‘Bringing Morocco Home’ for A/W 2016-17 is two textiles’ based interior collections for a garden room or conservatory aimed at the European aspirational homemaker/s aged 25-35 years.
Morocco is full of overwhelming culture and traditions and within the country amazing colours, patterns and textures are evident. African influences are slowly becoming more popular with customers in Europe but they still have not been explored in depth. I am hoping to help this happen, as there is room for African influenced textile interior designs aimed at the mass market. I chose to design for a garden room or conservatory because of the relationship between Moroccans and their ‘Riad’s, which is the heart of their home and usually represented by a garden. Therefore, I wanted to reflect that meaning here in Europe.
I have researched into the traditions and values of Moroccan society and communities, gaining a knowledge and understanding of peoples’ environment to create a well-researched range of mood boards. These were the starting point to create a collection best suited for my customers. There were so many inspiring themes I could have used in Morocco so I narrowed it down to two categories. For the first category I explored were the intricate handmade structures around Marrakesh including plasterwork, metalwork, tiles, woodwork and doors, revealing the patterns within. This makes up collection one named ‘Hidden Beauty’. There is two families in this collection, the first family is all based around one motif that I have developed and developed to create a variety of different designs. The second family is more Illustrator based as I wanted to show my diversity. I used live trace to create crisp sharp lines then took these designs into Photoshop to develop further. ‘Exotic Outburst’ is the second collection, which is all about exposing the natural beauty of exotic plants and flowers from Jardin Majorelle through hand drawn and Photoshop rendered designs. I wanted to try and keep my hand drawn detail and mark making to emphasize the various textures that can be created from exotic plants and flowers.
Throughout the developmental stage of the project I experimented in my sketchbook, picking out simple lines, shapes and patterns from my research to develop in Photoshop. Drawing was quite an important part in this project for me, as I wanted to capture Moroccan motifs but not go into too much detail. I drew mainly simple outlines and did not want them to be accurate because Moroccan handmade structures were not exact and I wanted to follow this through. Alongside this I experimented in print, trying to create textures that appeared similar to my findings, using screen-printing, puff paste, dyes and pigments and foils. All of these experiments were then developed in Photoshop and Illustrator for further manipulation, resulting in graphical designs and repeat patterns. I did not get to develop all of my print and stitch samples as I had created a wide variety and I felt like I had exhausted the ones I did develop, creating beautiful background textures and patterns.
I printed out many trial samples on paper to see how my designs would appear when printed. These results were evaluated and then further investigation followed until I was satisfied with the final result.
Testing was key in this project; I experimented with scale, accurate repeats, placements, various filters and effects in order to create the look I wanted to achieve for my collections. I carefully considered the products my fabrics would be used for during the development of the designs.
My collection is digitally printed but I wanted to develop a few designs further by adding foil onto the surface using print screen methods. I investigated these designs thoroughly to achieve the desired final result and came across a few problems when printing such as the screen being dirty and not printing properly but I overcame these problems and was very happy with my final croquis.
The creation of two textile interior collections aimed for a garden room or conservatory, potentially many of rooms or other various products could be lifted with these designs.
I have taken into consideration the established companies or outlets such as Dunelm, and Home Sense where my designs could potentially be. I think outlets for mass-market interiors products such as wallpaper, upholstery, cushions and other flamboyant home-ware would best suit my designs. I think I have been successful in achieving my goal I set out from the start of ‘Bringing Morocco home’ and I am very pleased with my final chosen croquis. If I had more time I would most certainly develop my designs further by adding stitch to the surface to create a 3D texture that would draw you in. I would also consider laser cutting on some designs and having patterns behind to scan in and digitally print to give the effect that it’s laser cut as I am aiming for mass market. I think I have really reflected morocco in a way that is suitable for a garden room or conservatory and really believe my designs would give garden rooms or conservatories a true life and soul.
I chose garden rooms and conservatories because when I went to Morocco I stayed in a Riad. In the centre of this Riad was a room that represented a garden, There was a beautiful water fountain in the centre with detailed tiles surrounding this area and paintings of exotic plants and flowers up on the rustic looking walls. The mixture of all these various textures was surprisingly not too busy, yet overwhelming and pleasing. Later on during my stay in Morocco I found out that all Riads have a representation of a garden of some sort in the centre, Also known as the heart of the home.
