‘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 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.
‘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.
The presentation that I initially imagined accompanied with some amount of anxiety resulted in a very pleasant conversation which I have really enjoyed. Getting to meet her before the presentation relaxed me quite a bit. The pressure of deadlines in general has the ability to push forward my professionalism, which I think has to be always the basis for whatever professional interaction, even the friendlier. This meetings were the case. I have looked up Professor Eiluned Edwards and saw the vast experience she has in the textiles and fashion industry and was amazed by her friendly approach towards us both in the collective meeting and my personal presentation. She put us at ease immediately.
I started my presentation with my theme, talking about critically endangered species which she seemed to like. She actually mentioned a couple of artists she knew that were studying the bees in their practice and I am waiting curiously now for their contact details to know more.
I went on talking about the style of my designs and client. I mentioned that I want to design mainly for interior but bring in some fashion elements too. Since there isn’t enough time or certain skills to make a garment she proposed something simple as a scarf or as a live mock up, exactly what I did for the previous collection that I didn’t consider for my final one. I will definitely go with it.
I shared why I have considered WGSN during my research and it is because 3 key points: sustainability in the process where digital printing is less damaging for the environment, gender neutral and transseasonal considerations. In fact I have chosen to design for the transseason SS20-and AW20/21. I did ask her if it wasn’t to bold of a move since I have never listened to a choice like this, but as WGSN also Eiluned agreed in how seasons are merging and also fashion and interior. I am very happy with the fact that she confirmed my choices and seemed to like it too.
Finally I shared my next steps that is to divide my collection equally, roughly in 10 primary, 10 secondary and 10 blenders and form these mini collections of 3 that might also be 4 or 5.
She asked me what will she see in my space at the summer show and I answered a wallpaper, possibly a one paneled room divider and some cushions. As well as the scarf or live mockup of a garment.
She finally asked me about my intentions once I finish my course. In the last year I have seriously considered to apply for the Inc. Space and there is a high possibility I might do that because I have an idea for a business. I will also start searching for a part time job and send out CV already before graduation either for part time or full time jobs depending if I will get a space in the Inc Space or not.
Since there wasn’t much time or space for all of us to add comments at the group meeting with Eiluned I would like to share some of my objective experience of these 2 and a half years in Cardiff Met:
- I have done multiple workshops during my time in Cardiff Met, related to different other courses which were not Textiles. I didn’t sign up for all of them because some were full online and some I have just decided that day I wanted to do them. As suggested by the school and other students I contacted the relevant tutor and got in all of them besides one. In most workshops there is always somebody who doesn’t show up living space for somebody else but you have to be there to take it.
- The interdisciplinary activities are multiple, they were a great experience where I have learned that I am not only a surface pattern designer but also a maker. For me it was invaluable.
- Some Tutors and technicians even outside my course have gone the extra mile to help me. Somebody had their lunch while explaining to me what I needed and have done the same with some other students.
- Constellation has opened my mind and made me do connections I didn’t imagine before. I have studied city architectures and philosophy and learned about curating and art gallery/museum where I ended up writing an essay about a hypothetical but doable futuristic experience for people that got me a first and enjoyed fully. This last study group wasn’t even my first choice.
I did an internship last year with a pleating company. It was great and I have learned so much among friendly people that taught me everything I asked for. The same experience was very negative for some of other people that I know. The school system, as every other is made of people and it is the interaction with them and mainly your professionalism, curiosity and personality that will make a difference in the end. Cardiff Met gives so many opportunities that one degree isn’t enough to take advantage of all even if you plan ahead the 3 years. It is up to each individual to take a step and use them.
My Colour Board was the only one I wasn’t totally happy with, the number of colours seemed to me a bit to high and with too much diversity. I went back to my colour research in WGSM that I have already made with individual chips for both the SS 20 and the A/W 20/21 collection to be able to play with and place them in groups to see how they look like together. I refined my colour palette considering still that I wanted a gender neutral and transeasonal palette, however cosidering my own taste and style and therefore I have made some changes in the tone of some of the colours. I also had more design elements to play with and better evaluate my choices. I therefore decided to give up on the orange and sunset and bring back the mustard which I found it to be the perfect sobstitute to give interest and light to the collection. It is a trending colour and it gives the warm feel I am looking for my entire collection. Mint Green is very in trend for the gender neutral appeal but I decided to give it up for a more refined overall look. For the same reason I substituted my graphite black with a warmer black that I took from the mid dark tone of the same mustard. Warm tones are in trend, in line with the need for inclusion, the same that justifies transeasonality and the growing need for gender neutral palettes.
