Rachel Parker is a talented printed textile designer, who as well as making beautiful geometric prints and embroidery designs, runs the homewares brand Pixel & Thread. She graduated from Norwich University of the Arts with a First Class degree in Textiles in 2012, and has worked as a surface pattern designer ever since. Her prints are sold in Liberty, Heal’s, John Lewis and Studio Four, New York, as part of the design collective Studio Flock.
We caught up with her to find out some more about her work and advice for aspiring designers.
Where do you find your colour inspiration?
Honestly, everywhere. I’m always taking photos to turn into colour palettes later, so if I’m stuck for inspiration I have a folder of images to scroll through. Pinterest is wonderful, but I think it’s important to step away from the computer to find a creative starting point. I recently spent an afternoon at the Barbican conservatory which is full of wonderful exotic plants that have given me some amazing colours to work with.
What are your favourite fabrics to work with?
I like working with interesting textures and I always find myself drawn to linens and cottons. Saying that, I’ve got my sights set on creating a collection of flowing silk scarves too. I love how a design can change so much depending on the fabric chosen.
Which artists or designers do you find inspiring?
I’m currently taking the Make It In Design courses and find my fellow students endlessly inspiring! It’s great to see someone’s creativity, skill and style flourish. The course has brought us together from all around the world and it’s been an amazing journey so far. I really love designers who are bold and confident with colour – Kitty McCall, Liz Payne, Helen Dardik, Rachel Castle… and my design hero Henri Matisse.
How did you get involved with Studio Flock?
I was exhibiting at New Designers in 2012 with my university. It was an amazing opportunity to get my work seen, but also hugely intimidating having so much talent and competition under one roof. The pressure was on to make a good impression and hopefully land that dream job. I was glued to the stand for the duration of the show but was actually having my lunch break when Flock came around – disaster! Luckily one of my coursemates was on hand to chat about my work and take their details for me. I dropped them a line saying hello and was gobsmacked when they said they were looking to put together their first collection to sell in Liberty! It’s been so wonderful to be a part of it from the very beginning and see the business go from strength to strength.
What advice would you give to design students and recent graduates?
This is a tough one as I still feel like I’m at the beginning of my journey too. I’ve found that a career in the design world takes a huge amount of dedication and energy, so it’s important that you really love what you do. There’s so many resources out there to offer guidance and support, like the Make It In Design Courses, Make Art That Sells or Patternbank. Places like The Design Trust offer lots of free business advice which I’ve found brilliant. Most importantly, surround yourself with people who are positive, creative and supportive of your goals.
You have achieved a huge amount since graduating, what are you most proud of?
The Flock collaboration with Florrie+Bill on a collection of cocktail chairs (Flocktails) has been a definite highlight. The workmanship and attention to detail from Florrie+Bill is really exquisite, I was over the moon when I saw them! I love that each piece comes with a little swatch of the original upholstery fabric to honour the story of the chair. I always get a thrill when I see a pattern I’ve designed on a ‘real life’ product, it’s everything you hope for as a designer.
Can you tell us about anything exciting you are working on at the moment?
I have a few things up my sleeve! As always with freelance and creative projects, much of what I’m doing now has to stay hush hush. But there are many, many exciting things coming your way from Studio Flock in the coming months, including a collection of printed tables and a rug which I can’t wait to wriggle my toes on!
If you want to find out more about Rachel, you can visit her website, or find her on social media:
All designs and images ©Rachel Parker.