The participants from Berlin under the supervision of Professor Thorbjorn Uldam were mainly addressing the question of whether fashion design beyond a visual perspective is possible at all. The students drew inspiration from the exchange with visual impaired participants and developed experimental design approaches. In their research they were particularly focusing on the tactile perception, the sense of touch, reflected by the use of unusual materials. The students presented their first drafts in front of a non-seeing jury.
Located in the heart of Kreuzberg, one of Berlin‘s most legendary quartiers, ESMOD Fashion school is not only a central address for fashion, but also a beautiful and inspiring place. The building resembles an old monastery, and with its generous inner yard, it omits a peaceful and calm atmosphere. Inside, however, the atmosphere is anything but calm and quiet: the German participants of BEYOND SEEING are cutting, sewing and making last adjustments to the creations they are about to present.
Three months after the kick-off meeting in Paris, the German participants of BEYOND SEEING are giving an insight to first concepts they have created. The International Research Workshop in Berlin is the first out of four workshops taking place in the respective participating countries. Through the designs they are about to present to a blindfolded jury, the young designers have tried to find an answer to the three questions that lie at the core of BEYOND SEEING:
WHO AM I WHEN I DON’T SEE MYSELF?
DOES A WORLD WITHOUT IMAGES EXIST?
Maxi starts her presentation with a report of her experience during the whole creational process. Being blindfolded immediately stimulated her imagination, while at the same time evoking a feeling of isolation. Through her designs, she tried to find ways of combatting this emotion by turning pieces of cloth into safe and snugly living spaces.
Joyphie is the second one to present her works. By creating her designs with the help of a strict mathematical formula, she aims for an unconventional, unbiased and subconscious way of creating. With reference to Romanian-German author Herta Mueller, Joyphie created her formula by deconstructing one of her favorite songs and then putting it together in a new way. She documented her way of recombining the dissolved elements and turned the abstract pattern into an equation. By creating a formula that can be reapplied to future projects and works completely independent of sight, she has literally looked beyond seeing and found a way to create without vision.
Verena is up next. Through a contact built at the kick-off meeting, Verena got to know Ugne Metzger, a visually impaired woman from Berlin. Ugne told Verena about an image that kept occurring in her dreams: a tree, one half of it burnt from being struck by lightning, the other blooming and colourful. In her designs, Verena references this motive as metaphor for Ugne learning to enjoy life and feel beautiful again after losing her vision. Her semi-transparent gowns begin to blossom when filled with a variety of fabrics and materials.
Valentin’s design was also inspired by a conversation with a visually impaired BEYOND SEEING-acquaintance. Participant Reiner Delgado told Valentin about the importance that sounds such as the clicking of a high heel touching the floor have to his perception of objects. Valentin created a construction that veils the models’ outfit, allowing spectators to only see their shoes. He argues that shoes are often seen as the completing touch to a look, but that for the visually impaired, they signify even more than that. As shoes are the only pieces of clothing that create sounds, they are the first and often the only impression that can be gained from an outfit without seeing.
Noemi, who took the question if we can create without seeing literally, is up last. She listened to a fairytale and abstracted and translated its story onto white paper. Turning the narrative arch into a creational pattern, she archived her emotions and brought them to life in her designs. The garments born out of this process are prototypes, since she is still searching for the best material to use to create a haptic experience that is coherent to the story.