Interview Latoya P Henry
Imagaes Courtesy Of Forms Studio
The era of individuality is hastily expanding; people are seeking items that express their personalities. Throughout time, accessories have developed into vital staple pieces that speak for the wearer; even more so, they’ve become artistic items that add an extra pop. Aside from their materialistic qualities, items in particular such as handbags and wallets, are mainly designed for multifunctional purposes. People are eagerly seeking an item that is superior to a decorative asset. Yet, architect and designer Anastasia Komarova, the Russian based founder of Forms Studio ideal objective is to develop a refreshing vision for accessory design. Describing her approach as “uniquely handcrafted leather accessories with an architectural touch”. Komarova intermixes both architecture and fashion design to create avant-garde collections, using today's contemporary obsessions, texture, technology and tactile quality. In this regard, I wanted to learn more about the distinctiveness that separates Komarova designs and about the production process, where each collection is strategically developed with constant research and analyzing. Then finely crafted by artisans who sophistically create Forms Studio’s collections.
Forms Studio, a uniquely designed style of leather accessories. How did the idea for the brand come into place and what was the overall vision you wanted to create differently from most accessory designers?
The main idea is to create objects that will have a tactile identity and also will translate architecture but in a human scale. I started with a strong wish to make a distinctive visual and tactile communication between a person and an object. All surfaces and textures are the result of my research that is an ongoing process, which is mostly about the history of architecture and materials.
Originally you’re an architect, when did you decide to transition towards fashion design from architecture? Do you still work in the architecture field and if you do, how do you balance the two separate fields?
The first pieces I made during my last year at the university, somehow the process of modeling bags was created from my architectural models. At the beginning there were not even bags - they looks more like a sculptures. It was plenty of rectangular squares and plates. Altogether they looked like a blank city where the main identity was a surface and a scale. Working on both architectural and accessories I found that combining my work on accessories and architectural practice became an awarding process for me. The difference in scale between those directions makes you more aware of details on the one hand, and working on a large-scale project allows you to look at small objects in more conceptual way. I am still practicing as an architect and working on accessories is an awarding process because its push me to be more attentive to the details and materials which are in a human appearance. My latest work as an architect was a series projects for the opening of Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow. I was in charge of exhibition design and had a great opportunity to work with Rem Koolhaas, whom, I believe, is one of the leading practicing architects of our time. Working together with many conceptual artists during this project inspired me and showed me a new prospective for my own cultural investigation.
You’re designing very fascinating pieces, most of which have the ability to be seen as abstract, you’ve also managed to fuse elements of architecture within your designs. Altogether I’m interested in your outlook for the future of design, what do you think are the possibilities for accessories?
In my perspective accessories will be more technologically developed and sure it will be a space for art there. We are already having so many cases when garments from our basic life transformed into high technology devices. I believe that this tendency will be developed even more.
Gathering inspiration could be quite complex. To what degree do you manage to stay above the curve when creating a compelling sequence of accessories? Do you have a specific method you prefer, when collecting materials and is there a specific type of material you prefer to use?
Despite complexity and controversy of materials I search for during my work on collections, it is one of the most fascinating parts of my work. I try not to put any frames on a creating process. Sometimes even from mistakes you can get unexpectedly good results. Work on any new theme starts with history because I truly believe that from analyzing the past you can get a maximum exposure. From the beginning to this moment I am primarily working with leather. Material that gives you the right tactile response while you communicate with it and at the same time gives you plasticity and variability for creation.
Every collection has a mood or story, describe the specifics behind the Transformers and Crossblocks, did you explore new theories while creating these collections, and what vision did you want to create with your lookbook entitled Body?
Every collection built on a process of researching and analyzing a specific theme. For Transformers collection we concentrated mostly on a construction of a bag along with the design concept of each cover for this collection. Transformers collection consists of different themes and each of them is a particular cover. The Crossblocks is a collection of geometrically shaped objects, which are combined into compositions that linked to different historical periods. The Transformer collection is more about a new approach of how to wear a bag, the approach that shows mobility of a single piece. Meanwhile the Body is a photo story that is more about controversy between natural beauty of human body and structured elements of bags.
