Wendy Andreu is a recent Design Academy graduate; she describes herself as a craft designer that communicates through the materials she is using. In her work she bridges matter, people and space and through her project ‘Regen’ she came up with a new and innovative way for producing water-proof garments without sewing or cutting patterns.
Can you tell us a bit about your graduation collection ‘Regen’?
‘Regen’ (‘rain’ in Dutch) was born two years ago when I was experimenting with rope and latex. I found out that the latex could get stuck into the cotton fibers and therefore « glue » them together. By analyzing the property of the material, I concluded that this new fabric was actually waterproof and I naturally directed the function of it towards rainproof accessories. From this first sample, I developed a production system and a finally a collection and brand. The whole making process works with molds: all products are already shaped in 3D, and there is no need of sewing machine to make them. Moreover, by coiling the rope around the mold in one go, there are no material leftovers.
How did your background in ‘metal craftmanship’ influence your project?
Before coming to Eindhoven, I studied metal craftsmanship at Ecole Boulle. This school teaches students the traditional French craft heritage. There, I learned to have a good vision in 3D, precise technical skills and an eye for quality. Some aspects of this education have remained strongly in my mind: as we were forging our own tools with a fire torch and a hammer, I designed my own tools -all laser cut in steel- to construct the ‘Regen’ garments and accessories. I also love all the little technical tricks that make crafts and techniques being so smart. And to conclude, I really enjoy the craftsman routine: spending time in an atelier, being physically active and focused, trying out different tools, making a mess, and having the greatest satisfactory feeling when all the products are finally done and the atelier is clean again.
What fascinates you about designing materials?
First of all I would say that I am a materialist and therefore, I like to touch and feel the matter. I like the weight, the texture and the smell of things. I feel connected to the materials because my senses can relate to them. I like the smell of Argon when I weld, the smell of sheep when I work with wool, the smell of latex when I work on ‘Regen’. All these details give an atmosphere to my days. Besides this, I am seeking unexpected outcomes from common materials. I enjoy playing with their limits, or combine them to extract possibilities they haven’t given yet. When I manage to get a surprising effect, then I feel that I have achieved my goal.
Can you describe your creative process?
I am working hands-on most of the time, materializing the ideas I have in my mind.
I barely draw on a piece of paper; I would rather sketch in 3 dimensions. I am experimenting a lot and try to be very open at the beginning of the process and then narrow my ideas in order to design towards a function or a purpose. Organization is something I find absolutely fantastic but I always keep a space for procrastination and spontaneity. An efficient process makes me have a strong satisfactory feeling. More than experimenting only with materials, I find value in designing processes.
Next to this, I feel that inspiration cannot be always found at the museum or into books but everywhere in life. I like to see beauty in the insignificant things as much as in the spectacular ones..
What is your inspiration for the project ‘Regen’?
From the material I designed and created a craft to be able to shape into garments and accessories. In this way, the material gains value and is suitable for a production in series. All the metal molds are sustainable and can be used endlessly. I drew all the parts of the molds on technical drawing software. From there, it was a puzzle of trying to translate the shapes of our body from 3D to 2D and try to combine them in the most ergonomically volumes. The cap and the raincoat for instance, are the two products I designed with the raw shapes. Because the bags are not following the silhouette of our bodies, I could develop more free shapes like the Spike bag for instance. Color wise, I kept it raw. The latex was dyed black to contrast strongly with the natural cotton color. To conclude, I didn’t have a very strong inspiration for this project. The aesthetic of it is purely a result of the technique I used to make it. Though, I had more creative freedom for the art direction of the look book. I worked together with a photographer and graphic designer. Our goal was to show the collection on greyish and cloudy backgrounds in order to suggest the function of ‘Regen’: being rainproof
How did your internship at Studio Toogood inspire you?
When I was a researcher at Toogood, I was assisting the fashion designers by developing new fabrics and textures for the 005 collection. I was producing lots of samples that were matching the mood board created by Faye. It was a really new experience to me: as I am educated as a metal craftswomen, I never expected to work for a fashion label. I am very thankful to Erica and Faye for letting me in their studio despite my funny background. They are really curious and open-minded designers. They are able to break the boundaries between the different fields and that makes their work look rich and beautiful. Toogood inspires me in many ways: their love for crafts, their sense of details and their trust in collaborations.
Are you currently working on a new project? Can we expect a continuation of your graduation project?
For DDW 2016, I am part of the design collective Dutch Invertuals. I created a new piece that consists of 8 stools made in bricks and concrete. Set up in half a circle, they create an installation where people can seat and gather around shared energy in the public space. Concerning ‘Regen’, my ultimate goal for beginning 2017 is to design a new collection. I want to imagine new colors, shapes and textures. To do so, I am keeping the production of the first collection going and at the same time, I am looking for shops that want to sell my products. Once I will be financially secure, I can start designing again. I am looking forward!
What does the future hold for you?
I am currently still living in Eindhoven and I might move to another city in the future.
On one hand, my dream would be to remain independent and collaborate with other design studios like Toogood, for instance, and manufacturers to be commissioned on projects. And on the other hand, I want to keep growing ‘Regen’ and let it expand all its possibilities. I am a curious person and I am willing to design any kind of objects, furnitures, spaces and fashion items.
Britt Berden is a Dutch future concept developer and material explorer living in London, currently studying MA Material Futures at Central Saint Martins. She works across various disciplines to create a single body of work in which she emphasizes that the assets of nature and being human are of intrinsic value, especially because we are heading towards a technological future. She derives from intuition and seeks new tools to stir the imagination to inspire a more valuable future.