2016

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I am not big on new year’s resolutions but I do enjoy the slow days over the Christmas holidays. It's a great time to take a step back and reflect on the past year.

The last few months have been full of new experiences for me. Starting my first semester at UdK was a big change and although a good one I’m still figuring it all out and also questioning if the format of this blog still fits my new situation. I do have loads of projects that I would like to blog about but simply don’t find the time and energy to do it.

Still unsure on how I am going to use this online space, I am excited to immerse myself more and more into design work.

To an amazing year, full of exciting projects, loving people, laughter and surprises.

- Nina

Living Room Inspiration

With moving to a new place, my interest in interior design and decoration ideas suddenly sparked. We're currently renovating a bit. We're freeing the walls from wallpaper and repainting the bare walls white. We also found a wooden floor, painted in the typical oxblood color in a reasonably good condition underneath a boring laminate flooring. Of course this takes all much more time than expected, and althpugh it is fun too, I can't wait to finally unpack. Enough time to get some inspiration from other beautiful living rooms, like these. What I like it the combination of contrasting elements such as light and neutral tones with pops of color and clean shapes and some more boho elements... Luckily, we only need a dining table and chairs for now, the rest we can collect over time, like a photo album. 

Canvas Shoes Covered in Leave Stitching

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The best thing about cleaning out the closet is rediscovering some forgotten items – such as these shoes. They were the perfect pair to try out an idea I've had for a while: stitched canvas shoes. When I found these great stitching threds in bright greens at the farbic market, I knew the shoes had to be covered in leaves. I used simple line and chain stitches.

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Fall Jacket Made from Wool Felt

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With autumn being around the corner, I was in the mood for sewing something warm and cosy and came up with this simple fall jacket. I really like the story behind this project: The jacket actually used to be a coat I made last year which had a horrble fit – way too big and bulky. I was always a little sad about it because the fabric is amazing: medium weight super dense wool. So I took it apart and used every scrap of fabric to make this jacket (note the verticle seams where I extended the length on body and sleeves). The lining is made from a thick waffle structured jersey which I also took from the coat (and already used for another jacket here). So it is quite warm and cosy.

Fall jacket with waffle structured lining

Fall jacket with waffle structured lining

What is still missing are pockets. I first thought I will go without because I did not really know how to best incorporate them. For in-seam pockets, the jacket is too short. Then I considered to place them in the horizontal seam but that would make them very small. However, after wearing it for a few days now I realise I need pockets. So I'm thinking I'll make some welt pockets but, oh dear, the horror of cutting in the fabric!

Despite missing pockets and some minor fit issues, I've been wearing this jacket every day. I feel that the more I sew for myself, the more I actually wear the pieces. It's as if I get to know the 2D version of my body's proportions better and better with every garment I make. And hence they start to fit better.

Etsy Pop-up Store: Zuhause in Berlin

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At the Etsy Pop-up Store you find a wide range of handmade goods from Berlin

At the Etsy Pop-up Store you find a wide range of handmade goods from Berlin

On Saturday, the Etsy Pop-up store "Zuhause in Berlin" has opened its doors. For a few days, select Etsy sellers from Berlin sell their items in a shared brick and mortar store to form a charming mix of handcrafted goods. From drawstring bags over fox necklaces to natural deodorant there is a treasure for every taste. I also like the idea of connecting offline with the people behind their online shops. Many of the sellers were at the opening party and it was super interesting to chat about their products and businesses.

Saara's pieces of porcelain at Etsy Zuhause: the popular rainy cup and salt containers with golden and silver dots.

Saara's pieces of porcelain at Etsy Zuhause: the popular rainy cup and salt containers with golden and silver dots.

That is also what I did with my ceramist friend Saara Kaatra who contributed a selection of her beautiful Pieces of Porcelain to the pop-up shop. So here is a little mini-interview on her design process and her work with porcelain.

Can you tell us a bit about how you got into porcelain art?
Ceramics as a material was a little accident as I wanted to take a photography course that was full and took ceramics (which was not so popular) instead. 

What is it that fascinates you about porcelain as a material?
I like it as it has a mind of its own and I have (most of the time) the patience to handle it. We both have a good memory, I like that as well.

Where do you get your inspiration for your pieces?
I like looking at shapes, materials, spaces and people. Usually, I don't really see the that it's a house or a wall or a person – I look at small details, patterns, how things fold, are attached or what kind of wrinkles people have in their hands.

What is currently your favorite piece?
Everything that has golden dots. I'm obsessed with the gold paint. 

I totally understand the gold paint obsession. How lovely are these ear studs? If you want to have a look, be quick – it is only open until Tuesday, 15.9.2015.

