Bute Fabrics Design Team
Whether creating stylish fabrics for residential projects or durable qualities for the contract market, our team works tirelessly to make sure our textiles always enhance an environment. The island’s natural colours, textures and patterns are woven into our designs making them bold, bright, and contemporary. Our designs go straight from CAD to the handloom. All our textiles are designed and woven to withstand the test of time.
Our senior design Kirsty Neil has given us an insight into working on the Isle of Bute and the island daily inspirations:
Our process changes depending on the brief: whether it’s for a bespoke project for a customer or our own collection - often it begins with a meeting of our Sales and Design teams, alongside the client to understand exactly what they require for the end-use, their expectations and timeline for the product launch.
Thereafter meetings involve colour, trend & pattern swatch boards (often using inspiration from the island for colour and texture), and fabric samples in existing qualities, sometimes taken from our archive, to help outline the direction the development process needs to take. At this stage, we would always encourage our customers to visit our Mill on the Isle of Bute where possible and if not, we try to give them a sense of the surroundings by way of the mood boards we create.
Our designers can then create CADs of the Dobby or Jacquard designs to give the customer a clear idea of layout, scale and colour. We often create handwoven samples of dobby designs in our studio as the customer can sign off an initial development in fabric form rather than just paper, a fantastic advantage. We have the option to create multiple colourways of a design and this is where ‘chance happenings’ can occur - unexpected variations arise from the multiple colour crossings which may well make the final selection and this is always great fun!
After they have made their selection, we can then proceed to weaving full width, production woven cloth on our power looms. The fabric then gets a specialized finish applied to meet the customer’s exact requirements and the fabric is dispatched from the island to any destination worldwide.
How does the island play a part of your design process?
Inspiration can come from so many sources and when you least expect it! Whilst out for a walk with the dog you can find the most beautiful shell or driftwood or experience the most beautiful vista inspiring natural colourways - the landscape on the island is so diverse from moorland, beaches, lush farmland, beautiful details on ancient buildings in Rothesay town, fishing boats in the harbour to name but a few….
How important is it that our surroundings inform design development?
The island surroundings are so varied they offer a rich source of colour, texture & pattern as an initial design concept for many of our new collections. The landscape, views and island details also offer a unique resource for us to convey the story of the mill, our location and of course design inspiration to our customers to give them a sense of who we are as a company.
What impact does a visit to the mill have on clients, both existing and potential?
A visit is hugely important - we have a detailed fabric archive ranging back to the mill foundation in 1947, which is always a key element in initial design discussions. This combined with our continual new fabric trials and developments allows us to illustrate the diverse breadth of fabric types that Bute Fabrics can create and the versatility of our design capabilities.
We recommend customers new and existing come to visit the mill - the Mill is on a beautiful island and that in itself is indeed a unique travel experience! We also love to have our first design meeting face to face and we will be continuing to do this digitally in the coming months. This is truly invaluable to the process, offering the ability to show a broad range of qualities available in our studio and as the meeting evolves there are usually some surprises with unexpected hidden gems that become the focus of the project!
A tour of our Mill always leaves visitors impressed with the amount of skilled work and attention to detail required throughout the many stages of production involved in creating our woven fabrics, from beautiful sheers for drapes, luxurious silk/wools, traditional tartans and textured boucles.
Photography by Gordon Burniston & Mark Slater