2013. We eat while we walk the dog and call our grandmother at the same time. There’s no time for sitting down. You see, time is money, and definitely not worth spending on a bench in a beautiful park doing nothing – or on repairing an unraveled sweater. It’s easier (and cheaper perhaps) just to buy a new one. But can time be measured in gold? We talk a lot about time over our worn out jackets.
Perhaps a short explanation is needed.
Seven years ago, Saskia van Drimmelen gathered a few people she knew and shipped off to Bulgaria. After eight years of designing clothes for the fashion elite in Paris, she had decided to quit her own (and at that point quite successful) brand, in search of a more fulfilling way of making clothes. In a book about Bulgarian crafts, she had found pictures of needlepoint lace unlike anything she had ever seen before – and so the treasure hunt begun. What started as a research on old fashioned and nearly forgotten techniques, became what today is known as Painted.
They call themselves a hybrid fashion collective. Many people stand behind the name Painted, but in the front seats you find Saskia together with theater director (and also Bulgaria explorer) Margreet Sweerts.
Their latest project is called Golden Joinery. Inspired by an old Japanese tradition where broken ceramics are repaired with golden paint, Saskia and Margreet invite you to repair your ragged clothes with a golden thread. They organize workshops where you can bring your beloved but broken sweater, jacket, dress or pair of jeans, and together you make it as good as – or perhaps even better than – new. And this is the frame of our conversation.
Painted is doing something different. In lack of a better name – perhaps combined with peoples need to categorize everything – Painted and their series of clothes are often referred to as slow fashion. Saskia and Margreet rather (if they really have to give it a name) call it slow clothes. Though many of the ideas behind their brand is compatible with the slow fashion thinking (like the sustainability and the anti buy and throw away mentality) Painted is still doing something different.
They work in the periphery of the fashion world, far away from catwalks, collections and trends (when they were asked to open the Amsterdam International Fashion Week, their answer was a YES with a big BUT – resulting in a room where models practised their tightrope skills, while the audience could walk around and watch).
Painted means spending time on making the clothes. Most of their garments are developed over years, and a normal procedure could be this: One starts making, lets say, a dress. Then leaves it to rest for a while, until somebody else finds the inspiration to continue. The garment grows in the hands of different people, until it’s finished. Nothing is planned or designed to the end, it becomes while it’s being made. All the contributors have something to say, and every piece is different from another.
I asked Saskia and Margreet what they thought making something by hand added to a clothing, and they answered with returning the question; What do I think making something by hand adds to a clothing? I was not capable of giving a straight answer at the time being – and I’m not sure I am today either. But I know it adds something. Something of value, whatever that means. I know for instance that buying sweaters on a fleamarket and only afterwards realizing that it has been made by somebody’s hands, makes the scoop three times as good. This is of course a quite subjective way of thinking. Perhaps my idea of an old, gray haired and slightly chubby woman, sitting in a rocking chair knitting (I know this is the case only one out of twenty times) makes the sweater even warmer. Or maybe it’s the idea of somebody spending their time doing it that warms?
By the end of our talk, Margreet draws a scenario; If your house was burning, and you could only save what you could carry in your arms – what would it be (and now let’s look beyond computers and smartphones)? After the workshop, thinking about what I would have saved, I realize that this might be what Saskia and Margreet are trying to create in their clothes. A value that goes beyond money. Not just another really beautiful dress – but a garment with something close to affection.
I like to think that time invested in an out dying technique (let’s say a Bulgarian needlepoint lace) or in repairing an unraveled sweater makes it more worth than the machine produced alternative. I mean, time is after all money. Maybe we just haven’t learned to recognise the currency yet.
After attending their workshop, and becoming a part of their secret, golden brand, Margreet and Saskia asked me to add a song to their playlist, a song about something broken or golden. Not that it really has anything to do with anything, but it’s about a broken heart and I felt like it belonged here as well.
this time i dont have time for pretty small talk my eyes are hurting i slept i dont know 2 hours been at school drawing and making stuff all day even though im still sick and should be in bed but i cant cause assessments are coming soon. besides i read my last text and even though it was also written over one night i still kind of got ashamed cause it felt so pretentious and i hated this side of me that always pops up (stomp on it!!). so i just wanna find something quick to get this shit done, so what do i write about fine ill write about japan, i like japan, japan is interesting japan is fine. but i forgot to borrow the book of course so i have to make some shit up i guess? or what do i do or wait i can go into the library online from my laptop at home while laying in bed in my pyjamas eating icecream awesome. japanjapanjapn what do i find i want something crazy something wild to prove that i’m not boring or pretentious or just to have fun and not think too much while writing i guess now i find this book about araki and i guess that could be something cause i really hate that guy. sexist disgusting fuck. i remember when me and sara did our art coup in gamleby and he was one of our main targets. here’s what happened: we snuck out early in the morning, completely overexcited and got into the school before everyone else. then we put up the speakers with the music blasting loud, and all the pictures of the most disgusting slimy sexist art ever made rolling in the worst slideshow made in history, BAM on a big screen in the entrance hall. (not that it actually was the worst slideshow made in history, i think rather that it was one of the best slideshow ever produced by humankind. only the pictures were the sleaziest).
it was araki micke berg araki araki anders zorn all these sexist artists (araki) portraying naked passive women as muses, all rolling around in our awesome slideshow to the sound of the most sleaziest sexist singer of them all: ULF LUNDELL. the song was OH LA LA JAG VILL HA DIG /
OH LA LA I WANT YOU
YES THAT’S RIGHT when the first students entered the school early in the morning they could hear the music and see the flashing lights from faraway. it was like a bomb
I was searching for something that I could take a look at, pick up and say
“Yes, here is it. I’ve found it.”
