Pre Helsinki Festival

Pre Helsinki is a new Finnish fashion festival that is currently taking place (22nd-25th May) in the country’s capital city. Organized by Finnish designers along with professionals, the festival hosts international fashion insiders from notable journalists to several foreign buyers.

The aim of the event is to create a connection between young Finnish designers and worldwide fashion leaders; by fashion shows, talks, seminars, parties and presentations, the new brands have the opportunity to be introduced to a wider panorama and to discuss, together with the guests, about trends and different points of view. Realization of the idea of creating a new interchange platform between Finland and the rest of the world has been possible also thanks to Finland Foreign Affair Ministry and Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture special cooperation.

Along with established designers like Marimekko, Laitinen and Heikki Salonen, also younger talents such as Ensæmble, Saara Lepokorpi and Sasu Kauppi are showing their newest collections, and the newcomer Siloa & Mook is doing a debut in the industry by presenting its first collection. Lately, Finnish fashion is becoming more and more internationally recognized, which is a new phenomenon for a country formally known for its architecture and product design. That’s one of the main reasons why the nation thinks local fashion industry needs to be supported, and experiments new types of events. Talking with Development and Business Relations officer 
Martta Louekari, she says: “Pre Helsinki is neither a traditional sales event, nor a fashion week. The focus of Pre Helsinki is on promoting the internationalization and networking of Finnish designers and fashion brands in a relaxed, yet professional, atmosphere.”

Francesca Crippa – Images Meri Karhu 
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4 Questions To – Jack Dahl

Heavy books intruding our free time – to make positive associations with the word homework might not come naturally to everyone. Luckily we found a place that changes the scenario: Homework is also the name of a Copenhagen-based creative studio founded in 2002, bringing forth associations of timeless yet contemporary design, ambitious work and Scandinavian flair. The studio, specialized in brand expression and communication, has since the start built up a portfolio showcasing brand identity projects, packaging, image campaigns and editorial work across printed and digital media. The Blogazine had a chat with founder Jack Dahl – creative director who has worked with some of the most prestigious names within the field of fashion, beauty and luxury design.

Your studio is located in Copenhagen, a city that over the passed years has gained a lot of attention internationally. Has Copenhagen’s position as a recognized fashion city affected your work in any way?
Well, we are working in a competitive market, definitely, but I don’t really think that it has anything to do with Copenhagen’s newly-gained position as a fashion capital. Denmark is and has been famous for its rich design culture and heritage, so I would rather say that with the Internet and the whole online social world, it has become much easier to reach and maintain a strong relationship to customers even though they are based on the other side of the world.

Homework has actually been very fortunate in many ways – we have worked with some very interesting international clients, which again, attract other international companies. We have done a great handful of collaborations with Japanese clients like GAS interface, Addition Adelaide, A.P.J, Jun, Le Ciel Bleu, Franc Franc and Isetan, a few projects in the Middle East, Lady Gaga Parfums/COTY in France, Comme des Garçons/PUIG in Spain, and Galerie Perrotin in Paris and Hong Kong – they have all been amazing clients of Homework.

Your signature aesthetics is about simplicity and about letting the essentials be in focus, something that very much can be said about Scandinavian design over-all. Would you say that Scandinavian graphic design and art direction, just like Scandinavian fashion, is democratic and minimalistic?
I wouldn’t say that democratic and minimalistic describe Scandinavian design and art direction the same way as the fashion industry. The Scandinavian fashion companies are known for balancing nice contemporary designs at reasonable prices whereas it’s true that the graphic design and art direction are very streamline, minimalistic and distinct. For Homework it’s a way of always searching to highlight core values, key message or distinct personality in a company or in a product. I would like to think of Homework as having a design approach with an international appeal.

We’ve heard that you have a certain obsession for typography and typefaces. What is that is so fascinating about type?
It’s true – we do have a special place in our hearts reserved for type. Working with type is like working with an infinite amount of styles and ways of expression. When thoughtfully executed, typography can be both timeless and contemporary, both illustrative and understated.

You have a long list of prestigious references in your portfolio but what are you still dreaming about doing?
I, and Homework, dream of many good things still to come. We have never worked with an Italian client and it’s something we would love in particular – it’s about time! Other than that, fragrance, furniture and interior brands have a focus in our team these days. Personally, I’m also interested in the people behind a brand – the product in itself is not always the most important thing. Our most successful work has been with brands who also share our aesthetic and approach. Big brands such as B&B Italy, Vitra, H&M or Madonna would also be interesting as major commercial players.

