July 2014 ISSUE 3
An independent magazine aimed at bringing the works of the young and talented to the whole world. Believing in ideas, thoughts and concepts, Garde Magazine follows the principle of simplicity and honesty.
Founders Cleo Tse
Copy Editor Marie-Josee Kelly
Creators Olivia Holland
Joo Hyung Park
Rosa Nussbaum Florence Shaw Carlo Volpi
Contributors Kristine Basilio Tammy Ha Jessica Ha
firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
CREATIVITY IS AS IMPORTANT AS
LITERACY Ken Robinson
Thank you for reading issue 3.
Originally, we thought about using textiles as the sole theme for this particular issue, since we recently came across so many talented people in this field. However, if we dedicated a whole issue to a single art subject, we realised we wouldnâ€™t be catering to the individual tastes of all our readers. With more variations added, we hope we can attract more of you. After the first 2 issues, we learned a lot about how to improve our magazine. A lot of readers have taken the time to provide us with their opinions, which we hold of great value. We need your opinions to better ourselves. Thus, we have made a number of changes that hopefully will freshen up your perspectives of creativity. First of all, we have explored three new subjects: Textiles, Print and Time-based Media and Goldsmithing, Silversmithing, Metalwork & Jewellery. The new expedition of creativity does not only enrich our minds, but also provides us with a new chance for creators to tell us about their artistic journeys. Secondly, we have tried something new in the layout design of the magazine. Although there is still
a specific format that we are using, it has been quite different from what we have had previously. We hope the new reading experience will make it easier and more comfortable for you to read. The styles of creators have become more varied than the two previous issues. We have participated in more in-depth talks and have bettered our communication with creators. By doing this, we understood their works and thoughts in a more thorough way in order to pass on the creative knowledge and experiences to our readers. Finally, several creators in this issue have contributed to our magazine by writing up their own biographies and sharing their first-hand experiences with us in first person. We thank you for the time you have spent in doing so and thank you for giving readers and ourselves the opportunity to take a closer look into your personal creative styles. Happy reading!
Cleo & Natasha
CONTENT Olivia Holland // Textiles Discoveries made through colour
Carlo Volpi // Textiles Knitwear salvation
Rosa Nussbaum // Print and Time-based Media Bold, daring and artistic
Joo Hyung Park // Goldsmithing, Silversmithing, Metalwork & Jewellery The connection between my hands and thoughts
Kelvin Kwok // Fashion Design I love it, therefore I do it
Joo Hyung Park
Florence Shaw // Illustration
Fulfilling a desire to communicate and influence
Melanie Sanh // Textiles Designing her own path
Monica Velasquez // Music Emotional sounds
Julie Usel // Goldsmithing, Silversmithing, Metalwork & Jewellery Julieâ€™s jewels
OL I V I A
HOLLAND Discoveries made through colour
With her love for colours, patterns and shapes, Olivia Holland has no doubt about pursuing her studies in knitwear and transferring it into a solid profession in the future. Having graduated from Chelsea College of Art and Design, this colour lover has paved her way to devoting most of her time and energy into her passion. About Olivia “I love playing with colours. I like to express my passion in my textiles, but in a more refined, planned way than when I paint,” said Olivia. Other than knitting, which requires more time and skills, Olivia also enjoys painting. “I have wanted to be a designer for a long time, yet I was never specifically set on doing textiles. My work seemed to gradually veer towards textiles and so the profession into textile design
happened very naturally.” The textile design graduate is specialised in knitting, despite the wide variety of categories textiles can be divided into. “I love constructed textiles. With just a couple of cones of yarn you can construct a beautiful piece of fabric,” she said. Her tactility and ability to visualise colours are gifts she has been blessed with. Olivia defines textiles as “the fabric of the material world that surrounds us.” Through painting, she expresses her abstraction and colour rhapsody. Through textiles, she plans her design and techniques of a piece of fabric. “With the aim to be visually exciting, inviting and intriguing, I want to create textiles which people can’t take their eyes off, and that challenges the current boundaries of knitwear,” she said.
Her designs Similar to many creators, Olivia gathers her inspiration from her surroundings. She gradually develops a concept by gaining background information and then takes photos to visualise the world around her in relation to the concept. Olivia also dedicates time to researching her concepts and talking to people. After that, comes lots off drawing and experiments on machines. “To turn the concept into a physical creation, I will photograph a relative subject matter and from these develop my ideas through drawings and collages by highlighting lines and shapes that appear in my photography and using these to create new images,” said Olivia. “I then develop this into a knitted textile by combining my knowledge of techniques and colour with experimentation on the machine.” Olivia has her own unique signature look. “My designs are always full of colour and quite shape and pattern based. I love shapes and geometry and I think
these show in my textiles.” Her graduation project In the graduation show of the Chelsea College of Art and Design, Olivia’s project was hung up from the ceiling in the middle of one of the showrooms. The colours and shapes were very detailed and eye-catching that easily attracted visitors to get closer and have a better look. A suit jacket was hung among finely cut fabric with various intriguing patterns surrounding it. The name of the project was: What is knitwear, what can it do and what can it become? Other than typical suits that use woven fabrics, Olivia explored the world of knitting for her project – quite an unconventional, yet inspiring way to make suits. “I wanted to try and change people’s perception of knitwear,” she said. “This idea was inspired by a comment from my Dad regarding one of my samples: “this is not what I think of knitting, this is delicate, intricate, sculpted.’ This sparked my curiosity for the way people
Olivia Holland - What is knitwear, what can it do and what can it become? I want to change people’s perception of knitwear. This concept was inspired by a comment from my Dad regarding one of my samples; ‘This is not what I think of as knitting, this is delicate, intricate, sculpted.’ This sparked my curiosity for the way people outside of the knitting industry perceive knitted fabrics and what they expect from them. From this, I developed the idea of knitted suits. By combining knit with tailoring, which traditionally uses woven fabrics, my menswear collection aims to display the versatility of knitwear, and push current boundaries by extending the context of its use. A taster of a knitted suit.
outside of the knitting industry perceive knitted fabrics and what they expect from them. “From this, I developed the idea of knitted suits. By combining knitwear with tailoring, my collection aimed to display the versatility of knitwear and push current boundaries by extending the context of its use,” she said. She concluded her project as a “taste of a knitted suit.” By using different fabrics and designing a suit in an unconventional way, Olivia has a core message in her project: “I want people to think about the versatility of knitwear. I want my project to get people thinking about what knitting is and what it can become, increasing its significance in people’s wardrobes.”
