Inside the studio with Warwick Fabrics.

We chat to Cam Warwick about the design studio of Warwick and discover how they bring innovation and style to the homes of Australia.

Words by
Warwick Fabrics
Topic
Photography Warwick Fabrics
Share

Inside the studio.

Imagine growing up surrounded by luscious fabrics and an abundance of colour and you have some idea of Cam Warwick’s childhood. Today, as the second generation, Cam is the Joint Managing Director of one of Australia’s leading textile design brands. We step inside the design studio of Warwick Fabrics to meet Cam Warwick and chat about his beautiful range of fabrics.

Warwick is one of the world’s leading textile suppliers, providing premium quality materials to industry specialists since 1966. Warwick is committed to fulfilling a promise of innovation, quality and service, both now and into the future. Their studio, based in Melbourne, creates designs from initial concepts developed through mood boards to fashion-forward prints and woven fabrics that redefine interior landscapes.

“We always want to be moving forward, and part of that is letting our designers have as much creative expression as we can.”

— Cam Warwick

Describe a typical day at work in the studio for your designers.

Each day can be really different, depending on where in the range process we are. Sometimes our designers are admin heavy, where they are stuck behind their computers chasing orders for new ranges, problem-solving with suppliers, or working on admin to make sure timelines are adhered to. Other times — and I think this is more in line with the public perception – they are hand drawing and painting new designs, working on new colour palettes, and creating inspirational references for new ranges. Then some days, I’ll walk in and the studio is empty, only to find out they are on a photoshoot, making sure our product is photographed to help provide a starting reference for our customers – ideally inspiring them and their creative process.

As the buyer, I work very closely with our amazing design team with each collection. I spend time with them collaboratively, discussing the direction of each fabric we want to range for a new season. We look at trends, decide on what sort of quality would suit each look – weave or print – and then what price point needs to be met for that customer. We make sure we cover all bases to provide a comprehensive release. Our offerings need to be edgy and fashion forward, as well as providing best sellers with a new colour addition, or a favoured pattern, rejuvenated. We always want to be moving forward, and part of that is letting our designers have as much creative expression as we can.

Can you share what is special in your role as Joint Managing Director?

We are a second-generation, family-run business. My dad founded the company in the sixties, and 55 years on, my brother, Leighton, and I are still very driven by the desire to be at the forefront of what we do.

Leighton and his team manage the operational side, making sure our service and facilities are top of the line, whilst I drive what is happening from a product, marketing and sales perspective. We each have a very distinct skillset that complements each other perfectly. We understand and trust each other’s gut instinct for what we each do.

We both have long-standing, trusted teams around us that allow our days to be about the bigger picture and new opportunities. I know some may think working with family would be difficult, but we have a very close relationship – talking nearly every day, regardless of if we are in the office or not.

How does Warwick Fabrics find inspiration for collections, and when considering a new range and theme what is the research process?

Our designers work parallel with trends. Although we launch a trend forecast annually, we are always moving design looks, and inching tints of colour with every range we release. Our design studio is an award-winning architectural space that is surrounded by inspiration. We pin everything to the walls, and the light source in the studio is the best in the building.

Pre-Covid, our designers and I participated in international research and buying trips to textile design fairs, trade shows and fabric house releases. We were able to identify key themes, colours, styles and patterns, and reinterpret them for the Australian market. Today, all this research has been moved to the digital spectrum – the amount of local and international resources is endless, and Zoom meetings with international suppliers are now the norm.

Our designers also find inspiration for collections by looking at the past and how it translates into the future. We work collaboratively with some great market leaders in the design space which we can draw inspiration from and align collectively for a comprehensive interior design offering.

Just like fashion brands, interior brands also launch collections throughout the year. How often do you launch a new collection?

Warwick has three releases per year, and each release can vary on collection size from 10–20+ new ranges. The collections that make each release can be dependent on production times, season changes and trends. Most releases will feature a collection of plains, patterns and reworked favourites – depending on trends we are seeing, the market demand and industry feedback.

The production of each new fabric is highly involved and intricate. What is Warwick Fabrics production process and, on average, how long does each new fabric design take?

There are many variants to a fabric being created. Our process is:

  • Finalise a design theme for a collection, based on our trend forecasting research.
  • We source a particular quality for the collection – be it a plain fabric or printed/woven design.
  • Once the quality is finalised, the product is tested for Australian standards.
  • We work on colour lines and/or co-ordinate pattern designs.
  • Once finalised, colours and designs are packaged and briefed into mills for either weave or print.
  • We tweak colours and patterns until we are happy with the final product and sign off on the final standard.
  • Bulk fabric is produced by the mill.
  • We then work with marketing to sample, style and photograph the fabric in time for all customer touch points – social, digital, and in-store.
  • The collection is released!

Our designers are masters at multitasking. Generally, we work on multiple designs and releases simultaneously. Depending on the urgency on when we need to get to market and how technical the product is, we might be working on a fabric for a year or two before it even reaches a dollar curtains + blinds store. Generally, we are twelve months ahead. So right now (Aug 2021), we are ordering for February 2022 release, designing June 2022 and planning September 2022.

Lots of things can go wrong before we launch, such as fabrics failing the testing, bulk colours being rejected and designs arriving incorrectly, so our release package can change as close to the launch date as two weeks – our timetable is very fluid at times.

What do you find challenging when discussing a new fabric with your designers?

As our designers work a year in advance, they need to be mindful in their decision-making around colour palettes and design trends to ensure that the colours and/or designs will still be relevant at the time of release. They are strongly guided by their research process and concept boards to ensure that what we release is modern, on-trend and relevant to the current market.

What do you love about working with fabrics? Do you have a favourite?

I love seeing the designer’s interpretation of trends and how colours, motifs and themes transition and evolve over time. It’s hard to pick a favourite as our taste changes along with the emerging trends or different phases in life that we may be in. That’s the nice thing about textile design, although it is ever-changing. You see design and colour influences from past eras popping up and being reinterpreted for today’s market. I do get teased for my love of blue though. It is amazing how a concept I am not 100% on board with always gets pitched to me in blue.

Some people new to window furnishings, can feel overwhelmed by the large choice of designer fabrics in a dollar curtains + blinds store and find it difficult to decide on a fabric for their windows. Any tips?

Mood boards are always useful in any design process, as well as Pinterest. Pinterest is the perfect platform to find visual references, so even if you don’t know the words to ask for, you have a clear direction on your visual theme.

Also, do your research on the type of fabric that is suited to the type of finished product you are wanting, whether it features block out or semi sheer qualities, through to if you want traditional Curtains or modern Blinds. The dollar curtains + blinds living magazine is a great starting point. Being prepared can narrow down your search, as well as knowing the terminology to talk to store staff about.

“Fabrics change a room – the only limit is your imagination.”

— Cam Warwick

How do beautiful fabrics change a room or home?

Fabrics can set a mood or tone in a room, or bring together an overall look.

In terms of drapery, it can highlight where you want the eye to settle. It can act as framework for your windows, create privacy or block light completely.

It is so diverse. A soft sheer, for example, can blend and soften hard edges but not overpower a space. If you were to replace that with a hero pattern instead, your Curtains become a feature wall when closed. Fabrics change a room  – the only limit is your imagination.

Continue reading.