Margo Selby x Comerford Collection
British artist/designer Margo Selby works in woven textiles for both art and functional use – making handwoven wall pieces and industrially woven textiles for interiors and accessories. Margo built her practice through deep technical understanding of traditional weaving techniques, and extensive knowledge of both artisan and industrial weaving systems. She has developed a unique three-dimensional fabric for soft furnishings and scarves, and is known for her strong graphics and geometric patterns, and her colour sensibility. The artworks are handwoven at Margo’s studio in Kent, in the south of England, on a dobby loom. Her original interior fabric designs are produced in small batches by specialist mills, and rugs and throws by artisan makers.
You began your business in your bedroom and have since grown into a busy textile studio with a full team of workers in Whitstable. How do you balance the business aspect with being a creative?
This is always a challenge – but one I enjoy! I thrive on activity, and love the business of the studio. I think of my ethos as ‘Art Into Industry’ and enjoy both aspects of my practice.
You’ve made a collection of rugs from your textile designs, created 3 dimensional fabric, and have collaborated with a large range of different companies like West Elm. What would be the next dream design project for you?
I love to collaborate! With other artist-makers and with designers and architects, and with commercial retailers. I am spending more and more of my time at the loom and am seeking ambitious new projects for my artworks, to push my practice forward. I would like to increase the scale of my works – and to work in a site-specific way. I have a new larger loom now – and a new studio in my garden at home.
You are both an artisan and an artist. While many of your textiles are used in home accessories, some of our favorite pieces from you are framed wall art. Where does the artisanal work end and art begin?
My artworks came from wanting to create fabric without the boundaries of design. When designing cloth for industrial production there are so many considerations: how does it repeat, how many colours can the mill weave in one cloth, is it suitable for its practical purpose etc etc. I wanted to let go of all these boundaries and weave a cloth where I could express my ideas freely, playing with scale, colour and proportion in a more abstract way. This freedom and experimentation then feeds back into my design work for industrial production.
The handcrafted aspect is central to your work. Artisan craftsmanship is derived from tradition and maintains an old world approach. In modern times, handmade has become synonymous with luxury. What is the future of ‘handmade’ in your opinion?
When we make things by hand we slow down and connect to the materials. It is a way to add soul and spirit to an object. The world needs to slow down for so many reasons and investing in handmade products is a way to support this.
We’ve read that your inspiration happens while you are weaving, and you draw references from other artists as well as traditional Japanese dyeing and African prints. What is inspiring you lately?
I love the quilts of Gee's Bend – I was thrilled to be exhibited alongside works by Annie Mae Young, Mary Lee Bendolph, Polly Bennett and Loretta Pettway at Turner Contemporary in Margate last year. Like them – my approach to colour and composition is instinctive and celebratory – "my way" as they say. I've also been looking at graphic design and typography a lot – and modernist architecture is always a source of inspiration.
We would love to know a little bit about your personal aesthetic at home. What are you drawn to in your own space?
I have an internal struggle with myself as to whether I'm a minimalist or a maximalist. I love multiple colour palettes, collecting ceramics and textiles, buying art from local makers, keeping nostalgic pieces from my family and I generally appreciate stuff! I also want clean lines and clear surfaces, so in my own home I am trying to embrace the balance of this eclectic nature with an appreciation for a clean modern space (it's an eternal battle!).