As I was bringing the Morocco theme and influence back home to Europe for the mass market I decided the best room to design for to interpretate my findings would be garden rooms or conservatories. This led m on to research who in the European population has a garden room or conservatory. I found research tables that showed mainly new couple or older couples had conservatoies and this influenced my decision on designing for aspirational homemaker/s aged 25-35 years
When researching garden rooms and conservatories I found that most designs for these rooms are plain and neutral with minimal splashes of colour here and there. I want to change this and bring some life and soul into these rooms.
Overall I am very pleased with my development both academically and creatively that has happened throughout this last year. I have never been positive towards English; it is something I always had difficulty with. However, carrying out a lot of research and using a dictionary and thesaurus to understand the intellectual language in various books has widened my knowledge and skills. I now have a positive attitude towards my writing.
When attending the lectures through out Level 4 and 5 I didn’t find them beneficial at that time, as they didn’t link in with art and design. However, when I looked over my notes from those lectures I found a lot of useful information. These lecture notes helped and guided me, pushing me to build upon my skills, which were then developed further when writing my dissertation.
One of the lectures form a previous term was how to analyse images and texts, which I found challenging at first but after lots of guidance I could use this technique with confidence. I found this helped me a lot when it came to reading books and wanting to use the information but in my own style. I dedicated a lot of time to writing notes from books and other sources that I found relevant to my dissertation subject and this helped me in finding other relevant information on the same theory to back up the points I was arguing to and against.
After visiting Morocco for another module and being overwhelmed by the arts, culture and tradition, I found I was very passionate of the colours, patterns and textures that were there main characteristics Morocco consisted of. I knew I would enjoy learning about Morocco so I started with a brainstorm. This really helped to spark ideas and I found that in Africa there were various styles of art form and I had only seen the one, which I found outstanding. At this point I was very enthusiastic at the start to find out more about the arts and textiles of Africa.
When I was carrying out my research for the dissertation I used a wide range of sources but there were two that had the most relevant information in, and the way that information was set or written really stood out to me and kept me enthusiastic. One was a book called Ethnic by Design which was written by Dinah Hall. It has three chapters devoted to African art, textiles and design that are illustrated beautifully. She discusses her passion for the style of Islamic design and explains the history of Europeans being influenced by Moorish art. I used images from her book and her text in my own style as I found it very inspirational and informative.
Another source I collected and developed information from was a website called African Art History set up by Bronwen Evans. She expresses her passion about art, which is shown by her emotive language, that I have quoted in my dissertation. She debates the problem of whether art is craft or craft is art, which was very useful for my dissertation as I had to define African art for African textiles to be fully appreciated.
When writing my dissertation I noted the book or web address in the section containing the relevant information I had used instead of actually referencing properly at that moment in time. When it came to the end I found it really hard to try and find each reference I needed as I forgot to write the page numbers. This experience made me realise that it is easier to plan in advance, using time wisely and noting down even the smallest of details incase that information is needed in the future. I also realised this when it came to writing my conclusion, which resulted in re-reading through my dissertation several times.. This knowledge will help me for my final module in my own practice, especially when it comes to building up a technical folder, where I will have to note down each dye recipe and process trail notes. It will be a ‘note to ones self’ that I take away with me and use throughout life.
When it came to writing the main body of my dissertation I found that I was using repetitive words, due to this I used the dictionary and thesaurus to expand my vocabulary, finding new words and their meanings, and how to use them in context. I found this helpful and will carry this idea forward by using these sources more throughout my own practice work.
Now, after completing this dissertation, I have decided to carry out the concept in my brief which is ‘bringing Africa home’. I am going to create and produce a surface design textile collection aimed at mass market, using the influence of Africa’s’ characteristics, at a high professional standard. During the project I will have research thoroughly into my market, future trends and forecasts and other relevant information such as artists and designers. I will use my research skills that have been positively developed throughout Constellation and Dissertation elements of this course by analysing images, applying my own thoughts and perspectives instead of descripting what I see as ‘good or bad’ which is the way I tackled research in previous modules.
