Emily May will be judging the Clothworkers’ Company Associate Prize at New Designers in Week 1 – learn more about her exciting career in fashion, textiles and illustration so far.

Who is your design inspiration?

‘Charleston Farmhouse of course. In case you’re unfamiliar, Charleston was the Sussex home of some of the core members of the Bloomsbury Group in the first half of the 20th Century and is now open to the public to visit. Every surface is covered with colour, books, pots and plants and absolutely teaming with energy which is truly intriguing seeing as its occupants have long gone. I heard recently heard someone describe it as ‘feeling the creativity there running right down to your fingertips’, and others talk about it as their ‘spiritual home’. Charleston has such a personal connection with so many people, maybe it’s the freedom, or the blatant self-expression but it has totally bewitched me, and I go often to fill up with that excitement.’

What has been your biggest design highlight to date?

‘I am inspired by those who share a strong work ethic and creative spirit. I love the work of Rei Kawakubo [founder of Comme des Garçons] for her vision that never conforms to trends, Ray Eames for bringing feminine thinking into design, and Maria Grazia Chiuri, who embraced creative change across all areas at Dior. The strong and elegant Charlotte Perriand is someone I have always looked up to; her passion for shapes from the natural world mirrors my own.’

What has your experience taught you about a career in design?

When I first started working for myself in 2016 I imagined I’d seek out clients and after a while word would get out and work would start coming to me. While that was true to some extent the most beneficial thing for my business has been taking opportunities that don’t necessarily have a direct link to my creative work. I’ve created projects and clients by volunteering, going into shops and introducing myself, and most importantly by using myself as my USP. There are a million other designers out there but if you can authentically be yourself it shows in your work, and people really want to work with you. 

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