Welcome to the 2023 edition of Fashion Research Symposium, 21st of September! The symposium is a yearly event for research, knowledge-sharing and critical discourse about fashion. The theme for 2023 is “Designing Beyond Human”. The Fashion Research Symposium is a collaboration between the National Museum of Norway and International Library of Fashion Research.
This year’s edition extends on the exhibition “Oltre Terra. Why Wool Matters” at the National Museum, and leading Norwegian and international researchers and practitioners are gathered to delve into the complex relationship between human and animal in the field of design at large. How can the informed choices designers make in their daily practice make room for a more-than-human coexistence, for a new ethology?
Fashion Research Symposium is free for all, with limited capacity. Please register via shorturl.at/lGJQU
(The event will not be streamed)
09.30 Registration & coffee
10.00 Film screening – Tactile Afferents
Born out of a close collaboration between Formafantasma and artist Joanna Piotrowska, the film Tactile Afferents is conceived as a filmic journey through touch and gestures, proximity and feel, primary modes of communication between beings – humans and sheep – that cannot relate verbally with each other. This film aims to take the viewer where human words have no power, to a space where persuasion passes through the hands, where power is administered thermally, transmitted through the temperature of the palms. Co-produced by Fondazione In Between Art Film and Nasjonalmuseet.
10.10 Introduction by Formafantasma
Since founding the research based design studio Formafantasma in 2009, Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin have championed the need for value – laden advocacy merged with holistic design thinking. Their aim is to facilitate a deeper understanding of both our natural and built environments and to propose transformative interventions through design and its material, technical, social, and discursive possibilities. The exhibition Oltre Terra. Why Wool Matters, currently on display at Nasjonalmuseet is an ongoing investigation conducted by Formafantasma focused on the history, ecology, and global dynamics of the extraction and production of wool.
10.20 Welcome note by Hanne Eide & Elise By Olsen
Fashion Research Symposium 2023 is a yearly event for research, knowledge-sharing and critical discourse about fashion. The theme for 2023 is “Designing Beyond Human”. The Fashion Research Symposium is a collaboration between the National Museum of Norway and International Library of Fashion Research.
10.30 The Lendbreen Tunic – talk by Marianne Vedeler
The snow-patches and glaciers of the world are melting rapidly. While climate change haunts us, hundreds of archaeological finds emerge from the ice each year. Before the ice started to melt, the alpine areas in which snow-patches are found, were in general little affected by humans. Still, hunting and trapping activities have been carried out there since prehistoric times. The tunic from Lendbreen in Lom was preserved in the ice for 1700 years. The fabric and cut, as well as several traces of repair, can tell us a lot about textile production and of relations between humans and animals in the Iron Age.
10.50 New Materialism – talk by Siv Støldal
The new modernity is based on creating more meaningful products, clothing and materials, with an ambition for real connection with our emotions. Strong bonds will lead to careful usage, reparation over replacement, and inspire lower consumption through carefully curated personal collections of belongings. Fashion designer Siv Støldal presents various works based on wool that shed light on issues related to resource utilization, consumer culture and sustainability within design and fashion, and takes as a starting point the newly launched chair C2S, her ongoing collaboration with designer Stine Aas. C2S is an armchair made with three handmade thick wool felts swirling around an industrial steel frame. The textile is made from naturally pigmented wild sheep wool, Old Norse spæl and wool with vegetation ( grass, heather and juniper bushes) that gets picked up and tangled into the wool while the sheeps are grazing in the coast landscapes, utilizing the lowest grades of wool ( C2S) that are less attractive for yarn production and therefore have low commercial value.
