Digital Textile Printing

a 3D3 research project


Practitioner List

Practitioner – Le Corbusier

Charles-Edouard Jeanneret was known as Le Corbusier. A Swiss-French national, Le Corbusier became famous for his modern approach to architecture, designing buildings and spaces across the world using new materials such as concrete. Art school trained, Le Corbusier designed spaces for living, in a bid to change the typical crowded cityscapes he came across in his travels across Europe.

In 1931 Le Corbusier came up with an architectural colour palette which he used to create a sense of space and harmony inside and outside of his buildings. The system is laid out as a sliding colour chart, consisting of 12 pages, where you can create colour combinations by sliding across the centre to reveal different colours to pair up with the header and footer colour. The Le Corbusier website has an interactive version which you can find here. There is also a nice video of a copy that came up for auction on the Co Design website.

This apparently simple tool demonstrates how a visual colour chart can be really important to designers when making choices about colour within their work. The colours still resonate today, despite an updated version being produced in 1959 with a reduced colour set. It feels very similar to many of the colour combinations offered by contemporary paint producers such as Farrow and Ball


Practitioner – Verner Panton


Verner Panton was a Danish designer whose work covered everything from interior, products, furniture and textiles. He liked to use bright colours and bold patterns. I came across his work via Hella Jongerius when reading about the Colour and Material Library at Vitra.

You’d probably recognise the curvy, stackable plastic chairs he designed in 1960. His style is very 60s and 70s infact. The colour is so saturated it’s unbelievable. Plastic is used everywhere although his textiles are a mixture of manmade (polyester and rayon) and natural (cotton, wool). His Anatomical Design series feature photographic imagery printed onto cretonne, a heavy cotton upholstery fabric. The aesthetic of these prints is really unusual, the stencil photographic style not something normally used in textile design. Using such a photorealist approach is normally something that is associated with digital textile printing which is unusual because paper printers have used this style for decades.

Matt Flynn 024Panton 9Panton 10



Practitioner – Hella Jongerius


Hella Jongerius is a Dutch Designer whose extensive research into colour was exhibited at the Design Museum in an exhibition titled ‘Breathing Colour’ .

Jongerius runs the JongeriusLab in Berlin, Germany and designs for Vitra, a Swiss Design Company whose bank of designers include Ray and Charles Eames. Jongerius revived Vitra’s Colour and Material Library, highlighting significant colours used by designers and building up a palette of bridging colours that married each designer’s look into a cohesive Vitra collection.

Jongerius’ own research into colour truly epitomises the Professor Robin Nelson’s resolution that practice and theory should overlap to become praxis (practice as research). Her experiments with colour visualise concepts such as metamerism and delves down into colour creation but primarily how our colour perception is affected by environment (changes in light, orientation etc).

The industry’s desire for ‘colour objectively and colour stability’ neglects and even distorts the strong sensitivity that humans have for colour.

Designer’s need to consider how their product will work as a functional object whether it be a textile, piece of furniture or architectural piece.  Therefore an understanding of the transformative, subjective nature of colour is vital in an industry where colour fidelity is cruicial. The work that Jongerius does with colour and materials provides a fantastic educational resource for designers. If her approach was rolled out into design education there would be a much broader understanding of how design success is impacted by colour.

Helle Jongerius 1Helle Jongerius 2

Helle Jongerius 4.jpg

Practitioner – Eileen Hunter

Eileen Hunter set up her own company, Eileen Hunter Fabrics in 1933, as the ‘most efficient way of getting her prints into retail outlets’.

Screen printing began to come into use in textile design opening up a new aesthetic where large areas of colour could be printed. Prior to this block printing was the primary means of creating a printed pattern onto fabric. The industrial revolution had developed a number of printing machines which used engraved copper rollers to mechanise the print process but the mark making was still fairly linear.

Using a mesh to squeegee through dye onto the cloth allowed designers to create big and bold motifs, layering their colours. This style was exploited by many artists and designers (among them the Bloomsbury Group / Omega workshop) but research by Dr Christine Boydell indicates that initially much of the screen print designs were outsourced by textile houses to freelancers who were women. Boydell aserts that this was done because it was uncertain of the commercial success of these new prints which were printed in short runs. By commissioning female freelancers, rather than the inhouse studio designers, the companies could pay less for the designs in case they were not a success.

