Júlia Káldy designs shoes for Zola Jesus – interview

Júlia Káldy designs shoes for Zola Jesus – interview Graduating in 2011 with an award-winning collection, footwear designer Júlia Káldy has created some praiseworthy collaborations with two rising starlets in fashion and music. While her shoe collection for London-based fashion designer Eleanor Amoroso hit the catwalks of London Fashion Week, her more recent project with EB-favorite singer Zola Jesus hits the stages worldwide. The Hungarian designer let us step into her world of feet.

You graduated at Moholy-Nagy University of Art And Design Budapest (MOME) with MA last year, what was the philosophy behind your graduate collection?
I was inspired by shoes that are wearable sculptures. I had the idea to experiment with footwear as if an object that is also wearable. This idea had been developed to a 9-pair collection which showcased a range of footwear started from more complicated sculptural objects to very simple and wearable street shoes by four phases. I used the same leather material for all pieces, this so called Caucasian tone which fits to the white skin, in order to fuse the shoes with the feet. I like to think about human body in its complete silhouette and form where footwear fits as harmonic and invisible as possible.

How was the feedback on your graduate collection?
Very positive! And it was a great self-confidence bomb for me. I got the first nice response when I got the possibility to present my works made during my Erasmus semester in Copenhagen for the renowned Italian interior designer Paola Navone. She gave a presentation at my university about her works and some select students could consult her and she really liked my concept shoes. It gave me a strong eagerness to continue with developing my idea. Also, I was so happy to get the prestigious annual prize from the president of the university for my diploma collection. Actually it was my introduction to the professional circles in Budapest. My diploma collection got also a nice feedback at several blogs worldwide from Holland to the States, maybe the Designmilk post was what I was the happiest about.

What happened since then?
I got an assignment from a British designer Eleanor Amoroso to create custom-made shoes for her SS12 collection. She liked the result and her catwalk show was covered by many magazines last September. It was a lovely story; she was looking for a footwear designer to work together and I emailed her my portfolio on the Not Just A Label website. She liked my works and wanted me to design her exclusive, bespoke shoes for her show at London Fashion Week SS12. It helped me a lot that Not Just A Label featured my collection before, I’m very thankful that they believed in me and pushed my works, I also met Stefan [Siegel, founder of NJAL] in person at the Fashion Video Festival in Budapest last year.
Recently I also had another collaboration with a Hungarian fashion designer Dóri Tomcsányi, we had a catwalk show at the fashion days of a commercial magazine. Working with her was really inspiring, I have never done similar like that, to work and think with someone so closely together.

Do you believe only in collaboration or have you ever thought about designing garments on your own?
That’s very interesting you’re asking this, because I was just thinking about this lately. Since my last collaboration I realized how much I miss it. I’m not sure to start to do this all thing on my own. I liked working with Dóri because somehow what she did up on the body fitted perfectly what I did down on the feet, I couldn’t do it better. I think I would trust and leave it to someone how can do it much better than me. As far as I can resonate with someone for the same style and design; I wouldn’t start to design clothes on my own.
Mostly I’m working independently, but as soon as I start to work in team, my limits get extended; it may give me more inspiration. I’m always looking for people who inspire me personally and professionally and we can do something interesting together.

What are your style characters?
I think I create very strong-featured shapes that dominate the foot. If I want to emphasize the shoes, I never try to pair it with a too characteristic garment, but keep them simpler. Simplicity is always important for me. Another thing what I like is the sharp contrast. Be it hidden or unhidden, something in its form or in color which makes it different is preferable. When you take it and a blood red inline gets visible, that gives a nice dynamics to the object. I like playing with this idea: Make it simple, well-made, out of quality leather, topped with a little surprise.

How did you get know each other with Zola Jesus?
Last September I received an email from her like … “this is Nika Roza Danilova, a singer and I saw you design shoes, can I buy one?” Her name was familiar and I checked it and found out that she is Zola Jesus. I replied her that I’m happy that she found me, and was wondering why not to make a capsule collection for her. I said if she is open, I could do some sketches based on how I see her style. After I sent her the moodboard she was overwhelmingly happy how much our taste matched. It turned out that we like similar things and artists, for instance Tara Donovan’s monumental installations or Zaha Hadid’s organic architecture. She couldn’t believe it; it was like a fairy tale. I met her while I was in New York in February and I could give her the first model of the collection. She was crazy about the shoes, she took them on and said she won’t take them off. It was such a good feeling that she loved my handicraft stuff. Later I heard that during her Europe-tour she will give a concert in Budapest too.

What about the future?
I’d like to keep on working together with Zola Jesus. I’m doing my academy degree at the university and will teach from September. And I want to start my own business and design bespoke shoes on an on-demand basis.

Zola Jesus will perform in Budapest on 7th April 2012 at A38 ship, more information and ticket raffle here.

Photos about Zola Jesus: Júlia Káldy / Campaign images: Éva Szombat / Head image: Olga Kocsi, styling: Patrícia Nóra

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Interview: Optigram

Interview: Optigram Manuel Sepulveda, the artist behind Optigram, is an art director who has been responsible for a huge amount of fantastic record sleeves over the last few years. He’s worked for labels such as Hyperdub, Warp and Planet Mu and has created an œuvre that has something of an eighties retro-futuristic feel. Or just classy and geometric depending on your point of view. And, that’s not all: Manuel also runs the Citinite imprint and hosts the monthly radio show called Nitetrax on the London-based station NTS. Recently he has created the stunning artwork for F.C Judd‘s Electronic Without Tears album plus very soon there will be some new artwork for a new EP from Ikonika on her own label Hum+Buzz.

Hey Manuel. Where are you from and where are you now?
I’m originally from Santiago, Chile, but I’ve mostly lived in the UK (Winchester and Cornwall) and I’m currently based in London.

Did you studie art?
Yeah I did a graphic design degree in Bristol although I specialised in film. I can’t say I learned much from the experience though! It’s far more useful to actually work in a design studio, that’s where the real learning begins and I was lucky to have spent a few years freelancing at Blue Source in London who specialised in record sleeve design.

What do you like about creating album sleeves?
There’s a lot of freedom in most record sleeve projects to just explore and do what you feel; there’s not the usual client considerations/compromises that most other graphic design jobs come with. So the work can be very personal. Even when the artist or label gives you an initial concept it’s still fun to interpret their ideas in my own way and those early collaborative discussions can be really helpful. Sometimes the artist or label likes the finished piece straight away. Other times it may take them a while but I actually like that period of persuasion until it clicks with them.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
Partly from the music – I never start a project before having heard the tracks and will often have it playing whilst I’m working on the image. If the design doesn’t fit with the music then I’ve failed. Visually I get inspiration from architecture, modern art movements up until the 80s, commercial illustration from the 70s and 80s, comic books, technology etc.

How would you describe your style?
I was actually wondering that myself earlier this year and I realised that it’s all very rhythmic, the patterns and colours, which makes sense seeing as I have music playing in the background. I guess a lot of it is quite moody too. But some of it is more playful – silly even.

First cover you designed?
This Ken Ishii sleeve for Tangled Notes, for R&S Records (which I did whilst in my first year at art college).

Take us through an average day of designing for you.
Well I’m either working on a design or I’m not. The day around it can involve anything. Sometimes I put things off until the last minute becuase I want to think and rethink the idea in my head until I’m happy with it before beginning (at least, that’s how I justify procrastination). I never sketch out the idea beforehand. Other times I don’t think about it at all and just experiment with shapes and patterns until I feel something is working, and then push that around until I’m happy with it. Usually I like to then come back after a day or two of reflection and tweak things. The best thing is when I’ve been working late, then go to sleep, then in my dreams i think of something and attempt to recreate it the next day – nightmares can be very useful!

Which art directors you love?
I suppose Reid Miles (who did all those iconic Blue Note covers) was the first record label designer who I was really aware of by name. I also love a lot of the sleeve work by Hipgnosis from the 70s. But speaking more generally about graphic design, Paul Rand, Saul Bass and Ikko Tanaka will always be heroes of mine.

What have you got lined up for the future?
I’ve just finished the artwork for DVA’s album on Hyperdub which I’m really pleased with and am currently working on an Ikonika EP on her own label Hum+Buzz. I can’t really say what other projects are coming up because I don’t think they’ve yet been announced by the labels concerned. I had a really successful exhibition of my artwork at this year’s Unsound Festival and I’d love to do something similar again, either in London or elsewhere.

Tell us a bit about your side-projects Nitetrax radio and Citinite music.
Citinite’s been going for about five years now, and the style of artwork is very different to most of the work I do for other labels; it’s much more 80s-centric and fits in with the funk-oriented music. Recently I’ve started to commission other designers to do sleeves for the label; the first one was by Xosar for the Sexual Harrassment EP. The monthly Nitetrax radio show is something I started earlier this year on the internet station NTS and it gives me an opportunity to play both music that has inspired me in the past and that is exciting me currently.

Explore more over at his Optigram website here.

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Reduce, reuse, recycle: Let’s save some chairs!

Reduce, reuse, recycle: Let's save some chairs! After several decades of serving lots and lots of bottoms chairs usually find themselves thrown away at junkyards and so becoming a Che Chair must feel like a dream come true. If Ranko Haslinger and Aleksandra Popovi?, the names behind an interesting eco friendly brand, get their hands on them they turn chairs into something we can truly call a fairytale sitting. Repainted and redraped, their old Biedermeir, Windsor and Alt Deutsch chairs are currently some of the most desirable items in homes all over Croatia.

Ranko and Aleksandra created the first Che Chair two years ago for their appartment, and last summer they decided to share their work for the first time at a local festival in their home town of Varaždin. In just one day Che Chair’s showroom became one of the festival’s highlights with reworked retro chairs, 80’s videogames competitions and even a girly vintage clothing department. Ever since Aleksandra was a little girl she had her favourite chairs to sit in – «while eating dinner, watching TV or doing homework. We still find them fascinating» the couple explains.
Whilst old furniture revival may not be such an innovative idea, Ranko’s and Aleksandra’s chairs seem to scream out their pesonalities, which are colored in bright oranges, reds and yellows. Take a peek inside the Che Chair gallery to convince yourself.

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Designblok for life

Designblok for life The annual feast for all design fiends is set to take place between the 4th and 9th of October in Prague’s districts of Old Town, Karlín and Holešovice. These districts have become frequented by designers whose shops and studios have mushroomed, especially in the increasingly hip Karlín and Holešovice districts.

Designblok offers an astonishingly diverse display of the best that contemporary design has to offer, both local – an unparalleled showcase of established and up-and-coming Czech designers – and international London duo Barber and Osgerby, creators of the London 2012 Olympics torch.

Aside from industrial and product design, the event will also dedicate a special section to fashion this year, namely the Designblok Dreft Fashion Week which aims to be on par with its more established international forebears. Designblok’s 2011 leitmotif is fitting – the city with its various urban manifestations, be it architecture or sustainable development as the haven for design and its creators alike.

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Hana Frišonsová and the art of fashion

Hana Frišonsová and the art of fashion How did you start with fashion?

I studied Textile and Fashion design at the Technical University in Liberec. After the studies I started to cooperate with one company that supported me, which was very helpful for my progress.

Can you describe the philosophy behind your label SUUS / Hana Frišonsová?

I work spontaneously. I don’t perceive the concrete philosophy of my work yet – it’s more about the reaction to a situation and my mood. At the moment I’m fascinated by science fiction, phobias and sexuality.

Can you explain your creative process. How do you work, how is something – a collection, new design – born?

The design itself is based on many curious experiences. It‘s hard to say what exactly I want to do – because not all good ideas can be used in one collection. But after the selection of inspirations it begins to make sense to me – I start to see the complete line and concept of a new project and I can think about the realization. It’s a very organic process – how are the fashion, atmosphere of the concept, technological process and the final product changing.

Your visual aesthetics are dark, with heavy use of monochrome, face masks, leather, etc which is very different to other Czech designers, who use a lot of colour (sometimes too much)…

Maybe I will make a very colourful collection once too ,) I like colours – it’s just about how you want to use them. I was more focused on the form and construction. The current trends still don’t get here to the full extent and at the right time. Many people are not so interested in what’s world got to offer. You can see many “alternative” labels without strong concepts and high-quality. I think the scene here is too conservative or kitschy – fortunately it’s not all so black and white.

You have won the Erste Bank Fashion Award. What does it mean to you and what were your impressions of other designers in the competition who represent Central and Eastern European young fashion design? Is there something they have in common?

It was one of the Austria’s Fashion Awards given during a very interesting Festival for Fashion and Photography in Vienna. It wasn’t a traditional competition. This prize is based on an extended online research from these countries. So I really didn’t meet other designers from who I was chosen… Winning the award means that I will get some money for my new collection. Also I met a couple of nice people there so I’m looking forward to the future collaborations and next years of this festival.

What are you working on at the moment?

I work on two projects – first my new collection and second my leather jewellery. I would like focus on the new structures by using traditional techniques. The leather project is more about revolt and provocation but not in a cheap way. I like the hard manufacturing process with a hammer. I’m wearing pieces of this project almost every day.

What about your future plans with the label?

Find a way how to work, travel and create all at the same time!

Where can people see & buy your stuff?

Everything is online on my website and blog.

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