Christel Arnevik is Teaching Associate Professor and Head of Programme of Fashion Design at Design School Kolding in Southern Denmark. We have asked her about her craft profession and what inspires and drives the curiosity of her craft practice.
What craft do you work with?
I am a clothes designer, but my curiosity has taken me to try many different design disciplines such as print design, graphic design, digital design and most recently jewellery design.
To me making clothes is like being an architect making little constructions for you to live with and feel at home in. Instead of moving within a space you move with the space with you as the axis. And with a build up space between body and clothes you can get to feel the sensation of inhabiting your clothes – like it is a home or trusted friend
The shape is defined by where the surface breaks and invites you to follow the lines around the body. The shape and volume are supported by the choice of fabric and the tactile surfaces support the highlights and shades that underlines the very shape. I love working with the grainline in a way that makes the clothes move with delay and somewhat unexpectedly, that awakens the spectator from the bias of how clothes should move. Like a harmonious shape with a dissonant move. Now I work both digitally and analogue with clothes design and I find that my classic training in clothes making supports my endeavors in the digital world. The possibility of testing in digital 3D and to quickly experiment with new shapes and concepts is very satisfying and inspiring.
What inspires you to work with this craft?
I have always been fascinated by how 2D becomes 3D, and as a child, I would create all sorts of shapes being it doll houses, boxes, toy animals, bead projects, and clothes for dolls – to me playing was making. I simply never stopped making and am still inquisitive for; what if, how about, what it could become, and so on.
How do you start your creative process?
More often than not my creative process will start with a concept, or with being intrigued by how a certain word, concept, or sentence would materialize itself in the shape of clothes or a form related to an axis. When I started doing jewellery it open to a new way of seeing shape and not least the materials were rather demanding on the knowledge my hands already had. Once I have started thinking along the lines of the concept it follows me at all times of the day. I have sketched doing pack lunches, even twirling elastic bands a experiments, and often ideas are lining up when I’m furthest away from the desk.
For making clothes you need a lot of space! The pattern itself is made for a full-size person, so the table to draft the pattern has to be big, then there’s the dress mannequin, the sewing machine and overlock, the iron and steamer – and then again of course, there’s the workspace for designing with a computer, desk for drawing and a noticeboard to hang your inspiration and fabric scraps. The workspace easily looks messy to non-clothes designers, but there is an order in it all despite all the tools, fabric, and cut-offs. Once I’m working, I am very focused and don’t let my surroundings weigh me down.
What potentials do you see?
For making clothes I see great potential in the digital tools such as digital 3D. As mentioned above it’s easy to be creative and you can be more experimental with your shapes as you are not held back by time or your talent in the physical world. You of course will have to be critical and adjust if you want to use the design for real people and not just avatars. Furthermore, the digital design can allow you to make clothes in a different or new way from what you’re used to. Personally, I like to bridge the two crafts and use the digital 3D as a tool in the design process and not as an end design.
What other types of craft do you dream of collaborating with?
When thinking of collaborating with others I would divide it into two different crafts: analogue and digital. For the analogue craft, I would love to collaborate with a weaver and see how we could make shapes together. It would also be very exciting to collaborate with a textile printer, to investigate how the print can support the shape or vice versa both in all over print and in placement prints. For the digital craft I would find it very interesting to collaborate with professionals from the IT world, especially experts within AI and here I’m thinking about how to create based on databases, algorithms, or perhaps creative coding. I think this ties back to my conceptual approach to design.
Are there new techniques you would like to try?
I don’t think you will ever finish informing and education your clever hands within making clothes, and I am certainly still very curious on methods I haven’t tried yet such as Kinetic Garment, a method that follows the movement of our bodies more closely.
Sharing your craft and experience?
I have been an educator all my life. When I first started out sharing my craft and experience to students, I realized that I had done it ever since my younger sister was old enough to teach. I really appreciate sharing and find it reciprocal since I always come away having learned something new myself – whether it is something new about the craft or the people making it.