New designer Deryn Relph’s unique take on knitting has already won her a role in creating a new brand, writes Jamie Hempsall.

It is always exciting to come across a new and innovative talent and this was definitely the case when I met textile designer Deryn Relph at the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate.

Unusually, Deryn has chosen to work with wool in its knitted form and was exhibiting some remarkable designs for cushions and a chair, but it was an innovative range of lampshades that really caught my attention. These were a real wake up call for the senses and showed how a traditional craft can be reimagined to work in a contemporary environment.

Deryn only graduated from Winchester School of Art in 2010, but has already received the Knitted Textiles Award from the UK Hand Knitting Association and has been instrumental in the design of the first fabric collection for new British brand, Scion. She has also been spotted by the team at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and is holding a creative workshop there on May 26th. Quite a lot to fit in in such a short time!

Whilst knitting may seem a complicated medium to some people, Deryn finds that it works perfectly for her. She has a strong passion for colour and likes to evoke an emotional response in her designs. When you combine this with a love of nostalgia and retro (albeit with a twist), you can see that knitting fits the bill perfectly. Deryn hastens to point out that she machine knits, so volume is possible, and in this way she sees knitting as a simple way to create her own fabrics as quickly as she wants.

Following her warm reception at Harrogate, where she managed to win two more prizes for her trophy cabinet, Deryn is clearly looking forward to the YSP workshop in May.

It seems amazing that Deryn can cram so much into her working day and clearly it has been a bit of a whirlwind since she entered the world of textile design. Fabric company Harlequin first spotted her when they were sponsoring “New Designers” in 2010; the UK’s most important design graduate exhibition. They liked the way she put colour together and the eclectic mix of her work and offered her a work placement, which subsequently developed into a fairly major role.

It was fortuitous that the team at Harlequin were looking to create a new brand, Scion, which is aimed at the trend-savvy, fashion-aware customer. They wanted to develop a range that would be forward-looking, and individual, but with an enduring appeal.   This inspiration fitted well with Deryn’s own personal design ethos and she soon found herself working with the team to develop “Melinki”; their first collection of prints, weaves and wallcoverings which has just been launched.

The Melinki range channels fashion motifs and colours

Part of the appeal for Deryn was to help create a diverse variety of designs that would appeal to those with a love of bold colour and graphics. Melinki clearly has some heritage influence, but rather than aping designs from the Mid 20th Century it takes a whiff of inspiration and dramatically reinterprets them for the modern home and adds a splash of modern Scandinavian design for good measure. The eclectic range features a glorious array of colours and themes, from oversized dragonflies and alert looking foxes, to engaging geometrics and Bakelite brights that would definitely appeal to any aspiring Don Draper or Peggy Olson.

Scion non-woven wallcoverings

The range also ticked two other boxes for Deryn. The first being that good design should be available to all, the Scion brand ethos is to satisfy the market for on-trend, edgy fabrics and wallcoverings at affordable prices. Their 100% cotton prints start at £25 per meter and non-woven wallpapers are £30.00 a roll, which is not necessarily first home affordable, but certainly goes a long way to help.

Scion cotton prints

The second box it ticks is that Scion is truly a great British Brand, as all of Melinki’s printed fabrics and wallcoverings are manufactured in the UK. This is a good story to be able to tell when the news always seems so full of UK job losses.

Clearly, the year ahead is looking very bright for Deryn and I have a feeling we will be hearing a lot more about her in years to come.

For more information on the Melinki range visit www.scion.uk.com or call 0845 123 6805.

LEARN FROM DERYN AT YSP

Deryn is holding a full-day workshop on lampshade construction and decoration at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park on 26th May 2012.

This is not just a chance to meet Deryn and get some insight into the inspirations that help her create such innovative work. She will actually be working with participants to create their own pendant lampshade using her trademark knitted fabrics on the day.

For more information or to book a place visit ysp.co.uk/deryn or call 01924 832631.

To find out more about Deryn and view some of her innovative furniture, soft furnishing and lampshade designs visit her website derynrelph.co.uk

Jamie Hempsall, BIID, is a multi-award winning interior designer. 

@JamieHempsall