Hand to Digital, Virtual to Physical
The Making of Emma Jeffs and N&N WARES
N&N WARES was established by surface material designer Emma Jeffs. The handcrafted and technology are the sources of Jeffs' inspiration and creative practice. With a career in textiles, design and craft that spans over 16 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 process 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 thinking with this new tool.
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.
Under the label of N&N Wares which developed from her first collection of digital printed wares 'neck canvasses' (which she exhibited in a gallery setting entitled Neck & Neck). Jeffs' continues to research and create dynamic tailor-made textiles. Employing the processes of digital and crafting know-how, graphic pattern, colour and cloth are merged to produce works for Spaces and Forms.
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 or scarf. The form is an integral layer within the process of the tailor-made textile.
I work with digital software tools to explore the layering of colour compositions, graphic mark making, scale and the blending of these. Akin to how a weaver creates, I weave layers of marks and colour within the digital canvas. The ability to imagine becomes an important factor with the design of printed fabric solely using the computer. 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 real where I gain knowhow and insight into the effects and combinations of what is possible onto a chosen 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 the space or form. 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 relationship 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 formed 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 crafted, distilled and refined through this interplay. Final pieces combine the virtual and real, all are interconnected layer’s in the tailor-made for the final form.
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 work for the brief. We work 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.