Everything I have experienced, learnt and built upon these last few years will thankfully be with me forever, where I will keep developing them through new challenges and experiences. I am grateful I am leaving University with the knowledge and skills learnt, but the greatest achievement personally is my confidence in my own work that has grown a tremendous amount.
To get me started and to re visit my experience from Morocco I read throughout my journal and looked through my photographs. Doing this helped as I felt calm and relaxed but also energetic and ready to go. Everything about Morocco makes me smile, its such a happy environment, full of bright and warm colours that give the most perfect atmosphere anyone could wish for.
Saturday 18th January- Day one
I got on the plane in Bristol at mid-day and the flight was about 3 hours and a bit. I was sat next to Sarah Morris and Sally who was one of my tutors. We had an interesting conversation and time flew. As we started to land in Marrakech we enjoyed the views so much, it was exciting and we couldn’t wait to be off the plane.
When we got to Marrakech airport we collected our luggage and exchanged our money into Dirhams ‘Dhs’ ‘Drh’. We then got on a coach altogether to finally arrive at the Riad we were going to stay in whilst we were away. We left our luggage in the centre of the Riad where there was a fountain also known as the ‘garden of paradise’, and we went into the lounge for a discussion on plans for the week ahead of us and healthy and safety. After this talk we got to choose our room keys randomly and go to see our chosen room. Walking into our room was a surprise as I was absolutely beautiful. It reminded me of a scene from Aladdin. Pattern was everywhere you look and the room was full of colour and detail. We got settled in, unpacking all our belongings and then got ready to go out and explore this new city.
I went out with Daisy, Aimee, Becka, Lauren, Cara, Sarah, Abbie and a few others. We walked down the street our Riad was on and already we were stunned by our experiences. It is very busy here, full of people walking and the traffic is chaotic, crazy drivers everywhere, scooters and bicycles were the main form of transport here. After walking to the bottom of the street some of the girls went back to the Riad as they were tired and the men here were showing a lot of attention to us girls, being British and English speaking. Me, Daisy, Lauren, Cara, Sarah and Abbie went for a walk up the main street and around ‘the square’. It was so packed and very eye opening! It was quite late and most shops were still open, there were market sales on the floor everywhere you looked, everything here was lit up.
We saw snakes dancing to music, spiritual readers, men dancing in crowds, ‘beggers’, little children trying to sell tissues, lots of fresh orange juice stalls, popcorn machines (the old box ones like carts) and so much more. After walking around this square and taking in all the different things Marrakech had to offer we walked back down the main street looking for somewhere to eat out on our first night here.
We finally decided on this little restaurant that was small but very busy. The waiters here were lovely, very welcoming and talkative. The menu was hard to understand as it was in Arabic and French but the waiters helped us even though it was hard to understand the translation. I ordered spaghetti Bolognese and whilst waiting for this to be brought out to me I was given fresh warm white flat rolls as a starter that over here was free as a gesture. The food here was lovely and I really enjoyed my first meal in Morocco. We were all sat around chatting and having a laugh, indulging in our new surroundings. There were a lot of stray cats, some of which were approaching our table, but not begging for food, simply just finding a hiding space or getting warm and cosy.
After leaving the restaurant we made our way back to our Riad, on arrival we noticed the Riad doors were locked but after ringing the bell they let us in. All the girls then went to bed whilst me and Daisy went to our room. We got comfortable in our p.j’s and played a game of monopoly whilst talking. Eventually we fell to sleep.
Sunday 19th January- Day 2
I woke up at 7am and lay in bed for 20 minutes just listening to the silence of the Riad but the business of the streets. I then got ready and, me and Daisy went up to the rooftop to meet the other girls Aimee and Becka for an early breakfast as we had a really busy day ahead of us. All the other students were there having breakfast too, we then went downstairs ready to wait for the coach. We left the Riad and went to the Medina.