Interview by Lisa Olsson Hjerpe – Image courtesy of Homework 
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In a Beautiful Place

We are in the southern Italy. Near Naples, between the mountains of Positano and Sorrento, live many households who work the land and produce everything in-house. They spend their lives on these clods of earth above the sea without cars, internet or television. Their greatest reward, every day, is the landscape, clean air, amazing food and simple nature. We went to visit them, going up the mountain for hours before discovering their homes. From there you can branch out several paths leading from the mountains to the sea.

Salvatore cultivates the ground and his wife is in the kitchen preparing canned legumes. The work is tiring and the days very long, but the life here has a completely other kind of value. We ate sitting on the ground and Salvatore showed us their products. Grapes in anise-flavored liqueur, tomatoes dried in the wind and in the dark, wild garlic and bread buns wheat. We ate a wonderful eggplant parmigiana, washed down with white wine, falling afterwards asleep under a lemon tree.

Stefano Tripodi 
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Adhocracy at the New Museum

Adhocracy is “a structureless organization used to solve various problems. It is a type of organization that operates in opposite fashion to a bureaucracy”. The term was borrowed by Joseph Grima for the title of an exhibition first presented at last year’s Istanbul Design Biennale and currently displayed at the New Museum in New York. “Adhocracy” eloquently discusses the current shift in creation, production and consumption of consumer goods, fuelled by new materials, automation and 3D printing. Focussing particularly on “open systems, tools that enable self-organization, and platforms driven by collaboration”, this show tries to pinpoint one of the most radical developments in production that Joseph Grima characterizes as the “maximum expression of design”.

To understand exactly what all this means, one has to dive into the displays presented at the show, designed itself as a sort of a science lab where anyone has the chance to “design for everyone”, where imperfection rather than industrial perfection is seen as an evidence of an emerging force of identity, individuality and non-linearity in design. Through twenty-five projects, mainly artefacts, objects and films, the exhibition tries do offer an inspiring view on the epochal changes, often questioning the very definition of design practice. In fact, the show includes several projects centred around on-site laboratories of production, such as Blablablab’s “Be Your Own Souvenir” project, where visitors to the exhibition can have their body scanned and reproduced in miniature by 3-D printers, or Unfold’s “Stratigraphic Manufactury,” in which New York–based ceramists (Jen Poueymirou, Larisa Daiga, and Eric Hollender) will create 3-D-print porcelain artefacts on-site.

Even though it sometimes may appear that the only point of the show is exploring new production technologies, without discussing the initial premisses, “Adhocracy” clearly makes us understand that the industry is not the only solution to contemporary production. Even though a recent ‘resurgence’ of traditional crafts has brought our attention back from eccentric formalism to quality and honesty in design production, “Adhocracy” also reminds us that design should laregly benefit from an open dialogue within a larger society.

Rujana Rebernjak 
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European Fashion Schools: London College of Fashion

London College of Fashion is located in the city that has been said to be a city where the creativity gets created and as obligatory destination on the fashion week schedule if looking for new talents. LCF is also one of the six colleges that make up the University of the Arts in London, which today is Europe’s largest university specialising in arts and design.

When The Blogazine had a chance to talk to the staff and insiders of London College of Fashion we asked why London should be the city to study in. “London has so much to offer its fashion and arts students – world class museums, renowned commercial galleries to small artist-run exhibition spaces. The mix of international landmarks and major department stores in contrast to hidden markets, small boutiques and designer studios make students thrive in the London environment – there is inspiration everywhere!”

Other than the privileges that the city itself offers, LCF is one of the most well-connected fashion education institutions in the world. In an attempt to stay in the forefront of things, LCF has in recent years worked to expand the thinking behind fashion as a discipline – the college aims to both challenge and support an industry that depends on rapid change and consumption. When studying at London College of Fashion you are being confronted with areas such as health, sustainability and ethical design as well as with the science around the latest digital technologies.

Being a school that has more than 100 years of history and claims that the one thing certain for the next coming 100 is that they will be at the centre of things, we had to ask about the school’s thoughts on the current situation in the industry that constantly goes on high speed. “Social media will continue to increase the speed of fashion, both in terms of communication and commerce, although we are now also seeing a counter trend for slow fashion and an increased appreciation for traditional media. At LCF we are working to prepare our students for the complexities of the fashion industry by providing both traditional and digital skills and knowledge.”

