Saffie Pluck is a textile designer, maker, and founder of clothing and accessories brand Pluck'd Designs. She lives and works in London.
It was her love of urban cycling and "dislike of garish hi-vis bibs" that led textile designer Saffie Pluck to spot a gap in the market for clothing that "pays particular attention to the city dweller who wants everyday products that transform into reflective pieces at night, lighting them up in their urban jungle." Starting Pluck'd Designs in 2015, Saffie's first and current collection, 'Urban Wear', features a selection of colourful hand knitted hats, scarves and gloves made using locally sourced materials. We sat down with her to find out more.
what is your design background?
I graduated from Central Saint Martins (CSM) in 2014 with a BA in Product Design. After working for a few design shops and studios, I decided to pursue my interest in textiles, leading me to start my own company, Pluck'd Designs, which I work on when I'm not working part-time for a local knitwear company.
how would you describe PLUCK'D designs?
Pluck'd Designs is a brand that values the everyday, offering accessories and clothing that can be worn during the day and transform into reflective pieces at night.
what motivated you to start PLUCK'd designs?
Pluck'd Designs came about from my interest in combining functionality with aesthetics. Although I am an avid urban cyclist, I don't own any tech or high performance bike gear and dislike the garish hi-vis bibs people often wear. This led me to think about the changing shift in urban cyclists, and the fact that more people are turning to cycling as their way of getting around the city. I realised that a lot of cyclists, like me, were in need of stylish, versatile and functional clothing options that could be worn during the day and at night. I saw a gap in the market for reflective, urban wear and decided to go for it.
how do your surroundings and community affect your work?
I am lucky to live in a busy, vibrant city and my work is greatly inspired, subconsciously and consciously, by the everyday colours and textures that I see around me. Whilst studying for my degree, I spent a lot of time taking rubbings and pictures of the textures I came across and this hands-on approach greatly influenced me when I went on to design my own reflective material. Cornwall has also been a great inspiration for the colours and materials that I use. One stretch of coastline in Cornwall can have many colours and textures as the weather changes throughout the day, which I find fascinating. Also the designer/maker community that I am a part of are a great bunch of talented people, and I find that having their support allows me to prosper and develop as a designer and maker.
All your products are made 'by hand in London using locally sourced materials and manufacturers'. why is it important to you to work in this ethical way?
The UK has such a rich history in terms of handmade products and local materials. I think it is important to celebrate your own heritage and culture, and to source locally if possible. There are so many amazing mills and textile specialists within the UK that provide excellent services and high quality materials that go back generations. It is great when you can acknowledge their expertise and skills, and use it within your own products. I have been working with mills in West Yorkshire and Cornwall for a few years now, and have such a good relationship with them. I think all of this is important when building a brand that cares about how its products are made, as you need high quality materials to make beautiful handmade products.
How do you balance creativity with commerce?
As a fairly small business, it can be a struggle managing both the design and business side of a brand. I try to work on new designs at least two days a week, using the rest of the time to juggle social media, accounting and fulfilling orders. The nature of my designs also mean that I am not having to come out with new products every season, as I have adopted a slow-design approach. I prefer to make everyday timeless wear instead of products that change with new trends. This removes the stress that accompanies high fashion, for example, and allows me to develop new ideas naturally.
Which product designers do you particularly admire?
I particularly like product designers who respond to everyday problems with tactile solutions. Benjamin Hubert, founder or Layer design, has a great exploratory approach that he applies to UX and industrial design. Hella Jongerius is another favourite of mine. She explores the intersection between handmade objects and new technologies, and produces amazing furniture and products that feature craftsmanship and industrial processes. Other designers I admire include Sugru inventor Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh and industrial designer Dieter Rams. My contemporaries from CSM are also a great group of inspirational designers, and I can't wait to see what we all individually venture into.
What five things in your studio could you not work without?
My knitting machine because it speeds up the process of making and allows me to reach more customers.
My spinning wheel because it enables me to quickly make and refine samples to test their functionality and ply chunky wool to use when knitting the reflective snoods. I also find the action of spinning or plying yarn very therapeutic, so often like to use it when I have had a particularly tough or busy week.
My industrial sewing machine which I love because it's sturdy and reliable.
My newly made pegboard because it is great for product shots and allows me to take really quick photos against a neutral background.
My locally made embosser which I use for all my packaging, product sleeves and letters. I would urge every business to get one!
What does success in Life & Business look like to you?
Success in life is happiness, creative fulfilment and a good work/life balance. In business, I think that you are successful if you are able to create a working situation that can evolve as your life changes and takes on new challenges. Also when speaking to a fellow young designer recently, we both agreed on the importance of finding time to enjoy what you are doing. If you are able to do that, then the rest will fall into place.
What do you love About your JOB?
I love interacting with my customers and seeing how they respond to my products. There is nothing better than seeing the expression of a happy customer and knowing that I have made something that they can cherish and use everyday.
Which women do you admire and why?
I admire any woman who knows what she wants to achieve in life and goes out there and gets it! I belong to the London Local Etsy team, which is a brilliant network of women who set up local events and opportunities. The support and backing I get from these ladies helps to motivate me in my work and makes me realise how lucky I am to be doing something that I love. I also admire the artist and sculptor Rachel Whiteread who opened my eyes to unthought-of combinations and textures, as well as questioning the everyday!
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Unisex Adult Slouchy Brimmed Reflective Hat & Scarf