Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Meet the Maker - Pier 74

Meet the Maker ~ With Pier 74

Tell us a little bit about yourself… What’s your background?

Pier 74 are Angela & Julie & the road to Wigan Pier is where we met way back in 1993 at Art College. Angela specialised in Textile & Surface Pattern Design and Julie in Graphic Design.

How did it all begin?
After years of being miles apart and careers going in completely different directions, there was suddenly an opportunity of our worlds colliding in 2015 so we hatched a plan to start a creative partnership in Newcastle. This decision had been 20 years in the making, proving the point that it is never too late if it feels right!

Combining our diverse skill set, this creative collaboration now has a commercial concept to take forward and grow into a viable business.

Pier74 is a brand producing handcrafted, functional, design led yet practical textile and leather accessories. They are intended to become cherished everyday items.

When designing our brand, we wanted to have a nod to our origins and a strong representation of Northern industry. There is a subtle visual reference to this with the ‘i’ in ‘Pier’ being a chimney. The 74 bit is simply the year we both came into the world.

What’s the best thing about living & working in the North East?

What’s not to love!? We love being located in the Ouseburn, the creative hub of Newcastle. It is such a vibrant area and hosts a lot of up & coming independent businesses. We also love the buzz in the Grainger Market, the iconic cityscape of our bridges over the Tyne, the public art and of course the public houses, the Free Trade in particular.  We also can’t get enough of the abundance of beautiful beaches on our coastline.

Describe your workspace

As soon as you step in to our studio the smell of leather hits you in the face.

We try to be organised & tidy but this proves difficult with the amount of donated fabric & leather we pick up every week.

We have a large central work station for cutting and pining and we have the sewing machine corner where we house the vintage sewing machine ‘Bernie’ and the new kid on the block, ‘Big Brenda’ - this is where the magic happens.

Ange is a bit obsessed with visiting the local auction house where we have acquired many storage options to house and colour co-ordinate our wall of fabrics.

It is always a mammoth task to have a studio clean up and tidy for our Open Studio events but it gets us ship shape - at least twice a year.

Who do you look to for inspiration?

We are inspired by so much really - inspiration is everywhere! We take notes and sketch ideas in a notebook when we’re not attached to the sewing machine & laser cutter!

Customers approach us regularly to try out new products that are fit for their purpose, this is a good way of developing new ideas and techniques.

We also love having a scout around on Pinterest looking at 'on trend' colour combinations and shapes and sizes of new bags.

Where do your materials come from?

We are very lucky to have formed a relationship with a local business who kindly donate all of their off-cuts to us.They produce high-end upholstered furniture for domestic and commercial purposes.

If we hadn't identified a use for these fabrics they would just be disposed of, so it’s a good way to save beautiful materials from going to landfill. It’s a win win for both parties!

As well as being beneficial to the environment, this method of sourcing materials means we are often able to get our hands on various amounts of luxury materials, such as Designers Guild, Liberty Prints and 100% British wools.

All other materials and fittings we use are all sourced in the UK.
What do you find rewarding about working with the material you use?

The texture. The feel of the fabrics. How they look and how they behave together. We love the tactile nature of the woollen fabrics and leather.

We have a passion for merging craftsmanship with contemporary context and modern technologies.

A love of colour and simplicity drives our work too; all of our designs combine simplicity with complex detail.

What makes your work unique?

We focus on developing mixed media materials with unique aesthetics and technique; and then manipulate them into contemporary textile and accessory pieces. 

Angela is highly skilled with handling the details throughout her creations. These are created through carefully designed templates and structures, combining her use of techniques and materials.
All of our creations are handcrafted, eco aware and sustainable products. Every element of the product is designed and made by us which means no item is the same.

What’s the favourite part of your job?

We enjoy meeting our customers, a lot of them are regulars who have bought from us from day one. Mushroom Works has a lot of regular fans who come to Open Studios, which is a really special thing. It's a really nice opportunity to catch up with them and discuss product developments.

Open Studios in particular has helped to grow our fan base and raise our business profile. The last event lead to several new commissions, as well as making individual sales and meeting existing and potential customers.

We love being around other makers in the building too. It's just nice knowing that they're there; it's much harder to motivate yourself working in isolation.

It's also great to be around others to talk about ideas and pinch each other's biscuits!

What’s your bestseller?

Pier74’s signature designs combine wool and leather.  We have a few firm favourites with our customers, top sellers are our War Paint & Man Stuff pouches and also the Gin & Prosecco coin purses.

What plans do you have for the future?

2016 was all about launching, focussing on business objectives, planning a strategy and prototyping.  2017 has been about marketing this new brand to a much wider audience. It's about getting it out there, turning a creative business into something that's financially sustainable and making a name for ourselves as designer makers.

Our plans include further developing the distinct woollen fabric accessories collection we have so far created and to also introduce a core collection of leather accessories with customisable elements.

By the end of the year we aim to have a strong online presence and to build relationships with new stockists/retailers. We remain philosophical about our business, whatever happens, we are really enjoying the journey and learning so much, but it's still a work in progress.

For the moment we are happiest taking a slow and steady approach. Building in confidence in what we are doing is a very important part to our creative development and to our business partnership.

We have identified which parts of the business we want to focus on and which we need additional support with. We will keep 100% of the making in house and maybe get support for other elements of the business, like marketing, PR, sales and so forth.

Where can we find your products?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Spring Salon - On the Horizon

Saturday 19th & Sunday 20th March 2015, 10am – 5pm
Free Entry + Café

On the Horizon by a.musing
Mushroom Works’ Spring Salon exhibition, ‘On the Horizon’ will showcase new work that is inspired by the landscape and structures around us. Whether it’s a particular building, landmark or backdrop, each work asks you to stand ‘on the horizon’ and take a look at the what we all take for granted.

The Spring Salon is a unique open studios event that has the artists and designers around all weekend, so there’s plenty of opportunity to call into their studios, chat about their new work and buying or commission direct from them.

Trinity Square screen print by Bronwen Deane
As ever, we’ll make your stay more comfortable with tempting refreshments and tasty treats courtesy of The French Oven Bakery. So, once you’ve met the artists and designers and found yourself a unique bargain, unwind with a hot drink and something to eat in our little café.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

January Art Sale 2016

Saturday 16th & Sunday 17th January 2016, 12pm – 5pm

Free Entry

Christmas is just round the corner and as thoughts turn to festive fun with family and friends, we’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!!! 

After all the festivities, we know you’ll be looking to get a bargain in the January sales. Not one’s to disappoint, the artists and designers at Mushroom Works will be kicking off the New Year with our sale weekend.  Prices on original works from paintings, furniture, prints, jewellery and other items will be slashed by up to 70%!!!

Walnut ellipse table by James Design

Don’t fight the high street crowds to get something that everyone else has? Come and head down to our sale weekend and find yourself a truly unique piece of work that has been crafted by local artists and designers.

What a clever way to shop for a real bargain...Happy New Year!!