Textile design is a highly skilled job. It involves creating designs and
patterns for woven and knitted fabrics, carpeting, upholstery and other patterned
or printed surfaces.
Clothing, carpeting and upholstery are obvious textile products. Airplane
wings, linoleum flooring, vinyl wall covering, spacecraft insulation, scuba
diving suits and protective clothing are not-so-obvious products.
Textile designers must know design. They have to understand how the designs
will be produced on machinery or computerized looms. They also need a good
sense of color and creativity.
Art and illustration skills are necessary for this field. "Someone wanting
to go into textiles should have a good eye for color, pattern and market trends,"
says Sue Gundy. She is the principal designer for a textile firm in Seattle.
"They should be a hard worker and be able to work well under pressure.
It is a competitive field."
Jozien Vet is the design director for a velvet and corduroy mill. "Color
perception is extremely important," she says.
A textile designer needs to develop fabric for any piece of machinery.
This means you have to select the fiber type, yarn size and construction method
to match the intended use of the fabric.
Scott Manley is the technical designer for a textile and chemical firm
in South Carolina. He says designing velour fabric for automotive seating,
for example, involves a variety of tasks.
"I am involved heavily in sample scheduling, production troubleshooting,
cost reduction, machinery evaluations, new process evaluations and competitor
research," he says.
The designer will determine color based on the client's needs and desires.
They will then design a pattern and present it to the client for approval.
"My function is to research design and color trends, buy and create designs
and put together the collections for our sales team. I also supply our engravers
with technical, ready-to-engrave artwork," explains Vet.
Textile designers need to be confident speaking in front of a group. Selling
the customer on a concept is often part of the success or failure of a design.
Once the design is approved, the textile designer may serve as liaison
between the mill and the client.
The mill may have questions about the color. Or it may have technical problems
with specialized patterned weaves. The designer will need to figure those
Textile designers work alongside textile engineers and industrial or interior
designers. They may work in a design studio, in manufacturing or as self-employed
Depending on where a textile designer is employed, they may do many different
jobs. Or they might have one specialized area.
One such specialty is textile colorist. A colorist chooses the color combinations
to be used in creating each textile design. Other specialties within the field
include computer-aided textile designer, textile stylist and account executive.
Textile designers working in industry or manufacturing will usually work
eight-hour shifts Monday through Friday. As in any field, overtime or Saturday
work may be required when under deadline.
There are no special physical requirements for this job. In most cases,
the designer works in an office setting, using computers, scanners or pressure-sensitive
tablets to add artwork into the computer and manipulate designs.