Something to put on a shelf, inside of glass, something to be fragile and beautiful.
Or maybe heavy and beautiful at the same time. Like rococo is heavy. Or baroque.
Heavy beauty, when something is meant to be admired.
Money and gold. This thing with power.
When I was 8 years old my mother and my grandmother took me to see the exhibition of the famous Russian Fabergé eggs.
This exhibition got stuck in my memory somehow.
I remember the big rooms.
I remember the whiteness of the walls.
I remember the small glass cages where the most delicate, fragile things were put.
I remember my grandmother, my mother and me getting lost in the whiteness and all the beauty.
Like small animals in a bigger picture, circling around.
Then there were the eggs.
They were made of gold, silver, glass and something that almost seemed like air.
They were magical and impossible to touch.
Maybe it is also about this fascination with the exotic.
Beautiful creations, very far away from my reality.
This idea of something up there in the sky, out of reach.
Lately I have developed this fascination with Japan.
I don’t know what started it, maybe it was my friend who is obsessed with Japan.
Maybe it was just to have a fantasy about something.
I think about their delicate manners. I think about their delicate objects.
I see their patterns in design and art and I don’t understand them but I like it.
I look at Hentai porn, anime and all these crazy comic live shows and I am fascinated.
It is this idea of something, of a country, a people.
I construct it in my head.
I feel somehow that it is the same distance from me to Japan as from the jewelry eggs of Fabergé to me through those glass boxes where they were kept.
Gold. I was thinking of all these gold bars, piled up in heaps somewhere.
It is a material like any other.
You can pile it up, stack it, cut it, bend it, shape it.
When I think of gold I see
and something romantic.
I see things that glitter in the dark, I see mysterious sparkling sources.
Like Anselm Kiefer’s gigantic paintings with small outstanding elements that speak to you.
Like the canopy of heaven and the sublime creatures drawn in patterns over a night sky with tiny flickering lights.
It is all very dramatic.
Like the phrase “You remind me of gold”. I would like to use that phrase of someone. I heard it in a poem somewhere and I like it. I would say that out loud and I would mean it.
“You remind me of gold, you remind me of gold, you remind me of gold”
It is sleezy and dramatic, it is far too romantic, but that’s how I want it to be.
And I guess it’s true that the people I felt love for would in a sense be golden.
After all, gold is just a material like any other and it’s all natural.
It is like this phrase “Eternally Yours”.
I don’t know if I believe in those kinds of words, but in a way I guess I do.
I think I am eternally yours to everyone I ever loved, in a way, and I will never leave them, nor will they leave me, regardless of physical distance or time. That’s how it is with love, I think.
I like small things. Things that don’t speak out too loud, that don’t shout or take place, but keep their integrity. These things intrigue me. They make me want to step up and look closer.
When I think about it I realize now that I have the same preferences for objects as for humans.
I also like black and white photographs, and the slightly worn-out look.
Like there is something forgotten in time, something that is slightly bashed and overlooked. It could be an old suitcase, a forgotten text, a worn-out shirt.
I have a lot of love for these kinds of objects.
Somehow when I look at them it is like they are all speaking to me at the same time,
saying something like
For me sound is something mysterious, because I’m deaf. during my childhood I was fascinated by music cassettes (casette-bandjes). People love these things. For me it was hard to imagine.
Something coming out of the cassette that I couldn’t see. some more interesting elements:
– gold/black – variety volume of lines – symmetrical holes – two hole with teeth – rectangle with round corners – easy to put in pocket – parallel lines–
scale drawing “make invisible visible”
Exploring the possibilities for translating the idea into a product brought me to a new space for viewing the designwork. I fell in love with the PET-foamboard material and thin woods. I could change the shape and lines (movement).
During the translating I solved the technical problems/errors that I couldn’t see in my scale drawing. I had to wear the showmodel glasses in order to solve these problems and find the right shape (nose-holding, hinge and degree angles).
I’m happy with my first design product translation from the (inaudible) cassette-band and I don’t mind wearing it.
Yet again I came back with a book about gold. About golden jewelry this time. It was not my intention to do something with gold again. Gold was one of my tag words, but I preferred to do something else. I had other tags to search for, like “meeting an old lover” “attraction” and “recognition.” So I went searching…. When I saw this golden jewelry book I could not take my eyes of it. I felt so cheap and wrong to take something goldish like again, but I felt really good in the same time. I could call this second journey “the irresistibility of wrong things” or “why we like to do wrong things?”, which sounds like the title of a novel. Interesting question actually. A question where you could have many thoughts about. For myself I didn’t found an answer to it yet.
I really wish that I had a very intelligent reason to chose this book but it is a very banal one I’m afraid.
I found this book in the graphic design section, what felt very familiar because I went to a graphic school before the Rietveld. Seeing those graphic books felt like meeting an old lover.
I picked this book because it had the word “gold” in the title and there was a golden image on the back. I cannot help it, but I am sort of addicted to the color gold. I even named myself Goldish. I feel attracted to gold like mosquitoes to a mosquito lamp.
At the left you can see my own logo. At the right is the image on the cover of the book. There are some agreements between them like the dot. I think that the recognition also made me feel attracted to it.