This past Sunday had the pleasure of meeting Titania Inglis at her beautiful studio/living space in Brooklyn. A mutual friend of ours had suggested we have a meeting of the minds, and Titania was kind enough to open up her space and let me pick her brain about her design process. What Titania unpacked in our discussions was her vision to interpret the elegance of the natural world with the technical execution of working with textiles, furs and skins. I came by her apartment just as the sun was starting to make its way down towards sunset. The color of the light in Inglis' studio bounced off of the contrasting surfaces and I was drawn to everything around me.
What's perhaps most notable about Inglis' work is that she is committed to keeping her craft ethical, locally made and eco-friendly; all of her sourced materials low-impact, vegetable dyed and/or made from deadstock textiles. I was geeking out when she pulled showed me three full reindeer hides as she was explaining how the fur has a multitude of spots, stripes and fur gauges. She then gave me a preview of some bags she's been developing with vegetable-tanned lengths of leather,-which she had hand-dyed and molded into a stiff 3-D shape (see the last 3 images).
The word "Landscape" kept creeping back into our conversation as we went through her past collections, and I'm absolutely intrigued by how she's been interpreting the contrast of nature and technical structure. To say the least, I left her apartment with questions about my own closet and how far-removed from the craft process a consumer can become. With Titania's work, the transparency of the process with married with exceptional quality and thoughtful, beautiful designs.
I had a few other questions for Titania, so I hit her up earlier this afternoon to get some last words on her upbringing and other bits of thought:
1. How did your upbringing in Ithaca affect your sense of space?
Having grown up there, I find the upstate landscape both magical and welcoming, with its deep gorges, breathtaking vistas, and peaceful woodlands. The woods reveal so many subtle wonders: tiny mosses hiding under the bark of a fallen tree, birds nesting high in the branches, the textures and subtle colorations of fungi and lichens and bark, a waterfall that appears just around a rocky corner. It's that sense of quiet and wonder that I try to convey with my designs.
2. I was intrigued about our brief conversation about your labeling stamps. Could you remind me what your stamp acronyms stand for and what inspired you to make that facet of the process visible to your wearer?
The stamps carry the initials of the sewing house where the garment was made: either my studio, or one of the small, family-owned factories I work with in the garment district and Brooklyn. I've been working to add a new level of transparency to my production process, and part of that is to give the factories ownership of the pieces they bring to life, and to pass that along to the customer.
3. Do you feel like you have conflicting tastes or preferences sometimes, or does everything end up seamlessly connecting in one way or another?
My taste is nothing but contradictions, which I find brings an interesting tension and balance to my designs. If I were to go only for black and hard and geometric, there's a certain customer for that — but contrasting those tendencies with soft and pastel and ethereal makes it so much more compelling.
4. Would you want to get lost in a landscape or become a part of it?
I'd prefer to get lost — maybe it's because I'm an introvert, but I always like to maintain an outsider's perspective. I think that's why I enjoy taking photographs... to appreciate the situation, while always being able to extricate myself.
5. Finally, could you tell me more about your collaboration with the jewelry designer Nettie Kent? The "slice of sand" concept was so cool and I feel like it harks back to your notions of landscape, would love to know what you think about that as well.
I worked with Nettie Kent for my Fall '13 collection, and she was sweet enough to let me repurpose some of her designs — including the Slice of Sand — to make the exquisite brass buttons for this season's clothing. Nettie's work takes a lot of inspiration from her seaside childhood on Cape Cod, and we bonded instantly over our love of handwork and nature.