Abandoned architecture designs earn Kashmal coveted award

Winning a prestigious design competition before graduation has helped Kashmal Tahir secure a job at Laura Ashley, the world-famous fashion and home furnishings company.

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Looking proud on graduation day

The Textile Design graduate from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) won first prize in the prestigious i-dott wallpaper competition for her detailed design inspired by St Dunstan-in-the-East, a public garden located in the ruins of a church destroyed during WWII.

Kashmal’s interest in abandoned architecture enabled her to fully embrace the competition’s ‘lost and found’ brief. During her visit to St Dunstan-in-the-East she took photographs which she drew from and then used Adobe software to design a repeat pattern.

The 22-year-old from London said: “I wasn’t confident about entering the competition so it feels amazing to have won. I can’t quite believe that both the designs I entered were shortlisted.

“I wanted to submit something different as there doesn’t seem to be many detailed or hand-drawn wallpaper designs on the market. I didn’t actually think I could draw very well, but my tutors believed in me and really pushed me for my final-year collection, which thankfully paid off.”

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Kashmal's award-winning wallpaper design

Kashmal’s reward is a £500 cash prize and ‘goody bag’, as well as being invited to receive her award at a gala dinner with industry professionals in Manchester.

Her award, together with the skills and experience she gained at DMU, have helped Kashmal secure a position as a Junior Print and Accessories Designer on womenswear at Laura Ashley.

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She said: “When I first started the job a few weeks ago a lot of people were surprised that I came straight from university. I think it's because despite being new to the industry, DMU has provided me with a great set of skills that a company like Laura Ashley finds valuable.”

“As well as having a design award under my belt, the other thing that impressed them at the interview stage was that I had undertaken a two-week placement at Morrisons.

“This came about after winning a live brief competition in my second year at DMU, which challenged us to design a kidswear collection for the supermarket’s Nutmeg clothing label.”

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Another example of Kashamal's detailed  designs

As one of just two print designers in her Laura Ashley team, Kashmal is looking forward to getting involved in all aspects of the role as the brand prepares for its next big collection.

No stranger to working with big brands, Kashmal is also finalising a range of cushions for home furnishings retailer Dunelm, which will go on sale online in the new year.

The “amazing opportunity” was a result of DMU’s Degree Show, an annual showcase of final-year student designs. Kashmal’s work grabbed the attention of Dunelm talent-spotters who were invited to the industry night of the show, alongside representatives from other big brands and companies.

Kashmal added: “I feel that DMU has prepared me well for my future. The Vijay Patel building has amazing facilities and my tutors helped me gain confidence.

“My course also taught me a lot that employers seem to be impressed by, like being able to do a half-drop repeat by hand and knowing how to screen-print. It means I’ve graduated with an amazing-looking portfolio that employers want to touch and see more of.

“DMU also made one of my childhood dreams come true. Growing up in London, we used to go on school trips to New Designers and I always hoped to show my own designs there one day. Getting to do so in my final year made me realise just how far I’d come.”

Posted on Wednesday 4th October 2017

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