Interview with Amy Sia – Textile Designer

Amy Sia’s designs are diverse but instantly recognisable for one thing they all have in common; eye-popping colour. With “bold colours and painterly watercolours” her style constantly evolves and changes. She says,“I get bored of doing the same thing.”

This desire for frequent change also translates to her location. Originally from Australia, she moved to London in 2011. “I grew up in Australia, which is really lovely, but when you’ve been somewhere for a long time, you just get a bit bored of things… Also, Australia is quite far from anywhere else, and I wanted to live somewhere new.”

Having worked in fashion in Melbourne, Sia chose London because she could continue working in the same field. In Melbourne she worked for several fashion labels, initially interning, compiling look books, sewing, doing admin. She then worked for supplier for high street brands designing, producing and buying women’s wear. Eventually she decided to start designing and selling on her own. “I designed some cocktail dresses, which was really fun but it was the wrong time, it was during the global financial crisis and even though I enjoyed it I thought, this is silly, I’ll never be able to sell 600 dollar cocktail dresses, so I stopped.”

When she came to London she didn’t expect to work for herself, her plan was to work for a fashion studio, but things turned out differently. “It’s quite difficult to get a job like that when you haven’t had lots of experience in fashion, so I started freelancing and it evolved from there.”

The beginning was hard for her.  She worked alone and missed having colleagues to bounce ideas off. “It’s hard when you don’t have other people there to say, ‘hey that’s really great’. It’s just you, sitting there, looking at your work. For the first year she worked for herself, every day she thought “ I just want to get a normal job and I don’t think this is going well – I don’t sell that much work, and when I do sell work people aren’t paying me…”

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Her studio

Eventually this changed and her bold designs were picked up by large shops like Selfridges, Heals and Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie. “ That was one of the most exciting projects I did. I went into the store (Anthropologie) every time I had a new scarf in. Sometimes I’d take photos of myself wearing the scarf.” She laughs mischievously and continues, “It is really silly, but I’m glad I did it, because it’s not every day you get to have your stuff in a store like that.”

Now the majority of her work involves licensing for home wear brands. She enjoys working with other companies, “I design and provide the artwork and they produce it, and I think that’s what suits me best.” She is currently working with West Point Home in the USA designing comforters and bedding. She also sells her scarves, cushions and prints on her own site.

Her designs usually start with a watercolour-style painting which she does by hand, and which she then scans and manipulates in Photoshop. She plays around with colours and removes and layers segments of the design to create pattern. She likes to create new, unexpected designs. “There’s something about creating that’s fulfilling. It’s nice to look at the work you’ve done at the end of the day and know you’ve made something new, that wasn’t there before.”

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Painting
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Florals in progress

Much of her inspiration comes from her travels which she says give her fresh perspective. “Travel means getting out of your every day and making your eye look again.  Sometimes it’s easy not to pay attention but when you’re somewhere else you look and go “ooh, this is new”.

One of the places which most inspired her was Morocco. She loved the bright colours and crafts. In Portugal she loved the elaborate tiles and architecture. “When I travel I take a lot of photographs, make paintings from them and incorporate them into my designs.”  She has travelled a lot and finds it hard to pick a favourite place; although she thinks Iceland ranks highly. “The natural beauty –the sunset, the muted colours and the weird landscape are incredible. And there’s hardly anyone there, which makes you feel like you’re the only one on the planet, that is nice when you live in London.”

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Corner of her home
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Colourful couch with her cushions and finds from her travels.

Sia also has a penchant for flea markets and vintage finds, which inspire her creations.  Her North London home is full of textiles, furniture and objects she has picked up on her travels.  She revelled in the process of decorating the flat and making it hers. “I was so excited when for the first time in my life I had an unfurnished flat that I could just fill with colour.” She bought a lot of the furniture from Ebay and second hand shops and assembled it into an eclectic and colourful mix.

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Some of Amy’s vintage and flea market finds

She has surrounded herself with objects she loves. Some of her favourites are the embroidered wedding blanket she bought in Morocco, and the giant demijohns which she has filled with fairy lights and flowers. The bold colours in her home remind her of the light and warmth of her native Australia, and the tropical island she dreams of living on one day. She looks around her and enthuses about the colours and textures she loves, “I love emerald green, hot pink and mother of pearl inlay…but at the moment I particularly love blues and indigos and peachy pink.” In short, what Amy Sia is synonymous with, is “all colour.”

If you’d like to have a look at her collection go here: www.amy-sia.com

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Amy Sia
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