Lora Avedian is a London-based multidisciplinary artist with a focus on mixed media textiles. Her embroidery work is recognisable for her delicate, almost ethereal floral designs in beautiful, rich colours and fabrics. She has collaborated with the likes of The V & A, the Barbican Centre, and Fortnum & Mason to name a few and her work can be found on The New Craftsmen. In 2018, Lora also took on a residency with the Barbican in which she designed their first ever Christmas decorations.
We stopped by Lora’s South London home on a rainy September afternoon to get an insight into her craft and intricate designs. When we visited, Lora was awaiting the birth of her second child and just a week later, her son arrived much earlier than expected; Lora is now enjoying maternity leave until summer 2022.
What inspired your decision to study a Masters?
I decided to go back to studying textiles after six years of working freelance as a set designer and stylist for advertising and fashion. Even though I loved the industry and worked with so many wonderful people, I didn’t like how wasteful it was. I would work hard to make beautiful props for shoots and then they would be thrown away at the end of the day. I decided I wanted to make beautiful things that would be kept for a long time. I was always thinking about textiles projects and worked for a few different people on the side doing hand embroidery, so I always kept my toe in. I had wanted to do the Mixed-Media Textiles MA at the Royal College of Art for years, and after working in industry, I felt like I had learnt so much about working as a team and designing – it really benefitted me going into the textile industry.
What inspired you most to create your beautiful book ‘Stitch in Bloom’?
Creating a book is something I had always thought I would like to do, because I like the idea of creating a visual language with my work in lots of different formats. Working in collaboration with people is an important part of my work, and it was great to work with so many talented people on this. It also gave me an opportunity to really examine one technique (couching stitch) and really analyse why I like it so much and understand the breadth of the stitch.
Who are your biggest influences?
I get inspired by many different people and things all the time, often it’s the work of unknown designers and artists I have found at a car boot sale or found in some online archive. I have been lucky enough to have very inspiring people teach me at different stages of my life. Karen Nicol, and Fiona Curran who were my tutors at BA and MA, and Celia Pym who taught me at the RCA.
I’m always really inspired by photography, especially fashion or still life. I particularly love Suzie Howell and Nadine Ijewere, whom I have worked with in my previous life as a set designer. The collaborations of photographer Tim Walker and set designer Shona Heath have inspired me since I was at university – it’s something about creating that fantastical world that got me into set design in the first place and has translated into the way I work now. Other people I also love right now are painter Laura Gee, artist Mark Hearld and artist Freyja Lee.
Where do you shop when looking for vintage fabric?
I go to markets, car boot sales and charity shops and have spent years seeking out dealers who specialise in vintage fabrics and trims. Some of my favourite places are Kempton Market and Portobello Road whenever I get a chance to go to either – also the Hammersmith Vintage Fair is one of my favourites.
As 2021 draws to a close, do you have any new projects that you’d like to share?
I recently launched an exclusive scarf design for the Victoria & Albert Museum shop, which is available online as well as in their museum shop in London. I chose a design for a chair tapestry by May Morris from the V&A archive to inspire the design, and I translated it into embroidery, using scrap material from previous projects. The scarf is also woven in a micro mill in Scotland using Donegal wool, which means it’s all made in the UK using sustainable materials.
I’ve also just launched a collection of six original framed collages inspired by my favourite late summer flowers, and some really beautiful Ottoman Empire paper cuts I found in the British Museum online archive. They are now available to purchase from The New Craftsmen.
What are you reading or listening to at the moment?
I’m not a huge reader, I just never have the time, but I do have a lot of reference and technical making books. I bought a Poole pottery book recently which is my new favourite – I find ceramics really inspiring and this has such stunning designs in it. I listen to a lot of podcasts when I am working, some of my favourites are This American Life, 99% Invisible and Seriously… BBC audio documentaries.
Your work involves the use of scrap and vintage materials – is sustainability important to you?
Yes it is – using scrap materials has always been something I have done, partly because I find it hard to throw materials away, but I also love the quality of older trims and materials. For example, I have pieces of 1940s rayon and ribbons that have such different weight and quality to them to new materials. I like working with fabric that I find at markets that might be deadstock or small amounts because it feels far more special knowing that something is limited edition. I don’t like to produce masses of one thing, it’s just not how I want to work. When I was at the RCA, I wrote a design philosophy as part of my final project and working with sustainable materials as well as limiting the numbers of each design I make was part of that. I have made a point of continuing to work in this way.