Our designer interview today is with Davinder Madaher, a Senior Print Designer at Sainsbury’s who shares with us the variety of products his beautiful work graces including his latest work for the new Gok Wan collection!
What’s your story? Can you share a brief history of how you’ve got to where you are now?
After graduating from the University of Brighton I went to work for Coats Viyella who at the time was a big supplier to Marks and Spencer’s. There I designed T-shirt graphics for kids wear.
I was there for about two years and left to do some teaching at the University of Portsmouth where I ran the textile course for the Access department. I was also a community-based artist working with local groups running textile workshops and exhibiting my personal work and even got to meet Jazzy B from Soul to Soul, which was great.
But the desire to get back into the fashion textile industry lead me to find a job in New York where I worked for a couple of print studios designing prints and embroidery for the American and European markets. I learned a lot about designing and did a lot hand painting and machine embroidery and got to understand more about trends and colour.
It was here I met my future wife Caroline (who is also a textile designer and an amazing mum to our three children). We decided to move back to the UK where I was the print manager for George Asda. This was my first taste of working for a big corporate retailer/ super market. I designed prints for Women’s wear and was involved in the resend research side too.
After a while I decided to go freelance and that was when I worked with various clients and got my first taste of designing for Home ware at Next. Freelancing gave me the opportunity to design for various markets including swimwear/ night ware/ lingerie and kids wear.
My clients included Marks and Spencer’s, Debenhams , Next, Joules, Tesco, Shopdirect and Sainsbury’s to name a few.
Sainsbury offered me a full time job, which seemed right to take. And since then I continue to design prints for their women’s wear and home ware departments. I still hand paint and love the travel for inspirational shopping. I’m actually writing this on a plane to Amsterdam for some more shopping.
How would you describe your style?
My style is varied depending on the project brief and trend ….One day it could be designing geometrics the next florals. But my passion is florals and I still hand paint and then scan these into the computer and put the design into repeat. I love watercolour as it brings florals to life with the subtle mix of colours.
You’ve been a textile designer for over 20 years, how have you seen the industry change?
I can’t believe it s been over 20 years already. The industry has changed a lot in the sense that it’s more competitive in the retail industry. You also have more options to choose from of where you want to shop. For example all the major supermarkets like Sainsbury’s, Tesco etc. now design their own clothes ranges. So why not buy your clothes at the same time as your weekly grocery shopping. Also fashion companies are more aware of what their customer wants and at what price they are willing to pay.
Also people’s shopping habits have changed for example if you want to avoid the busy high street, why not just shop on-line from the comfort of your own home. This takes away the stress and saves time especially when time is limited with family and work commitments.
Regarding Print design there seems more photographic digital designs in market. The majority of studios I work with show their designs on fabric which are digitally printed and only a few show designs on paper more so in the stationary markets. I think clients i.e. fashion companies like to see designs on fabric as it gives them a more realistic concept of how the pattern will look on fabric rather than on paper.
You’re currently a full time senior print designer for Sainsbury’s, what does a typical day in the office look like for you?
A typical day at Sainsbury’s is a varied one. I usually start the morning going through my emails to check if there is a meeting or if a supplier needs a print design sent to them. I then will go through with my assistant of what is needed regarding deadlines and to ensure that the garment designer and buyers are happy with the print design.
Sometimes I will have a meeting with a fabric mill to look through their prints to see if it’s right for our collections. I also meet with print studios and love looking at these collections as it inspires me and usually dictates a trend that we are working on. I also make time to design and it can be bit stressful as there are always deadlines and last minute amendments.
You’ve designed for fashion, accessories, home ware and outdoor living – what’s are the key differences you need to consider when designing for each type? Do you have a favourite?
When designing for fashion or home ware I find there is some overlap for example at Sainsbury’s a floral design I did was used in both departments. Some of the differences to consider is say the scale; the same floral will be enlarged for bedding but reduced for say a dress and even smaller for a mug.
Also I might change the colouration as the colour palettes are different. Also, when designing I always have clear idea of the end use for the pattern.
Do I have a favourite? Well I go through stages… I love the quick reaction in fashion as it has a faster turnaround when we react to catwalk. But I’m just as happy to see my print design on cushions, bedding mugs etc.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
What has been the high light of my career…. it’s hard to say but what stands out is having the opportunity to live in New York and also meeting so many great designers too. I have managed to meet and work with celebrities like Gok Wan and Caprice and also been on BBC Asian network.
Also seeing my design in store. But for me the true fulfillment comes from sharing my creative gift with those less fortunate and I had the opportunity to go work with slum children in India before my stint in New York, I hope that I get the opportunity to do that again. After all these years I must be doing something right!
You’ve currently designed a new range of prints for Sainsbury’s, can you tell us more about that?
Yes I have just designed the Yellow print for Gok, which is in store now. It’s a great smart/ casual range and my favourite piece is the yellow wrap dress. Also the Optic print range, which is a reaction to the geometric trend that is coming off the catwalk. I love seeing it in store.
Looking ahead, what’s next for you?
Looking ahead I am starting to do some of my own floral painting at home and want to continue being creative. I have also just started a blog with my wife Caroline called www.madfuncreative.com
It’s a platform for us to share about what we do as a family with our kids and also what we find creative we hope it will also encourage readers to have fun with creative pursuits whatever form that may take that may take whether it be painting, drawing etc.
It’s early days at the moment especially with the demands of work and family commitments but it’s a venture we love so watch this space.
My name is Davinder Madaher and I am a textile designer. I have worked as a Print designer and Consultant for various print studios in NEW YORK and now back here in the UK. I design Prints for various products from Fashion to Homeware and Stationary. I have also a been on the BBC Asian Network talking all things fashion. I have worked with various UK retailers on projects as a freelancer and consultant and am currently working for Sainsburys.