CA RL O V O LP I
By Kristine Basilio
“I’d say life in general is inspiring. My eyes are the only tools I use to record and subconsciously process the information I like. My work is simply a consequence of my life experiences. Generally, I tend to gravitate towards grotesque material, overloaded with colour and with a very dirty sense of humour!” Carlo Volpi is more than just a knitwear enthusiast. He’s a textile genius - plus he’s hilarious. His unique—and extremely bold—knitwear collection has been featured everywhere around the world and is effortlessly an avant-garde trend. Carlo’s personality is just as audacious as his fashion. A personal favorite of mine, “Lipstick Stab Wounds” is one of Carlo’s projects that he describes was “just a piss to take on those male, macho, sporty stereo-
types that I never really got along with as a child.” This satirical revenge mantra gave an edge to the collection that makes you want to go shake Carlo by the shoulders and say, “You have to make more stuff!” Carlo, unlike others in the industry, was not raised in an art-supportive environment. “I’ve always liked making things, drawing, trying to play instruments, but as a child I always had the impression that I had to do something academic in order to make a living.” “Most of the kids from my generation were pushed to become doctors and lawyers, and if you didn’t like studying academic subjects, the other option was to get any job. I don’t think that creative people were nurtured enough because creativity didn’t necessarily equal career success and money.”
Carlo Volpi - Lipstick Stab Wounds The idea behind “Lipstick Stab wounds” was a mockery of male stereotypes, actually, more than a mockery I’d say a reinvention of the alpha male/sporty type. I love the notion of stereotype and how in our culture it has almost become a taboo to even mention it.
Carlo Volpi - Collection 000 Collection 000 focuses on minimal perfection and it is inspired by the artistic Dutch movement “De Stijl”. I’m very interested in the power of images and logos and how certain messages can be conveyed visually. When we look at paintings and sculptures we are attracted to their beauty, but what happens, for instance, when you start simplifying those works of art by abstracting them into simpler forms? During my BA at Goldsmiths I explored this concept further and I made some pieces where some very famous works of art, like Michelangelo’s David, were turned into road signs. The viewer was still able to recognize them, but their “beauty” was stripped away, and they were reduced to simple silhouettes. For this collection, I focused on the unsentimental beauty and simplicity of geometry. I absolutely adore the sharpness and the rigor of soviet architecture and I also looked at the Dutch artistic movement “De Stijl”. I researched into colour, trying to create a feeling of symmetric harmony and balance between the shapes, the lines and the stitches. All the sweaters have the same silhouette: I worked as a painter, using the shape of each piece as a canvas.
Carlo was—believe it or not—pursuing an education towards becoming a Latin scholar or interpreter. “I grew up around knitting machines and people knitting, but I never even considered it as a career option.” After a machine-knitting workshop and a degree in textiles at Goldsmiths changed his life, the Carlo Volpi collection was birthed. With an upcoming collection to go for sale, Carlo Volpi is “on it.” But of course, even fashion designers get to daydream: “[In 10 years, I see myself] living in a hot country, on a small island, in a cute house with all the people I love, travelling to London occasionally to work.” “Do your work because you love it, not for the great press attention you may get or the money you’re going to make. If you really love what you do, anything else won’t matter, and as Confucius said, if you find a job you love, you will never have to work again!”
Details of Lipstick Stab Wounds
Print and Time-based Media
NUSSBAUM Bold, daring and artistic
Selling different products from her graduation project, Rosa quietly sat in a corner in an old-looking room. Her appearance was quite rebellious: sharp blue contact lenses and purple lipstick. She had an inviting smile on her face, and then we started the conversation about her creations… Can you explain what print and time-based media is? Print and time Based Media (PTBM) is a Fine Art course at Wimbledon College of Art. It covers a range of less traditional media such as film, performance, digital and analogue printmaking and new media practices such as programming. I think what’s core to PTBM is that you are confronted with issues of distribution in a much more explicit way than in painting or sculpture. If you are making PTBM work, you will, for the most part either make something extremely ephemeral like a performance or an act or something infinitely reproducible like digital video. You are forced to think about your work in terms of how you want it to exist in the world - what space should it inhabit - how are people going to inter-
act with it. For more traditional practices the gallery just becomes a kind of default. Why did you pick this subject in the first place? I am interested in the stuff of the real world, the phenomenology of the everyday formats we use to structure and narrate our lives. PTBM is much more a Fine Art than a Design subject, but that confusion often arises because the methods of production we explore have a strong history in the field that is usually the domain of design - that is people’s day-to-day experience. What is the most important element in your designs? Again I would refer to myself rather as an artist than a designer. I think the most important element for me is that my work always undermines itself. Generally my pieces are grand endeavours - world changing and epic. They are also generally and obviously silly. So you
Rosa Nussbaum - Rosa For America Rosa For America is my campaign to become President of the United States of America. For me it was an exploration of the aesthetics of aspiration, the rhetoric of the American Dream. I wanted to know what happens when you take the form, fetishize the form of a presidential campaign, of an election and empty it of content. It is not a satirical, itâ€™s a poetic experiment. It started out as a very straight operational realist project. The speeches were very close to the real thing just as my persona as Rosa For America was very close to my real self. The whole endeavour was less of a performance than just the manifestation of a concept. Eventually though that form became too inflexible to accommodate my interests. I didnâ€™t have the resources to create genuine change. I was running on an aesthetic rather than a political platform. That was what sustained my interest. So I decided to invest more heavily in the poetic aspects of the work. For me, the piece is still affirmative rather than a parody. The sincerity is still there; Rosa For America is still genuinely following the mandate of the American Dream, she is simply freer than other candidates. Her speeches cut out all the tedious banality (such as facts) that say, President Obama has to deal with. She is not bound by convention or transitory politics; She is free to become the first all-American President.
have this tension - the powerful and rich aesthetic and the futility and vapidity of the attempt.
and conversations and lectures and from being around inspiring people.
