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Maria Heath

Maria Heath, 2020 BA (Hons) Illustration graduate, Wolverhampton School of Art, University of Wolverhampton

Title of Piece: Furoshiki Surface Pattern Designs


I wanted my Final Major Project to address a topic that I am personally passionate about: protecting the environment by pursuing a sustainable lifestyle. I decided to work on a collection of surface pattern designs for a furoshiki, a kind of eco-friendly, reusable, multipurpose wrapping cloth that is traditional in Japan.

I initially planned to design patterns based on objects that could be wrapped in a furoshiki. I changed my mind in March after I came back to my family home in Kamakura (a city just south of Tokyo) because of the coronavirus pandemic. My neighbourhood is very green. Going for walks helped to ease my anxiety about the future. Wildflowers along the roadside made my walks colourful and joyful. I also found academic articles on the positive effects of flowers and nature on people’s mental health. These experiences motivated me to design a pattern collection based on wildflowers in my neighbourhood in Japan. Furoshiki with floral patterns could have a double benefit: environmental and mental.

The pandemic forced me to adjust my plans for production of the final product. I originally planned to have my patterns printed on real sustainable fabrics such as recycled cotton and hemp. Also, I originally planned to do a collaborative photoshoot with a photographer. Neither of these plans was possible after I came back to Japan. I decided to make fabric mockups for the time being. I hope to do a picnic-themed photoshoot at West Park in the future.

After graduating, I plan to spend a year doing internships at design studios in Tokyo, working on self-initiated projects, and preparing a portfolio that is suitable for an MA textile design course. In 2021, I aim to start an MA textile design course in Helsinki, London, or Edinburgh. During my MA course, I hope to work on sustainable, eco-friendly textile design collections using natural dyes and recycled materials.

My Experience:

I spent the last few months of the course working alone at my family home in Japan. This period was not my favourite part of the course because I missed being at university, but it was definitely the most productive. Plus, I had time to think carefully about what I really want to do in the future. I rediscovered my love for interiors and fashion, and I became determined make a transition from visual communication to surface pattern and textile design. I can’t wait to see my tutors and course mates at graduation in 2021.