First walking through the Medina we visited the ‘Artisan Cur Sur Mesure’ which was where the merchants used to live many of years ago. It was dark, dingy and empty. We had a tour guide today who was taking us around and telling us historical information. He told us that the word ‘Riad’ is a word used to describe the gardens of paradise. Riads used to belong to wealthy families but now they are converted and transformed into hotels. The heart of a Riad is the garden, in the Riad we were staying in the garden was represented by the fountain in the heart of the building. I also found out that Marrakech’s nickname is ‘gateway to the desert’ and that the day of rest here is Sunday ad on this day the place was different.
Next we went to the Medina bakery and it was such an amazing experience to see how tradition plays a huge part in Marrakech. Young boys and girls carry wood to the bakery as their little chores. The baker puts holes in the bread to remember which bread belongs to which family. People here like to eat off one big plate in the center of the table and use their fingers.
We then went to the furnace where there was a man under ground level putting wood into the fire to heat things up such as the ‘Hammam’ which is a Turkish bath also known as a steam bath. People lived in the furnace to take it in turns creating heat whenever needed. They didn’t look like they enjoyed it or liked living there and I didn’t blame them, it didn’t look appealing, it was very dark, gloomy, empty and cold.
Our tour guide explained how women like to meet on their roofs and have a chat or a tea whilst putting their washing out on the line and apart from this their only chill out time was when they met up for a ‘Hammam’.
We then walked through the bust streets to get to the ‘Ben Youseff Medesera’. The word ‘Medesera’ means school. It was a 14th century building, several buildings were built for learning but this building was only used up until the 1960s after modern schools and universities were built. In school they used to write using henna and only had time to take notes and would write this up in full in their own time. Children were 9 years old when they started learning in the Ben Youseff building and before this they would learning the 114 chapters of the Coran bible. Children used to live in the Ben Youseff building which was like a boarding school. Smarter children or students hand the better rooms with the best views out of their windows- this was sad but they had to follow rules. There were 132 bedrooms in total for the students here.
The Ben Youseff building was beautiful and everywhere you looked was full of detail, colour and pattern. The walls had calligraphy from the Coran bible engraved and carved into bricks, plaster and wood. It was all created by hand which was amazing and must have taken so long as this covered a vast area.
The word ‘selige’ means mosaic and the Ben Youseff building was full of mosaic and this was another technique done by hand by the people that had to be good at mathematics and geometry to be able to get the mosaic right. Religion was the main subject taught at the Ben Youseff Medesera. They would pray in the hall past the water pool.
In every Mosque they have a ‘cove’ where the ‘imam’ (priest) stands to recite from the Coran. He faces into the cove so the words echo loud so they can here clearer. The front row of people when praying, help the priest if he forgets his words when reciting as he reads from what he remembers as they don’t read from the Coran and hold it.
Next we went to the Morish Museum to observe some beautiful Moroccan artifacts. The style of the museum is slightly different to what we are used to but still has the same idea of plain-ish walls and glass cabinets to display pieces, but the museum is full of beautiful architecture. The museum covers 2,000 square meters and it’s the 19th century style building that used to be all open but it got roofed when it was turned into a museum. The colours that were mainly used in this museum were blue (indigo), yellow (from flowers), brown (henna), green (mint) and crimson (natural). In the museum they had a range of fabrics or cloths in cabinets that had been hand embroidered. They also had jewellery that was silver as they believe silver brings good luck. The jewellery looked really heavy and chunky. They had many ceramics and pottery peices, some were blue and white (ferris) which is known as ‘blue city’ because of these two distinct colours. They had a mans costume which was a Jalaba and a purse. They also had a display of daggers and swords. I found all these items very precious and portrayed history of Morocco. They also had contemporary artworks which were full of colour and reminded me of Henri Matisse. I loved the works full of colour, they brought life and soul to this museum, giving the historical items a sense of depth.
We then had a tour to the Jardin Majorelle which is a garden full of exotic plants, mainly cactuses. The colours here were beautiful, buildings painted in a vivid blue and the bright green plants with a bright dash of colour here and there. Here I took loads of close up photos which I think worked really well as they showed so much detail and texture and I think looking closely at things allows you to see in a different light. I was very inspired by the photographs I was taking, and knew these could be a base for wonderful designs.
