The Broadcast / DARN + Finisterre: In Conversation

DARN + Finisterre: In Conversation

After launching our latest Artist Collaboration capsule, we sat down with the designer and founder of DARN, Amelia Pemberton, to talk about the inspirations behind her work, the inner workings of her studio and how a relationship with the sea inspires her creativity.


4 min read

Words by Amelia Pemberton

Photography by Abbi Hughes

How did you first get into clothing design? Has it always been your goal or is it a passion that developed later in your life?

I have always loved creating and making. All my best ideas have evolved around making my siblings their birthday or Christmas presents. Getting into clothing design would have to be through my mum and siblings. My mum is a textile designer and our shopping experience was a lot of early morning cycle trips to Kempton antique market or car boots.

The Pemberton household is a never-ending inspiration; a whirlwind of textiles, objects, and antiques decorating the house which always help spark an idea or two. When I went to study at Falmouth University, I wanted to rebel against studying fashion so choose photography but later missed the fashion side of things and switched courses. I guess I just couldn’t get away.

How would you describe your design style and process, and are there any formative experiences that have led you to your current practice?

My process is a very chaotic one. I find print design quite a hard process to do, my mum is such a pro I feel like I’m completely winging it! I'm at my best when juggling lots of different projects at the same time, that's where I find my creativity is at its peak; picking and choosing what is feeding my creativity most, and running with full momentum. I am a fashion photographer and art director as well as a textile designer and event curator. I have never been able to stick to one thing and when I do I feel like I am not being my true self.
I draw huge designs on loads of different papers, spread them out, keep adding or re-drawing, scanning them all in and playing around for ages on the computer until I am happy with it. I'm pretty organised and tidy as a person but when it comes to designing, I tend to change my mind a lot, creating multiple drawings until I land in a place that I like. Studying at the RCA helped me create my own work flow, learning how to be your own boss. After years of working for different designers, I lost that. So it's taken a while to really tune back into my own creative process.

How does your relationship with the sea inspire your work and creativity?

When first studying down in Cornwall, my connection to the sea began and I was hooked. I would go to the sea most days for cold dips, sometimes swimming out to sea and singing out loud about anything that was worrying me. I treated her like my therapist and I'd always come out feeling so much better. When I was living in London I found myself having to visit Cornwall at least every three months to get my what I called a RESET, see the sea and be within the community I loved. It was a real pick me up and I would get back to the big smoke feeling myself again.

After moving back to Cornwall, I ended up living in St Ives where it felt rude not to give surfing a shot. A friend of mine would take me along on his surf sessions and I would try so hard to get out back. Once I was there I would just feel and be in the sea watching the scenery, trying to catch a wave now and again. The sea makes me feel totally grounded, feeling the cold… and surfing is another level of concentration you really have to be present for.

You're part of a vibrant creative community, particularly through DARN Collective that you founded. How did the collective come about and how does it work?

I thrive off collaboration and a good brief. I was thrilled when Todd asked if I would be interested in collaborating with Finisterre, a brand I have admired for so long. I live so close to the studio in St Agnes, so it felt even more special to be able to pop into the office and work closely with the team.

My brand DARN really inspired and formed by the community down here. It's something I have never been able to find anywhere else and one of the reasons I was drawn back to Cornwall. DARN hosts supper clubs with interactive drawing games; playful elements that draw people together to let down their barriers and connect. I love working alongside like-minded people and it is such a pleasure to work alongside other artists or local makers within Cornwall, it’s like everyone has your back and we are all a team. There is meaning and consideration in all of my designs.

The collection was inspired by Cornish myth and folklore - in what ways did you weave this through your designs for the collaboration?

I'm part of a Morris Dancing group called THE WAD, so I am constantly thrown folklore references on our WhatsApp group! I have always been into folklore, from Polish to Bulgarian influences, and I really took a shine to some of the books I found in the library at the RCA and became hooked.

For the collection we played with a lot with different motifs drawn from a mix of inspiration; folkloric ribbon, snake tulips known as ‘fritillaria’, loads of imagery from the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle, and even a few bits from some folklore books within my archive, one called 'The Kindred of the Krift' by Annabella Pollen. I drew so many design it was hard to decide what would make the final cut! It was fun to play with all the different techniques we could push with embroidery and print with the team, I am really pleased with the outcome and looking forward to the launch.


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