couldn’t be inspired by this daring and explorative way of working? I believe that the psychology of design centres on tactility and it is the haptic qualities of a beautiful fabric by Camira or an intriguing textured concrete by Olasol that puts a smile on my face.
Contact Sally Angharad