11.30 Connecting Wool – panel with Lydia Hann & Amanda Vesthardt, chaired by Kirsti Bræin
Join Oslo National Academy of the Arts (KHiO) alumni Lydia Hann and Amanda Vesthardt in conversation with professor Kirsti Bræin as they delve into their shared appreciation of Norway's native sheep’s wool and how that material connection inspired 'Hyrdens Bro (Connecting Wool)'. 'Hyrdens Bro' is a monument to the recently concluded Connecting Wool collaboration between design students from KHiO and Tama University in Tokyo led in part by Bræin. Norwegian wool presents as many gifts as it does challenges and together Hann, Vesthardt and Bræin hope to imbue others with their love for this uniquely beautiful but underutilized material, grease, dirt and all.
11.50 The Norwegian Sheep - a Small Animal with a Huge Impact – talk by Anna Blix
Did you know that everyone had sheep in Norway before the industrial revolution, not because of the meat, but because they needed the wool? In this presentation, Anna will shed light on the 5-6000 year long history of sheep in Norway, and what implications modern agricultural politics have on this sturdy animal and the wool we get from it.
12.10 Safeguarding Sheep to Shop to Soil and Sustainable Solutions – talk by Ingun Klepp & Tone Skårdal Tobiasson
In the ongoing debate concerning a sustainable future for textiles, the holistic approach often falls by the wayside. Returning to more local, small-scale and resilient value-chains where every single gift from our domestic animals is valued, is a proposed path into the future. We propose a need to look our sheep in the eyes and thank them for what they supply us with: wool, warmth, food, landscape, soil health, biodiversity and human health. We have in recent years seen an increase in the beautiful use of local resources among start-ups, local industry and designers, mapping a path away from a destructive, globalized and highly industrialized fashion and food industry on the ground, though with little or no political support. In our talk we will celebrate a true green future without wool being pulled over our eyes.
12.30 Form-Defining Systems of Reverse Crafting – talk by Karin Peterson
Textile-form as dress is often synonymous with the form-defining system of cut and assemble. As such, cut and assemble both defines and restrains the discipline. In her talk, Karin will argue that the field of dress requires collaborative efforts to actively break the positioning imposed by social, institutional and organizational structures, in order to seek an economic and social system that does not choose short-term profit over long-term sustainability. This reasoning will be argued through practical examples using other imaginaries for processes of textile-form, where the crafting of form and surface as interdependent actions guide the search for other realities of textile-form, as dress and beyond.
12.50 Overlapping Footprints: Tracing Interwoven Histories Across Species – talk by Feifei Zhou
Every event in human history has been a more-than-human event. Humans and animals, for instance, could not get to where we are now without each other's efforts. But animals are rarely acknowledged properly for their essential role in human history. To be able to comprehend the Anthropocene - the current geological epoch we are in, we have to bring nonhumans to the center of the stage. The lecture discussed the concept of "feral": neither domesticated or wild, feral ecologies are beings that escaped human control, encouraged and spread by human-built infrastructures.
14.15 From the Grotesque to the Posthuman in Contemporary Fashion – talk by Francesca Granata
At the turn of the twenty-first century, experimental fashion presented grotesque bodies-out-of-bounds, which moved a critique to norms of beauty and propriety. This shift was influenced by feminism’s desire to open up and question gender and bodily norms and particularly the normative bodies of fashion, as well as by the AIDS epidemic. In the twenty-first century, fashion designers have continued this exploration, further breaking down boundaries between humans and non-humans, subjects, and objects. As the centrality of the human comes into question, in the wake of the current climate crisis, posthumanism has increasingly come to bear on experimental fashion.
14.35 Farming as Aesthetic Life Changer – panel with Else Thorenfeldt & Tom Downes, chaired by Adam Curtis
Positioning sustainable agriculture within the context of design, three regenerative farmers will discuss the role of nature in their practices. The idea of the farmer as a cultural producer will be explored as well as the topics of value creation and communication as connected to materialities.
