Silas Adler from Soulland won the prize as the best Danish designer by Danish Fashion Awards 2012, but what some may not know is that it is also the talented 27-year-old young man who is behind the design of the Danish EU Presidency neckties and scarves.
In this interview Silas talks about Soulland´s work and what it was that made a former skater and streetwear designer throw himself at designing something as conformist as neckties and scarves for the presidency
Soullands bid went as one of the few beyond the design manual as inspiration. What was your starting point for the design?
First and foremost, it was more about doing something that was serving the project rather than to do something where my design ideology was at the forefront. From the beginning I imagined that in some subtle way there could be some different layers in it. There was an idea of an airy graphic pattern - something which, when looked upon, gave a sense of calm, while there was something going on. And when I studied the logo, I realized that if we could split it into fractions and spread it out in a random, yet orderly manner, I would get some sort of pattern. Splitting it up and spreading it out had the effect of adding a layer to the design. When viewed from far away, it just looks like tiny dots, but when you get close, you suddenly discover: Hey, it actually spells EU and there is one part of a number.
The multiple layers probably compose a more durable design that makes it possible to use after the Danish presidency expires?
I think this is all about having achieved a balance in the project itself and in the design itself. You can easily create a design that is linked to a project such as the presidency, but without having to be in the project context in order to be of relevance. It's cooler to do something in line with the format of the project, where there is no doubt where it belongs, but where it may also have its own life. And that's the way we work a lot in our collections, as our collections are based very heavily on inspiration and stories. We always build up a storytelling together with the collection, so when you have the complete collection in its entirety at a fashion show, for example, it is clear to see that there is a very coherent whole, but if you take a pair of pants or a shirt off, then it can still live its own life with all kinds of other clothes.
You have chosen to use a blue colour as the base colour and not, for example, the red represented in the logo. What lies behind this choice?
I have tried to locate a blue colour, which is aligned to the EU's blue colour without actually being the same, but with a reference to it. And the white colour is a reference to the white colour in the EU flag. We made a few different colour versions, but it gave clearly the most sense there, since the blue colour is subtle, but still symbolizes something fundamental, something strong, something business like, some seriousness, so there was no doubt that it was the correct colour. There are codes hidden in the colours. The red symbolizes wildness, and that you in some way seek to portray yourself as more than you actually are. In comparison the blue really is about being more restrained and humble in one way or another. And I think it fits better with our time. There is also an element of something more timeless in it - and with humble I do not mean passive. I just think it's a very good way of behaving.
I guess a tender like this from a designer point may be viewed as very dogmatic and at times complex and lay the ground for a design process operating within a very fixed framework?
Historically, there are many things in art and culture, created under the same conditions. I think that in a time where you have everything available it's healthy to occasionally have and do some things where there is not so much leeway. We do the same with our productions. There we also often apply some rules on how to do. I think that is important with clothes, because you can go on and on with making something more and new, until you finally lose the strong narrative.
How do you identify the strong narrative and wholeness in your otherwise highly acclaimed collections and shows?
We start by studying a theme in depth, and as soon as books start lying around and pictures hanging on the wall of a new theme the others know that now have a collection going. And it's very specific themes; now we start the collection for winter 13, and it's going to be about Japanese baseball in the 1950s and 1960s, which I guess is a fairly unknown subject for most people. In each of our stories linked to our collections is a country. Recently it was the American Civil War; with Denmark, it was about clothing for postmen. There is always a geographic location represented in the collections - we try to create a world map.
It becomes almost a global grand tour?
Yes, it is in fact what it is and the world is big, so we can keep on for a long time yet. The thing is also that neither I nor Jacob (CEO Jacob Kampp Berliner) really have any professional training, so I also think it's very healthy to have an element of education in the process.
It probably also opens up for inspiration from all possible and impossible styles?
Yes, there must be an element in the collection that is directly transferred. There must be some clear references in the clothing or an element of real clothing from the theme of storytelling, otherwise it will not work in the right way.