Sarah Lloyd: Achieving 30 years of inspiring design

Sarah Lloyd, Head of Design at commercial fabric manufacturer, Panaz, celebrates her 30th year with the company. We discuss how her role and the requirements for commercial fabrics have evolved over the last three decades.

Find Panaz on Product Finder

Sarah Lloyd, Head of Design at Panaz

Please can you introduce yourself and your role at Panaz?

I am Sarah Lloyd, Head of Design at Panaz, and this year marks my 30th year with the company. I am responsible for producing our new collections, working closely with our experienced in-house team of designers and technical developers.

From an early age, I have always loved creating and making, and it’s a real privilege to still be achieving this with Panaz three decades after I started my career with them.

I studied Textile Design at The University of Huddersfield. My course mixed the usual creative disciplines with lectures about processes and manufacturing methods. This struck a chord with me and introduced me to the idea of blending science and art to deliver an outcome that’s functional, as well as attractive. This is a commitment that lies at the centre of all our products, to ensure we provide customers with really beautiful, yet high performance fabrics that meet the requirements of the most demanding commercial environments.

By being creative with our approach and our use of technology, we can utilise design as a way of finding solutions to our customers’ problems.

Shalimar collection, Panaz

Shalimar collection, Panaz

How has your role developed over the past 30 years?

When I joined Panaz in 1992 as a Design Assistant to the founding owner and Managing Director, Tony Attard, I was immediately drawn to the company’s inventive approach to new product development. For the first few months, I shadowed Tony, taking his initial concepts and turning them into a reality.

Over the last 30 years, I have worked alongside Tony, and now his son, Rollie, who became CEO last year, in a collaborative way to spearhead the creative development of the business.

Today, I continue to lead our team of in-house designers and drive the vision and presentation of our products to ensure they not only meet the needs of our customers and also represent the latest trends, but are functional enough to supersede the requirements and expectations of the commercial market.

Everything we strive to achieve at Panaz is to the highest possible standard and with meticulous attention to detail. We never settle for ‘just good enough’ and the team and I work in partnership to achieve this commitment on a daily basis.

What have been the most significant changes over the last 30 years?

Over the past 30 years, there have been significant advances in technology and manufacturing. For example, digital printing, weaving and yarn production, plus additional fabric properties such as antimicrobial and stain resistance benefits. These have presented more opportunities for creative design and innovation.

In more recent years, the focus has also shifted towards sustainability and increased responsibility for the environment.

Without a doubt, the COVID pandemic had a significant impact, not only on our operations, but the industry as a whole. This was the first, and only, period in Panaz’s history where design and innovation, which lies at the centre of the business was temporarily paused, but with a full pipeline of developments, this wasn’t for long.

The design team and I have been working collaboratively with our customers to overcome the challenges presented by the pandemic and with a sharper focus to deliver aesthetically pleasing, high performance contract fabrics that meet each of their specific requirements.

One positive to be taken from this period is the further adoption of new technologies to better facilitate online communication between the design community.

The transfer of ideas and experiences continues to evolve, and the creative team are at the centre of this as part of our dedication to never standing still and to product improvement. Whilst this commitment remains steadfast, our approach and the technologies we utilise to achieve this are continuously changing and improving.

Shalimar collection, Panaz

Shalimar collection, Panaz

What have been some of your career highlights?

Looking back over the last three decades, there have been some key milestones, both with regard to my own career and also the progress of Panaz as a business.

One standout achievement is the introduction of our wide width print production at our UK headquarters in Lancashire. Creating an unparalleled sense of scale, our first collection of exclusive designs supported designers in creating a real sense of drama for their schemes.

Everything we do is for our customers, turning beautiful concepts into commercialised designs, that deliver first class functionality and durability for their projects.

Over the years, I have had the pleasure of travelling around the world with Panaz. I have met some inspiring and interesting people who share my passion for textiles. It’s so rewarding taking an idea for an individual design or product, building a collection and then imagining it in situ, creating beautiful photography, while showcasing some breath-taking locations.

How have design trends evolved over your time at Panaz?

It’s safe to say there’s been a multitude of trends come and go over the last 30 years, but with the various social platforms, they’ve become a lot more accessible in recent years. As a result, we have seen an increase in customisation as trends become more personal and meaningful to the individual.

All aspects of society want to feel their creativity is valued, and trends enable us to embrace self-expression without judgement or fear. That’s what I love about trends, their inclusivity for all.

Over the last year or so, we’ve seen a transition from minimalism to maximalism, and that’s definitely here to stay for 2023.

The concept of embracing the old and re-loving it again also continues to grow in popularity, as we collectively take responsibility for the impact we are having on the planet and work together to identify solutions to minimising the negative effect our actions have.

Shalimar collection, Panaz

Shalimar collection, Panaz

Can you give us any trend predictions for 2023?

As part of the appetite for maximalism, we are continuing to see a real lean towards the Reinvented Heritage trend.

To support designers in incorporating this aesthetic into their schemes, we have launched a new collection of structured jacquards, Shalimar, which showcase intricate patterns inspired by traditional tapestries.

A luxurious choice for hospitality upholstery, the collection features two distinct designs, Meera and Delta, which are printed on an exclusive new velvet basecloth with a matte-bright finish, and available in six complementary colourways.

Contact Panaz through Product Finder

Product Finder enables Commercial Interior Designers to source products and services from accredited Commercial Suppliers. Search through over 200 UK suppliers, each showcasing newly launched products, projects, catalogues, films, sector research and much more.


About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
View all posts by Alys Bryan →