Do you have any other media that you prefer to express yourself with? Alongside my visual and performative practice, I write - mostly critical writing. Iâ€™ve recently been writing for Digicult. It gives me an outlet and a structure for my thoughts.
Are there any specific topics that you feature in your work? I am interested in the aesthetics of truth. Or maybe more accurately, I am interested in whether truth is really an epistemological issue or just an aesthetic quality. I want to know if the relationship between form and content, between surface and meaning is essential or contingent.
Where do you get your inspiration for your work? The short answer is: everywhere. From exhibitions, from books, from the way the grass in the park is shorter in one patch than in another, from video games
How do you transform a particular abstract idea into a concrete format?
It’s a background process, churning away in the infrequently visited corners of your mind, some mysterious alchemical process. You feed in all these impressions, this information, you let your mind wander, you drink coffee, read books, let the surface of your thought gently ripple against the edges of your consciousness. And someday, out of the deep, out of those dark recesses of your mind the solution surfaces, like something you’ve always known but just never thought to notice. Rosa’s graduation project is very extensive. Not only does she dress up for the speeches she has written for delivery on different occasions, she has also prepared ballots with voting booths, pins, posters and a lot more.
Where did you get your inspiration for your graduation project? Initially all I knew was that I wanted to make something politically engaged but also poetic and a bit flamboyant. At the same time I was consuming all this knowledge about electoral systems and US History alongside the exported culture and rhetoric. I was binge watching the West Wing and reading books on political speeches and superheroes and it sort of all came together. How did you come up with such format to present
Rosa Nussbaum - Living The Dream Surface, light-attractive, pretty shiny. Manifesting desire, longing. Like a sweet flat sadness. When I was in Brisbane in December I was walking down the street. It was a warm summer evening, the dusk a deep translucent blue. I was thinking about Dave Hickeyâ€™s description of Las Vegas. So pink and shiny and kitch - so desirable. The images of my inner and my outer eye overlapped just when I looked up and saw a cinema marquee, illuminated, hanging a few meters over the street. And I felt that longing, that undirected desire for an unattainable and unspecified life. The words came later, when I was about to walk through a door. Someone had used the phrase earlier that week and it had struck me as funny - this tacit agreement on what the dream is - so universal, so established.
Rosa Nussbaum - Portable Nostalgia The moment you look up from the street to a lighted window, the dusk settles around you. And that rectangle of light seems so warm, so safe, so home. Or that moment when it is day, clear blue skies - no clouds, you raise your eyes from the new warm pavement past the chimney tops - the eternal wind blowing through the eternal wheat field. What if you could capture these moments, segregate them from their contexts and commodify them into self sufficient products. Make them hyper available, portable nostalgia.
your idea? The first important step for me was the decision to run for President of the United States. Because the work was essentially performative, I ended up getting a lot of feedback so I could figure out what was working and what wasn’t. As an artist you are generally putting yourself in a position of authority - it’s one-way communication that can be quite patronising. It was very important for me to try to circumvent that and to situate the work in a way that undermined its own authority. There was a lot of trial and error along the way and each speech/event fed back into my research. What message do you want to convey through your project? It’s not really a message. It’s more like a complicit experience. I wanted to create a situation in which the viewer would feel betrayed by their reaction to the work. The idea was to make the look and feel of the pieces so lush, so seductive that you be immediately sucked in. For a split second you would believe, be swept along by the words and the imagery. And at the same time, you would know that it was all surface; there was no substance underneath. There would perhaps be a discomfort that could be the starting point for a discussion about the relationship between form and content. How do you feel about people’s reaction? Overall, very positive. The piece required some interaction. It is difficult to get that in an art/gallery context because people aren’t entirely sure what is expected of them. Can they touch? Should they cheer? I have learned that you have to make people feel comfortable and safe if you want them to get involved. What was the voting result in the end? Those who voted at the exhibition elected me president but not by as wide a margin as I thought they would. Obama held on to quite a chunk of the electorate. Most interesting for me were the voting cards. People had written opinions and messages on them and I thought it was great that it became a kind of conversa-
tion. For such an interactive project, can you tell us how you feel about the result? I feel like I pushed it as far as I could have gone with it and went well out of my comfort zone. It was a great experience for me but it also ate up a lot of my time. During the production and research I discovered so many other things and ways of working I would like to investigate, so I am excited to get started on those. I always tell myself I’ll do some nice drawings and write some poetry before I embark on another epic mission - but I’m not convinced that will actually happen. Maybe after the next one. As “Rosa for America” is her final project, the graduate has to come up with something new in her artistic life. Obviously, trying to be the first female U.S. president is not enough to satisfy Rosa’s curiosity and ambition. She is going to do a lot more to experiment and understand the world in different contexts. Would you keep creating projects relating to politics or anything else? Absolutely. But more in the general sense of political as engaged with the phenomenology of society, than party politics. I’m involved in a kind of young artist collective run by Barby Asante and Teresa Cisneros that is exploring issues of race and otherness in Britain, which I think will be both very exciting and educational. I really want to use this project to find new ways of interacting with audiences and making relevant and daring work. What is your future plan? I am going to be Kanye West. I haven’t quite worked out the details yet, but I think that is going to be my next big project. I am also opening a gallery in Colliers Wood in October. The gallery will be called Nice Gallery and will run a residency program for emerging artists that will then culminate in exhibitions in the Colliers Wood/ Tooting/Mitcham area. I’m going to be working with great artists and I think we will put on some excellent shows.
