‘Nature in Extinction’ is a collection that aims to give a voice to critically endangered species. The idea of this collection was originally born from my love for nature and the desire to create something that it is not purely aesthetical but also meaningful. I started my research into the flora and fauna of my countries of origin, I thought I would bring together different aspects from these countries for a unique outcome. The inspiration came from two sources, the first from the nature of my origins that are several, the second from a very interesting designer I spotted in New Designers last year that combined different elements from the East and West in her collection. I then came across an article about some extinct animals and plants. This caught my attention immediately and after some hours of research I just knew this was what I wanted to do and share with others. I started imagining a series of designs where I would have a new family of animals that I would bring together while also giving a meaningful message to the viewer and buyer of my collection. In fact, there are more than 26.500 species at risk of extinction, representing today a significant 27% of all species as reported by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). Among many, I chose four animals that have an important ecological, symbolic and spiritual value. They represent different territories and animal families: Honey Bee, Hawksbill Turtle, Giant Ibis and the Sumatran Tiger. Of the last two there are only a couple of hundred specimens left in the world. This is the reason I was able to mainly gather secondary research as it is very difficult today to come across these animals since there are so very few left of them in the world. Databases such as the WWF and IUCN have been crucial for the information and imagery needed in order to better understand my chosen animals and their habitat. In fact I decided to depict them in relation to a plant that I associated them with, from their natural habitat. However, my trips in the parks around Cardiff allowed me to also do some primary research through photography and sketching related to the bee. Designers and Design Companies have been another important aspect that influenced the aesthetics of my designs. Especially the Timorous Beasties with their daring and goth feel designs but also more notorious names that made history such as William Morris, as well as less known such as Fernanda Sternieri that combine nature with my beloved damask layout so beautifully. The Damask style is one of the main one I looked at for the layout of my designs from which I love the structure, especially in combination with organic elements. Further research led me to understand that there is a growing trend and need for a deeper meaning behind our life choices as well as our design choices. People are more aware nowadays about the environment and the negative consequences of our consumerist actions, and more ready for action in order to stay true to their values. ‘Empower Up’ is in fact one of the WGSN reports that I related to the most, that describes this forming mind set. Different reports also show how the boundaries of elements such as age, colour or season are starting to fade while designers are called to respond accordingly. Words like gender neutral and transseasonal start to arise and it felt to me like reading my own mind and inclination since it is in my natural style to combine the male and female aesthetics while this has also influenced my colour palette. I therefore decided to create a gender neutral, transseasonal collection for the SS20-AW20/21 that is bold and sophisticated with a deeper meaning. The style is a combination of illustrative and abstract elements that merge into one another capable to convey a message of constant interaction of different elements that are nonetheless kept together harmoniously. The collection is aimed for professionals over 25 that own their home and are therefore more probable to afford to buy high end interior and fashion items. I have hand drawn my motifs and further manipulated them digitally with Photoshop. All designs are digitally printed in order to limit the harmful effect of paints on the environment, and it also defines one of my main skills. Environmental awareness has become very important to me across my three years in Cardiff Metropolitan and has also been at the core of my dissertation on which I have based my business plan on with a successful outcome. In this collection I have put the main focus on wallpapers that are able to create a more immediately impactful reaction due to their potential scale. I have also printed my designs on luxury fabrics such as linen,velvet and silk considering heavy and light weight for both interior and fashion, as well as the tactile aspect, always present in my collections. My colour palette reflects my client having researched into future trends and selected them among different seasons while adjusting the tones to also fit my own style. The collection has a main design that groups together my four species and sub collections for each animal that is depicted in his natural environment. I have also mixed and matched plants and animals both for the aesthetically interesting outcome as well as the world’s natural tendency towards inclusion, another key word in future trends. Overall I am very pleased about my collection, I feel it is the coronation of my time in Uni. I have refined over the past three years my design style and especially my colour palette which I had to learn to develop to the point I am. Most of all I feel confident about my skills and professionalism and also aware of my weaknesses. For this I have to thank both my family and my tutors for the support and encouragement and I am extremely excited about what’s coming next.
My binded technical file includes the majority of the samples I have made during my experimentation since we started this project.
- The first sample is a digital stitch on sand coloured Linen that I have experimented with for a potential upholstery piece, however the fabric resulted to be too raw therefore not in line for my target market so I decided to keep as a second best outcome. Furthermore the design has been further manipulated on Photoshop for a more apropiate outcome that have become my main Animal design that I am very happy about. It represents detail, sketching skills and the goth feel that is my style signature.
- I definitely wanted to integrate some digital stitch in my collection but I wanted it to be simple in order for me to use it as blenders because the collection is already rich in both colour and motifs. This sample however resulted to be simplistic and unfinished.
- I refined the aesthetics of the digital stitch samples by using a simpler motif but in a more effective way. I wanted to give a simple but complex and sophisticated look and also a tactile feel to it. I therefore used wadding in between 2 layers of fabrics (beige linen on top and calico on the bottom), hooked it and stitched on my sandwiched fabrics to understand if the process would work and see the final look. I did two experiments, one with just one layer of wadding and another with two layers. It was a success and loved the outcome. I then used the 2 layered technique for my simplest final pattern with red on petrol green linen, and the one layered wadding on the more complex pattern that I printed with red on blue velvet.
