Kaffe Fasset and Brandon Mably: Textile designers who paint with yarn

Touring the world like the rock stars of knitting, Kaffe Fasset and Brandon Mably are two technicolour textile artists whose work explodes with bright patterns.

“There’s nothing shy about it,” says Kaffe Fasset of his colourful textile designs. “Colour is my absolute passion – and that’s what I concentrate on.”

Internationally-renowned textile designer Kaffe Fasset was born in San Francisco in 1937 and moved to England as a student. He instantly fell in love with the various hues of Scottish wools, and knitted his first sweater using 20 different shades of yarn. No one had seen anything like it, and since that first sweater his work has always been unapologetically bright.

I like big scale florals and big geometrics; huge circles and stripes and zigzags. They are very playful, and very pronounced.

In 1988 Fasset became the first living textile designer to put on a one-man show at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. During his career he has designed for Missoni, Barbara Striesand, members the royal family, and magazines including Vogue. Fasset has also put on several exhibitions across the world.

His success, he claims, is in the accessibility of his work. Unlike high brow art, which can be alienating, his wool and cloth pieces are tangible, soft, warm and approachable.

“You made something that people could wear out into the world, so that what you created was mixing with the tapestry of colour in the world.”

Fellow designer Brandon Mably has become an integral part of the Kaffe Fasset studio, collaborating with Fasset on designs, books and exhibitions. The two designers tour the world doing workshops and lectures. Their most recent work focuses on vibrant quilt design.