Goldsmithing, Silversmithing, Metalwork & Jewellery
OO HYUNG PARK The connection between my hands and thoughts
Since I was a child, I have been taking great pleasure in “making.” Regardless of technique or material, I purely enjoyed using my hands. When one piece of work was done, I was thrilled to be able to move on to something else without taking a break. Our hands In 2011, there was a really important project given to me and while I was pondering for ideas, I realised why I became a “maker.” The collaboration project between the Royal College of Art and the British Museum was called Easy Living. It gave us the ancient “stone hand axe,” which was the origin of human making and was what we used to start our journey for the project. Despite using this
ancient tool as a starting point, the way we interpreted and developed ideas was up to us. Through the preparation for this project, I had a chance to rethink about tools in general. My thought for the project was eating utensils as the second tool for human beings coming after the first tool, the hand axe. However, as I kept thinking about the first tool and my favourite tool, I found out that we have another tool that comes before the hand axe: our hands. It all starts when we begin to stand on our feet after crawling. Freedom is given to our hands and anything that is held in our hands becomes a tool. We have physiological needs to be fulfilled in order to survive
in this world, like any other animal: breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis and excretion. The ancient stone hand axe tool is the first and the longest-used tool for hunting food and basic survival. It is known that the human is the only species that uses tools, but that is not true. Some animals, such as primates or birds also can use tools for simple tasks such as hunting, getting food, or grooming. Here, the difference between the tool usage of animals and humans are that animals use whatever has been given to them as it is, while humans can alter the shape or add mechanisms to improve the function of tools. The ability to use and create tools is the most distinctive characteristic of human beings thanks to the freedom of our two hands. If we did not have our hands in the first place, the hand axe and other tools would not come to exist either. My desire is to tell my personal story about how I use my first tool, hands, through my work. My hands I like making. I like to make jewellery, but it does not have to be jewellery. It simply has to be held in my hands. I have to feel its existence in the world with my own hands.
Joo Hyung Park - There are cutlery, jewellery, and my hands There are cutlery, jewellery, and my hands. The touch of my hands and objects is of significant value in my practice. I learn whilst I make objects and the ideas get developed together with my hands. I remember the joyful moment of my hands and the pieces together, and the control of my work is always on my hands. With the two sets of my work, jewellery and cutlery, my desire is to share how I use my hands. My hands blow new life to material as a piece of jewellery with the simple act of pushing through, and they capture the very moment of using old cutlery to deliver food to our mouth, which is completing its duty. I use my hands to start jewellery and complete cutlery.
The touch of my hands against objects is important in my practice. I learn while I make objects and the ideas get developed together with my hands. I remember the joyful moment of my hands and the pieces together and that is why everything starts from my hands. There are two sets in my work: cutlery and jewellery. My hands were the first tool. My hands create new life with material as a piece of jewellery with the simple act of â€œpushing throughâ€? material. Hands also capture the essence of using old cutlery to deliver food to our mouth, completing its duty. Starting jewellery The idea of starting jewellery began from one chapter of my dissertation, which was about the void in Korean landscape painting. In these oriental paintings, there are certain reasons to leave some space empty, in its natural state. A void exists for the substance which is the parts that are painted and it is that emptiness that makes us focus on the real things. From this point of view, I started to think about the meaning of the void in jewellery by observing a little hole in a little ring. A void in a ring needs to be filled with the human body and by putting a finger through the void; it can be verified as a wearable ring. When we see something that has holes big enough
for our fingers to go through, it has the possibility to become a ring. A thought then occurred to me, what if I push my finger through something to create a void and contact to make a ring? What if my hands were to be the first tools to create a void which will then give material new life as a piece of jewellery rather than simply wearing them when the void already exists? Pushing fingers through material leaves evidence of the touch of hands on the pieces. The act of â€œpushing throughâ€? shows the moment of creating the contact between material and my hands, which then becomes my personal jewellery making process. The material I chose for the project was diverse: raw material and ones already existing in the world with its own function. But the idea was the same, it was about taking on the things that were not in the realm of jewellery and by one hole, I took the items and brought them into the jewellery realm. They were objects from somewhere and they still carry the memory of the past. Completing cutlery Cutlery is instruments we use every day with our hands. The idea of completing cutlery started from the piece I made for Easy Living. Originally, the idea was to combine two different cutleries: spoons
and chopsticks to celebrate the New Harmony in our food culture.
The form looks like chopsticks holding food or a petal. This form gave me an idea. Since it looked like the chopsticks were in use with a hand, I was able to see the possibility to capture the actual moment of using cutlery.
After observing different types of cutlery and them being in use, there were more possible ways than just using chopsticks to pick, spoons to scoop, forks to stab, and knives to cut.
My pieces show the moments of when we use cutlery with our hands and when they are laid on a table. We use that very moment to deliver food to our mouth which is completing the duty of cutlery. With the cutlery pieces, I wish to tell the story of how my hands seized the moment, and made that moment into new cutlery. For some of the pieces, old cutleries from antique markets that are no longer in production were used. The reason is similar to the choice of material for my jewellery. I take the items and bring them into the jewellery realm by simply creating a hole in them.
I take old cutleries that are not in use anymore and turn them into a new contemporary cutlery by capturing the moment of using. The knife carries its memory as a knife and becomes a new spoon.
Joo Hyung Park - Portrait of the artist as a young jeweller. A picture with memory is precious. So I push my finger through the picture to wear it. I cannot push through the people I care, so my only option is to make a hole on myself. The picture of my precious memory is on my finger. My face from the picture is gone, but my actual finger is there when I wear it. It is not about interrupting the memory but making it closer to my hands. So, the memory becomes my jewellery.
