Asta Barrington is an award winning British textile designer working in Bath, England. Her signature design style features complex fantastical fauna and flora created from complex linear patterns. Her designs currently feature on a high quality range of home products sold under license by Jamida, the Swedish home wares company.
Dorset born Asta graduated from the Royal College of Art in London with an MA in Embroidered Textiles after completing a BA (Hons) Textile Design degree at Nottingham Trent University. At the RCA she had internships in the textile design departments of the Italian fashion house Missoni and the Raag Workshops in Ahmedabhad, India, designing patterns for knitwear and hand embroidered interior products respectively. Back at college she experimented with shrinking and dyeing woollen yarn machine stitched onto diverse fabrics to create embossed embroidered effects and chunky woollen fringes. These techniques evolved into her successful own-label range of artisan hand dyed embroidered scarves and blankets in luxury fibres of cashmere and silks. She sold these to high end boutiques and galleries all around the world including The Cross and Designers Guild in London and Barneys New York. They subsequently caught the attention of fashion designers Matthew Williamson and Marni who asked her to create embroidered fabrics and fringing for their earliest catwalk collections. She was also commissioned by English Heritage to create vast swathes of embroidered and dyed fabrics for the windows of Belsay Hall in Northumberland as part of their exhibition Living at Belsay. She sold her handmade scarves, blankets and cushions annually to the public at Chelsea Crafts Fair and Origin in London and twice at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Fair, where her products won awards.
With a relocation to Bath in 2005 Asta felt it was time for a change in her working methods. She began to enjoy designing patterns digitally that were more intricate, multicoloured and precise than her existing handcrafted machine embroidery / dyeing techniques could allow so she started to explore different manufacturing processes including digital printing. Keen to now work with manufacturers new opportunities arose for her which provided exciting creative challenges and gradually her focus shifted away from being a designer-maker of woollen textiles to licensing pattern designs for digitally printed products. She designed a best selling range of trays for Swedish tray manufacturer Åry Sweden as part of their own collection for five years under the label Alabasta. Currently Asta licenses her pattern designs under her own name to Jamida, a Swedish brand with a diverse range of high quality home and travel goods including birch wood trays, umbrellas, ceramics as well as cushions and blankets.
Her inspiration has always come from printed paper ephemera, vintage textiles and other junk she finds at flea markets - handmade items that demonstrate labour intensive skills now disappearing from modern mass manufacturing. These detailed textile textures created from tatting, crochet, bobbin lace and drawn thread work look simple enough but on closer inspection are intriguingly complex. By using modern technology such as digital printing Asta endeavours to interpret this elegant intricacy in a modern but not literal way. Her confident use of colour is a direct result of years spent mixing fabric dyes to create infinite shades and having a Danish mother has probably also had a subconscious influence on the simplistic Scandinavian aesthetic of her work.
'Mimosa', Asta's latest collection for Jamida launched in September 2018 at the Maison et Objet home trade show in Paris. It is a more tropical version of her popular Doves design with the addition of the lacy foliage of an acacia tree. Future plans involve limited edition artisan products to complement her licensed products and these will be available to purchase directly from this website.
Please follow Asta on Instagram to see product launches as they happen, or do get in touch if you are a manufacturer interested in proposing a project to collaborate on.
Asta Barrington is a member of ACID, Anti Copying in Design, an organisation committed to raising awareness and encouraging respect for Intellectual Property. Read their intellectual property statement here.