For Ren Valuzyte, an interest in repurposing provided the artistic spark to turn a bag of wood offcuts into a textile printing start-up.
“I’ve always yearned to do something creative. I simply hadn’t found a medium to sink myself into, which has a lot to do with not giving myself the time to explore my options.”
It was a set of beautiful wooden bowls made by family friend, Nick Agar, which ignited a desire to complete a wood-turning course. This in turn led to Ren acquiring her own mini lathe and an opportunity to share the studio of a friend who was a joiner. The transition to textiles happened when Ren discovered a little waste bag full of wood offcuts in the studio. “Simple, basic shapes that were destined to become kindling, which I thought might be interesting to repurpose.
I’m very glad I finally took a leap into the creative world. While self-doubt does seep in from time-to-time about not having had training, it can also feel really liberating not having to adhere to any rules, but simply follow your gut instincts.”
I first met Ren while attending Top Drawer 2016. I was struck by the combination of the beautiful simplicity of her patterns, muted colour palette and tactility of her natural fabrics. Initially the surface pattern made me think the fabrics were screenprinted. However, Ren explained her fabrics were actually block printed.
“I give great consideration to the patterns I create. It is important the patterns do not overshadow the natural beauty of the linen and result in a fresh, contemporary feel.”
Ren was inspired by the art of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Malevich, and Agnes Martin when creating pieces for her current collection. She says the fabric colour palette leans towards neutrals so she can be more experimental or bold with the colour of the print.
Ren’s fabric designs offer flexibility, and work equally well in a Scandinavian or Modern Country interior style. Their colour palette makes it easy to mix and match, and blend into current interior schemes. Her latest collection includes cushions, throws, hand towels, napkins, and table runners.
“Fabric is appealing to work with because I see it as functional art that can be loved and used to elevate every day experiences – using a handprinted set of linen napkins while enjoying a long, leisurely breakfast; or taking a throw to a beach to enjoy a moment of stillness. I imagine how and where someone might use a product I’ve made and how it might make that moment more beautiful or enjoyable.
I have a connection to natural, quality fabrics thanks to my grandmother who spent nearly 40 years weaving fabric in a Lithuanian flax mill. She taught me to choose natural, breathable fabrics for a healthier living. Through her, I arranged to meet with one of her old colleagues and I am now proud to source my linen from this very same mill.
I tend to select mid-weight linen because I find it to be the most versatile as it drapes beautifully and is great for making a set of napkins as well as a dress.”
Ren will be launching a small womenswear collection in March 2017. “I’ve created understated, relaxed clothing focused on clean silhouettes in soft, breathable linens. I hope to grow this range and continue to add pieces that are simple and timeless in gorgeous natural fabrics. I’ve chosen to produce my clothing right here in Britain and am very proud to support local industry.”
Featured image: ‘Kelly’ linen table runner, © Image Copyright, Ren London.
Clockwise from top left: ‘Agnes’ rectangle cushion; ‘Anni’ linen throw; ‘Ellsworth’ giant cushion; ‘Agnes’ cool linen towel; ‘Otis’ navy linen cushion; ‘Moholy’ linen throw. All images supplied © Image Copyright, Ren London.