With her love for colours, patterns and shapes, Olivia Holland has no doubt about pursuing her studies in knitwear and transferring it into a solid profession in the future.
Having graduated from Chelsea College of Art and Design, this colour lover has paved her way to devoting most of her time and energy into her passion.
“I love playing with colours. I like to express my passion in my textiles, but in a more refined, planned way than when I paint,” said Olivia.
Other than knitting, which requires more time and skills, Olivia also enjoys painting. “I have wanted to be a designer for a long time, yet I was never specifically set on doing textiles. My work seemed to gradually veer towards textiles and so the profession into textile design happened very naturally.”
The textile design graduate is specialised in knitting, despite the wide variety of categories textiles can be divided into. “I love constructed textiles. With just a couple of cones of yarn you can construct a beautiful piece of fabric,” she said. Her tactility and ability to visualise colours are gifts she has been blessed with.
Olivia defines textiles as “the fabric of the material world that surrounds us.” Through painting, she expresses her abstraction and colour rhapsody. Through textiles, she plans her design and techniques of a piece of fabric.
“With the aim to be visually exciting, inviting and intriguing, I want to create textiles which people can’t take their eyes off, and that challenges the current boundaries of knitwear,” she said.
Similar to many creators, Olivia gathers her inspiration from her surroundings. She gradually develops a concept by gaining background information and then takes photos to visualise the world around her in relation to the concept.
Olivia also dedicates time to researching her concepts and talking to people. After that, comes lots off drawing and experiments on machines.
“To turn the concept into a physical creation, I will photograph a relative subject matter and from these develop my ideas through drawings and collages by highlighting lines and shapes that appear in my photography and using these to create new images,” said Olivia. “I then develop this into a knitted textile by combining my knowledge of techniques and colour with experimentation on the machine.”
Olivia has her own unique signature look. “My designs are always full of colour and quite shape and pattern based. I love shapes and geometry and I think these show in my textiles.”
Her graduation project
In the graduation show of the Chelsea College of Art and Design, Olivia’s project was hung up from the ceiling in the middle of one of the showrooms. The colours and shapes were very detailed and eye-catching that easily attracted visitors to get closer and have a better look. A suit jacket was hung among finely cut fabric with various intriguing patterns surrounding it.
The name of the project was: What is knitwear, what can it do and what can it become?
Other than typical suits that use woven fabrics, Olivia explored the world of knitting for her project – quite an unconventional, yet inspiring way to make suits.
“I wanted to try and change people’s perception of knitwear,” she said. “This idea was inspired by a comment from my Dad regarding one of my samples: “this is not what I think of knitting, this is delicate, intricate, sculpted.’ This sparked my curiosity for the way people outside of the knitting industry perceive knitted fabrics and what they expect from them.
“From this, I developed the idea of knitted suits. By combining knitwear with tailoring, my collection aimed to display the versatility of knitwear and push current boundaries by extending the context of its use,” she said.
She concluded her project as a “taste of a knitted suit.”
By using different fabrics and designing a suit in an unconventional way, Olivia has a core message in her project: “I want people to think about the versatility of knitwear. I want my project to get people thinking about what knitting is and what it can become, increasing its significance in people’s wardrobes.”