Joo Hyung Park - There are cutlery, jewellery, and my hands
E LV I N KWOK
I love it, therefore I do it
London-based menswear designer Kelvin Kwok tells us all about his passion. The 25-year-old currently works for fashion giant Alexander McQueen in hopes to enhance himself and learn from one of the best there is out there. How did you start off with menswear? I remember when I was 16 or 17, the age in which teenagers start to become more aware about their appearance, and when fashion trends and hair styles were influenced by music idols, celebrities and athletes. I had that influence as well, so
I started reading fashion magazines and looked at some really cool clothes at shops. Sometimes I would come up with a few ideas of what kind of clothes Iâ€™d like to wear and start re-creating the imagery from the designs I saw and liked. At that time I also read lots of stories about great designers. After a while, I decided London was the place that I wanted to be and Central Saint Martinâ€™s College would probably be the best place to study more about fashion design and learn skills.
Kelvin Kwok - The forward convention The starting point of the final collection was simply from a used coffee beans sack that I found. I was inspired by the roughness of the texture, the stencil graphics, typography and stripes that printed on the sack. Then I have moved on to research about the clothing of coffee farm pickers and referenced Latin American tailoring which has influence by European during the colony period. Inspired by the above, my designs are concentrating on three aspects, via colonial influence. Native culture characteristics and contemporary development.
Which designers are your favourite and why? There are few fashion designers that I admire. Big names such as Yohji Yamamoto and Dries van Noten. However, Alber Elbez and Lucas Ossendrijver from Lanvin are my particular favourite. I’ve always been fascinated by their work and the successful partnership between the duo. They always push for new proportions and silhouettes of menswear and add newness and sportiness into tailoring to create a strong modern menswear look. They also manage to always keep it wearable, approachable and desirable. It’s never just something that only looks good on the catwalk. Elbez and Ossendrijver keep the Lanvin decadent elegance alive and manage to find the balance without being mediocre. A lot of pieces from the collections are something that I would totally love to wear everyday and I’d keep them for long time. How do you define a good design? I think fashion is so broad it’s very hard to define what a good design is and what’s not. In my opinion, it’s harder to make a judgment in fashion compared with other design fields. This is because there are
so many fashion styles and can be extremely personal. It’s more about personal taste and feeling rather than its function. Unlike other designs, the product needs to perform. The outcome has to be functional or has to fulfill its purpose. A simple shirt could be a great design just because of the colour, fabric or how comfortable you feel when you wear it. The reason can be as simple as that. What is the most important thing for designers? The sense and ability of how to create a great story of what they want to present to the audience in the form of fashion/clothing. As a designer, what is your biggest fear in the industry? A great thing about the fashion industry is to see it changing all the time and how quick it changes. I think it would be a disaster or the biggest fear to designers if it stopped changing and people became very boring, wearing the same things all the time and no one was interested in wearing interesting clothes. Where do you retrieve your inspiration? My initial ideas for a collection usually come
The garments from the collection mainly comprises the materials of different weight of linen, cotton, and washed light weight wool, also included washed denim. Tailoring silhouette are based on 1910 to 1930 in Latin America, the features of fitted shoulder and looser body cut (A-shape) has taken into the collection and it became the main core of my designs.
from documentaries, vintage items, movies, music, paintings, art pieces or even an observation from daily life. I’ve always tried to avoid beginning my research on fashion trends or looking at anything fashion related to find inspiration because I think that could easily lead my ideas to a very dull and boring end. Are there any themes that you persist to have in your work? When I’m designing I always try to keep my work wearable and have some sort of luxurious touch to it. I also have something special about the garments by working on the proportions, details, fabrication and the silhouette. As for colours, I believe in neutral colours and also love using earthy tones and natural colours. From your perspective, is it difficult to convert something old to new? Yes. In design development, designers always reference from old vintage garments. The reproductions can easily end up as a new garment but look old - unless that’s the result you were initially aiming for. So for me, the key is to carefully take parts, details, or finishings that I want to reference from and not over design it.
In your opinion, how much research is enough for a project? Every time when I’m researching, I’m discovering new things and gaining new knowledge. Therefore it’s very hard for me to say how much research is enough. It’s immeasurable. However, I think a good amount of research should be able to support me though the design process and help me produce new ideas for the project. What were your old projects about? Can you briefly tell us a little bit about them? My last personal project was my graduate collection from last year and the starting point was simply from a used coffee bean sack that I found in a flea market. I was inspired by the roughness of the texture, the stencil graphics, text (typography) and stripes that were printed on the sack. Then I moved on to research about the clothing of coffee farm pickers and took references from Latin American tailoring which was influenced by Europeans during the old colonial period. Inspired by the above, my designs concentrated on three aspects through colonial influence, native culture characteristics and contemporary development.
The garments from the collection mainly comprise the materials of different weights of linen, cotton and washed light weight wool, also including washed denim. The silhouettes for tailoring were based on 1910s to 1930s Latin America - the features of the fitted shoulder and loose body cut (A-shape) as taken into the collection and became the main core of my desig ns. How do you strike a balance between what the audiences want and what you want to design? In high fashion, I think what the audiences want to see are actually what the designer wants to express. Audiences are always looking forward to seeing the uniqueness the newness from the works of designers. In my opinion, fashion designers have good connections with their audiences by the freedom they have been given.
What is your next plan? Looking for a new challenge after my contract finishes with my current company. Kelvin might have plans to return to Hong Kong to continue his design career. We wish him the best of luck to an unforeseeable-yet-full-of-excitement future!
FL O R E N C E SHAW
By Kristine Basilio
Fulfilling a desire to communicate and influence
Photo credit: Hanna-Katrina Jedrosz
Many streams of art come in different shapes and sizes. Even I can’t come up with a comprehensive list or diagram to try to explain it—but that’s what makes art “art.”
the world is telling you to stop working—and that’s before you even begin to try and survive on a wildly fluctuating and often minuscule income.”
Florence Shaw, an independent illustrator, talks about the challenges in being part of this industry that converts art into a language that everyone understands.
“It seems to me you have to firmly believe that what you have to say is incredibly important and needs to be counted. It sounds grandiose, but you have to believe that you could change the world with what you’re doing.”
