Conversation with Phoebe Tims

You may recognise Phoebe Tims as one of the friendly faces in our Wellington store. She has been part of our Kowtow family since we opened our doors in 2018. Currently in her final year of textile design at Massey University, Phoebe’s work caught the eye of our Head Designer. Naturally, a collaboration began and the result is our new Infinity Print.

We recently launched our new collection, which includes the Infinity print you designed. Can you talk to us about your design process and the inspiration behind the print?

The print was from my first year of studying textiles at Massey University. We were asked to design a collection of prints inspired by a place. I spent the whole semester researching, visiting, photographing that place to draw inspiration and translate that into textiles. As somewhere I visited frequently, I chose Havana Cafe in Wellington. I took my reference imagery in the afternoon just as they were closing, and the sun was hitting the space really beautifully through the large windows. There were lots of shadows being created and inspiring textures, so I drew a lot from the floor, and translated my concepts with Indian ink. I love painting with a long tapered brush, it has a fluidity that feels almost like calligraphy or Chinese brush painting, which is of personal cultural relevance for me. I find the slowness you experience with painting and the repeat pattern making process very meditative. The result, a small and repetitive print that reflects the ability to get lost in the process or in a space, as I did in my frequent visits to Havana.

We love the juxtaposition between the drape of tencel and geometry of your print.

Yes, it's such a good combination. I love that the print has been translated on tencel, as it articulates the same light and softness I experienced in my research. Tencel is a beautiful fabric derived from nature. It's made using wood pulp from sustainably managed forests and has been produced within a closed loop. I'm so proud to see the Infinity print come to life on a material with this high level of sustainable and ethical integrity. 

You are interested in the sustainable side of textiles as well aren't you?

Definitely. I have been brought up by two very environmentally conscious parents. I have always questioned and traced where things come from and consider where something goes afterwards whether that be food, packaging or products. I really admire the depth of research Kowtow goes into with fabrics. Everything is designed and created starting with a raw and natural material. As a textile designer, I appreciate the amount of work that goes into this and find the endless possibilities with this design process really exciting. Kowtow designs 18 months in advance in order to produce sustainably and ethically, so this has been a lovely moment to reflect on the design inspiration and making process now that it has launched. It's such a treat to see people wearing it in their own ways and it has been very special to have one of my designs part of this process.