Thursday, 30 July 2009

What Happens When Strangers Meet

As Pat and Trevor’s collaborative experiment, ‘This is Why We Meet’ enters its second stage, jotta is invited down to meet the new team, an eclectic mix of designers from London College of Fashion. Join them for the opening tonight where you can, “Read the Directions and Directly You Will Be Directed in the Right Direction”.
Sat around a boardroom style table are four friendly women who have managed to transform an office space into an industrious workshop. Three of the four have just graduated from a one year course in footwear design at the Cordwainers college, armed with traditional tools they are busily shaping, cutting and re-working materials and fabrics from string to leather.

We're take clues as to how the final work may be shaped via their diverse backgrounds.

Kirsty White is an Australian landscape gardener. Her style is influenced by architecture, in particular Art Deco buildings and for her final piece on the course she designed shoes based on the dilapidated Battersea Power Station.

Hollie While is the second antipodean of the group and has a background in graphic design. Specalising in feminine shoes made with masculine construction she describes her style as “chunky and minimal.”

Self-confessed shoe fanatic Frankie O’Dowd originally studied criminology until she made the unusual step into men’s footwear. Interested in the craft of shoe-making, she recently created a traditional gents shoe embellished with a tongue-in-cheek pattern of the male member.

Yuliya Krylova brings something different to the group; a recent graduate from the Costume Design for Performance degree, she is the only non-shoemaker of the four. Originally from Kazakhstan, Yuliya is also a trained financial lawyer, and practiced in New York before coming to London to fulfill her passion for costume and dressing up.

The new team have their work cut out for them, having never collaborated together before, the girls have a week to get to know each other, come up with an idea for an installation to fill two empty shop windows and see it through to completion and private view. Although daunting, they seem to be loving the process: “You can bounce ideas of each other, come up with things you would have never come up with on your own,” says Kirsty.

They came up with their idea quickly yet are keeping it under wraps, and their daily blogging on the This is Why We Meet deliberately vague, with a few red herrings to throw you off the scent. They cite influences for this project from graffiti to a website that’s devoted to found objects.

As designers it was important for them to create something tactile, “We wanted to make something where the audience could collaborate, something really interactive,” explains Hollie. Their interest lies in what happens when strangers meet, how they communicate and creating a project that enables them to share an experience with each other, “making it possible for the public to actively engage with the window, to see to the other side,” says Yuliya.

We were curious to know their thoughts on the interactive and collaborative aspect of the project and Frankie's simple response rang in my ear like a revelation, “because people don’t want to be passive anymore.”

Tonight is the grand unveiling of the new installation as the London College of Fashion team's first piece will be revealed to the public. The work will unfold as the week progresses and passers by will have the chance to make their own mark.

Read, look and watch them at work on their live blog here

Display: Monday 27th July - Sunday 2nd August
Private view: Monday 27th July, 6-9pm
E1 6QR

By Stephanie Grace

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