Most of your pieces have interesting textures and shapes. What is the exact design process and how long did you spend designing and constructing a new piece?
It is a complicated process that consists of several stages. First of all it starts from research. It also includes drawing and sketches; after all drawn work is done it moves to model making. Primarily it looks similar to what I do while working on an architectural projects. It is quite an interesting part of the process when you finally overview the concept in its shape and it never ends by one piece. Normally it goes to numerous amounts of them. In case when a subject is close to the body, the process of finding right proportions is more meticulous. This is the part when architectural looking object literally transformed into a body size.
For your most recent collection Transformers, you focused a bit more on precise placement in terms of the texture compared to previous collections. Could you explain the shift and the creative process behind developing each print?
Transformers collection represents different themes that are bounded under the concept about mobility. The idea of changing an entire look of a piece and the way of how to use it. The collection collaborates items from our Crossblocks, Bionics, RealFake collections which we decided to put all together to underline the theme of variability in our own way.
Is there an importance for a designer to possess diversification in contemporary design and list a few important lessons you’ve learnt from the years that you’ve been in business?
As long as the results will translate your personal artistic style, any diversification will fulfill the image of who you are in a good way and also cause to personal development.
In terms of the expense, is it difficult for you to generate a hand made collection in Spain and still preserve the intricate details and upscale look of your pieces?
Yes, it is not easy to control our production process. It is working while you have a strong wish to accomplish your work as good as possible. So we are doing our best keeping it on the particular level.
Your work consist of clean lines, powerful silhouettes and sharp detailing, how would you interpret the person wearing Forms Studio? Overall what’s the design philosophy behind Forms Studio?
Describing the person I would say that it would be an intellectual individual who is driven by art and culture in general. A pretty relaxing person by its appearance, that loves to carry some special items, which are completing a daily outfit. The design philosophy of Forms studio is to make things that will speak by it self. They are useful and meaningful at the same, with an exceptional tactile experience.
Forms Studio is described as an “analysis of architectural surfaces and volumes and their transformation in space and time. The colors, proportions, and textures within this collection represent the holistic perception of the environment.” Why did you decide to aim your brand towards this direction? Most importantly, do people understand and embrace your concept of design?
It is hard to say exactly if someone understands the ideas that represents our designs. In general our target auditory have a similar passion to architecture and art history as we are so I would say that they understand the ideas behind our work. Main approach was developed from my architectural practice. It represents the process of designing pieces that are completed alongside with its concept. Where all details and elements are about the main idea, it was driven in that direction in proposing of my personal interest to explore themes, which appear from knowledge about art history and architecture. It is fascinating every time for me to meet the result of those transformations.
As a designer, name the important fundamentals you need in order to execute a design, how are these essentials important for a designer and in what way do the listed components effect a designer from the beginning to future stages? What do you feel that an emerging designer could acquire from this?
I would underline intellectuality, function and beauty. In the architectural school it was also a sustainability that I think for now became very important to work on too. Another fundamental thing that I follow from my architectural studies is maintaining the concept line from the research you’re starting with to a final piece. Analyzing theme from different perspectives gives a variability of results, which will help you on every stage. It might create a combination of conceptual unique and commercial successful essentials for your work especially for our time with this entire high pace of technology development and overwhelming situation in the market as well. Also awareness of any little details and keeping in mind Mies Van der Roe’s expression ” God is in details “ which is obviously a completive approach for any progressive design processes.
If someone were to ask you a piece of advice that they could apply to themselves, currently and in the future, what would it consist of?
Once my friend gave me the advice that influenced me more than any other thoughts. Pretty simple at first glance but essential by its meaning. It says be consistent on what you decided to do even if obstacles surround you all over. Hard work on your subject helps to solve questions that will constantly arise during your working process. I believe that there is no unsolved situation it is all a matter of your personal contribution and the time you spend on it.
Sometimes crazy thoughts drive towards great results. Keep your mind and eyes open. Explore. Dream.