We then moved on to the blind boarding school called ‘OAPAM’. Here they taught and worked with about 100 children or students and 40 of these students go home and the rest live here. There is usually about 6 students per classroom. This is a charity-based scheme that is also in the UK. Some of the children and students are fully blind where others are partially blind. There are a few gardens for the students where they walk around bare foot to experience different textures. These are called ‘sensory gardens’. Between 60 and 70% of the teachers who work in the school with the children are fully or partially blind which must make it quite a challenge. They do teach a variety of subjects here which is a positive aspect. I think its amazing that there are options like this out there available to the unfortunate children and students, giving them a good chance to get qualifications for their future.
Monday 20th January- Day 3
I woke up about half seven, got ready and went up to have breakfast with Daisy, Becka, Aimee and Ioana. We then had a meeting with the tutors telling us various facts and information for the upcoming days. After the meeting my group took a nice long walk to the Koutoubia Mosque. They have a morning call here which is usually at twenty to 5 in the morning but we didn’t get up to pray as they only let muslims enter to pray. We did walk around the outside of the whole Moque and its big beautiful gardens surrounding the building. In the centre of the Mosque is a very tall tower that reminds me of big ben. The building looks like a fresh cream or beige colour and it is circled with gardens, old art nouveau style gates, old bricks and antique looking lights. One of the gardens surrounding the Mosque was called ‘Jardin Rosea’ which means rose garden. These gardens ere also full of beautiful plants but it was also full of pattern, colour and texture in a natural form, I captured a lot of this in photos.
Next we all took a stroll to the Bahia Palace (ruins) and it was old and boring overall to look at but when u studied various sections up close you could see the inner beauty, how various textured bricks and blocks had been layered up and how some walls were worn down and old, leaving distinctive marks and lines.
I went to the Mountains on a minibus with another 18 students from my uni. We visited the Berbers houses to see how they lived. On the way we stopped off to have photos with camels on the edge of the cliff. We also stopped off in another place on the way where there was a hand made old wooden bridge going from one edge of the cliff edge to another. In turns we were walking across this rope bridge and stopped in the middle, turned around to face everyone to have a photo… this was a really scary task and I found it very challenging as it was a long way up but I conquered my fear of heights. When we got to the Berber houses it as amazing to see how they lived, underneath floor level they would keep their livestock. Their houses were open, cold and bare, with the odd hanging textile piece. They used found materials from their habitat to create thatched roofs or other items for their homes. An association of approx. 32 families both men and women made fabric using the weaving technique or they made bed covers and blankets. They used materials such as wool, cotton and silk. They also made silk scarves, plate covers and teacup covers. These were all bright and textured and usually consisted of hand embroidery. They also made square or circle table covers and cushion covers.
I did visit other places on the rest of the days but I was too busy to keep a diary, I documented everything with photos and notes. Various places I did visit were the Dar Si Siad, Sadian Tombs, the Souks and the Jewish Square. I had such an amazing experience the whole time I was away and I was inspired so much by morocco and what the country had to offer historically, and also by the culture and tradition here. It had opened up my eyes and I looked at my work in a different light. I realise now I have a real taste for culture and using this inspiration in my work will really push my designs further, thinking differently and feeling very passionate about what I am designing.
I am using my photos as a starting point for my designs, by taking elements of morocco and changing them, building upon them using various techniques and pulling out various elements that I think will create strong designs for my final collection.
BA (Hons) TEXTILES Field 3: Exhibition Brief
ADZ6888 – Hannah Linsey – 2015
Brief Title: Bringing Morocco home
The overall aim: is to provide a textile based interior collection, inspired by Morocco aimed for the mass market suitable for 25-35 year olds. The collection will be in line with the trends and forecasts predicted for Autumn/Winter-2016/17.
Morocco is full of overwhelming culture and traditions and within the country amazing colours, patterns and textures are evident. African influences are slowly becoming more prevalent but still have not been explored in depth. There is room in the market for African influenced textile interior designs aimed at the aspirational European homemaker.