“We teach using a variety of communication methods and tools: face-to-face communication, printed media, video, online discussion groups, webinars, social media, blogging and offline presentations. We also try to ensure that the pace of our teaching and assessment reflects that of the industry. Just as fashion has moved from a monologue to a dialogue, so too is this reflected in our teaching as we involve both students and the industry in our curriculum and assessment design.”

Industry relationships, cutting-edge research, new technologies and a great interest in its students – the list of what a high-end fashion school should offer its students could be made long. At LCF the priority lies in providing the students – no matter if they’re in the field of becoming designers, buyers, journalists, managers, stylists or any other degree possible to pursue at LCF – with the relevant tools to successfully forge a career within the fashion industry. “We thoroughly prepare our students for the world of work by helping source employment opportunities, internships, placements and projects relevant to their requirements. This often makes a profound impact on their career development.”

It’s hard to deny London its voice of say in the fashion industry and often pioneering ways of adapting to a business in change, and London College of Fashion is one of the schools that are trying to build a unique learning experience in order to produce the creative leaders of tomorrow. “People looking for a career in fashion should make the most of all the opportunities available to them.” – as far as we’ve understood, London seem to be just the right city to catch those opportunities.

Lisa Olsson Hjerpe – Image courtesy of Jas Lehal for London College of Fashion 
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Bukowski’s Lost Drawings

Los Angeles writer Michael C. Ford was going through his desk at the LA Free Press one day in 1974 when he stumbled on a handful of drawings by one of the publication’s famed contributors, Charles Bukowski. The drawings weren’t much more than doodles, quick line sketches in black ink on standard-sized 8 ½” x 11” printer paper. Most were made to accompany “Notes of Dirty Old Man”, Bukowski’s column for the LA Free Press (The Freep), and they featured Bukowski doing many of the things he liked to write about: staring at women, admiring legs, watching horses at the racetrack, and drinking port wine and beer in bed. Ford tracked down Bukowski, who wrote for the Freep until it folded in 1969, and offered him his drawings back. “Ah, you hang on to ‘em, kid,” Bukowski said, “they might be worth something someday.”

He was right. As Book Tryst’s Stephen Gertz points out, Ford’s collection resurfaced earlier this year at the 46th California International Antiquarian Book Fair in Pasadena, ushering in a new wave of appreciation for these obscure and highly original sketches. With their deadpan wit, it’s hard to wonder why these drawings fell by the wayside in the first place. They were originally published alongside the column, but have been omitted from both collected volumes of writing, Notes of a Dirty Old Man (1969) and More Notes of a Dirty Old Man: The Uncollected Columns (2011).

“Notes” originally began in 1967 in the underground paper Open City and moved to The Freep when Open City folded in 1969. The column branded Bukowski a savage outlaw and made him a minor celebrity in LA, and was loosely syndicated in other underground columns across the country until the column folded altogether in 1976. Like his best writing, these drawings demonstrate Buk’s uncanny ability to communicate complicated emotions concisely, humorously, and without apology.

Lane Koivu 
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Kim Öhrling: Composed Decay

It amazes me why and how places that are abandoned, deserted or just not maintained slowly fade and become beautiful. They might seem sad, but somehow light caresses them in a special way. It’s a quality you can not fake, it is time that shapes them. These places are all around the world, in every city, town and village, slowly disintegrating. And somehow it’s comforting to know for sure that time exists, that time changes, that nothing stays the same.

Kim Öhrling 
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Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!

There are fashion events that are more intense than others. Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! is probably going to be one of those. 
After her tragic death in 2007, her dear friend Daphne Guinness bought her entire wardrobe with the aim of, someday, creating a public exhibition. 
Rumors about an upcoming show have been around for several times, but they have never been confirmed until now.
 The initiative has been organized by Central Saint Martins together with the Isabella Blow Foundation, built by Miss Guinness herself, and intended to both support young fashion students and financing research in depression and mental health. 
Somerset House in London has been chosen as the location, the design has been curated by Carmody Groarke studio, and the all show is in the hands of Central Saint Martins fashion historian, Alistair O’Neill, who is also one of Somerset House’s curators.

