Manon Kündig is a 29-year-old Swiss fashion designer who very recently graduated from the Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Arts. Her master 2012 graduate menswear collection called ” Bowerbird” is full of digital prints and acid colours. Photoshop is probably one of the most important tools of her collection and she confesses being completely addicted to online research. Like the bird, she was inspired by to create her collection, bird stealing rubbish to create its nest; Manon stole Google images to create her prints. We asked Manon about her work and the relationship between the Internet and her collections. See more;
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Dora Moutot (DM) interviews Manon Kündig (MK) / Click imges to enlarge_
DM: You just graduated from the MA fashion design of the school of Antwerp. How many years did you study? How was it studying in Antwerp and having Walter van Beirendonck as a teacher?
MK: It was really nice to study in Antwerp. I did the 4 years course in 5 years because I did somehow lose sight of my priorities due to love and fun. Studying seems like having a full time job, but I like to be versatile and still have a life. There is no way for me to be completely dedicated to my work in an academical way. I think this was my strength. Also I have a really lazy side that I fully love and accept. I mean lazy in action not in brainwork. Or maybe better said; going out can still be considered as work for me. I was lucky to meet teachers that could understand my different way of dealing with planning and leaving me free (not without worries) to do my thing. Walter is a great mentor. He gave me lots of motivation. Dirk van Saene also had a great input and I really enjoyed the complete freedom and trust of this final year. I think this school makes you definitely strong and makes you believe in your capacity. I also need to add that studying in Antwerp stays really democratic. The fee is low in comparison to other “top” schools and the quality of life is mild.
DM: Your collections are always very surreal and theatrical. What is your fantasy world about? Where do you get your inspirations?
MK: My inspiration comes from things I live or discover. I mainly need to be fully convinced, intrigued and passionate about a topic.
DM: I read that you were inspired by mohair fetishism while designing a micro- collection during your time at school. To me, your BA collection Blowjob looked like it was inspired by inflatable fetishism and black metal culture and your MA collection called Bowerbird looked very inspired by the digital art niche and the actual Internet aesthetic. You work seems very inspired by fetish, niche and alternative culture. Do you research these cultures online?
MK: You are completely right and I am completely addicted to online research. You must agree it is extremely comfortable. Surfing is the only sport I practice. My ass is made to sit. My back has slowly a bump. I even got a nerve blocked in my left wrist because of my position while smoking and using the computer. Fetish and “subcultures” are indeed giving me a great source of motivation and fascination. I do like the particular and hope being particular myself too.
DM: Why did you call your last collection Bowerbird? What is the story behind the collection? And why do you choose to do menswear?
MK: I do menswear because it is easy. Or maybe I can't really handle the female fashion world as it exists. It would be a really different approach. I am actually slowly feeling ready for it.
A Bowerbird is a bird. I did discover it thanks to David Attenborough, (this bird) It was too good to not be used. It gave me so much freedom. I could act like a bird and make a collection where everything is possible and imaginable. The aesthetic of the bird has no hierarchy. Rubbish can be beauty. A cocktail. The bird picks whatever is in his surrounding. It is what I did or always do. Therefore there are lots of stolen google images. The Bowerbird is a commune looking small brown bird acting like a peacock with his material goods. This behaviour is really close to the macho-male showing off his car and t-shirt with a brand-tag. I live in this kind of neighbourhood. Borgerhout. Borgerhout is called borgerocco in Antwerp slang. The hood is majority Moroccan. I love the eclectic mix that can be seen between the more traditional garments and the “megastore” clothes. A cocktail like I said.Cheap fake fur bed rugs mixed with real snake skin. Posh silk with nasty polyester. Digital prints with handmade marbling prints.
DM: Your last collection seems to be very inspired by the digital art/ digital fashion niche. The “headscarf all over the body thing” became an online trend that spread on Tumblr this year. The first time I saw something like that was on the website of the headscarf designer Killian Loddo. I also remember a shoot from Dis magazine called Patter recognition with the same idea. What are you thoughts about social medias, ideas and aesthetics travelling online? How important is the Internet in your creative process?
MK: I had no idea of these online trends because I don't like to start from a fashion point of view and barely look at it. I should actually, I guess, to be aware of the actual moment but I don't, because I feel somehow I would get parasited in my working process. My online research is clearly not on fashionable sides. It is the “real” aspect that fascinates me. For the head scarves I actually also “stole” the idea from a silk fetish thing going on Flickr, it is damn serious. There is a fetish for almost everything. Also the Bowerbird hides himself behind his bower when the female comes to have a look and chooses a mate. I wanted no body or physical aspect to be seen. No human, a pile of information for the eyes. I actually feel sad when something like the mohair fetish is showcased on a website like vice (just to name one). I guess I am selfish. I don't feel part of the internet community, I am a voyeur. But I also use the internet to learn absolutely everything I want. I mean techniques. People are nice to share their knowledge.
DM: How did you design design each prints? What is the process? What kind of techniques do you use?
MK: For the digital prints Photoshop was a great tool with absolutely no limits. I do like the possibility to get this strong acid colours feeling. I enjoyed losing track of time behind a computer. I even bought a new one that I call my Rolls-Royce to be able to work with these big files. Also I am not a graphic designer, which makes my computer work even more crappy and my files heavy for nothing. I like crappy. I even printed on silk watermarks from Internet images, which I think is nice. When I was 20 I was allergic to computers and it is why I chose fashion and not graphic design when entering in art school. Funny how I changed. Now I was happy to escape behind a screen for hours. You become autistic. I also used marbling. Marbling is the same technique used in the covers of really old books. It is full of surprises, never two times the same. It was exiting. Also because of the dimension of the silk pieces I printed. It was a challenge. You basically make a size filled with gelatine made from cooking Irish moss. Then you drop paint with the consistency of milk on the surface of this viscous liquid. The paint should float and different patterns can be drawn by making waves with combs or sticks. Then you can finally lay on the surface the fabric that must have been pre-treated and transfer the actual print.
DM: What do you want to do next? Are you planning on designing a new collection? What is your dream job?
MK: I would like to create a new collection and still work for a big house in parallel. Getting my clothes into production is the dream. For sure I will continue working around prints because I am convinced by the hypnotic power of it and its endless possibilities. I will also continue participating to happenings within an all girl collective called LVMM, which is a great project and gives me lots of joy.
Interview by Dora Moutot for Triangulation Blog - August 2012
Dora Moutot is a young journalist specialized in fashion within the digital culture. She is the founder of La Gazette du Mauvais Gout where she writes about bad taste, eccentric and kitsch trends. www.doramauvaisgout.tumblr.com