Macclesfield is the home of silk manufacturing in the UK and RA Smart is the jewel in its crown. The works of this special silk printing specialist can be seen in most of the major department stores, on catwalks across the globe, and at University Arms, a hotel in Cambridge for which we designed a bespoke uniform solution.
Field Grey have been collaborating with Robert Keyte Silks Ltd, who partner with RA Smart to produce premium quality printed and woven products. Last month, we took a Field Trip to Cheshire to visit RA Smart, have a tour of their factory, and see one of our latest projects being printed in the flesh.
The output of this special silk printing specialist can be seen in most of the major department stores and on catwalks across the globe, and now at University Arms, an Iconic hotel in Cambridge, which has been lovingly restored to its former glory and for which Field Grey recently designed a bespoke uniform solution.
Established in 1972, RA Smart has been at the forefront of pioneering technology since the popularity of digital printing took hold of the industry in the early 1990s. The roster of clients at RA Smart reads like a who’s who of international fashion, and they even manufacture print equipment.
With the ability to print on a range of materials, including cotton, silk, polyester, and wool, it is no wonder that the factory is hive of activity when we arrive. Machines old and new whirl and print at speed, surrounded by shelves of sumptuous silks.
During our visit, we had the privilege to see the printing of our bespoke scarves designed for University Arms.
The scarf design was inspired by the heritage of the hotel’s building, the oldest hotel in Cambridge, set alongside the city common, known as Parker’s Piece. In an attempt to add versatility to the concept we created a versatile print inspired by Hermes that works as a feature for both the University Arms front of house teams and the team at Parker’s Tavern, the hotel’s ground floor brasserie.
Inspired by an original aerial view print of the coronation feast in 1838, held at Parker’s Piece. The vibrant tangerine and fresh ‘Cambridge’ blue reflect the hotel’s interiors and pairs perfectly with our bespoke uniform solution. The Parker’s Tavern section of the print references traditional cutlery and tableware paired with the brands rich, warm yellow. The scarves are printed with acid dyes for a vibrant effect.
We’ll be revealing our University Arms project in full very soon, but in the meantime, here are some images from a fabulous tour of the factory: