Each year at the end of October you can go to Leipzig to see what other designers and design students have been working on recently. AKS claims its regular appearance too, so this year those in charge of the school´s representation came up with the idea of exhibiting the prototypes of last year’s Upcycling Project and organize a jewellery-making session throughout the 3 days and a giveaway for the visitors. To match the topic of the exhibition, the accessories were made out of textile remnants from the school’s supply. Since the whole fair was focused around sustainability, the Fashion Department`s presence fit entirely into their concept.
As for the model development module in the 3rd semester, students have the task to evolve a conceptual design. Last year it happened to be the topic of upcycling; making something that was deemed waste worthy again. The project aimed to deal with ecological, economic and social issues and to encourage a critical view of designs in terms of ecology, environment, society and culture. The question of value and appreciation or devaluation and loss of value of clothing stood in the foreground. Students searched for ways to process waste resources into higher quality products. As a result, individual clothing concepts were developed, ranging from social statements and the use of clothing as a message-bearer to reproducible clothing. The models were implemented conventionally or experimentally. Modern and traditional techniques such as knitting, ultrasonic welding and laser cutting, weaving and braiding, transfer printing, quilting and patchwork as well as creative textile techniques were used for the surface design.
The exhibition was accompanied by a wall-to-wall projection of the best photoshoots and a little description of all the concepts.
The jewellery was manufactured live by the first semester students and tagged with a hanging label saying ”precious.”
I asked the students about their experience and how they saw the Designers`Open as insiders.
They found it colourful, distinguished and, above all, a great experience. They all emphasized its diversity. Through a challenging task to create a valuable and wearable product out of a seemingly waste material, freshman students got to see a fair visited by 16.600 people, in which they could gain important observations.
Some of the students already did some re- or upcycling projects, but never in such dimensions. They remarked it is important to distinguish between handicrafts and design, because here the development of the actual product was preceded by a lot of experimenting. The task was to make circa 50 pieces after choosing the proper design out of the first ideas. It was a massproduction in a sense, although the jewellery and accessories all differed a little bit in colour and material due to the project`s nature of using remnants.
The fact that the students fabricated the accessories on-the-spot bore the message that it doesn`t have to be hard and time-consuming to make such things.
Visitors could take a piece of accessory with them which was unusual for many. Some people could hardly believe they would get it as a gift and wanted to leave some money in exchange. The remainder will be presented at the Open House days in our school in December.
According to the girls, people who saw the exhibition didn`t expect to see such artistic renderings of the topic. They gave information about the project to those interested, which allowed them the opportunity to enter into interesting conversations.
There were more generations meeting here, and the students enjoyed older people sharing experiences with them. For example, they learned how in the DDR times repairing and reusing their everyday clothing and other objects was a normal way of thinking, which clearly tells us how in the last 30 years our society went from a caretaking to a throw-away attitude. They saw through the story-telling how people from other areas of life try to connect the young designers, they are trying to find common points between their lives and our modern-day interests. Talking to a toy manufacturer, for instance, gave them courage to go on with what they are doing.
Probably the most intensive input was given by the fashion show which was presented by the graduates of the Sigmaringen Fashion School. It was fascinating for the yet to be designers to see how the collections seen in a paper-form catalogue worked in real on the catwalk. That is something to take inspiration from.
For some the most important takeaway from the fair was the direct feedback that came from the visitors. It was good to see how they reacted to the designs that were developed in 1,5 weeks. Many chose something to match their then outfit and leave it on right away.
The students detected the diversity of design, how different directions some similar ideas can take, and not only fashion items were inspiring for them, but some furniture for example, as well.
South-Korean Partners of last year`s upcycling project, the Gwangmyeong Upcycle Art Center also exhibited their artworks at the congress hall. Korean upcycle artists among whom some are winners of international art and design competitions showed their brainchildren to the German audience. The difference to the AKS creations is that they were more technically-oriented and often humorous renderings of the topic of upcycling. Their statement was that broken electric objects should not necessarily be thrown away. They introduced their work through seminars and they led workshops, too, where visitors could make keyrings out of leather remnants or repurpose old electric circuits and other spare parts into artefacts.
Autorin: Réka Gyurkovics
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