Hand to Digital, Virtual to Physical
The Making of Emma Jeffs and N&N WARES
N&N WARES was established in 2012 by designer Emma Jeffs. N&N Wares was developed from her first collection of digital printed wares 'neck canvasses' (which she exhibited in a gallery setting entitled Neck & Neck). Employing the processes of digital and crafting know-how, graphic pattern, colour and cloth are merged to produce artistic works for interiors and accessories.
Her approach to design combines craft, materials, technological innovation, of chance, and expressive details. With a career in textiles, design and craft that spans over 17 years she has a track record of innovative ways of combing print and materials for interiors, accessories and the body, from her early work in fashion print design, to her patterned adhesive window films, to her latest work which brings together her love of physical making and her skill in digital manipulation.
With a background in silk-screen printing Emma became interested in the digital print technologies during her two- year research fellowship with NESTA. Within this period she was exposed to this then new technology, its applications, its rapid growth and the possibilities to combine her craft practice with this new tool, prior to this period she had never been on a computer.
Digital methods allow for print-on-demand engineered designs onto an extensive array of materials in endless colour ways. Jeffs’ focus is on utilising this technology to work in a sustainable way with the hand-crafted. This enables all kinds of tailor- made pieces to be explored through scale, colour, form and technique.
Jeffs' continues to research and create, working on personal projects and collaboratively with others. She also works as a Mentor, Educator and Consultant within the Design & Craft Sectors.
a layered process
I am inspired by the possibilities of digital print to create tailor-made placement print in conjunction with hand-crafted techniques to create a final form. This could be a curtain, chair, wall piece, scarf or dressmaking fabric. The form is an integral layer within the designs of my digital crafted textiles.
Drawing on my tacit knowledge of hand printing I work with digital software tools to explore the layering of colour compositions, graphic mark making, scale and the blending of these. I weave layers of digital marks and colour within the software. I work in the virtual until the point of print out onto the chosen substrate. It is the back and forth of the virtual and physical where I gain know-how and insight into the effects and combinations of the digitalisation of the printed mark onto a surface. I strive to bring into being an energy within the relationship of the digital mark and printed surface, akin to that of hand weaving or hand printing.
Colour and light is pivotal within my digital mark-making. I wish to capture the physical power of colour to immerse. I stack, layer and blend colour within the digital canvas of the computer screen. Endless combinations are explored in how one colour and mark reacts with another to create a kinetic vibrancy to give life to the final printed surface.
Alongside the digital process is the interaction with cloth and how it can be shaped and manipulated. This is the layer that can be stitched, pulled, twisted, pleated etc into a final form. These processes are constructed by hand using needle, thread, sewing machine, steam and upholstery techniques. It is a direct process where I am involved with the physical act of making and studying the character of the fabric.
Designs are distilled, refined and crafted through this interplay of the digital and the physical, all are interconnected layer’s in the tailor-made textile.
The studio is committed to creating innovative designs for tailor-made commissions and commercial collaborations. Emma has a detailed approach to materials and process which are throughly explored. The focus is on investigating fresh ways of exploiting colour, pattern, materials and manufacturing techniques to create outcomes that innovate. Working with partners who are specialised in their fields to bring licensed products to market. Emma is a respected creative partner for brands including Made.com, Surface View and The V&A Museum.