Maker spotlight – Kamilah Ahmed


Kamilah Ahmed’s embroidered and hand wrapped textiles merge contemporary processes with heritage craft techniques to create fresh and elaborate finishes that celebrate making traditions within contemporary interior and fashion contexts. The interdisciplinary approach to her work takes inspiration from Jamdani which combines weaving with hand embroidery simultaneously on the loom.

Drawing on her experience as an Embroidery Designer for European brands such as Christian Dior, Valentino, Attico, Dolce & Gabbana and Mourad whilst working in Italy, Kamilah has equally designed and made embroidery for London based businesses such as McQueen, Victoria Beckham, Ralph & Russo, Alonuko and Annabel’s Members’ Club. More recently she has joined us at Cockpit as the inaugural recipient of The New Craftsmen Award in 2021.

A recipient of many Awards and Prizes, including The Worshipful Dyers’ Guild Travel Award, a Royal Needlemakers’ Bursary and the Monsoon Accessorize RCA Collaboration Prize.

With the recent launch of this year’s New Craftsmen Award, we caught up with our 2021 recipient to find out how she’s using her time at Cockpit.

Q. What are you working on at the moment?
I am excited to be part of an international Artists commission funded by the British Council and TARA theatre to collaborate on Artists Make Space, pairing seven Bangladesh based artists with seven UK based artists to co-create new exploratory works to be showcased in Dhaka, Sylhet, Chittagong, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, and London. Working with Britto Arts Trust and commissioned by the British Council, Tara Theatre will present the final works from the collaboration through a series of bespoke events this autumn and winter.

Q. What difference has the Award made to your development and the development of your practice and business so far?
So far, the process has been challenging and transformative, I am constantly encouraged to look at and assess the business, practical and visibility aspects of my service/brand as a maker. I have received expert guidance enabling me to better focus and identify areas which need attention and building on, whilst being part of an amazing support network and creative community.

I have had several one to one sessions with my Cockpit business coach, David Crump, where we have worked on how to further build and develop my embroidery service, ways to best guide clients through my practice, establish the most appropriate methods of working and ways to further develop my service. I have had a couple of sessions with another coach, Judith Tolley, to gain another perspective on the fashion related service and the prioritising of tasks in order to build and develop my service and work towards product providing me with some very useful complimentary approaches.

Q. And what is coming up next?
I am looking forwards to exhibiting at the London Craft Week Textile + Surface exhibition featuring work from a range of wonderful Cockpit based textile makers in the South Bank’s Bargehouse from May 11-15th. I will equally be giving a demonstration of my practice as part of London Craft Week at Cockpit’s event Secrets of the Workshop alongside wood carver and sculptor Clunie Fretton, where we will give an insight into our craft processes from our Bloomsbury studios.

I am excited to create new textile processes alongside The New Craftsmen for lighting and looking forward to showcasing new hand and digital sample ranges at Cockpit’s Open Studios events.