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One to Watch: caitlin agnew

Updated: Jul 15, 2020

“Natural and waste materials can be as aesthetically pleasing and worthy as those that are new or manmade. I am also passionate about bridging the gap between science and design,

I believe that the amalgamation of both is going to be key in creating a sustainable future”.

So says our latest talented ‘One to Watch’ Caitlin Agnew who studied textiles at Birmingham City University. We couldn’t agree more, so find out more about Caitlin and her creative mission to make life more sustainable, beautiful and colourful.

How important is colour in your work and how do you choose and narrow down colours?

Colour is such an important element in my work, it’s a way of injecting beauty and design features into biomaterials, this is so important for engaging people in the materials, it really draws people in. The colour used in my work is often from natural sources and waste materials, so my selection process is more about what is available.

What is your main source of inspiration?

Much of my design inspiration is fuelled by historical references. For my final major project I focused on drawing inspiration from the excess of the baroque period. I love researching using archival imagery, and museum collections as inspiration for surface design. I could walk around the V&A for days.

What makes you happiest/most fulfilled in your creative process?

I love seeing people engage and interact with my materials and just talking to them about bio-design. I feel bio-design is quite an emerging area, people are often curious about the process of innovation.

What are you working on now?

There are a few things! I’m looking at creating a resource so people can access the recipes I created during the final major project, I want to engage as many people in bio-design as possible. I’m also beginning to work with a local vegan café to see if I can use their waste to create more materials. I’m very excited.

Where do you want to be in 3 years’ time?

Hopefully using biomaterials in a more commercial context. I feel like it will be possible soon! as long as I’m working in a sustainable way, I’ll be happy.

Creative low point?

There were a few challenging points, the start of the final major project was tough. It was really frustrating. I knew what I wanted to achieve but bio-material innovation was a very new area for me. I was constantly questioning if investigating a new process was worth the risk for an important project. There were many failed attempts but the more I experimented the more I was certain of the journey I was taking. I’m glad I kept going.

Creative high point?

Winning the CIDA One to Watch was definitely a high point, it was such a lovely way to end my time at BCU and start the next adventure. In my final project seeing the materials draped on a mannequin was a high point, it made me realise that my goal of creating bio-garments was possible.

Is there one person during your studies/life who has really made a difference to you?

So many people have helped me, my friends, family and fellow course mates, the tutors on my course were all so supportive. However, Kelly-Marie, the Print technician at Uni, really encouraged me to explore the bio-material world. She also put up with me stinking out the print room with natural dyes, making a mess when experiments went wrong, allowing me to store the strange new materials in the print room and just offering guidance, day in day out.

What is your favourite colour?

That’s difficult to answer! I love sky blue, it makes me feel calm, it’s also my favourite colour to wear it goes well with red hair.

Image credits:

Photos of bio-materials Caitlin Agnew

Photo of me- Kelly-Marie Sifleet

Contact details


Social media details: Instagram handle __cagi

Website details: wixsite


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