A Day in The Life: of a Graduate Textile Designer
A Day in The Life: of a Graduate Textile Designer
Ranura Edirisinghe is a textile designer who is driven by the desire to preserve traditional craft techniques and their intergenerational relationships while exploring issues of sustainability and social economy. With a Sri Lankan heritage and a UK upbringing, Ranura’s unique background and perspective inform his work, which sits at the intersection of art and fashion.
One of Ranura’s most notable installations was for the group exhibition Common Ground at the Barbican Centre in London in 2018. The exhibition featured over 100 crocheted yarn discs, crafted by artisans in Sri Lanka, which were installed around his textile sculptures. Visitors were gifted the discs, creating a sense of community and connection that embodied the ethos of the exhibition.
Studying fashion at Central St Martins in London, where he completed his BA in 2018 and his MA in 2020, he was awarded the prestigious LVMH Grand Prix Scholarship and the Samsung Fashion Fund and Design Award. His design philosophy is rooted in sustainability and resourcefulness. He uses found, donated, and repurposed materials to create pieces that challenge conventional ideas of luxury and production.
Currently, Ranura is developing a home-wear collection for Soho House, demonstrating his versatility as a designer. He has also held a residency at The Mahler and Lewitt Studios in Spoleto, Italy, where he further developed his textile-based practice.
Follow Ranura on a ‘Day in the Life’ as he takes us through his creative process, from photoshoots to fittings, and shares his journey, revitalising traditional techniques with improvisation and innovation.
6pm: Tonight I have to organise for the shoot tomorrow, so I’m putting my kit together, including pins, masking tape, a lint roller, scissors, props, and of course the textiles. These textiles are samples I developed during my month-long residency with Selyn Textiles in Sri Lanka and they are Sri Lanka’s only world fair trade certified hand-weavers. I’m going to photograph a mix of fabrics and soft furnishings, blankets and cushions I made there.
8am: I packed my car and drove to meet my friend who is also a photographer, Johan. We met last year while working in London, both in a textiles and print team. Since we’re friends, it’s much more relaxed and informal, and I promised to give him a blanket in exchange for his skills. We’re shooting at a local park and trying to capture the textiles in motion, drifting away in the wind. Something simple and unfussy which shows the textiles at their best and also doesn’t require much of a budget.
8:45am: We set off to find the highest location, as it was quite windy, which is perfect. Found a pole in my garden that is similar to a flagpole, which I used to attach one side of the textile so that I can wave it around while Johan photographs. I like these shoots to be quite spontaneous. I hate when things are over planned. I always think about the context, I think my education really taught me that – to think who is this for? Who is the man the clothes are for? Is it aspirational?
2pm: After the photoshoot, I made my way to East London for a fitting. My friend Fraser kindly let me use his studio, where I can have a model and my pattern cutter. I have never really done womenswear before so thought it would be a challenging new project, I have a lot of fabrics left over from 6 years of uni! Foundation, BA and MA and the weaving I’ve done in Sri Lanka so wanted to find a way to use it all up.
3pm: I have a number of toiles to try on her and a selection of vintage garments. I want to see the fit, how it drapes and falls on her body. A big part of my process is finding vintage garments, like this SS15 Prada dress I found. I also love looking at the details, how it’s constructed, the trims, and finishes. Most of the clothes are from charity shops so that I can unpick them, copy the pattern, and then edit them, drape them in a new way, or attach them to another garment.
4pm: The fitting is under way, I like to design a whole look alongside individual pieces, so styling the toiles with vintage to see a total vision is important to me. This particular shirt was inspired by a photograph of a Sri Lankan woman wearing a white shirt. I wanted to exaggerate the proportions. My pattern cutter translates my research and design into the garments. It’s nice to be able to work this way as I don’t have the skills in this area. Even though I studied fashion at University, I relied on the technicians to sew my garments.
This particular garment in the fitting we decided that the neckline should be deeper and the fit around the waist should be tighter, this would mean editing the pattern. The jacket would be taken apart and then perhaps the body made slightly smaller with some shaping, to get it a more flattering fit.