Interview with Victoria Bain
Textile designer Victoria Bain recently came into our studio to show us her new collection and collaborations with J Robert Scott and Whistler Leather. We took this as the perfect opportunity to get to know the designer who has been dominating the luxury textile market for over 15 years.
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself and what it is you do?
My name is Victoria Bain and I run a textiles company, which I launched 16 years ago. My reason for launching my own company was that having seen what was on the market and wanting a better quality. Launch a new collection every year around September and work hand in hand with designers on couture projects. Seeing their vision through to a finished product.
2. How did you first get into it? Did you do any formal training?
I’ve actually wanted to do this since I was 12! Laura Ashley heavily influenced me and I went on to do a foundation degree at Chelsea Collage of Arts. I then went on to do a printed textiles degree in Edinburgh. After this I went to work in Paris for Sabrina Fay Braxton, which is were I found my love of embroidery. Lots of things were taken to Lesage where they were embellished and turned into the beautiful things for the catwalk. I returned to London with an idea in mind to create a company doing a similar thing for interiors.
3. Can you describe your textiles in three words for us and where do you think it fits into in the industry?
That’s hard as there are so many words that I want to use! But I would say exquisite, textural, detailing. I feel that we are the finishing touch. That accent. That final embellishment that can finish a scheme. It’s very personal.
4. What are your favourite materials to work with?
Right now my favourites are the stunning materials I am working with for J Robert Scott – particularly their wonderful wools and satins. As these handle so beautifully and I feel that these raise our embroidery to another level. I feel the need to also mention leather as we have recently been working with Whistler. The new material was difficult at first to work with as every hide is so different but the finish of the leathers incorporated with our embroideries is wonderful. This brings a new, contemporary edge to our work and I think it’s pretty unique to the market as well.
5. What has been the highlight of your career so far?
It was actually very early on in my career. Olga Polizzi asked me to create the leading edges for the Amigo Hotel in Brussels. That was over 250 bedrooms, presidential suites and reception areas. Over night I had to double my team, find additional factories but we completed it all and the work has stood the testament of time. It is still there!
6. Who’s work or collections are you loving at the moment? Is there anyone new you have discovered that we should know about?
I’m fixated with lighting at the moment and I have come across an Australian company called Mud who creates some wonderful porcelain lights in the most amazing colours. I love all of the subdued Pastels.
7. What do you most enjoy about this career?
Well I though about that one and it came to me straight away at the Design Centre Christmas party this year. I was stood on the first floor and looked down at all the people below and thought that’s it. It’s the industry. It has allowed for varied projects over the years, has allowed for a couture arm to our design and given some great challenges to our team. This variety offers a constant creative source, which is vital to my work. I love being surrounded by all of this creativity. It’s fundamental to my being and soul!
8. What advice would you give to aspiring designers?
Over the years I have realised that a lot of young designers come straight out of collage or university and believe that it will just happen. You have to work extremely hard to get recognised within this industry. It’s highly competitive and you have to stand out. But when you do it really rewards you! So if I was to give advice – It’s Hard work and don’t loose the passion.
9. We are always very curious about what designers in this industry’s own homes are like. Describe yours for us
Well strangely enough that you have asked. We are decorating our home currently after 8 years so it’s a good time to ask. We live in an early Victorian three-story house in north London. I feel in love with it because of the high ceilings in every room, the period features, historic details and the most amazing light. Its also been lived in many artists and designers for over 20 years. There is an open plan sitting and dining room, in which I had to recently starting thinking of discreet storage for my son’s toys and books. The walls are neutral with flashes of colour throughout. Up the main staircase we have Neisha Crossland Anemone wallpaper in Parchment, which I simply love. Obviously my textiles are on all of the curtains leading edges, dining chairs, cushions and stools!
10. Finally, you have a new collection out. Can you tell us a little about it?
Latest collection is in partnership with J Robert Scott. It has been inspire by Italian architectural detailing from the duomos and cathedrals particularly those in Umbria where I traveled this year. The rippling water of the lakes in the north inspired Orta. The colours were chosen by J Robert Scott along the lines of greige, a sophisticated pallet.