Rapture & Wright make beautiful fabrics and wallpapers the hard way. Using traditional hand printing techniques and small-scale production they create bold designs that are an antidote to an outsourced, mass-produced, impersonal world. Founded in 2004 by Peter Thwaites & Rebecca Aird, Rapture and Wright thrives on the limitations imposed by printing from a barn in the Cotswolds.
Using artisan skills to produce clever, modern designs, the company makes every effort to keep other crafts alive by printing on 100% British stock. We interview Peter about the company's beginnings, inspiration, style and future.
WHAT WAS THE DRIVING FORCE TO CREATE RAPTURE AND WRIGHT?
Having both trained as graphic designers, I had quite soon realised that I enjoyed working in 3D and for 15 years had been working with interior designers, creating hand painted wallpapers. However this meant that I could be on site anywhere in the world at anytime and frequently was. By then, Rebecca too had left Graphic Design and was running a mosaic studio. She too was beginning to travel extensively. Both decided that they needed to create a product that didn't require them to be on site all the time and could be manufactured in the studio.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUNDS?
Graphic design and illustration.
YOU USE A BARN IN THE COTSWOLDS TO PRODUCE YOUR FABRICS AND WALLPAPERS, DO YOU FIND THIS LOCATION INSPIRING OR PERHAPS CHALLENGING?
Actually our inspiration comes from all around the world, our designs aren't rooted in the countryside. The move to the Barn was purely practical, we needed more space to manufacture and couldn't afford that in London. It does provide logistical problems such as internet, and I spend a great deal of time in the research rooms of the V and A museum finding out about new inspiration and ideas. We also had to have a London showroom, otherwise designers and press would ever find us.
IS IT IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO USE BRITISH STOCK?
Very. We were told when we started 10 years ago that we were mad to use British manufacturing. How ideas have changed since then.Unfortunately because everyone off-shored in a rush to increase profit the skills declined. Now people are starting to rethink, they are surprised that there aren't enough British manufacturers. We knew that quality and reliability of stock was important and we couldn't control that if it was being manufactured the other side of the world.
Mistakes happen but at least I can go and see the weaver and sort it out. It also allows us to work with the weaver on new ideas. For example, engineering different ways of weaving that allows us to use the cloth in a much purer state rather than smothering it in horrid chemical softeners as most manufacturers do, to get the correct feel.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE RAPTURE AND WRIGHTS STYLE?
It is constantly evolving. It is as much about an attitude to design and the bespoke way that we can alter our designs. People are beginning to want something more personal. It gets used a lot by those who want something more sophisticated than "country style", yet not as glam as shiny uber urban. The hand printing gives a crisper subtlety than machine printing.
When we first started we were influenced by surfing and this led to influences from around the world (not hibiscus flowers or Hula dancers!), most of our designs are named after surf breaks. There are african tribal influences, also Japanese woodblock prints and kimonos along with a smattering of Scando. I keep files and sketchbooks of a myriad of ideas and scraps and cuttings but the designs and collections are often sparked by something completely unconnected, even a word or a sentence. Our design Junkanoo for example, came from an article I was reading about the John Canoe festival in the Carribean that involves dancing and dressing up in feathered costumes. The Junkanoo design is actually an abstraction of thousands of dancing figures.
HAVE YOU A FAVOURITE PRINT / OR WHAT IS CATCHING YOUR EYE AT THE MOMENT?
It depends on my mood. When I see a long length just printed on the table, it reminds me why I love textiles. At the moment I am working on some new designs with a slightly Japanese influence. I have been researching a lot about kimonos. I love the way that they were designed specifically for the wearer and so the layout would be completely a symmetric. This suits the way that we are thinking about the various ways of arranging pattern on the fabric, so that it can be altered for each client. It is a technique that can only be done if you print to order and that's what makes us different.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR THE COMPANY?
We've been going ten years. To celebrate this we are branching out into a range of limited edition art prints and accessories produced in the studio. I am also keen to continue experimenting with our aluminium and copper papers. There is so much that we can do in our printshop that the larger manufacturers can't achieve.
For futher information visit www.raptureandwright.co.uk