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2021 Winner Pt.1 - Al Bates

Updated: Jun 11

Al Bates is our truly worthy winner for her ‘Curious While Calm’ project. A stunning collection of textiles designed to heal ourselves and our space. Congratulations Al. The judges were blown away by the level of skill and thoughtfulness you invested in your work which was an instant hit with all of them.

Where did you study and what was the course title?

Edinburgh College of Art: Textiles

Name of your lecturer – course tutor?  

Collette Paterson and Shirley Mclauchlan

Have you got a creative mission statement (don’t worry if not)

My work aims to utilise various fabrics as a space for comfort and growth, in the context of the home. My practice is rooted in an awareness and consideration of the ethical impacts of the industry, and I thrive to work sustainably to produce pieces that leave no waste. Combining various techniques, my unique approach juxtaposes textures to create modern and distinctive pieces that are one off’s, hand crafted and made with care to last.

How did you feel about winning a Colour in Design Award – what does it mean to you?

I felt over the moon, I couldn’t believe the amount of lovely messages and online support I received from the minute the award was announced! To have won this wonderful award for a collection that is so dear to me was a really beautiful feeling.

What inspires your creative process?

My creative process is almost always inspired by other people. I’m fortunate enough to have a bunch of creative and intelligent people around me from all different specialisms who I constantly take inspiration from. Seeing their level of professionalism and how well they know their own craft made me want to do the same. It made me conduct more in-depth research, spend more time playing with compositions, I made up my own surface design technique and I massively improved the quality of the textiles I was making. 

What do you want to do next?

I want to find my place in this industry; I have a huge passion for sustainability and creating bespoke, handcrafted pieces and so I would like to work as a commission-based textiles designer or work within a company that holds the same sustainable values as myself. 

Creative high point?

My creative high point (besides the day of winning this award) was the day that I finally finished my piece ‘Jemima’. This piece took three weeks to make by hand and so to see it hung on the wall finished with a big fat ‘al bates’ label was wonderous.

Creative low point?

A creative low point was finding out that we’d have to do our whole second semester of my final year, including making a graduate collection, without any print room or university access.   

Is there one person during your studies/life who has really made a difference to you? Maybe in terms of encouraging you when you were at a low point, pushing you in different directions unlocking your potential etc.

My lovely mum, despite her living so far away she was always there at the end of the phone. Mum has always believed in me and told me that I can do anything when I put my mind to it and it’s taken 22 years and a pandemic to finally get that message through to me.

What is your favourite colour?

Green (sage green if we’re doing specifics)

Image credits: Josh Croll

Instagram: @als_studio_

LinkedIn: Al Bates

Quotes from Judges:

‘Al Bates has submitted the most complete and mature project by far” – Laura Perryman @lauraemilyp

“I found Al’s process simple but deeply felt and extremely well explored” Adam Nathaniel Furman @adamnathanielfurman


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