Sunday, 16 December 2012

Dreaming In Colour: Kaffe Fassett at the V&A

Kaffe Fassett is a very busy man, with an exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum in March 2013 and two new books on the way. This is how Kaffe Fassett was introduced at the beginning of a very entertaining interview with Paul Allen at the V&A on Friday 14th December, based on his autobiography, Dreaming in Colour.

Kaffe moved to the UK from Big Sur, California, in 1964. Although already a successful artist, he had always been intrigued by textiles. His discovery of hand knitting began when visiting a mill with the designer Bill Gibb. By chance, Kaffe discovered beautifully coloured hand knitting yarns at the mill that captured the essence of the landscape he had just been travelling through. He immediately bought 20 different shades of yarn and then had a 20 minute lesson in hand knitting with a lady he met on the train on the way back to London. From then on, everything he encountered became a knitting possibility!

Working very quickly, with great focus has been key to Kaffe's colour developments. If a swatch is not turning out as expected, he keeps knitting and corrects as he goes, constantly looking at what he has knitted and changing what needs to be changed to balance the colours. He describes the process as making a painting in yarn.

From Christmas packaging for M&S developed from a needlepoint of brilliant, vibrant flowers, to a beautiful hollyhock mosaic at the front door of his studio made from (deliberately!) broken crockery, Kaffe has always been inspired by flowers and gardens. It was therefore very appropriate that the interview ended with this photograph of a fabulous rose, which Brandon Mably has arranged to have named 'Kaffe Fasset'. A dramatic, bold and colourful finish to an excellent interview!
Kaffe Fassett and Paul Allen in conversation at the V&A

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