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Textiles were bound to be part of Julius Arthur’s life, given a childhood spent doing crochet and sewing with his mum, and a summer job at Truro Fabrics—one of the UK’s largest fabric shops. Following a fashion design degree and four years working in menswear, Arthur left clothing behind and, from his fabric remnants, fashioned a new calling in quilts. Since 2016, when he transitioned from fashion to contemporary crafts, his textiles practice has gone from strength to strength. With his emerging label, House of Quinn, Arthur is now part of Toast’s inaugural class of New Makers—a mentorship program for designers working in contemporary crafts.

Quilting isn’t the most obvious choice for a young designer with a background in fashion. What drew you to it?
A quilt is about home, daily life, where you’ve been and who you’ve known. It’s about stories and history. I hope people take one of my quilts and 20 years down the line, it’s changed hands and ended up who knows where.

How do you source your materials?
The materials I use all have a second nature. I forage for one-off textiles, buying ends of rolls from suppliers or straight from the factory, or offcuts—things that can’t be used. I look for stories in fabric—I think a fault is the best thing. Maybe it hasn’t come out of the dye vat properly and that color is actually better than the one they were going for in the first place. It’s magical when you discover something that’s perfect for what you need. And then when you work the fabric into an item, it has a second life.

Does your personal history influence your work?
I try not to imbue the work with too much of my own memory. The last collection was called En Tir, which is Cornish for “the land”. My parents are Cornish, and I grew up there. Back then, it was always somewhere I wanted to escape. But now when I go back, I appreciate it—it’s a great chance to reflect. The land is so important to Cornish history, with mining being a major industry. For En Tir, I looked at the landscapes of the old mines, using textures and colors from the rocks, and shapes from traditional tools.

Toast is a clothing company that has expanded into homeware. How does your fashion experience inform your quilt making?
My years in fashion taught me that making is crucial to me, but I don’t want to be dictated to by the seasonal collection model. Quilting is a way for me to make with textiles in a slower, more considered way, outside of fashion’s confines. Working in fashion has also given me an art direction and marketing point of view—useful as a solo maker where you have to wear all the hats.

Is the way you run House of Quinn different now?
When I was making clothes, I was really having to push it. I felt like I was jumping up and down in front of stockists and buyers to get them to notice. But when I started making these quilts, I didn’t have to anymore. I did a photo shoot, put it online and I had so many people contact me: stockists, buyers, press, customers and people that wanted to know about the quilting techniques. The enthusiasm for it makes it worth spending my evenings and weekends on. By integrating into the makers community, I’ve made so many close friends. Now I’m working with Toast, it’s incredible—I still can’t quite believe it’s actually happening!

Does working solo get lonely?
It’s difficult being in complete control; when I first graduated, I didn’t do well without a mentor figure. I do need to be by myself to recharge, but quilting is a long process and I have interns and volunteers that come in to help. I also invite friends, such as doctors who may not be outwardly creative, and show them what to do. They’ll be really good at it and surprise themselves. We become a small community of quilters just chatting away. It’s like history’s repeating itself.

This is the third in a series of profiles produced in partnership with Toast to mark the launch of the New Makers program; a long-term initiative to support emerging makers and foster contemporary craftsmanship. House of Quinn is one of five New Makers selected, alongside Alexandra Hewson, Takahashi McGil, Nicholas Shurey and Blue Firth.

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