“To be an artist, successful or otherwise,” she says, “you have to constantly bolster your self-confidence. At times it can seem as though
Florence also explains that the constantly shifting world of illustration is still quite undefined. “I call myself an illustrator because it’s a
Florene Shaw - Ralph
convenient label [that] helps people understand what I do,” she says. “It seems to me that a large number of aspiring artists who choose to study illustration at art school do so because fine art courses (painting, drawing, sculpting…) don’t offer them what they want—to communicate with people, to make things accessible.” Developing and transforming an abstract idea into a concrete presentation is Florence’s specialty, but, like every artist, she has her own methods, which have been derived and altered by past experiences. “I’ve tried writing ideas down in the past but I’ve found that when I do that, they stay that way—as sentences. What drives me is the need to realise ideas, to get them out of my head.” “It’s very hard to organise one’s intuitive ways of making art into a system that is productive and efficient. I have to have certain rules in place, like ‘no writing allowed’ or ‘everything on one size of paper’. If I don’t set parameters for myself, my output is so scatter-gun that it isn’t useful to anyone—least of all, me.” With an extremely cutting-edge team of idols like Mike Redmond, Chan An Gee, Andrew Kerr and the Extra Bones, Florence’s inspiration invariably comes from the things she sees. “It’s cliché but I’m always looking and I have a good memory for sounds
and faces,” she says. “I’ll get a very strong feeling about something I’m looking at. Compassion, jealousy, revulsion, for example, and then I’ll see an idea for a drawing in my head—quite literally a composition… then I draw it. [But if] everyone else I show it to has absolutely no idea where I’m getting at, it can be galling and very disappointing but communication is what matters, it goes in the ‘no’ pile.” Not every artist stashes a secret message under each and every piece of work. “Not particularly, but there is no hard and fast rule,” she explains. “If I want to say something about social injustice, it will be quite explicit. I suppose if there’s any general message it would be a distillation of my outlook on life.” “Katsuhiro Otomo wrote, in reference to Akira, ‘It reflects the essence of my views towards life and death, and the world which surrounds us.’ Which I think is nice and simple, and true of any art made by an artist.” “Inevitably there are always recurring motifs in my work,” she admits. “I never draw the same thing twice on purpose, but it happens all the time, and I suppose they just give away my preoccupations, which are sometimes very revealing and can be really embarrassing!”
“But I get a thrill out of being revelatory, making drawings explicitly about myself, so it’s okay,” she laughs. “I’ll often draw myself in certain situations and include the most personal things, safe in the knowledge that it’s unlikely anyone will have the guts to confront me about it or ask questions.”
With a desire not only to communicate but also to influence, Florence is definitely one of those artists that the world needs more of.
“I would love to work with a mental health charity, like Mind. I think a series of drawings about mental health could be brilliant. Maybe specifically about living in a big city or even more specific like about working at night or renting from a rogue landlord— circumstances which are trying to say the least and can often take a toll on one’s mental health. I think they could really help people, if they were distributed and published in the right way. It’s a very loose idea, but one that I’ve secretly dreamed I would be commissioned to do for a long time.”
“At the moment I’m drafting my first and consequently very short comic about odd things I do whilst alone in the bathroom.” Cheeky. “I think other people do them too but I don’t know for sure so could be one of those awkward situations.”
Florence Shaw - Duncan
Florence Shaw - Earrings Girl
Florence Shaw - Checkout
Florence Shaw - Banana
Florence Shaw - The Bear
ME L AN I E SANH
By Jessica Ha
Designing her own path
I felt like I could easily become friends with Melanie – if I could actually get the chance to get to know her. A traveller, a fashion enthusiast and an experimenter. “My inspiration? It could be anything!” It usually starts with an obsession: an obsession over a colour, a material, a shape or an image. Intuitively, she begins collecting bits and pieces to visually complement the item she became fixated on, gradually building a story and discovering references and similarities with her “inspiration.” Then comes a messing around period, which she believes
is the most important part of her creative process. This is the time when she actually creates. With an open mind, she immerses herself hands on and lets her intuition drive her experiments, which can manifest themselves in the form of drawings, a collage, or a textile swatch. When it comes to designing the final products, Melanie likes things fair and square. She becomes quite logical and methodical about the task at hand.
For Melanie, the creative process just comes naturally. “I kept thinking that I was going to become a fashion designer.” Having wanted to be a fashion designer for as long as she could remember, Melanie began equipping herself with the necessary skills from a very young age. It started with drawing lessons, and then she pursued sewing as a teenager. The latter presented itself as a challenge. She found that she didn’t really like sewing. She asked her mother to teach her how to knit and purl – a skill that allowed her to evade sewing but still be able to make a garment. Little did she know then that learning this skill would be life defining. When it came time to choose, Melanie picked Duperre, an art school in Paris, specialised in Fashion and Textiles, for her foundation studies. “I kept thinking that I was going to become a fashion designer,” she recalled, “but I realised a couple of months into the course that I was more sensitive to colours, textures and materials.” Once again, Melanie changed course and ended up choosing textiles over fashion. Perhaps, it came as a way to avoid sewing. But with a grandmother skilled in knitting and a childhood preference, maybe it was just life directing Melanie on the path fate laid out
for her. “I am happy as soon as I find the balance of the little black dress with a touch of quirk to highlight the outfit.” When asked to describe her personal style, Melanie chose comfort as her first priority. “I like to mix match casual with dress-up. I recently bought a pair of neon orange Flyknit, and I love to wear these with a feminine dress!”
And her designs?
“You can almost say that I have a minimal style. But how to create minimal without it being too plain?” Melanie’s final collection at the Royal College of Art clearly illustrates this. Drawing inspiration from the concept of contemporary architecture, the shapes she used for the garments are extremely simple, moulding the fabrics into silhouettes based around squares and rectangles with 45º angles. However, once you take a closer look at the fabrics, you will be able to see that each was cautiously chosen to reveal part of the concept of the collection.
