East Midlands pub group The Orange Tree has teamed up with two textile design graduates to create beer tents with a unique look and feel at two of Leicestershire’s most popular music festivals.

The group approached De Montfort University (DMU) textile design graduates Carly Barton, 23, and Nicola Roffe, 22, and asked them to design textile installations and soft furnishings to transform the festival beer tents at Summer Sundae and Strawberry Fields.

Their creations, using lace, silks, vintage fabrics and beads, turned the Orange Tree’s bars at the Summer Sundae festival in Leicester earlier this month into a vintage circus-inspired main bar and a ‘utility chic’ real ale and cocktail bar.

Now their designs are being used for a second time at the festival beer tents at the three-day Strawberry Fields festival, at Cattows Farm, Heather near Coalville, which starts on August 26th.

Suzi Corker from the Orange Tree Group said: “We were inspired by the work we saw at DMU’s end of term degree show and asked if any of the students would be interested in working with us.

“What we wanted was a look that was unique and quirky and that captured the personality of our bars.

“Nicola and Carly have risen to the challenge and have come up with a range of ideas that will turn plain old tents into fun and stylish festival bars.

“We’ve been delighted with their creative approach to problem-solving and the way they’ve interpreted our brief for a funky yet vintage look.”

The graduates worked with donations from Low Woods Furnishings, Belton, near Loughborough.

“We would like to thank Low Woods Furnishings for the generous donation of fabrics for Nicola and Carly to work with,” added Suzi.

Leicester-born Nicola said: “It was a mammoth task, but it was such a great commission to get so soon after graduating that we didn’t want to let the Orange Tree down.

“We’ve been working round the clock to make more than 200 metres of bunting, but it’s all been worth it because the tents are going to look fabulous!”

Carly, from Market Harborough, has been busy scouring Leicester charity shops for the silk scarves and vintage fabrics needed for their decorations.

“Local charity shops have been great for the vintage items we needed – and we’ve also had fabrics donated to us by local businesses,” she said. “But what we’re most proud of is the fact that everything we’re using has been sourced from small independent retailers in Leicester.”

The independent Orange Tree Group has six bars across the East Midlands, with four venues in Leicester – the newest addition being The Basement in Wellington Street. The bars have a reputation for their laid-back feel and quirky retro styling.


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