14.55 Exploring the Nexus of Conceptual Design, Art, and Fashion – talk by Fredrik Tjærandsen
Informed by human sciences, nature and philosophy - Tjærandsen has produced works at the intersection of conceptual design, art and fashion. Tjærandsen is inspired by what the senses hold back and what we see and hear that cannot be entirely grasped by the intellect. Each of the senses harbors an inviolable mystery, reserved for itself and inaccessible to the others. Deeply invested in the potential of our body as an elemental form – a phenomenon with a profound capacity for meaning, as much as a multidimensional canvas for creative process and ideas – Tjærandsen works across numerous fields, be it in performance, set design, or art presents a crucial bridge between the optimistic, philosophical origins of performative design and immersive art, the present and where they have yet to delve.
15.15 From Paper Dresses Past to our Compromised Reality – talk by Vasillis Zidianakis & Steffi Stouri
Inspired by Issey Miyake’snine work-in-progress pieces made from paper for the 2008 exhibition XXIst Century Man, held at 21_21 Design Sight in Tokyo, we will focus on the traditional practices that informed Miyake’s practice as well as his vision and the fear that dominated the beginning of the new millennium. The work entitled Pleats dress, paper trial, research process 2007 was donated as a whole from Miyake Design Studio, and after Issey Miyake’ swish, to the RRRIPP!! Collection of ATOPOS cvc in Athens (GR), which consists entirely of paper garments. Although Miyake was influenced by traditional Japanese practices of paper-making and paper-garment-making, these designs completely abandon any formalist or utilitarian approach. Instead they allow the designer to explore a reciprocal relationship between material and form. These bold experiments are testaments that despite fashion’s traditional involvement in unsustainable practices, there have always been pioneers in fashion, experimenting with their fears of today and hopes for tomorrow.
15.55 Beyond Trends: A Renaissance in Artistic Fashion – talk by Louise Lyngh Bjerregaard
Paris-based Artistic Director Louise Lyngh Bjerregaard boldly challenges the status quo with unwavering commitment to meticulous individual research and dedication to artisanal savoir-faire and creates clothing that transcends the confines of fast and commercial fashion. Each piece tells a story of creativity, thoughtful exploration, and an unbreakable connection to artistry, serving as an ongoing source of inspiration for many. In a landscape where garments are often confined to the ephemeral cycles of seasons and fleeting trends, Louise Lyngh Bjerregaard invites us to reimagine our relationship with contemporary clothing. She advocates for a more deliberate and meaningful approach, inspiring and challenging the industry to recognize the intrinsic value of garments that make a statement beyond the breakneck pace of fashion, while maintaining a presence in retailers and runway shows.
16.15 The Chemist Tailor – talk by Manel Torres
A viral fashion moment was born during Paris Fashion Week in September 2022, when Fabrican founder and CEO, Dr. Manel Torres, sprayed a dress on supermodel Bella Hadid as the finale of a runway show. The viral moment captured the imagination of designers, product innovators, and consumers, seeking sustainable “mass customizable” products and flexible, efficient production processes that reduce environmental impact. Fabrican’s Sprayable fabric technology uses fibers recycled from discarded clothes and other fabrics. The sprayable fabric can be washed, reused, and finally, when the garment has come to the end of its use, re-dissolved to create new articles. Fabrican is committed to developing manufacturing for a circular economy, from sourcing of raw materials and utilizing energy-efficient technologies. Dr. Torres founded Fabrican in 2003, after developing the technology at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College, London. Fabrican continues to explore ever-wider applications of the technology, including in apparel, automotive, and healthcare.
16.35-17.00 Towards Future Archival Research – panel discussion chaired by Ilaria Trame
As we approach the end of the Symposium, we feel it is important to propose the archive – its histories, the past, the heritage and the references – as a starting point for future perspectives and approaches. The archival objects from the past need to result in a sympathetic guide towards establishing a ‘new normal’ in what we identify as design and beyond. Using the International Library of Fashion Research collection as a starting point, four speakers from the Symposium are asked to browse the shelves and select a document, book, publication that resonates with their research approaches in the field of this year’s Symposium. These objects will become a bibliography that needs to be continuously expanded even though the Symposium comes to an end.