- To complete an in depth exploration and documentation on the theme of Morocco, exploring Africa and it’s art as a whole to get a better understanding and knowledge of Morocco
- To examine and report on the targeted mass market and evaluate where this is collection would be best positioned
- To investigate trend and forecast journals and websites and summarise these, ensuring the trend for the final collection will suit the client
- To research artists and designers who have used the Moroccan and African influence such as Yves Saint Laurent, Yinka Shonibare
- To produce a strong body of primary research on the theme of tribal and Islamic influences in the form of drawings and photographs, experimenting with various styles, media and techniques that are appropriate for my client
- Using the research documented, investigate as many creative visual concepts as possible
- To creatively experiment with a selection of primary research using methods and techniques such as printing, stitching, mark making, scanning and digitalising, editing and manipulating
- To produce a selection of samples and croquis designs on a range of appropriate and well researched substrates including fabrics such as cottons and linens
- To critique and analyse these samples and croquis, developing them further if needed
- To create a collection of final samples with technical processes such as print, stitch and embroidery, photographic effects and laser cutting, all achieving a professional standard
Research base and Proposal:
A substantial amount of research into African, mainly focusing on Moroccan, interior art and textile designers will be carried out. Artists and designers such as Jennifer Manners, Christian Lacroix and Elle Decor will be investigated. Images from magazines, books and websites will be collected and collated on the applicable theme. Market analysis will be undertaken such as visits to competitor shops such as Dunelm, Home Sense and House of Fraser. Further research will be undertaken by attending museums, trade shows, exhibitions and other relevant places. Various techniques and processes will be carried out such as digital printing, screen-printing, hand embroidery and mark making. Other materials that will be experimented with are coloured foils, a range of dyes, various fabrics such as wools and cottons. Colour will be investigated and documented visually and verbally in a technical folder to create the most suitable colour palette for the final collection.
List of possible outcomes:
- Research folder containing all relevant sources studied both written and visual
- Mood boards including- Theme, colour, fabric and a client profile
- Primary research: sketchbook of drawing and photographs
- Technical file
- Samples and croquis designs
- Visual and written experimentation, ideas and prototyping
- High quality final collection of interior fabric designs, some of which will demonstrate alternative colourways, coordinating design groups and accurately repeating pattern designs- these will be presented professionally in the final exhibition
- CAD visuals on selected designs illustrating the relevant situation
- Reflective journal and blog entries
- Written statement in the form of a reflective journal (max 1,000 words)
- Written degree exhibition statement (100-150 words)
This is my self written brief and I am really happy with the decisions I have made and what I am setting out to achieve. I am now looking forward to starting my in depth research.
Receiving the brief where we had to choose our own project and what it contained was exciting. It was exciting because there were no guidelines or limits, everything now was solely down to me as an individual, portraying the true designer within me and what I am capable of.
After going to Amsterdam and finally deciding that my initial thoughts of doing my project on Morocco was right I tried to link in my dissertation with this final project as I would have researched relevant sources for this project now and that would give me a sturdy base to build upon. My dissertation title was “BRINGING AFRICA HOME: Exploring the ‘African influence’ from art to décor for ordinary British Homes” and this helped me understand how art in Africa should be split up into three main styles; Tribal, Islamic and Christian because borders didn’t prevent the spread of art ideas and techniques spreading from country to country.
I learnt that the art styles, and the lifestyle lead by the African people dictated what materials textiles could be made from and different surroundings provided the natural products which were used to pattern and dye cloth. Africans have developed textiles which are different, beautiful, and use a wide variety of techniques. Many of these are copied by Westerners, such as applique and beadwork. Several techniques are often used to make a textile piece, this is often time consuming and although it produces a wonderful piece of art, production of art works for interior design can be limited to a cottage industry and items may be costly. Designers can provide interesting collections to revitalise a room in the African style as has been seen in this dissertation. However for the ordinary British person, creating a whole African themed room may be too expensive. Tourist visits to Africa can provide opportunities to purchase small individual art items but this does not give a thorough change in style. There are ways in which textiles and patterns can be manipulated and adapted to provide textiles which are similar to the traditional but less costly and produced more quickly.
