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Passion For Beautiful Spaces Drives Chase Woodson to Textile Design, SCAD Interior Design MFA

Chase Woodson in front of her designs in the Textile Design Studio
Woodson in front of pieces from her capstone collection Memory Palace.

When Chase Woodson started college nearly 10 years ago, she thought she’d become a professional writer. 

“I started out as a creative writing major at the Pratt Institute. I was just overwhelmed about investing that much money on such a creative career at such a young age.I was only there for a few weeks and then went back home to Asheville,” she remembers. 

She spent the next few years working jobs around Asheville while gaining experience in the fashion world through internships with designers in New York City. But when it came time to take a leap and apply to school for fashion design, she faced similar concerns about the cost and return on investment for the degree – until she found out about the Wilson College of Textiles B.S. in Fashion and Textile Design. 

“Finally, someone told me about it. And I remember thinking, ‘Wow, a really incredible program close to home where I can pay in-state tuition. What a unique opportunity,” Woodson, who ended up choosing a concentration in textile design, says. 

In the Jacquard weaving lab, inspecting a sample for her FTD Emerging Designers Collection.
In Milan, Italy, last summer for an international textile conference.
Working on a punch needle project for FTD 373.

Now as a senior getting ready to graduate, she’s made that childhood dream of becoming a writer come true, albeit in an unexpected way. Woodson’s senior collection incorporates her writing portfolio into woven and sun-dyed fabrics. 

The collection’s name, Memory Palace, could also be interpreted as a nod to her plans after NC State. Woodson will start earning her Master of Fine Arts in Interior Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) this fall. 

“During my time at Wilson, there were these two concurrent interests blossoming: one being weaving textile art pieces and the other being about interior textiles. And I slowly started to realize that my interest in interiors didn’t stop there,” she says. “I was interested in the structure in the form of a space and the whole interior environment.” 

Which people have influenced you most during your time at NC State?

I would say professors Kate Nartker and Janie Woodbridge, who taught my weaving classes. I think both of them have just really supported my interest in weaving more fine art pieces and encouraged that. They both went out of their way to host an independent study for me and a couple of my classmates. 

They both encouraged me to do the workshop at Penland School for Craft last summer and helped me with the scholarship. They’re both just such great mentors in looking at textiles through the lens of creating art.

What was your experience like at the Penland School for Craft? How did it impact you? 

So Penland is in the mountains of North Carolina, and it’s a nationally renowned arts education center that has workshops and artist-in-residence programs. So last summer I did one of their textiles workshops.  

It’s really interesting because you become so immersed in this school and you’re helping operate it for the time you’re there if you’re on a work study scholarship like I was, so you’re bonding a lot with your classmates. It’s people of all ages and all skill levels participating in the same workshop.

Artists come from all over the world to teach, and my instructor had us focus on the creative process, which was a great balance to the industry and technical knowledge I’d been learning at the Wilson College. It helped strengthen my skills in terms of the artistic process and helped me generate ideas for my senior collection. 

Below: Woodson experiments with sun dyeing at the Penland School for Craft.

How has your textile design education affected you during your application process to SCAD?

I think that it ultimately helped me stand out as a candidate when I was applying to grad schools because it is both so niche and so applicable. And I think it’ll be a strong foundation as I continue.

Everything I’ve learned about the standards that textiles have to pass in order to be used in commercial and contract spaces is really going to come in handy when I start grad school, too. Even my polymer and color chemistry class and what I learned there about textile finishes will be relevant in ways that I probably can’t even fully predict quite yet.  As well as, of course, the more artistic textile design skillset.

What advice would you give to your first-year self? 

Trust your instincts as a designer. Especially when you’re a young person, kind of coming into a new field and a new place. There’s a lot of pressure to prove yourself, and a lot of comparisons that can be made to other people. Especially with Instagram. 

What makes the best designer is just someone who can listen to their inner voice. We have a strong perspective and the closer that you can get to something that feels authentic to you, the better designer you will be. You don’t have to look to these external sources for that validation.