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  • Writer's pictureFashionbrew

Art and Design at Central Saint Martins

If you have a dream about fashion, then Central Saint Martins in London is probably the place where you can put wings to your dreams.

In its hall of fame there are famous alumni such as Sarah Burton, John Galliano, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Zac Posen and Riccardo Tisci, who are the creative minds behind some well-known designer brands. The list of the creative minds never ends, as many of the graduates will fly out with dazzling colours to paint the outside world to a different look.

To many people fashion is perhaps about the choice of dressing. But in the eyes of the makers and artists, fashion is a language, a language built upon fabrics, textiles, patterns, colours, shapes and forms. Most importantly, it communicates its own ideas, reveals emotions and tells stories.

Last week we have met two distinctive designers from Central Saint Martin's degree show and got to know their work a bit more. We are delighted to invite them to share their thoughts behind the creative process with you. Hold tight as you will be surprised.


Fashion Designer, Textile Designer

Vivien Reinert

Textile Print Designer, Artist

Vivien's final project is stimulated by two different sources: public toilets as an act of retreating and her travels to Japan and South Korea.

She was inspired by the way a public lavatory creates a space for people to 'strip off their clothes', both in literal and poetic sense. Lavatories provide an isolated space for people to voice their opinions and thoughts, often expressed as vandalism. Intrigued by this, Vivien posted a series of surveys around public toilets. The honest answers from these surveys formed the basis of her project. Simultaneously, the cultural difference and language barrier Vivien was facing on her journey gave her a similar experience of being left alone.

This led her to amalgam the two inspirations together, bringing the architectural patterns, colours and street signs of Seoul, Busan and Tokyo into her project. Her outcome shows this blend as layers of fabrics that could be attached to each other in a desired way, to be worn on the body or hung in a space.

We have asked Vivien to share her personal experience in the creative industry with us.

Tell us a bit about your background.

I am from Hamburg, a major port city in the northern part of Germany. I moved to London about five years ago for the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at Central Saint Martins.

How did you get interested in art and design and textile print design in particular?

Growing up I would draw and paint on anything I could get my hands on. Especially my mother, who studied fashion design herself, encouraged and furthered my passion by teaching me how to sew, enrolling me in drawing and painting classes and art competitions and visiting exhibitions with me. The best schooldays were the ones I had art classes on my timetable.
Before entering the fashion and textiles area I was not aware that a course for textiles even existed. My mind was blown away when I found out about it and the possibilities of application it involves. I never wanted to be put into a box, just doing one thing for the rest of my life. I love how in textiles, especially in print, you can fluidly move between disciplines such as fine art, fashion, interior design and many others. I enjoy experimenting with transitioning between this vast selection of application possibilities very much. Specialising into the print pathway once I started my BA was therefore an obvious choice. Additionally to that I have always seen myself as an illustrator and painter by heart and print design out of all the three pathways offered me the most freedom to paint and draw in my work. By now print, offering a vast spectrum of techniques, processes and surfaces, has crystallized as my way of responding to my environment.

What are the most important things you learned at Central Saint Martins?

Before starting my Foundation Diploma I have never used a sketchbook. I learned how to research for projects and how to create my own ones. To document everything that catches my eye, through photography, drawing, painting, collaging et al. To look past the obvious and then to examine my subject with a range of different techniques and materials, decontextualising and reconstructing it, making use of references from art and design movements. 
Above all this course taught me to become independent, structured and self-critical, to question and to push always a step further with everything I do and most importantly to realise what I like, who I am, my aesthetic and what creates in me the urge to create. 

What are the challenges of your creative process? 

One of the greatest challenges is to find a subject that fascinates me and excites me enough to make me want to explore it in depth over a longer period of time. It is also always very tempting to fall back on techniques and processes that I am already familiar with and good at. Pushing myself out of the comfort zone and into the unknown is always a bit scary and definitely challenging but all the more rewarding once I have the final piece testifying the obstacles I overcame to get to it.
I also find it quite challenging to avoid going into a project with an idea of the outcome already in mind. Keeping the creation process open and organic, not forcing it into a certain direction to fit a prior made up plan is something I am still learning. Something I am struggling with in my creative process, which is connected to my previous point, is to be out of control. I am very structured in my creation process, planning ahead, sketching ideas out and creating samples and prototypes is essential to me. Print, however, is an area where „accidents“ happen all the time. In the print room I am put in a position of little control, where the outcome is unknown. The surprise that follows meticulous planning and the thrill of it is an important part of my work and source of both great enjoyment and despair. It is good to plan but it is just as important to give space to the unexpected. 

What are the areas you would like to explore in the future?

Whenever I am asked what I want to be and what I want to do once I graduate I say: I want to do and be anything and everything. I know it sounds hackneyed but I really want to be a multidisciplinary artist and designer. I want to explore fashion as much as I want to work in interior design. I am interested in ceramics as much as I am intrigued by the idea of creating large scale murals for house surfaces.
I am intrigued by the idea of doing artist residencies in different countries and would like to do more collaborative projects with other artists and designers from different disciplines as well as communities. I believe that nowadays more than ever before creative people don’t have to define themselves by one practice anymore. Fluidity between different areas is something I am very excited to explore.

You can find out more about Vivien's work on her website.


Ollie Akdeniz

Ceramist, Istanbul/England.

What is the idea of your project?

The detrimental effects of the fast fashion industry is something I have recently become interested in. The microfibers in our clothes polluting the waterways and oceans; the excessive use of water needed to produce cotton; the polluting dyes used for the clothing industry; the pesticides used to maximize cotton crop production; and the factories generating CO2 and contributing to global warming.
I have used the language of fashion to inform my final pieces which are all connected with the environment. I am using ceramics to demonstrate three of the elements of nature - water, fire and earth - highlighting how human over-consumption of fashion is affecting them. I am highlighting the BEE as one of the vital species which we are destroying.

How did you get interested in art and design?

I love beautiful things and the natural world - and I have known for a long time that I am a creator.

What are the most important things you learned at Central Saint Martins?

Wow!  How long is a piece of string?  I have learnt that when making ceramics one should always expect the unexpected as anything could happen when you open the kiln door! Weep with anguish that all your hard work has been ruined because it was at the wrong temperature, jump with joy that your piece is perfectly glazed and looks even better than you could have imagined….. and all emotions in between….

What are the challenges of your creative process? 

To cope with everything and everyone and not get distracted from your dreams, and how to transfer what is in my mind into the reality of something that I have made.

Where do you find inspirations for your work?

From the world around me....literally everywhere.

What are the areas you would like to explore in the future?

I want to explore so much in the world of design in the future and, like my current project, I’m interested in projects which keep in touch with trends and things that are important to our world. But I always aim to make pieces that are refined, beautiful and tactile.


This is a start of our blog series on emerging artists and their work around the world. We hope it can help creating a channel for direct dialogues with artists and their mind, a channel for new ideas to emerge into stronger voices, and to reach more and inspire more.

Stay tuned!


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