Cloth embroidery has rarely ventured beyond local borders, until a sizeable group of designers have taken on the task of restoring and updating a textile tradition that was almost on the brink of extinction. It was and is incredibly elaborate work, which not only requires an extra dose of dedication, but is also an activity which produces regular discouragement. However, a new batch of design offerings have forged a new avenue of expression in this field, creating a new visual language.

Zuzana Lalikova, a designer who has been based in London for several years since she began her training in design and fashion, is one of the new voices clamouring to find a space in the world of design to explore this old technique.

Large-format textile embroidery by designer Zuzana Lalikova.

Originally from Slovakia, Zuzana’s cultural background is full of unique traditions from the area where she grew up, which led her to become interested in old uses of traditional technology and create new techniques based on these customs. Interested in the combination of old techniques and new materials, her work, some impressively presented in 3D, are hand-made to preserve that extra touch of artisan made pieces.

Work done on linen and finishing detail.

1. ¿What led you to take an interest in cloth embroidery, especially now at a time when this sort of work is almost obsolete?
I have always been interested in value we put on human labour and how thast´s been affected by the development of technology. An example from the past would be the invention of a sewing machine. Instead of producing more clothes faster, the garments bécame more complicated. Which is why I have decided to keep traditional craft at the core of my practice. With that also comes slow production. Fewer pieces but very well made.

2. ¿How does this apply to the work process?
I usually become interested in the technique first and then think about the materials and designs that would work with the technique the best and also pushed it forward.

3 ¿You’ve said that you are very influenced by traditions. Where did your interest in this type of artisanal work come from?
I grew up in Slovakia watching my grandmother and mother who would alway stitch or knit or sew or crochet. So I think you could say it is in my blood.

Penelope´s series embroidery dream.

Work from the same collection.

Part of the same exposure.

4. ¿Is it difficult to stand out in the world of design as a textile artisan?
I am still working on that.

5. ¿How important is the finishing and the design to the quality of the work?
They are both equally important, I think. It is not enough to just have a great idea you also need a great skill to be able to execute that idea.

6. ¿Which one is the part of your work that gives you more satisfaction, and which one is instead the one that you like the least?
I love making, experimenting and thinking up new projects. Promoting and selling my work I enjoy a lot less.

Tessellations collection embroidered on linen fabric hand-made.

Zuzana portrait with one of the pieces in the Tessellations collection.
Detail of the meticulous work performed by the designer.

7. ¿Which are the main features that identify your work? Is it possible to summarize them into three representative key concepts?
Use of geometry and colour, Large scale, or traditional craft that is dying out.

8. ¿Where do you look for your inspiration’s main sources? ?
Great thing about living in London is that it’s full of amazing museums and galleries.I love the V&A it’s always great to visit and see anything from ancient to contemporary design. I also love looking at old embroidery books on folk art and vintage magazines about craft diy.

9. ¿The act of fabricating firsthand and using your hands is an inescapable necessity to guarantee particular product quality?
I think quality of making comes with practice and dedication and anyone could do what I do if they invested enough time into it.

10. ¿Who is the next in your projects?
I am currently working on some large scale embroidery with paper. And am also planning to teach some embroidery workshops

Textile piece performed on traditional frame used to hand-made embroidery.



Photos: Zuzana Lalikova / Alessia Palombo.

This article is also available in Español