Written byClaire Beale
Today we bring you another story in our ongoing alumni series, and its a rather special one! Elise Cakebread has been forging her own path since graduating in 2012, developing a practice that encompasses bespoke commissions, collaborations and installations, balanced with a soft furnishings and jewellery collection.
We’ve been huge fans of her work for years, and more recently the rest of the Australian design world has caught on, with a feature article in this month’s Vogue Living profiling her as a ‘designer to know’, and The Design Files covering the launch of her Silver Linings range in 2015. Last week she participated in the second DEN Fair, an experimental trade fair that focuses on the best in emerging and established local design. Things are really ramping up!
Amongst all of this activity, Elise took time to chat with us about herself, her work and her journey from BATD to Cakebread & Silver Linings:
Elise Cakebread is a textile-based artist and designer working across both printed and constructed textiles. Her work is driven by experimentation and exploration within traditional textile processes and techniques. Her work focuses on the tensions created by the unusual or unexpected contrasts that emerge between materials, forms, colours, textures and scale. Through these methods she explores ideas of materiality, tactility, craft, disposability and the ornamental. These explorations across both her visual and design practices culminate as sculptural work, decorative objects, and accessories.
(Image: Portrait of Elise Cakebread, Photography by Michael Quinlan)
What is your current role?
I am a designer and artist working under my own label Cakebread.
Cakebread was officially established in early 2014. Under this label I work on a whole range of projects, from commissions & installations to soft furnishings and jewelry collections.
Some of my projects include commissions for Dulux, Space in Richmond, Hotel Hotel in Canberra and installations for Craft Victoria and at the former Dagmar Rousset store in Collingwood.
In May 2015 I launched my first soft furnishings collection – Silver Linings.
(Image: Silver Linings Collection, Photography by Matthew Stanton)
Tell me a little bit about your background – how did you come to textiles and where has it led you?
I originally studied a Bachelor of Creative Arts, dabbling in art history, drawing and theatre studies, whilst also doing a fair bit of travel. I even had a stint interning at a glove atelier in France – and it was during this time in France that I decided what I really wanted to do was design and make beautiful things.
I knew that my design skills weren’t at the level I wanted or needed them to be (I had no idea how to use a computer for anything) and so I came back home and enrolled in BA Textile Design.
After Studying I freelanced as a commercial textile designer whilst working on my own creative projects and after being offered some large commissions decided to take the plunge and launch my own business.
How do you define your style?
My style is driven by a love of the tactile, the colourful and the frivolous!
Layers of yarn, luscious fabrics, unexpected details and an innovative approach to textile techniques are all integral to the Cakebread aesthetic.
What are the rewards of your job/work?
The biggest reward of working for myself and running my own label definitely has to be the complete creative freedom! Although commercial considerations do need to be taken into account at certain points, I’ve made a conscious decision to let my initial design process be as uncluttered by ideas of the market, trends and commercial viability as possible. I let myself follow creative whims and experiment. Surprisingly it is often the pieces that I think are going to be too ‘out there’ that end up being the most popular.
Also having an idea for a piece of work or product and then being able to fully commit to realizing it – even if that’s a process that takes a long time – is really satisfying.
How do you stay inspired?
My main source of inspiration comes from the materials that I work with. I love to play around with combinations of fibres and yarns, to explore the unique properties that they each have to offer. I spend a lot of time researching and experimenting with traditional textile techniques, developing skills and then seeing how they can be re-interpreted or developed upon. There’s nothing quite like leafing through a book on embroidery techniques of the 1800s and having an idea about how you can apply an old technique in a completely new way!
So even though I can suffer from serious burnout – especially when I’m in production mode – I try to stay inspired by taking the time to play with different materials or research new ideas in an unstructured way.
Holidays and time away form the constant pressure to be making something helps too!
(Image: Silver Linings Collection, Photography by Michael Quinlan)
What was your career dream or goal when you graduated? Have your expectations changed?
Before starting the BA Textile Design my aim was to gain the skills I needed to start my own design business. However after I finished the course my ambitions had changed and I just planned to put that idea on the back burner and get a full-time position working for a commercial company. This didn’t quite go as expected. Instead a series of freelance work and commissions came my way and happily for me I’ve wound up fulfilling my original aim.
What do you find most exciting about the industry today?
The internet! I still get a thrill out of the fact that someone on the other side of the world might be looking at my work and that I can discover theirs. The design community is so global now. There is a sense that anything can happen, anyone anywhere can come across your work – that can lead to all sorts of opportunities and collaborations, its so exciting.
If I was to give you a piece of fabric what would you do with it? Quick! (We would like to acknowledge Courtney King for this great question!)
Shred it up, turn it in to yarn and knit something with it!
What are you looking forward to?
I’m currently in the process of designing a new range and learning lots of new techniques. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all comes together.
I’m also dreaming about my next overseas adventure – I went to Japan for the first time earlier this year and I can’t wait to go back.
Join the followers of Cakebread – www.elisecakebread.com