Everyday Essentials, 2017
Everyday Essentials is a series of garments and corresponding objects. The collection investigates the moment a garment is left behind, stored or hung and at that point the relationship which is created with different everyday objects f.e. chairs, hangers or hooks. Together, garment and object form an abstract sculptural entity which is emphasized through experimental surfaces and the alienation of everyday objects. Hereby functionality is not disregarded, but underlined and reconsidered.
The design of each garment is equally influenced by the human body and the object, creating alternative forms and new possibilities of wear and storage through poetic yet minimal interventions.
J: Which brings me back to my first question of what really is the difference between what you are doing is it more of an art practice rather than a commodity practice?
N: Yeah, it is more of an art practice. Also, my work, the way people perceive it, I have more exhibitions in museums or wherever than I have people that want to buy my stuff.
J: Is this more of a European versus American sensibility? Are there textile designers in America approaching it in a similar way?
N: I don't know. I have been talking about this with my friend who lives in Paris, we also studied together at the Rietveld. and when I visited her she remarked that in Paris, it's so different, this intersection between art and design, all the people want to create products that they can sell and that is also the way they think. And we both, we went to school at the Rietveld where you learn to think quite free and artistic and conceptual I would say. I mean, I was thinking about this a lot, I mean yeah, maybe it's only about money. Really about money, that in Berlin it's easier to live here and survive here then in Paris or in New York where you need a lot more money. Here you have the possibility of working in this way that doesn't require is change your focus.
J: It seems like there is something still possible in Berlin which no longer exists in many places. New York for a long time had this mix where it was possible for people to live in the middle of this world city, where there was so much global wealth and media, but an artist could survive almost siphoning off resources from that global metropolis without capitulating fully to rational of capitalism. It's become a given now that an artist needs to think of herself as an entrepreneur and operate from a stance of how to make products that not only make use of the tools of digital-capitalism but actively promote it's rational.
N: Yeah, yeah. If you have a certain financial background of you get funding I think then it's fine, but if you don't have this, and you don't get it, then yes it's hard.
J: Let's go back and talk about what it is you are exploring and researching right now.
N: Actually, I just moved into a new studio and what it has changed for me is that it is really quiet. I started reading again, reading Barthes and... I mean this is kind of the bible for my work, all of his writing.
J: Is there a particular book that you've been into right now?
N: Right now I'm reading "The Fashion System" again, which I never read in its entirety. I always read parts of it and then read it in different languages. For me, it always says something different. Sometimes I read it German and then try to find the translation in the English book and then I think, 'I cannot find it!' [laughs] The sentences are just so different and sometimes not as important as in German or the other way around. Yeah, so, the last thing I was researching was the scarves, and I was looking at people and studying how people wear scarves, and there is so many different ways people do this. You can knot, you can drape it, you can wear it loose, it's so many different forms. What I think is quite interesting is that a scarf is a garment that has no applications, no buttons or anything and also no sleeve or anything that mimics your body shape, nothing that tells you, 'here is the arm', it really is just this square piece of fabric, you can do anything with it. What happens at the moment when you drape it around your neck, it divides itself in two pieces. From that moment you are able to close it. Before you are not. I think this is really interesting and also because the way you wear a scarf I think it transports a lot associations about the 'person'. How a banker wears a scarf is maybe different from another person. You can wear it in a posh way or you can just like wear it casually.
J: How did that observation develop the way you approach the scarf?
N: What I hoped is that in building this collection, as a collection, it forces people to pay attention, as all my other collections do. Having this moment of 'ah yeah, I never thought about that but yeah you can wear a scarf like that, or like that.' It's some kind of automatic reaction we are all used to but it is such a daily habit we don't think about it that often. So, draping, I thought, how can I give someone a manual of how to use this scarf. So I created some really minimal interventions on this piece of fabric, like cutting a hole inside or things like this. Through this cut it will make people think about these different ways of how they use the scarf.
J: Was it a combination of developing fabric for this, or was it prints?
N: No it was really just laser cutting them. Actually all the items are breaking with the learned habits while concurrently offering new variants of wear. [laughs] but it's a super minimalist product, it's not telling you, it's still an autonomous object.
J: When you make something like this, how many do you develop?