Etsy Zuhause in Berlin Pop-up Store
Galerie Torstraße 161, 10115 Berlin
on Facebook

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How to put together a Portfolio to apply for Fashion School

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Most design schools want to see some personal work during the application process in addition to a homework assignment and an on-site exam (which I talked about here). As part of my series on applying for fashion school, I am sharing some insights in this post on how to put together a portfolio. Like most creative processes I find portfolio creation to be kind of frightening at the beginning: going back through all your project, reviewing them and usually thinking that I don't have enough projects, that they are not good enough or not representable anymore or... Basically making myself go a little crazy.  But once I get started it is actually a rewarding process to put together your work and create something coherent and presentable. So let's get started with some basics on what to consider for your own portfolio.

Check the Formalities

First for all, make sure to check if the university you apply for has some special requirements or formal criteria regarding the portfolio. This could be anything from size, specific content requirements, maximum or minimum number of items included etc. It helps to figure out these formalities at the beginning so that you won't have to redo anything later on.

Size

Even if the university does not have any size requirements it still makes sense to determine it beforehand. Traditionally, the recommended size for a portfolio used to be an A2 or 70x50 cm. I adhered to this format when I applied at HGK Basel and found it fairly difficult to handle during the interview. Sometimes, the interviewer wanted to see several pages at the same time and then the A2 sheets took up a lot of space. For the UDK I only had an A3 sized portfolio which I found more handy. So my suggestions would be to go for a smaller format if the university criteria allows it. Also, this format is still screen-friendly if you want to use it digitally too.

Content is Key

A glimpse into my portfolio: La Danseuse urbaine project.

A glimpse into my portfolio: La Danseuse urbaine project.

Conceptual strength vs. Execution

Once the basic formalities are clear, the next step is to decide what you want to include in your portfolio. There are many different opinions out there on this point and the straight forward answer is "it depends" – both on the university and on you. The traditional view is that you have to focus on your abilities to sketch, draw and illustrate using a variety of mediums. Some people even advised me to not show too much of a style already as it might "reduce my formability" in the eyes of the professors. While this might be true for some schools, I did not feel it applied to neither UDK Berlin nor HGK Basel – both schools I applied for. My impression was that they put more focus on the conceptual strength than, for example, the ability to draw photo-realisticly. 

You are your USP

If you have the possibility to talk with someone from the university or a current student, that's great and it will give you some security to know whether you are on the right track or need to adjust some things. However, as a rule-of-thumb I would recommend to put emphasis on showing your personality and your unique point-of-view through the portfolio. Most likely, there will be many participants and you want to stand out through your uniqueness. This also allows you to put work from seemingly irrelevant fields or even unfinished work. For example, I included one project on furniture design, because I thought it showed well how I approached the design process. In the end, I feel it is most important that you are satisfied with your portfolio and that it represents you at your current state, so that you are confident to talk about your work.

Build on what you've got

To make it easier, you can lay out all the work you have done so far: drawings, photography, sewing projects, sketches, etc – no matter how old or seemingly insignificant it seems to you. Pick at least one piece of work that will serve you as a basis and gives you the feeling of not starting at zero. I also re-edited some older work that I still liked so that they represent my current skills-level.

Another good way to get into the mode of regular work is to go to a drawing class or even a specific course on portfolio creation. If will give you some routine which makes everything so much easier. 

I will give more in-depth examples on what to include in a portfolio in a future post too.

Layouting

There are a lot of possibilities to create portfolios digitally and online. But during the application process, the work usually has to be presented offline and in 2D. This can be a portfolio folder where you collect your work, a brochure or even a hand-binded book. If you want to include 3D objects, like garments, you best take pictures or add some sketches and illustrations. 

Generally, it makes sense to think of a concept for the overall layout of your portfolio, so that it looks consistent and thought-out. I personally like to layout digitally using Abobe InDesign, as it gives me more freedom to move things around until I am satisfied. A digital portfolio also has the advantage that it can be used both on- and offline. Hence, you can also send it our via email if required. However, this means using scans or photographs of your sketches and illustrations and I know there are schools who only want to see original work. For me, the main drawback of a digital portfolio is the lack of haptic qualities of original work, particularly if you include fabric samples etc. So in the end both options have pros and cons.

No matter if you chose a digital or analogue format, make sure to go for a clean and reduced design that does not defer from the actual work. Simple and consistent design elements that help the reader navigate your portfolio (such as chapters, a footer etc) usually work best.

Get started

Probably the most important point is to just get started with your portfolio. I know it can be quite a struggle to overcome the hurdle of getting started (hello procrastination), but once you do, it will be worth it. 

Here's a quick To Do-List to get started with your portfolio:

  • Check for formal criteria at the university you apply for
  • Gather all your previous work and pick at least one as a starting point
  • Take a course to get into the mode of regular portfolio work 
  • Brainstorm at least 50 ideas and get started with the one that excites you most
  • Decide if you want a digital or analogue portfolio
  • Create a clean and consistent design for your portfolio
  • Put it all together, once you feel you have enough work
  • Make a final check for spelling and consistency

If you want to know more on the overall application process, check out this post on applying at UDK Berlin.