Constructive Studio is a brand new label launching this season, a collaboration between graphic designer Craig Yamey and fashion designer Ian Scott Kettle, who discovered a mutual love of street art, colourful painterly patterns and photographic collaging, put together and engineered into dramatic shapes for fashion design and beyond. Craig Yamey tells us more about what inspired this unique partnership.
How did you meet Ian Scott Kettle and what made you get together to create a new label?
Ian and I met at a Central Saint Martins Degree show in 2009 through a mutual friend. We instantly hit it off and it was clear we shared the same approach to designing and similar influences. When I saw Ian’s portfolio I was blown away. He had recently worked as a designer for Alberta Ferretti and I had just returned from a year travelling through Vietnam so I was buzzing with ideas and new sketch books. I could see parallels between Ian’s engineered forms and my own illustration work so we started to investigate ways in which we could marry our skill set. We were both freelancing and teaching at the time so initially we would just meet up to show each other ideas. Ian would give me sketches and I would expand on them or design a print that could be engineered into his ideas. We soon realised that there was a strong aesthetic being born and that’s when we decided to form a new label and get a studio together. It was great to have a dedicated work space and have some set deadlines to work towards.
As a graphic designer how hard is it for you to get your head around fashion and what new things have you learnt recently?
Working in commercial graphic design often requires you to turn around print-ready artwork in an hour. The greatest lesson Ian has taught me is the importance of an incubation period; time to research and develop ideas, materials and processes. I am used to working with pen, ink and computer, my output has always existed in a 2-dimensional realm and I have only been restricted by my own time frames. Now relying on suppliers to send samples of materials, fittings and experimenting with print techniques means I’ve needed to create a much longer time scale to complete work. The other area within fashion that has been a great learning curve is understanding the difference between designing for flat graphics such as posters or CD covers and designing for engineered prints and scarves where fabric drapes and hangs off he body. It’s been great learning how different materials function.
Who do you hope will appreciate the various elements of your collection, eg. the bow ties and the plush dolls?
We have always been interested in creating a range that cuts through the boundaries between high-end luxury fashion and something more ‘street’ in it’s aesthetic; that’s my graphics background coming through! The colour palettes are bold and young and there is a sense of fun to the work. The bow ties are unisex and proving equally popular amongst women and men – I like the idea that certain pieces can transcend gender, an aesthetic we pushed in The Look Book. I always thought the plush dolls had quite a dark edge, using weeping Victorian-etched faces. I pitched the dolls at a KID ROBOT “designer toy” market but it’s great to see how many young kids love them too.
What’s the inspiration behind the newest design elements?
The influences for the first collection are a marriage of opposites; we are fusing our own hand-painted brush strokes with computer-generated vector-lines. Juxtaposing the mark-making of street art with photographic images of nature; clouds and flora. We like to mix strong angulated engineered forms with softer painted patterns and conversely enjoy mixing the strength of bold geometric shapes on delicate materials such as Habotai silk. We are very interested in exploring non-fashion materials to create our accessories, using polypropelene and acetates to make our collars. We like the fact that certain pieces such as the acrylic toggles and plastic collars sit somewhere between fashion and product design and our work has been picked up by The London Design Festival which focuses more on homeware and furniture design.
How do the graphics work with the complicated pattern cuts, and what is the process of designing together?
Creating engineered prints is an exciting process of passing the ball back and forth to one another. With the bow ties Ian will start with a sketch which we both look at and consider any necessary adjustments to the design. Ian will then create a pattern and make a Calico prototype. When the form is created I can gauge how the shape twists and folds, which areas will be exposed or overlap when worn. I then start designing the direction of the pattern in accordance to the form. Ian will then give me the flat pattern on which will apply my prints. Once sewn we can see which areas of the design need re-adjusting. With the meter silk scarves it’s important to understand how the scarf will be worn and will fold. Sometimes a design will look beautiful flat but when worn we realise the scale of certain elements need re-adjusting to have maximum impact on the body. 2-Dimensional graphics is easy to assess on paper but graphics for fashion prints needs testing and adjusting on the body.
What else do you hope to create in the Constructive Studio range?
We will be designing a range of T-shirts for the next collection. Instead of applying a print to a standard T-shirt we will be engineering the designs into the form and creating the Tees from scratch. We will also be introducing the scarves in larger sizes and lazer cut shapes, we are keen to engineer our patterns into more unusual shapes of scarf beyond the standard square format. The bow ties have been one of the most successful items in the collection so we will be applying new prints to our 3 shapes.
Constructive Studio launches this fashion week. What has a typical day been like in the run up to such a busy period?
Since the Look Book came back from print, we have taken to the streets, presenting the collection to buyers and the press. We have found that sending emails to buyers is no where near as successful as visiting shops, meeting with buyers and showing key pieces, so the past week we have targeted specific shops in London. A typical day also involves working on production, both to supply our forthcoming on-line retailers and to create stock for the open studio events that happen at Cockpit Arts where we are based. Then we start researching and developing the next collection to stay ahead of schedule, so next week we are off to Premier Vision in Paris to source fabrics and fittings and do some research into the French market.
What do you hope for over the next twelve months?
The next year its all about developing the collection, sourcing quality suppliers and getting the CONSTRUCTIVE STUDIO label known. London & Paris Fashion Week is on the horizon for the February Collection as this season its all about creating introductions. We have some exciting collaborations ahead of us and will be developing more products to apply the Constructive Studio aesthetic to.
See more from Constructive Studio on their website, follow the label on twitter @constructive2 and facebook. The new collection will be stocked on Culture Label and with other stockists soon. Craig Yamey is also featured in my first book: Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration.
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