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the form and the function March 18, 2010

Posted by Karīna Sīmane in Uncategorized.
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Last weekend I had the chance to visit Utrecht and see the exhibition of Alexander Van Slobbe at the Central Museum of Utrecht, the Netherlands.

If you are not familiar with the fashion industry and fashion design in general, there are some facts you should definitely know. Alexander van Slobbe (1959) is one of the pioneers who put the Netherlands on the map in the international world of fashion. Van Slobbe was always far ahead of his time. From the beginning of his career he has shown a constant interest in the design process, craftsmanship, quality and construction. In the fashion industry this trend only reemerged in the late nineties, as a reaction against the industrialization of fashion – technique and the creative hand was once again the main focus. Taking the forefront in the Netherlands, Alexander van Slobbe now serves as an important inspiration to present Dutch designers.
Alexander van Slobbe graduated cum laude at the art academy of Arnhem in the Netherlands. Since the late eighties, his designs have been admired worldwide in cities such as Paris, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Vienna, Stockholm and Hong Kong.

Van Slobbe is also known for his collaborations with other artists and labels like Marc Mulders, Makkum and PUMA.  He has his own brands, women’s fashion label Orson + Bodil (founded in 1988), which has a boutique in Amsterdam and was the first Dutch label to be sold in Barneys New York and Joseph in London, and men’s label SO (founded in 1993).

The exhibition is like a deep dive in Van Slobbe’s world. The exhibition not only displays his finished designs, but also gives insights in the creative processes. Retrospection in images and interviews, displaying black&white copies from different fashion magazines, provides a wonderful insight into Van Slobbe’s activities. Also the numerous samples on display tells  about designer’s ways of designing. There is a ‘real’ sewing workplace installed in the center of the exhibition space. When I was there a sewing course went on (for local citizens, who are interested in sewing). That also gave me a feeling that I am observing the process of creation. Not only seeing the past work of a designer.

Thus I really appreciate Van Slobbe’s passion for workmanship – embroideries and  weaving together different materials, the use of natural fabrics like silk and wool to create the garments that has a wonderful form and function at the same time. Van Slobbe shows that clothes can be very simple, without complexity in pattern, but have the quality of highlighting the wearer’s body and personality. All the unnecessary features can be deleted.

If you have a chance, go and see the exhibition of Alexander Van Slobbe at the Central Museum of Utrecht until the 16th of May, 2010.

Enjoy the pure forms and lines!


Designs for the new world March 13, 2010

Posted by Karīna Sīmane in design competition.
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It is already two weeks since the 21st international design competition “INTERIEUR 2010” has been launched. This year’s theme is: Designs for the new world.

” The world is changing fast. We are living in turbulent, uncertain times. The music industry, the automobile sector and the press are struggling. Pop culture seems to have lost its momentum. We spend more time online than in our living homes. How can design cope with the new world? Should design be sustainable? Should it be virtual? Should design make us think? Or should it make us feel good? In short: design a product that is relevant right now.”

In my opinion the theme is quite broad. There is given free choice for designer what to design. It could be anything- seating, lightning, things that helps us to arrange our stuff (I think, that is a major problem for many people. We just buy and buy. And we own so many things. How to cope with that?). Design should definitely make us happy and the same time force us to think about the environment around us. Sustainable design for happiness. Thus I would like to express my identity through the things I own. Wouldn’t be nice to have a cupboard in a shape of a barn as an ultimate symbol of the Latvian national character? :

Cabinet by Mara Skujeniece

First of all it’s worth to participate in order to check your creativeness and abilities. Secondly also the total prize money is quite appealing- 40 000 euros spread between 7 different awards. Plus 2 places in the Summer Workshop 2011, organized by the Vitra Design Museum in collaboration with the Centre Pompidou and 2 stands in the idea fair. Even if you will not be among the winners don’t worry. All the entries will be on display during the design biennale from 15th – 24th of October (place- Kortrijk, Belgium) and will be published in the catalog.

