Tess Murdoch, Textile Designer & Artist

 "Comfort Yields Confidence"
Notes on Color, Composition, & Texture

I try to be in constant gratitude for making it through the traumas of my past and allow those experiences to inform my present work in unexpected ways.

Tess Murduch in studio

Photo of Tess by Samyukta Easwaran

Hi! I grew up in Los Angeles, California and went to colleges on the east and west coasts. I recently lived in Colorado, working for Ranchlands, running New Hue Textile Studio with Susan Haldeman and helping found Textiles West for several years before moving to New York late last summer. I moved here to be part of the first cohort attending Parsons School of Design’s MFA Textiles program. I just wrapped up my first year and have one more year to go!


Tess Murdock's studio set up

How did you get into textile design?
I was studying fashion design during summer programs throughout high school and attended Rhode Island School of Design’s Pre-College Program where I completed the textile design intensive course. I fell in love with textile design right then and there and knew it was what I wanted to pursue.

What do you think is your biggest talent?
I am often told my biggest talents are how I combine colors, curate images and create moods, but I would like to think that the way I make connections between all people, places and the things around me is my greatest strength.

How do you incorporate your talent for work?
Connection for me manifests in color, composition, and texture. I studied painting as an undergraduate and I believe I am still painting only with cloth, yarns and dyes rather than oil paints. I am currently combining weaving, machine knitting and hand-dyeing yardage to create new surfaces and interactions between materials.

Textile design by Tess Murdoch

What do you like the most about your career?
I have been really fortunate to have worked for some incredible women since I was 14 and consider many of them mentors. I believe it is important to always be open to new perspectives and ways of seeing and thinking and am very grateful for the continued support from these mentors in my life. I am currently most excited about engaging with my peers from all over the world in my graduate program and am thrilled to see how they continue to prosper and grow.

What do you think sets your work apart from others? 
My personal history and the obstacles I overcame in my past sets my work apart from others. I try to be in constant gratitude for making it through the traumas of my past and allow those experiences to inform my present work in unexpected ways; the processes of making by hand create new avenues of healing and that is often what my work is about.

What do you wish to accomplish with your textile designs?
I want to create textiles that educate the consumer! I hope that manufacturing, labor practices, fiber content and disposal will become understood exchanges between designer/brand and end user and that fast fashion will cease to exist. I deeply admire what Rebecca Burgess has done with Fibershed and hope these circular systems can be implemented by manufacturers nationwide which could lead to the reestablishment of mills in this country and the possible resurrection of a new kind of localized circular economy.

Tess Murdock selfie in front of textile designs

How would you describe your style and personality?
I would describe my personal style like so, "comfort yields confidence".

What is your go-to outfit?
A linen shirt tucked into some high waisted jeans and Chelsea boots.

Is your fashion style in line with your textile designs?
I tend to wear a lot of pops of red, indigo blues, blushes and chartreuse so yes, there is definitely a color correlation between my work and what I wear! I also usually wear natural fibers like cotton, silk, linen and wool so those choices are also reflected in my work as well.

Do you follow fashion trends? What is your favorite fashion trend right now?Although I don’t consider this a fleeting trend but a lasting movement, it has been empowering to see the fashion world become more inclusive of ethnicities, genders and body types. There is a lot of work to be done within the industry in terms of honoring intersectionality but the steps being made have been encouraging.

Tess Murdock's colorful closet

What are some of your favorite brands/ style icons? 
I follow brands like Eckhaus Latta, Rodarte, my dear friend Bri’s jewelry line, The Universe Conspires, which is all about empowering the individual through adornment, Vivienne Westwood, Prada, Iris van Herpen, Fragmentario, (Mari is a mentor and prolific designer,) Alexander McQueen, Etro for the rich textiles, COMME des GARÇONS (Rei Kawakubo is definitely a style icon). I have always been inspired by Issey Miyake as well. Style icons…I have to say Bjork, Solange, FKA Twigs and Paloma Elsesser!
How do you repurpose clothing?
I often keep my clothes for many years and will mend tears, put patches on rips and over-dye garments that become stained or discolored with time. I try to give all my clothes extended life cycles when I can.

Where are some of your favorite places to shop?
I definitely stick with thrifting most of the time but if I need some timeless essentials, Everlane is a company that I trust. Eileen Fisher is also a wonderful company with strong values.

Textile design by Tess Murdoch


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