Meet the residents: Q&A with HIAP Design residency 2018 participant Laura Spring

Hello, Laura. Tell us a bit about yourself; your background and areas of interest.

I’m a printed textile designer living and working in Glasgow, Scotland. I’ve been based here since graduating from The Glasgow School of Art in 2002 with a degree in Graphic Design. I run a small independent studio from the north side of the city where I have been making work since 2011. I produce annual collections that I sell via various channels and work simultaneously on projects/commissions throughout the year. I’m hugely passionate about textiles with a particular interest in how I balance the hand-made and batch-produced as a contemporary creative practice. I’m also heavily inspired by research into traditional making processes as a way to influence and inform my work.

What are you working on or researching at the moment?

I have recently been researching an ancient Finnish weaving technique known as “täkänä”. I first discovered täkänä by accident back in 2015 whilst on a residency in Finland. I was instantly drawn to the graphic aesthetics of the designs I saw in the old catalogues I discovered at a flea market but was excited to find further parallels with my own work once I began further research into the technique. Thanks to Creative Scotland funding received last year, I was able to return to Finland and carry out a thorough period of research into the technique by visiting archives and meeting various experts in this field.

Why are you interested in Helsinki and why did you apply for the Design Residency?

I have been interested in Helsinki for many years due to a huge interest and love for Finnish textiles and design. My täkänä research has brought me back to Finland several times in the past three years, but my visits to Helsinki have always been brief so I’m excited to finally be able to spend a period of time based in Helsinki and build on the connections and conversations I began in those previous visits. The Design Residency appealed to me as the theme of this year’s call (‘Arranging practice: Proximity, distance, instance’) resonated with my thinking as a designer. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to allow me the necessary time and space to further develop my täkänä based work reflecting on it’s cultural context as well as considering the balance and working methods within my own creative practice.

What are you planning to research or produce during your residency in Helsinki?

I hope to spend time researching successful contemporary design practices in Helsinki, asking questions regarding the importance of location, collaboration and how they define their practice. This will enable me to reflect and consider my own approaches to creating work, to consider the balance between hand-made and batch-produced and the importance of a collaborative approach to design. I also intend to further my research into täkänä and it is my aim that this research and reflection will allow for exciting new outcomes for my work.

What are you hoping this residency experience will bring to your practice, or to your personal understanding and experience?

I am hoping this residency will allow for reflection and development of my practice, allowing me time and space to consider the methods I engage with to make work, questioning the importance of things such as location and collaboration by meeting and exchanging ideas with other creative practices in Helsinki. I hope it will allow me to deepen my understanding of täkänä and to consider the importance of researching this historical technique as a means to inspire and inform new work. I’m also interested in exploring the similarities between Finland and Scotland in relation to creative craft practices with the hope of a establishing a continuing dialogue between myself and Finland.

What has been your interest in this year’s theme of the HIAP design residency, “Arranging practice: Proximity, distance, instance”?

My interest in this year’s theme stems from my own critical analysis of my practice – questioning the delicate balance of commercially driven work and creatively challenging work, collaboration or working solo in the studio and the hand-made versus the batch-produced.

Within and beyond this residency, what are dimensions of Helsinki as a design environment that you would consider worth being critically explored further?

I’m keen to explore any parallels between Helsinki and Glasgow as design environments. Although Glasgow is not the capital city of Scotland there is a strong design and creative scene and I think it is interesting to consider the two cities from a design perspective. I think there are interesting parallels to be drawn from both cities in regards to their physical locations, populations and attitudes. Helsinki seems to have a strong reputation for championing contemporary design and it’s designers with a well-established ‘Design District’ and national Design Museum. I’m keen to meet with creative practices within the city and learn first-hand about the environment it creates to foster and support design talent.

Save the Date: 

Laura Spring and Elina Laitinen will talk about their practices and their research in the context of the HIAP design residency 2018 in discussion with Martin Born (curator HIAP design residency programme), Leena Svinhufvud (educational curator, Design Museum) and Juuso Tervo (project manager University Wide Art Studies, Aalto University). The discussion will be held on Friday, May 25, from 16:00 to 18:00 at the Design Museum.