Image: Alexandra Lucas
Image: Alexandra Lucas

Meet Alexander Lucas, the Central Saint Martins alumni textile designer who is fascinated by space. Fresh from showing her work at the Intelligent Optimist exhibition (London, 2015), Alexander chats to us about her work, glorified doodling and space.

The Fashion Conversation: Can you tell us about your textile practice and what your work is about?
Alexandra Lucas: I’m a multidisciplinary textile designer. I work across print, illustration and weave. I’m trained as a weaver and hope to continue in this area. Recently, I am focussing more on illustration. My work is about a wide range of things. I like exploring topics with a story, to engage people with what captivates me. It can be things from my every day life, mundane things, or travel, or bigger topics which are interesting to me at the time. It really depends on what I feel excited about!

TFC: Where do you start your research and design process?
AL: I take inspiration from different artists and blogs. I chat to people about things which are on topic. If it’s a major project, I get lost in the research part and do a lot of reading around the topic. I do some sketches. And it goes from there. It’s good not to overthink it, although that’s sometimes easier said than done!

Image: Alexandra Lucas
Image: Alexandra Lucas

TFC: We love your recurring theme of space exploration in your work, why space?
AL: Ha! Yes I do. To be honest, I’m not a space geek or anything. I just found it fascinating at the time. TMO: The Mars Odyssey was my final degree collection at Saint Martins. I got inspired by cool sci-fi films like Interstellar, Blade Runner, Barbarella and of course 2001:A Space Odyssey. Kubricks vision was a massive inspiration to me. My dissertation analysed Kubrick’s archives and saw how he imagined the future of space travel. He wanted it to be optimistic but also realistic, inspired a lot by George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. 2001:A Space Odyssey was created in the 1960’s which was of course the space age. I feel like now we are also in a strange space age with a race to Mars. And that’s when I got hooked.

TFC: Would you sign up to visit Mars?
AL: A lot of people ask me that question! I most definitely wouldn’t go to Mars. Too terrifying for me! I’ll watch from a distance. However, it would be cool to go the International Space Station!

TFC: How do you remember your time at Central Saint Martins?
AL: Absolutely loved it. Great tutors and technicians, especially in the weave department. It was challenging and time consuming but I would do it again if I had the chance. It helped me love design more and grew my confidence as a designer.

Image: Alexandra Lucas
Image: Alexandra Lucas

TFC: You spent a decent part of your childhood in Poland. Has Eastern Europe influenced your work at all?
AL: My mum is Polish and my dad is English. I lived in Warsaw until I was 14. To be honest, I feel like I wouldn’t be able to live there now. The city changes every time I visit and I almost feel like a tourist in my hometown, but I absolutely love it and recently I’ve been feeling very connected to my Eastern European roots. I think Poland has influenced my work in ways I don’t realise. As a bilingual I’m always torn between two nationalities. I always have a sense of nostalgia towards Warsaw and it always draws me back. Visually, I love the old Soviet posters. I also love the juxtaposition between old and new in Warsaw. The culture and the people are different and it’s fun to explore!

TFC: How do you describe your design aesthetic?
AL: Glorified doodling? Ha! I sometimes feel like I doodle with the loom too – have a look at my woven playground project, it was fun! I like handmade mixed with clean and modern. Not sure how to exactly describe it, it depends on the work I guess!

TFC: What do you like about weaving and what techniques are you excited to explore?
AL: I think the fact that weaving is such an ancient craft is so fascinating to me. It’s great using such traditional skills to make things which are innovative and forward thinking. I always enjoy looking at people’s weaves which are made of smart materials or have a futuristic aesthetic. I would love to keep developing my weaving skills and hand dying the yarn and focusing on where materials come from. Weaving feels almost like being connected to history sometimes, doing something perhaps our ancestors did.

Image: Alexandra Lucas
Image: Alexandra Lucas

TFC: We gather you are interested in Jacquard and Dobby weaving. What is Jacquard and Dobby weaving?
AL: Difficult to say quickly! Jacquard and Dobby weaving are both quite different from each other. Jacquard is weaving your design on the computer which is then read by a software called Pointcarre. The loom has thousands of hedals which means the weave can be very detailed and you can weave almost anything you want. Dobby weaving is more abstract. I always see it as a way to focus on materials you’re using, proportion of colour and feel of the fabric. Both have endless possibilities, however to weave on the Jacquard is expensive if you’re not at university or work where they have a Jacquard loom. I also love setting up the Dobby loom. It’s all part of the experience!

TFC: What is your favourite thing about being a textile designer? 
AL: The satisfaction of making a unique piece of fabric.

TFC: And least favourite?
AL: The downside: you’re always a bit of everything and can spread yourself across different areas of design. But I guess that can also be a good thing!

TFC: What do you think is the future of textiles?
AL: Smart materials working in sync with our bodies. Maybe even textiles we can grow?

TFC: What was your highlight of 2015?
AL: It will have to be the Central Saint Martins degree show and showing my work at the Intelligent Optimist exhibition. I’m excited to see where the future takes me. I’m realising a lot of it can be out of our hands but we have to do our best to get where we want and keep exploring our potential.

Image: Alexandra Lucas
Image: Alexandra Lucas