- I have experimented with laser engraving that I was very happy about, however the choice of the right fabric for a more appropriate outcome would require further research and experimentation that I chose to leave aside in favor of the main outcomes I had to focus on.
- Laser Cutting is one of the workshops I have enjoyed the most and the engraved Mdf Ibis is a result of that. Sarah Barker also loved it however, to fit in my collection it would have required further refinement that I didn’t have time for so I decided not to use it in my collection.
- I have also printed some initial samples of my first designs with fashion formula, to see how colors would result on different fabrics. I also printed my colour palette as a 20×20 sample on organic cotton, as well as my main animal design . The fabric in this case resulted not to be appropriate for my collection because of its intrinsic beige/yellow base. The same in regard for my colour palette that resulted to be to dull, so I decided not to use it in my collection. The moleskine fabric chosen for my Ibis leaves
seemed very interesting , but what initially seemed beautiful and high end resulted to be dull and having a cheap feel. I wasn’t happy about the silky satin or the faux satin either because the colours resulted to dull. I am very happy I printed them in time to be able to have a comparison and make an appropriate decision for the final samples. In the end I opted for silk, velvet (short pile and marbled), linen, vegan leather (leatherette), fashion satin and interior satin that I have placed on the same page with my printed colour palette.
- I reprinted the Ibis leaves main on a beautiful high end and very expensive short pile velvet together with a secondary design from my turtle sponge. Unfortunately it didn’t look close to what I expected, the colours were dull and the scale of the design too small. Therefore the sample ended up in the technical file. However the yellow secondary sponge was more beautiful than expected and it will be exposed on the rail as part of the collection. Since I have ordered them before starting the second term I had the time to reorder my main ibis leaves on marbled velvet and it looks just perfect.
- I also integrated in my sample book the digital designs of my collection that I have printed on silk paper and didn’t showcase on the rail. I printed my whole collection on paper in case something would go wrong with the fabric samples. In fact it did go wrong when it came to print my scarf and dress, there was a damage to my fabric that fortunately was just partial and didn’t affect the final product outcomes that I wanted to exhibit in my show: the scarf and dress.
- The technical file also contains my colour ways printed on silk touch paper:
It has been a lot of fun making things for my exhibition. Being a maker I couldn’t have imagined not making at least part of the things I needed. From less creative things such as cutting wood sticks for my 2 meters long wallpapers:
to creating my own signage and flat head mannequin for my scarf from plexi glass:
And my business and post cards holder in plexi glass. For this I created a vector file for the cutting and engraving of my flower and bee design. After some research I created my model and made it easy to assemble and very effective and nice to see even when empty:
I also created my own sample book using digital stitch, laser cutting and book binding skills:
After learning about the dimensions of my actual space I had to make some changes compared to what I imagined it would be in the beginning. However, I managed to integrate all the elements I wanted and I am very pleased with the result. I also love where I am in the room since my exhibition will be the first one everybody will see walking by the door.
Setting up plan:
My final collection is composed of 30 designs. I have a Main one that incorporates the four animals at risk of extinction that I chose to base my collection upon. I then divided each animal into a sub collections, and dedicated two additional collection for the plants I associated with the Ibis and the Turtle. I grouped each collection into Main, Secondary and Blenders each represented respectively by the biggest, middle and smaller image. All together there are Seven Main, Fourteen Secondary and Nine Blender designs, all created digitally from the sketches I have made based on each animal and the plant associated with. The overall look is cohesive due to both my colour palette and my drawing and digital style that, and appropriate for a high end, bold and sophisticated client that loves a touch of goth.
As part of the collection I wanted to integrate some colourways that are both inside and outside of my colour palette in order to give the customer the possibility to have more buying options.
I chose mostly my organic patterns for this because more appealing to the customer. These patterns in fact are the most designed and used worldwide.
I chose the yellow floral pattern from my Bee Collection to be my main colourway. I find that it balances the overall feel of the collection, however I find the other two colourways to be both successful and it really seems to be just a matter of taste. For the design I used the Honey Bee I sketched and the Camellia I associated with it. However as branches I chose the plant of the Ibis to start blend elements around the collection and give it a more cohesive look.
From my Ibis collection I chose the floral leaves pattern to create my colour coordinates. I created one inside my colour palette and another two outside of my colour palette, for those customers that like my designs but they would prefer a more pastel look or just an alternative colourway. The pink peach beije is the main colourway i chose for the collection, I find it successful and it also balances the overall look since I haven’t used it too much as background colour.
I created one colourway of my repeated Ibis:
‘Nature in Extinction’ is a collection that aims to give a voice to critically endangered species. It is a response to a growing need for designs that are meaningful, gender neutral and transseasonal, therefore able to convey an important message while also being less tied to a particular season or gender. The idea was born from my love for nature and an in depth research related to environmental issues and concept trend reports. I have brought together a selected number of species at high risk of extinction that have an important ecological, symbolic and spiritual value such as the Honey Bee, the Hawksbill Turtle, the Giant Ibis and the Sumatran Tiger. They are depicted in their natural environment, through a bold and sophisticated aesthetics that is both illustrative and abstract. The collection is aimed for a high end interior and fashion clientele that love a Gothic twist. All designs are digitally printed in order to limit the harmful effect on the environment.