The Interwar period, economically, was very difficult, with the Great Depression of the 1930s and societal changes post First World War, meaning that many more women needed to enter the workforce than before in order to survive. I’ve not been able to find much out about Eileen Hunter to date apart from scant details listed by Boydell and in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s archive but perhaps it can be presumed that Hunter set up her own business in order to make a viable living as a textile designer when employment in a design studio would have been difficult to come by, especially as a woman. Many of the designs held by the V&A from her collection are screen printed. The motifs are bold and modern, her colours strong.

In comparison with the block prints by her peers, Larcher and Barron, Hunter’s prints seem far more contemporary, predicting the change in style brought in by mid century  designers like  Althea McNish, John Drummond and Jacqueline Groag and 60s/ 70s style heralded by Barbara Brown.

I really like her work and am hoping to see some of her work at the Textiles Study Centre, part of the V&A Collections, to learn more about Hunter.


Practitioner – Liz West

Liz West an installation artist whose work is concerned with sensory experience. She primarily uses colour, and consequently light, to create site specific, immersive spaces. Viewers are invited to enter and navigate the transformed spaces, creating their own unique encounter with the work.

I visited her show Our Colour as part of the Bristol Biennial where visitors were bathed in coloured light.

West recently curated a show at the Vernon Gallery in Leeds, titled Our Colour Wheel, where she invited 17 artists to submit their version of a colour wheel.


Practitioner – Sonya Winner


Sonya Winner is a designer who creates rugs that look like they are layers of colour on top of each other, that where overlapped, create fugitive colours. Naming many of her designs after colourists such as Josef Albers and Henri Matisse, and even having a rug named ‘Colour Wheel’, Winner places colour at the heart of her designs.

The rugs are hand made and the yarns dyed to match the intended colour palette.

Heres a nice video which shows some of her design process and colour selection including swatches, matching yarns and translating to digital.

Practitioner – Katie Wallis

Katie Wallis is a printed textile designer and maker, specialising in textiles for interiors. She prints primarily onto silk but also uses silk bamboo, linen and cottons. Her designs are mainly digitally printed unless she is creating something bespoke. Her colour palette focuses on straw yellows, sage greens, teal blues and mauves. She features repeat patterns and nostalgic illustrations (bees, carousel horses, dancers). There is a quirky traditional style to her work. The objects that she makes are functional yet beautifully made, experimenting with form (pin cushions) and techniques (laser cut mirrors).

Practitioner – Susi Bellamy

Susi Bellamy is an artist and designer who worked in the fashion industry for most of her career before returning to her practice full time. Her art inspires her designs and as a member of The Colour Group she is particularly interested in colour exploring the ‘interaction of colour’.

Her cushions are digitally printed onto velvet or silk, using The Silk Bureau. The colours are vivid and sumptuous and the hues very tonal. She uses photographic imagery and scans of hand paintings and collages which she scans in. Both silk and velvet are very vivid in colour when digitally printed upon. Velvet, because of the pile, often has an issue where the dye doesn’t penetrate to the bottom of the pile leaving a white tuft. Velvet can cause issues in inkjet printers because the tufts cause clogging of the print head nozzles and some printers refuse to print upon it.

Bellamy pairs up hues and chooses colours that can be printed, particularly those from the orange range. Her designs are made to complement each other as a collection and she has a variety of plain coloured cushions which match the colours of her prints.



Practitioner – Claire de Quénetain

Claire de Quenetain is a printed textile designer who graduated in 2014 from the Royal College of Art. She uses a mix of hand painting and digital print. Her designs are contemporary florals and botanicals, and organic shapes with a simple colour palette. Digital print is a great medium for incorporating the watercolour painted elements in her designs as they can recreate the tonal quality whereas screen prints would have needed these to be broken down into block colours.

In an interview for Swoon Editions de Quenetain says

I often paint on large scales and then digitally print on fabric. Digital printing gives you the opportunity to print a painting with the exact colour vibrancy of the original

Her website is very professional and already recognises the difficulties in representing colours online. A disclaimer in the Terms and Conditions says

We take all reasonable care to ensure that all details, descriptions and prices of products appearing on the website are correct. The colours of the pictures showing the products might be slightly different with the original product due to limitations of photographic and web processes and we cannot be held responsible for any variations in colour that may arise caused by your browser or computer software. As the products are hand-made, we do everything to deliver you the most accurate product quality as possible.

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