From my Consultancy presentation I have learned to better time myself in what I have to say and I think I have improved and showed that today. There isn’t enough time in three minutes to talk about all the aspects of a collection but overall I am happy with how it went. I named my collection ‘Nature in Extinction’ based on 5 Critically Endangered species that I decided to bring together, together with elements from their natural habitat. I will construct my designs mainly through the exploration of the Damask style but I will also consider other classic layouts such as Art Deco, Toile de Jouy etc.
Tutors were pleased with the layout of my work, this aspect has been part of my practice since my first year and improved with each collection. I like my work to be displayed in a neat and professional way, it shows dedication and highlights the way I approach my work. I am very pleased with my research, it has been thorough and continues alongside my work. I have researched into the WWF and IUCN list of critically endangered animals and selected 5 species among those with an important ecological, symbolic and spiritual value and their habitat: the Sumatran Tiger, Hawksbill Turtle, Giant Ibis, Primates such as the Cross River Gorilla and the Honeybee. My Moodboards reflect my research, however I might reconsider a few of my colors to find the right balance between the transeasonal look I am looking for in regard to SS20 and AW20/21 and a bold and sophisticated look. My sketchbook depicts the animals I chose to represent and each plant associated with them. From the critique it came out the need to experiment more with different combinations of motifs.
Some of my sketches are incomplete such the Ibis where I omitted to finish the legs for the curiosity of starting soon my design development to have an understanding of the outcome. This has shown an unfinished look in my experimental designs that I need to correct. Same applies for my half ibis design where the ibis also have a too obvious look while I am aiming to give an overall impact of the design where my motifs are identifiable at a closer look.
One of my damask designs was already quite complex therefore it came out in the discussion that the single tiles need more space to breath, which I agree with. I will also need to reduce the amount of the black area which gives a very dark feel while I am only looking for a Gothic touch. It need refinement for a more harmonious balance.
Tutors were very pleased with my large scale damask both for the layout and the colors and I am very happy about it because I have also found it successful.
The digital stitch sample was a bit too simplistic, in fact this was just a first sample and I am considering to bring more colours and interest to it by adding further embellishment.
My next steps are:
- Experimenting with different combinations of my flora and fauna motifs and different layouts and scale.
- to select a few samples and digitally print them to see the real look of how my design look on my chosen fabrics and that the colours are the ones I have actually chosen.
- Organizing my final samples in main, secondary and blenders where the main will depict all or most of the animals and elements of their natural habitat, the secondary will see a more simple combination of less and single species. The blender will be created by choosing single elements of either animals or plants in a simple layout to complete and balance the busiest main and secondary designs.
I still can’t believe I am starting the last stage of my final year. It seems yesterday that I started Uni and it feels weird to imagine that I won’t be walking through these corridors next year. And here I am researching for my final project. It is so exciting and a bit scary at the same time. I hope I will be able to bring together my skills and creativity for an original collection able to deeply satisfy me. Especially during the last months, I had many ideas crossing my mind and I decided to share my main three:
1. ‘Origins‘ has been my main choice. My family has a varied provenance which I don’t have an in dept knowledge about, so I decided to learn more by doing a DNA test that proved my Hungarian, Romanian and German origins, in addition of another one which I never suspected, Greek. The idea was to take elements of these countries such as characteristic flora, fauna and objects and bring them together in an original layout.
2. The second idea was to explore a very beautiful but not well-known creature, the Sea Dragon and its habitat. There are many species, each one with different shapes, in a multitude of neutral and bright colors. It has been fascinating me since the first time I came across it a couple of years ago during other researches. However, as much as I love the sea and its creatures, I wasn’t so keen in exploring it for my final collection.
3. My third idea started to arise while exploring and researching into the ‘Origin’ idea. During my research about the fauna in Romania I came across the fact that a very important animal for the ecosystem has become extincted in the recent years. This led to unbalances for both flora and fauna, and brought me to learn more about the same situation in different countries. I gathered an amount of information and knowledge that shocked me and so I decided to make Critically Endangered Species my theme for the final collection.