Dear Shaded Viewers,
I discovered the work of Emma Gudmundson through GDGS aka Global Design Graduate Show 2020 which was part of ArtsThread, Emma is the winner of Textiles-Knit/Weave-Global Design Graduate Show which was in collaboration with GUCCI.Following is a chat with Emma.
DP: Let’s talk about your hand sewn, zero-waste collection, what exactly is your process?
EG: The process for my collection has mostly been focused on experiments with the help of the knitting machine. Instead of sketching with a paper and pen I used the knitting machine as a tool for that purpose. Smaller samples where made first, testing out scale and how the fabrics appearance changed by how wide the flotations were along with the placement of the hook-up stitches. Then I continued the work by knitting larger pieces that I could drape on a body. Being inspired by the mandarin fish and its colorful lines and patterns I also added color shifts to explore how I could mimic those and how it would impact the fabrics appearance.
DP: I know that you grew up in Fjal but was your school in Stockholm? Any chance you ever heard of the knitwear designer Sandra Backlund? I know she went to a different school, Beckmans, and she is decades older than you but her work was very distinctive.
EG: I graduated from The Swedish School of Textiles which is located in Borås. Sandra Backlund has actually been a source of inspiration for me. I saw her work for the first time at the Textile museum in Borås and was blown away. The way she knits and creates these 3D structures really opened my eyes for the possibilities within the technique.
DP: I used to go to a trade show for independent designers in Stockholm called +46, no idea if it still exists, but what struck me at that time was how Swedish designers, the independent ones as opposed to fast fashion, liked to do everything by hand and keep things totally under their control, from the little I know about your work it seems you follow that same philosophy, is that true?
EG: Absolutely, I think that is what makes the work special and valuable. The feeling of creating something out of nothing with your own hands is truly gratifying and I would not want to switch that for anything. It also allows for experimentation and individually within the work that makes the pieces personal and unique.
DP: Clearly creating a zero-waste collection means that you are concerned with how fashion effects the planet, where do the materials that you create with come from?
EG: The materials used in the collection comes from the knitting lab that is located in the school, these yarns are a mixture of dead stock and basic yarns that the school provides for the courses. The yarns I used are cotton, polyester, and monofilament/fishing wire. I chose these because of the colors and how they behaved when knitted. I would love to find alternatives that can provide the same effects but are more environmentally friendly.
DP: Who are the creators that have had the biggest impact on you and your work?
EG: My absolute favourite designer is Iris Van Herpen. I love how her work is not only beautiful, but it is also interesting and makes you wonder how it is made. Another inspiration for me is Cecile Feilchenfeldt, her experimental knitting and use of materials has inspired me during this process.
DP: Do you create in silence or do you listen to music and if yes, what do you like to listen to?
EG: It depends on what I ́m doing, if I knit a complicated piece I work in silence since it helps me focus better and not loose train of thought. But otherwise I mostly listen to music that makes me calm and relaxed, my favourite artists are Kaytranada and Toro y Moi.
DP: When you start creating a piece, do you have a precise idea of where you are going with it or does the textile speak to you in a way and show you where you want to go?
EG: I would definitely say that the textiles lead the way. The techniques I use when knitting
creates fabric pieces that have wobbly edges and are quite abstract. So there was a lot of experimentation and trying out on different parts of the body to see what had potential to be further developed. Once I had created the first look I used that as a base to continue experimentation on for the rest of the pieces. This helped me keep a focus on the collection and make decisions faster.
DP: Do you work on a real body? Do you have a muse, is it yourself?
EG: I prefer working on a real body since I think it is important to see how a garment or fabric behaves when in movement. I would say my work is an extension of me, I mostly wear black and oversized clothes because of convenience and comfort. But I love bright colors and love to see other people wearing them. So my work fullfills that part of me that I don’t show on the outside.
DP: I read that you were waiting for your knitting machine to arrive so is your work mostly done on the machine or by hand?
EG: I would say that it is mostly done by hand. Knitting with a domestic knitting machine is a real hands on way to work. Every hook-up stitch and color inlay is done by hand so as the fabric grows from the machine, I can see instant results and decide how to continue. All the pieces are also hand sewn together.
DP: You are starting your own business, how are you going to communicate it?
EG: I have planned to communicate it via Instagram since that is the place where I am most active and have engagement from people who have interest in my work. I am doing this all by myself so its kind of a learning experience, hopefully it goes well.
DP: Where do you want to go from here? What is your dream?
EG: My hope is that I would be able to make a living out of what I love doing. Right now, I am working full time at another job and knitting when I get home and on the weekends. So to be able to only knit would be a dream. My plan is to start small and see how it goes, it would be so cool if people would like to wear my pieces.
DP: Thank you Emma I too love the work of Cecile Feilchenfeldt, below is a link to a post I made on Cecile when I first discovered her work 3-4 years ago.
I wish you continued success.