Melanie Sanh - Collection 001 Contemporary architecture: colours, geometric shapes and surfaces are the source of inspiration for this collection of knitted garments. My observation of an architectural space led me to design fabrics with elements such as colour blocks, transparent surfaces and pleated ribs. These interpret the contrasting textures, overlapping and layering of surfaces, which are then engineered and constructed around the female form by means of bodycon garments for a sporty yet feminine look, luxurious in details and finish.
Each fabric has a sporty feel with a feminine twist. One question I’ve always been curious about was whether fashion designers would have a different personal style than his or her design aesthetics. For Melanie, this proved to be false – “I suppose… my personal style influences my designs.” Both are her interpretations of sophisticated meets sports. It’s no wonder then that she looks up to Alexander Wang and Raf Simons as influential figures. Resonating with the minimalistic aesthetic, Raf Simons incorporates in his work for Dior woman, what particularly drew her in were the ball gowns in Dior’s Spring 2013 Couture show, where, despite being heavily embroidered, they were still able to look very light and clean. Nowadays, as Raf Simons began bringing in sports code into the very feminine Dior woman, I believe Melanie feels an even stronger connection to his work. As for Alexander Wang, Melanie admires his work for its aesthetics and clever and experimental use of textiles. “So as a Textile designer, my vision of Fashion really comes through the fabrics.” Melanie never truly departed from her dream of being a fashion designer. Instead, her vision just evolved. “The shape of the garment is meant to enhance the beauty of the fabrics.” Fashion and textiles, after all, share a symbiotic relationship. Without textiles, fashion wouldn’t exist; and without fashion, the beauty of different textiles may not be fully revealed. “I am not sure how it influences my design work, but I believe that everything I had the chance to see and experience polished the person that I am.” Melanie is an avid traveler, having lived in Paris, London and Hong Kong, whilst visiting places like Seoul, Tokyo, Osaka, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, New York… the list goes on and on. Of the three places she has lived in, Melanie chose London as the best place for her. London was the combination of the best
of Paris – brimming with galleries and museums – and the best of Hong Kong – a vibrant city with a convenient transport network. As for her favourite place she has been to, her choice would have to be Japan, having visited Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. “It was the first time in my life I felt, as we would say in French, ‘depaysee’,” she described. This basically means being out of your comfort zone in foreign lands, but the change in environment wasn’t a negative experience, and on the contrary, it could be for the best! “As for my future aspirations, I for sure have some. But in this transition phase when everything could change from a day to another, I think it is best I keep it for myself !” Currently a freelancer, Melanie is now working on collections of knitted textiles, at the same time, treating this as a period of experimentation, so that she can think more clearly about her next step. Nonetheless, she is always open to new propositions, projects and collaborations.
MO N IC A
VELASQUEZ Emotional sounds
My name is Monica Velasquez, and I go by Rexxy. I create music or mostly what I like to call emotional sounds.
Quickly I picked up where I left off and taught myself, bass, guitar, synths and started writing, producing and mixing all of my own music.
It all started in the extra bedroom I had in my apartment in Burbank, CA. Late one afternoon and tired of looking for other people to make music I commenced what is now Rexxy. At the time playing bass was just a skill I had not pursued very much. Guitar and keyboards were also on a very rusty level in need of brushing up.
The music I make is a mirror to the inner feelings and mood I was in the time the song was made. Never writing for a genre or specific audience, Rexxy just captivated my most intimate times. Now, four years on since the first song, I believe others do feel the way I do in my songs.
Singing was my main contribution to the bands I fronted over the last 10 years. I wanted to make music. All I ever thought about was singing and the emotions that singing brought out of me.
Music is a wonderful companion, whether you are alone, in a sad or happy state or with friends and the best company. It truly encapsulates the moment in time of your life. Rexxy is your soundtrack.
Rexxy - Careless
Background I was born in Lima, Peru sometime in the 80s. At age seven, I moved to New Jersey and got my first guitar at the age of 12, a late birthday present from mom. While my mom lacked funds for lessons, I taught myself some chords and started playing my favourite songs. I then wrote my first song a month later. Five bands later, Rexxy was born. Rexxy is a blend of seductive synth pop and dark moody, dreamy sounds. It’s an emotional rollercoaster. I moved east in December 2012 after some years out west and wrote “dreams” while crashing on my mom’s couch. A few months later, I made Brooklyn my permanent location. I have since met some great musicians, met some wonderful artists and performed at some fantastic venues - all while still working part time in NYC as a fashion textile design assistant. I’m currently working on a new album and have great projects in the works. More music coming soon!
Inspiration/influences As a kid growing up in Peru, I fell in love with Spanish artists such as Jeanette, Jose Jose, Juan Gabriel and Rocio Durcal. In the mix I had a crush on the emotions I would feel when I would hear Jeanette and Karen Carpenter. They were my idols. Listening to their music, I wanted to capture the emotion and the feelings their music made me feel. The sound of their vocals moved me to tears and sometimes intense happiness. Later I found myself dancing to the Cure and New Order and couldn’t get enough of that dark bass sound that was so popular at the time. The 80s’ new wave and post punk sound was something incredible to me. I always found myself humming a melody with that flavour in it. Although music is so progressive, I still feel such great attraction to the sounds and mood of the 80s. And since New Order and Joy Division were my go to bands for every mood, I guess the influence stuck. Bass was also my favourite instrument and the love for Peter Hook and his magic still remains till this day.
Nowadays, I listen to everything that moves me and I have no limits to where my mood may take me. There are days were I feel Like listening to some Billy Holiday, Nina, Roy Orbison and sometimes I feel a little Bossa Nova. There is so much to learn and take away from the deep emotions these artists captured within their songs and that is something that will live on forever.
Rexxy - Moment in time
Composing the music Most of my song ideas come from melodies I hear in my head. I love to take long walks in the city as the sound and feel of it inspires me. Melodies come to me at various times during the day too and I sing melody ideas into my phone and capture the idea to work on later. I start out with a bass riff and build it from there. I create a drum beat, and then wrap my initial melody around the song and finish. Writing music is my favourite part or the whole experience.
