The Project

SPiDA (Smart Print: Inspiring the Digital Artisan) aims at piloting a digital smart print database with the vision of transforming the consumer into a digital artisan, leading to the deconstruction of the mass-market fashion machine. The project first proposes to create a large digital database of antique motifs from an extensive historical archive of over 50,000 wallpapers and textiles dating from the early 18th century. The creation of this large digital mix-and-match motif, pattern database will not only preserve and immortalise the beautiful timeless motifs but will provide a pioneering resource for the second stage of the project which is the creation of unique mix-and-match design, the exploration of new possibilities and the refining of digital design processes.  The third stage of the project involves the collaboration with our partners to produce a range of wallpapers showcasing this unique design process to be launched at a high-profile European interiors trade-show. The vision is for this digital database to form a globally-accessible digital platform that could be used by the design-novice consumer to create and personalise print, to express their identity and to create personalised products in smart factories.


Interview with the Maker: Cheryl O'Meara

Hi, I’m Cheryl and am the owner of a huge design resource of 50,000 antique wallpapers and textiles housed at Islington Mill. With over 20 years design & entrepreneurial business experience, I'm passionate about and have a clear vision for a conscious and democratic future of fashion. I’ve always been obsessed with print and pattern design and I am now proud to be inspiring top fashion and home brands across the world with my archive and designs.

How did you get involved in the OpenMaker project?

The OpenMaker project was introduced at Islington Mill.  It was incredibly timely as my own passion for digitising and innovating within my archive and industry was tying in with grand visions and plans to challenge social structures around consumerism at the Mill.  I was also developing a relationship with a manufacturer which had been sparked by a residency for The Manchester International Festival.  The OpenMaker scheme came along and tied everything together.  I was so excited to find out that our visions could be supported through European funding.

What are the main strengths and challenges of a maker-manufacturer partnership?
I think we have a lot to learn from each other. There will be challenges from creativity and design limitations, managing expectations and project management. I’m looking forward to bringing the strengths of our creativity, vision and experience together to create a new production path.  
Dream big! What would be the greatest achievement for your project?

We want everyone to be ‘digital artisans’! Having fun curating their own individual garments and enjoying the process, we can reducing the consumption of ‘throw away’ products that end up in landfill and feel socially connected on a local level. Another amazing achievement would be to see the growth of a global digital platform of user uploaded motifs that grow organically in trends and take on a life of it’s own.

Finally, do you have any fun fact to share?

On the subject of innovation, at Islington Mill we have been working with biodata to produce individualised motifs for print. We recently created a ‘bioprint kimono’ where my biodata was taken by using a pulsometer and put through a simple code to create this Japanese style motif that was totally unique to me. Our OpenMaker partner then printed it onto fabric for us and we had a local maker turning it into a kimono for us (see picture). We are true Digital Artisans! I’m so in tune with pattern I think it’s in my DNA!  That wonderful point when just the right colours and tones merge with just the right motifs and it forms that thing of beauty to the eye…heaven!  In contrast, when patterns clash, and I mean badly clash, not in a good way, it is just horrible.  I recall a sleepless night once in horrifically clashing bedding…..that really was a nightmare!