Tactility Factory

Tactility Factory is an innovative company set up by Trish Belford and Ruth Morrow, that mainstreams tactility in the built environment. It does this through a range of innovative products and processes that can be used in a variety of contexts.  Their "Infused Concrete Collections" have been the focus of the company and have had application internationally.  The inventive nature of Tactility Factory has won the company many awards over the years.

We spoke with Trish from Tactility Factory about co-founding the company and how they came up with the ideas for their processes.   

How did you come up with your signature techniques?

For 19 years, Trish ran Belford Prints, a company that were known for their high-end fashion fabrics for companies including Vivienne Westwood and John Galliano.  Belford Prints' focus was on screen-printing and the company employed around 30 people.  When digital print became more popular, it changed the game entirely.  Trish felt a lack of inspiration due to the digital process requiring less hands-on tactile work.  She decided to return to Belfast in 2004 to start Academic research into new textiles and accidentally met Ruth Morrow who had also recently returned to the city.  Trish had always been interested in architecture and the built environment and their mutual interests formed the basis of what would eventually become Tactility Factory. A CCOI talk on Textile Design that Trish had to give to architects cemented her interested in this crossover of the different design disciplines.  She decided to start experimenting with how to make hard surfaces "soft" and using a grant bought a concrete mixer to play and experiment initially.  Her experiments included infusing concrete with more delicate materials including lace.  Both Trish and Ruth's fathers had worked in the architecture and construction industries and were definitely an inspiration for their new company.  For Trish, velvet concrete has been one of the most exciting developments at Tactility Factory, because of her use of previous knowledge of the Devoré (chemical process) technique that she used in the 1980s at her previous company Belford Prints. 

What have been some of the most exciting applications of your work?

One of the earliest projects that made Tactility Factory better known was their project for Derry Playhouse, a commission for artwork for the foyer of the building. Starting off creating a smaller concrete art piece initially, the excitement behind such an innovative technique led to the commission being made at a larger scale.   Some of the projects that Tactility Factory has worked on outside of Northern Ireland include large-scale spaces in Dubai, Cairo and Abu Dhabi.  It has been exciting for Trish to work with cultures that work with and appreciate pattern at such a large scale.  An additional benefit of the materials Tactility Factory creates are that they allow building interiors to remain cool which is ideal in hot climates such as those in the Middle East and Africa.

What are you currently researching and working on?

Trish is currently working on an AHRC grant  with MYB Textiles in Scotland - a company that works with wide-width lace in cotton - working with them to reset their machinery to linen and using weaving techniques.  She is also conducting research in to Damask Lace fabrics.