You can get some insights in the last INTERIEUR (2008) here:
INTERIEUR 2008 was visited by more than 95.000 visitors and 800 journalists from all over the world. The total event was a great success! Thus 2 Latvian designers were among the winners – Ieva Laurina (founder and co- writer of this blog) and Indra Merca:

Ieva Laurina NEST. Prize awarded by Durlet for a luxurious but relaxing seating element for individual and family use in limited spaces. In addition to that Ieva also received a free stand in 'theyoungdesignersfair'.

Indra Merca BIOSEAT. Category "Playing". Prize awarded by Kortrijk Xpo.

Indra Merca BIO SEAT. Prize awarded by Kortrijk Xpo.

The show is taking place every second year. INTERIEUR was launched in 1968 as Europe’s first International Design Biennale, with a focus on product development and creative innovation. Besides the Biennale INTERIEUR foundation is hosting and organizing many side events like exhibitions, a reputed International Design Competition, debates and lectures. INTERIEUR’s guests of honour have included Raymond Loewy, Gio Ponti, Philippe Starck, Alessandro Mendini, Dieter Rams, Andrea Branzi, Jasper Morrison, Rolf Fehlbaum, Konstantin Grcic, Alfredo Häberli and Jaime Hayon.

For more info check out the website http://www.interieur.be/

magic signs in the center of Tallin March 5, 2010

Posted by Karīna Sīmane in Uncategorized.
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Spending a Friday evening searching on the web for some inspiring traditional Latvian ornaments, I accidentally came across a quite an old article from designblog.lv. There they write about an Estonian company named LOOVVOOL http://www.loovvool.com/ ,that has designed visual identity for a restaurant Kaerajaan in Tallin. The interior part was done by Ruumilabor www.ruumilabor.ee .

As LOOVVOOL themselves tell about the design: “As the name Kaerajaan comes from local folklore, we developed a symbol and a series of motifs influenced by traditional Estonian clothing patterns and with colours fine-tuned for a modern look. Combined with an elegant typeface, the overall outcome is “the new old”.”

So what’s so special in my opinion about it?
Well, 2 things:

First of all, the used symbols. They are half forgotten but still very powerful. In the past these signs were perceived as symbols that have some magical guarding powers. Over time the perception has changed and now they are mostly used as ornamentation for decorative purposes. However LOOVVOOL’s design has given these symbols a more up-to-date twist.

Secondly, I was delighted to see their news on the web page that they have just opened a new office in Hong Kong. In my opinion there are not so many companies/ designers coming from the Baltic’s who are able and so brave to compete in global markets. For these reasons I contacted LOOVVOOL and asked to answer to the following questions. The questions were answered by Hannes Unt, founder&creative director of LOOVVOOL.

1. Are you a company with Estonian origin?

LOOVVOOL was initially an Estonian company, but now the brand is associated with Hong Kong based company and we’re working with international clients and we’re not in Estonian market anymore.

2. What the word LOOVVOOL stands for, does it have any meaning?

It’s a palindromic word-play in Estonian. The “loov” means “creative” and “vool” stands for “rush or flow”.

3. How many designers do you have?

Our new agency model is not traditional in the sense that we don’t have a big studio somewhere with many designers, but only a strong core team of few people who collaborate with the best talents in their respective design fields when necessary. That’s why we’re also quite location independent. It makes us very flexible and we can always compete with big agencies and pull together bigger teams for each project.

4. Do you take interns?

In the past, we had, but currently no.

5. How do you find your clients?

We do a lot of networking and we also got referred by previous clients. Also, taking part in international design competitions is good for gaining more visibility.

6. Which of your projects has given you the most satisfaction?

The most satisfying projects would be the most demanding ones, whether in terms of analytical problem solving or design excellence or both.

7. How long it took to develop visual identity for Kaerajaan restaurant?

The whole project period was about 2-3 months as it included many different materials. The development of logo and visual patterns took probably about few weeks.

Thus, LOOVVOOL won a Red Dot award for this project


Check out the website of Kaerajaan as well! http://www.kaerajaan.ee/eng/