Maker of the month: surface designer Allistair Covell

Maker of the month: surface designer Allistair Covell


Design drawings

Allistair Covell treats us to a tour of his studio and explains how it inspires his work.

After starting out studying fine art at college, Allistair switched to study fashion and textile design at university, as he wanted his patterns ‘to move’ and saw that designing prints for fashion was the perfect solution. Since finishing his course Allistair has branched out again and now also designs rugs, alongside painting and designing prints for fabric.

1. My workplace

I feel very lucky with the location of my studio. I am based within a 17th century farmhouse, which is part of Digswell Arts in Hertfordshire. When the sun shines it is wonderful to be able to relax outside and have a break or eat lunch with the other artists. Even when it rains the farmhouse is atmospheric (maybe more so) and it is so full of character that it has a presence all of its own.


2. Studio entrance

As soon as you enter my studio a wall of magazine clippings that have featured my work greet you. This wall is part mood-board part paint area; the heater doesn’t work but it is a useful shelf. Hanging on the wall are samples of my digital prints on silk and just visible is a recent painting on canvas. By the door is my mini collection of fashion clothing labels and passes to shows and exhibitions.

Studio entrance

3. My design library

I call this my ‘design library.’ It consists of books on fashion, art and design and is home to my ever-expanding collection of design magazines and journals. Even though I am a fan of technology I don’t think anything beats reading a magazine in your hands, from the feel of the paper to the smell of the print.

Office with bookshelf

4. My desk

This picture shows the range of drawing tools I use to create my artworks, from the traditional HB pencil, paintbrush and pen through to the latest technology. I always have a notepad close to hand and the latest issue of Vogue, Elle Decoration or COVER magazine. Under the iPad is an old sketchbook. I like to revisit my old artworks because sometimes I feel I didn’t fully develop a design or a print far enough at the time it was created. It is exciting to try out old designs on new surfaces.

Tablet Pc with illustration

5. Sketchbook work

Sometimes I use the table in the farmhouse kitchen to work on. Here I am drawing potential rug designs on graph paper. Each coloured square represents a woven knot. I work with the concept that every brush stroke becomes a pixel that is translated into a woven knot. The large coloured square is a wool rug sample that has just arrived from Nepal where I have my rugs manufactured.

Design drawings

Find out more

Watch icould videos about careers in design and skilled crafts.

See more from Allistair Covell or read a longer version of this article.

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Last updated: 25th August 2018