Sometimes if I go too long without writing a song, I get depressed…seriously! It is like a way to unload all excess pent up emotions and baggage left
over from the days that pass you by. Collaborations In this past year I collaborated with some very talented artists for a few songs. One of the wonderful people I worked with was Felipe Cea from Duofox. It was a great experience and I really enjoyed the blend of styles we both brought to the mix.
We made a track called “Mageyez,” which is still one of my favourite songs I’ve worked on. Working with other artists is such a treat, although it doesn’t happen often due to busy life. But when it does, it’s a great experience.
Choice of sound My sound is a blend of all that I love and I can say it will probably keep evolving. I write music that I want to hear and I am always asking myself that when I’m finished writing a song, “will I want to hear this song again and again?” I can’t really describe my own sound, but some have described it as New Order meets Grimes, etc.
Future for Rexxy I’m now getting ready to release a
Soundtrack EP based on a story of a girl named Anna. The idea came to mind one day at a crowded bar in Brooklyn, NY while sipping on seltzers with my partner in crime, Darby.
We have worked on many projects together, including the video for â€œCarelessâ€? he shot entirely on an iPhone. There is no film for this soundtrack, there may be one day, but for now the story is told through the music and short clips, photos, etc.
I loved the idea of writing for the world that was Anna, a lonely, beautiful, damaged soul aching for a connection into the outer world, but trapped within her own mind. I am also working on finalising an LP that will be out later this year.
Goldsmithing, Silversmithing, Metalwork & Jewellery
JU LI E USEL
Julie Usel - Potato rings
As a jewellery designer, Julie Usel likes to use materials that aren’t your average high-end store window display. Forget the tacky shimmering gold and dazzling diamonds. Julie transforms your average everyday products and objects into wearable accessories. “I like to transform non-precious material into precious jewellery,” says Julie. She’s not kidding. Back in 2005, she made shaped potatoes into rings and added colouring. “I can make pearls from cling film and rings from potatoes,” she added. In her final graduation project at the Royal College of Arts, Julie went even further with her creativity and used meat, paper and other materials for her jewellery installation. “The work is a physical and emotional journey, exploring and externalising emotions as objects and invoking the tension we all feel concerning
change,” says Julie. The project itself emphasised the relationship between anxiety and the creative process, which was what exactly Julie experienced. “The rings themselves reflect this process containing elements of creation, destruction, metamorphosis and evolution. They invoke a range of anxieties by creating a tension between the wish to keep the objects intact or to reveal their hidden secret,” she says. Julie creates like a child. Not only does she love to use cheap materials, but she loves to reveal herself as who she is in her creations. “They are all personal pieces of work, therefore they all represent my character,” she says. One of her projects, Jeu d’enfant, clearly embeds her own memories towards her grandmother. “When I returned to my childhood memories, I almost immediately saw my grandmother playing with a tied string. Nothing simpler. With only
Julie Usel - RA Graduation Work What physical form could I give to anxiety? How do we wear anxiety; how does it reveal itself on the body? Could I induce this feeling through objects and jewellery? The relationship between anxiety and the creative process fascinates me. The work itself gives physical form to the pain and tension I see as inseparable to this. The monoprints show my personal experience of this, reflecting the feeling of tearing myself open, vomiting jewellery, or giving birth to it.
The rings themselves reflect this process, containing elements of creation, destruction, metamorphosis and evolution. They invoke a range of anxieties by creating a tension between the wish to keep the objects intact or to reveal their hidden secret. This action can be through a destructive process, or require the wearer to go through a repulsive experience. The work is a physical and emotional journey, exploring and externalising emotions as objects, and invoking the tension we all feel concerning change.
her hands as tools, she transformed this simple string in a variety of forms,” says Julie. “She taught me the steps to follow and create the Eiffel Tower, a bowl or a parachute. This insignificant string, after some manipulations, opened the doors to a magical world where imagination is queen.” The imaginative jeweller also enjoys experimenting like a scientist. This is what inspires her and sometimes initiates the starting of a new project. With no prior knowledge of the materials she may use, the result is usually unexpected. “As I love to experiment with various materials, my jewellery is often a result of the interesting reactions I discover,” she says. Even if an idea or a type of material does not seem to work well, Julie keeps the idea on the side until the timing is right.
In her latest project, La Route de la Soie, Julie has included both the preciousness of jewellery and her characteristics of design: both playful and experimental. She makes use of layers of printed silk hand sewn
Julie Usel - La route de la soie This collection explores ideas of representation, giving a new incarnation to pieces that carry a high historical or material significance. By making attainable what was previously exclusive, the work creates a new symbolic dimension to the original. The collection is both precious and playful, giving new forms to precious works whilst capturing their enduring beauty. There are elements of bringing daydreams to life, and the glamorous and exotic to the everyday. These pieces are made of layers of printed silk, hand sewn with gold thread. Silver and gold leaf details are applied to catch the light with the wearer’s movements, adding another layer of depth. The resulting pieces play with both our substantive and abstract perceptions: questions of texture, weight and material are thrown together with ones of authenticity, value and craftsmanship.
with gold thread and uses silver and gold leaf details to create perceptual and textural variations. Other than being a jewellery designer, Julie has another duty that is even more difficult. “My biggest difficulty is to find time to keep creating jewellery while raising my one-year-old son,” she says. She added that motherhood is a complicated task.
Talking about her future plans, Julie will continue jewellery designing. She has had exhibitions around the globe, such as Netherlands, Sydney, Switzerland, Japan, the United Kingdom and Germany. “I would like to open a studio/showroom/gallery in collaboration with a group of people,” she added.
Julie Usel - Trace of Lace A series of unisex rings: laser cut stainless steel and diamonds As fine and delicate as lace, the metal becomes light and transparent. The motives are in contrast with the sweet and seductive image of the thread work. A curious association of opposites. Stainless steel lace, skull and crossbones with diamonds eyes...