By different sections, the spot will retrace her most significant fashion moments: from her aristocratic background to her passion in discovering young talents, up to her huge hats and shoes collection and her love for English countryside. 
One hundred pieces from her unique garments, along with Prada, Victor & Rolf, Jeremy Scott and many others, styled on mannequins by set designer Shona Heath, will be shown in order to give the viewer a realistic idea of who Isabella Blow was and to better describe her timeless original style approach.
 She has always been famous for her special sixth sense regarding new talents, this is the reason why a special area dedicated to some of Alexander McQueen’s graduation collection pieces, along with La dame Bleu and Philip Treacy tribute, will be displayed.

The show will open in November 2013 and it is expected to close in March 2014.

Francesca Crippa 
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Staging The Images In The Mid-1970s

The idea of constructing reality through the use of fictional images is something that contemporary people know very well, as well as the idea of integrating different media to move art into life. Laurie Simmons (b. 1949, Long Island, NY) and James Casebere (b.1953, Michigan, NY), with different approaches, started using miniaturized locations to create photo-based works related to personal and collective memory during the seventies. Both of them did it capturing an abundance of details and recreating grey areas exploiting artistic synergies and conceptualism. Simmons collected dolls and playhouses to produce assemblages of interiors, which represent the domestic everyday life of the 50-60s, depicting a culture previous to the artist one – who identified herself as a hippie – made of perfect women, housewives, angels of the hearths who cook apple pies and behave as faithful wives. From the half 70s, Laurie Simmons started taking pictures of black and white – and soon after coloured – scenarios that portrayed little ladies in play-kitchens: toys fall into disuse with the advent of feminism, seen as instruments of indoctrination.

Series of toy models of men/cowboys follow the works of woman figures, increasing the corp of images with different narrative levels. They are images showing reassuring locations, which hide sinister and unsettling atmospheres that mirror faded illusions of a period still stocked in the collective subconscious, theatrical as well as gently satirical. Even Casebere, during the 70s, started creating bizarre and distressing images coming from the childhood, rebuilt through the use of dioramas made of everyday life objects.

The treated issues are related to the deleterious effects caused by the TV on the new generations and, above all, the increasing relation between reality and illusion. Youth, dream and memory recur and mingle to people’s life, into the tridimensional structures where light assumes a fundamental role and, as for Simmons, the theatricality becomes the key factor. The spaces of social life are the places of main interest for Casebere and, as for many other contemporary artists who work on manipulation of reality like the great Belgian Hans Op De Beek or the German Thomas Demand, these places are decontextualized and characterized by evanescent, unnatural and spooky atmospheres. This analysis regarding the fact that representations in art more often take over reality, creating distortions, seems to have its roots in a distant past, but still keeps on interest artists of different times.

Monica Lombardi 
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Walter Van Beirendonck at Dallas Contemporary

Thinking about fashionable cities in US territory, Dallas is one of those you’d probably never mention, even by mistake. 
That’s probably why Walter Van Beirendonck admitted having been surprised when Peter Doroshenko, Dallas Contemporary’s director, asked him for a solo exhibition in the city.
 Beirendonck is one of the Antwerp Six – the avant garde collective that contributed to make Antwerp gain fashion incubator fame – and he is very fascinated of being part of an art exhibit: he believes that if fashion gives to clothes life and death in only 6 months, art can make them immortal, instead.

On the other hand, Mr. Doroshenko describes the Belgian designer as “one of the most important fashion designers in Europe” and his creations as “never about the everyday, they are pure theater.” He thought that showing his latest works in Texas’ capital city could be very interesting. 
Even if Dallas appears as a conservative and quite silent city in the South of America, far from the shiny world of fashion, the city offers a lot of culture: it counts about 20 structures between galleries and museums. 
“Lust never sleeps” and “Silent Secrets” are the collections presented in the show. The inspiration for the first, FW 2012-13, is inspired by Haiti voodoo rituals and Papua New Guinea, melted with an idea of abstract futuristic dandy. The second one, SS 2013, derives from a reaction to everything over-visible nowadays, due to the always-increasing social media world. 
The one-of-a-kind pieces are shown on a series of motorized rotating pedestals, allowing visitors to experience the garments from every perspective.

The exhibition has coincided with the beginning of Arts Week, started on 12th April and the collections will be on show untill 19th August 2013. 
Entrance at Dallas Contemporary is always free.

Francesca Crippa – images credit of Kevin TodoraIl 
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