Last year the award went to Jessica Leigh Calvert, who had just graduated from BA Textile Design at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art & Design, London. With the award came a four week internship at our FR-One design studio and since then she has joined our team of designers to assist in the designing of our new collection.
We met up with Jessica this week to talk about her job at FR-One and her new hometown, Antwerp.
Jessica, what are your thoughts after almost a year working at FR-One?
I love the diversity of my job, how each fabric develops and takes different turns and then new ideas evolve, it is a really fun process whilst being challenging. Ultimately for me it is great to see finally how all avenues of the development process come together, from the initial design concept through to the end look of the brochure. It was great to see the 2015 collection growing and going into a new and exciting design direction.
You graduated last year, how was the change from being a design student to being part of a design team?
I have to think more commercially now. As a student, I had so much creative freedom. But in a business environment, things are a little different and it is about finding the right balance and filtering through to what ultimately will make a great collection. FR-One fabrics are more complicated in the sense that they have to pass every FR test worldwide, therefore I was able to gain a great understanding in what it meant to be FR and why it is so vital to the market. There is also another dimension to creating contract fabrics: they have to look great in a shared environment like a hotel, a restaurant or a shop. You're not creating a fabric for just one person's living room, the designs have to really meet the expectation of a lobby for example.
What do you like most about your work at FR-One?
That every day is different. A design is never repeated twice. Also, the high quality standards here make the work very fulfilling. You know you are contributing to a quality product.
Finally, how do you like living in Antwerp?
I have been living here for almost a year now and I love the city. I live in the centre not far from the Kloosterstraat, a long street that connects the historical city centre with the trendy Zuid area. With its countless design shops, it is an amazing place for interior designers. Here you find a cool mix of antiques and the trendy urban living I associate with Antwerp. It is vintage heaven. I love all the great food in Belgium. We all know there are great frites and chocolates here but I also discovered the Belgian waffles! They are sold in little food stalls on the street and you eat them in your hand. I could eat one every day!