An invitation to creativity

High above the streets of Brixton, Izzy Coyle has been enjoying a six-month opportunity to turn her passion for colour and creativity into a business. Camille Addis Alem finds out more

woman in creative workspace

Community and collaboration are the ideas behind the Fabric Floor – eight storeys up in International House in the centre of Brixton.

Assemble, a multi-disciplinary collective working across architecture, design, fashion and art, converted the former council offices into studios three years ago.

They work in partnership with 3Space which runs International House and are financially supported by Lambeth council.

The idea behind the Fabric Floor’s community-focused approach is to create a workshop that has everything to house and support practitioners from different backgrounds and at different stages in their careers.

fabric artist's work space
Great views

I met Izzy Coyle, a newly graduated student from Chelsea College of Arts and Textile Design, who was awarded a six months free residency by Fabric Floor.

She has always been into art and design. In the beginning, she studied multiple subjects, including photography and textiles, but she then focused on knitting.

She has always been drawn to knit, probably inspired by her mum and grandma.

She describes her work as both “random” and “simple”. “I like to use nice colours, nice textures and interesting structures. So, I guess it kind of stands out in that sense.”

woman in fabric design work space
Izzy Coyle in the Assemble workshop at International House’s Fabric Floor

With its large windows giving the space all the light it needs, the open area where each tenant has a large work table is an invitation to creativity.

Izzy’s corner is rich in colour and unusual objects. Behind her desk where she piles up rolls of different coloured adhesive tape that she finds in hardware stores, there is a big box full of yarn.

Hanging on the wall, are bold striped colour collages and small woollen threads with which she plays around with different colours.

Fabric Floor tenants get 24/7 shared access to a large classroom, a kitchenette and a well-equipped workshop.

It has three industrial lockstitch sewing machines, an A2 heat-press, an industrial steam iron, a heated vacuum table and a four-thread industrial overlocker.

“That helped so much!,” says Izzy. “You can’t do certain things without the equipment.

artist's sketch
Izzy’s notebook

“When you are at uni, it has everything you need, so when you leave you’re like: ‘I don’t have anything’.

The Fabric Floor environment “pushes you to make more stuff as well – because you’ve got more equipment,” Izzy explains.

To make one of the handbags that she calls “bugs” takes her around two or three days. 

Fabric Floor is also a place for exchange, experimentation, new ideas and collaboration.

Izzy tells me: “I love it so much. I prefer to work in a space with people rather than being on my own.

“It’s nice because I talk to people and they give me advice. I can ask for help. And it’s nice to see other people’s practices.

“You take inspiration for other people’s work. You just do, and it pushes you to do more and it makes you think more about what you’re doing.

fabric artist's work space

“It’s always quite busy, people are bouncing around. You can ask them what they’re doing and they ask you.” 

By offering a workplace like this, Fabric Floor offers an alternative solution and encourages a more collaborative economy.

It also encourages interaction with the public through open workshops, training and classes hosted by the tenants.

Exhibitions provide opportunities for local residents and businesses.

Tenants, including Ato StudioBAPTISTECoyle StudioSmith MatthiasStitch-SchoolWhite Weft and Mayya Agayeva will be welcoming the public on Friday 18 February from 5 until 9 pm, at an open studio event – part of London Fashion Week.

When I have asked Izzy to describe her experience, she replied with passion: “I really enjoyed it. Like a lot! I don’t want to leave (laughs)! It’s been the perfect transition between graduating and trying to figure out what to do.

woman with knitting machine
Izzy Coyle at work

“It’s just been nice to kind of figure out what I’m being good at. And I like the building – the light, the space. It’s nice to be here every day.”

Since the beginning of her residency, Izzy Coyle has launched her own business through Instagram where she is selling her beautiful bags.

The next step is setting up her website and offering some new stock to her customers. In the meantime, you can find her work on her Instagram page @IzzyCoyle.

For more information about the availability of space or events at Fabric Floor, visit the website.

For information about Fabric Floor’s sixth-month residency and subsidised graduate desks: