Cassie Byrnes, Textile Designer: In Conversation

On Saturday 11 November I had the pleasure of conducting an interview with the textile designer Cassie Byrnes as part of the Duldig Studio's Creative Women in Conversation series running in conjunction with the exhibition Slawa: Modernist Art and Design. https://www.duldig.org.au

Cassie graduated from RMIT's textile design course in 2014 and since then has worked from her home in Melbourne producing designs for local and international clients. Cassie works across textiles, packaging, home wares and fashion. In 2016 she launched her fashion collection Variety Hour on line. The tops, skirts and shift dresses feature her signature bold prints which are inspired by the environment around her, the rich flora of Australia to the landscape of America which she visited on her honeymoon. 

 Variety Hour. Image courtesy Cassie Byrnes.

Variety Hour. Image courtesy Cassie Byrnes.

Cassie was born and raised in Mackay, North Queensland. After studying interior design in Brisbane she discovered her passion for textiles and moved to Melbourne to study textile design. Cassie said she was drawn to designing for textiles when she became fascinated with how patterns literally made their way onto the textiles. In her very fresh way, Cassie stated that she was curious about the process, asking 'How did the pattern get there?' This is synonymous with the very active way Cassie works her designs. Nothing is passive; they do not just happen. Cassie spends many hours developing each design, starting with concept notes, selecting colours and hand-painting dozens of small sample cards.

Cassie describes her process as very 'old school'. She starts exploring and developing her designs using the old-fashioned brush, paint and paper. It is not until the final stage that Cassie works up her designs on the computer so that they can be printed digitally. The lengthy time it takes for her to develop a design means Cassie becomes emotionally attached to her work. She states that for about every 100 ideas she produces, about twenty may be of value and ten are taken through into a final product. 

 Image courtesy Cassie Byrnes.

Image courtesy Cassie Byrnes.

Although her works start with well-developed concepts on paper, Cassie is emphatic that she is a designer and not an artist. She states that she is always thinking of the end product and the consumer. The majority of her clients are internationally-based and Cassie has found they discovered her via her website or through other postings on the internet. In a symbiotic way, while her work originates in hard copy, technology leads prospective clients to her door. Cassie has produced package designs for Haagen Dasz icecream, a book cover for Penguin Books and textiles for Linen House, the Philadelphia-based label Anthropologie and for the Australian fashion label Kuwaii.

Cassie describes herself as a 'big print' designer and when working on designs for garments she is very mindful of the placement of the pattern so that it looks good on the body. Considering the scale and bold use of colour in her designs, I wondered whether she found there was ever any tension between colour and the pattern. Cassie whimsically stated that they are 'friends' and that she always conceives of a pattern with specific colours and therefore does not create designs in different colourways.

See more of Cassie's designs at http://www.cassiebyrnes.com

 Honeymoon collection, Variety Hour label. Image courtesy Cassie Byrnes.

Honeymoon collection, Variety Hour label. Image courtesy Cassie Byrnes.