It was interesting to note from research how long Britain has been subjected to the ‘minmal interior’ style. Houses have white or cream walls and lack furniture and colourful textiles as designers have noted. Like recent television makeover programmes, authors such as Dinah Hall noted that there comes a time when people start to want change. People are recognising that they would like more colour in their lives, perhaps now is the time. There is opportunity for African design and decors to become prominent. From a conversation with a home designer, it can be seen that it is difficult to change the current mindset of design fashion. Without seeing design products, people will not be encouraged to use the theme. It was apparent from the shop research that except for one store, African inspired textiles and artifacts were very few, it is encouraging that one store has started a whole collection of African Islamic inspired bedroom textiles and several different cushion covers. It is hoped that this trend will spread and continue.
Due to this dissertation I undertook is the reason why I wanted to ‘bring Africa home’ using inspiration from their art, lifestyle and culture to provide western homes with colour and life as they appear to have become ‘lost souls’ with no character or excitement. However, after initial research into Africa I decided that using the whole of Africa for my final project wouldn’t be possible as this covered so many continents so I narrowed this down to ‘Bringing Morocco home’ as I have been here on a trip and have a lot of primary research as a base to build on.
I had an amazing time whilst being away. There was so much to see in such a short space of time. It wasn’t what I expected although I didn’t know what to expect. I went away with an open mind and now I am back with my heart set on my final chosen topic due to this trip away that was well needed for me to make this decision.
I flew out on 23rd January in the evening. When me and the other girls landed we made our way straight to the hotel, dropped off our belongings then went straight out to explore the streets of Amsterdam and get familiar with our surroundings. We found there was a lot of museums all quite near to the hotel that we didn’t find whilst researching on the internet, we took down a note of these to research further when we got back to the hotel. We also found various shops we would like to go and see. It was getting really late then so we all came back to the hotel, talked about our plans for the next day and had some food and a relax before the next few busy days ahead of us.
On the 24th we got up early and set out to get some breakfast before sight-seeing. First we visited the Diamond Museum, this was very interesting and I found out lots of useful information. The museum told a story of how the hardest material in the world (diamond) went from being a rock to a ring or necklace. Here was a load of crowns in a glass case, one glass case containing crowns that were foreign. I found these the most interesting due to the bright coloured diamonds and jewels being used for decoration and also the patterns and shapes surrounding these stones.
We then went to the 1st day of the fashion show that was combined with ballet. As I struggled to find out much information of what the show was about I was really excited and intrigued. When we arrived there it was packed full of other people all interested to find out what it was about. As we walked into this big room a circle formed around a stage in the centre of the room. It was a ballet performance that gave the fashion in a story. There was two women dressed in two fashion garments, one black and one white. There were also other fashion garments on display around the room on the outskirts. The collection of garments was influenced by insects, their movement and behaviour. It was amazing to see the fashion garments portrayed through dance and film. It was great to get an insight of how collections can be portrayed to others.
We planeed to go to tattoo shops whilst being in Amsterdam for Aimee as this was her chosen topic. This task seemed hard. On the internet it said there was a tattoo museum, but many people in Amsterdam said this had closed down. We did ask around to find out where there were tattoo shops available and we did visit a few of these. Not every one would let us take photographs but we did find one in the district and Aimee was aloud to take photographs for her research here.
We wandered a few streets around this area and made our way to the Dam Square to see what else we would stumble across and I seen a poster advertising African art in a museum. I then found the actual museum this was situated at but it was closed and didn’t give much information as to when it would be open or what was in this exhibition so I noted this down for researching for when I got back to the hotel. I also found a shop which sold a mix-match of items, it was kind of like a T K Max at home, back in Cardiff. I love these types of shops as you never know what you will find. Inside the shop was a selection of bowls that reminded me of Morocco. I then found postcards of Marrakech, I then realised my heart was set on Africa/Morocco and I started to realise i was very very passionate of this culture after experiencing it before. I decided from this point on I would use this trip to find influences and inspiration from Africa, and see if it was used in other countries.
It was getting late so we decided to find somewhere to eat. We went to the Hard Rock Cafe for some delicious foods and amazing cocktails. We talked and relaxed for half hour before going back to the hotel. When we arrived back at the hotel I was putting together a journal and diary of my few days here to refer back to at a later date, sticking in all relevant findings such as post cards, receipts, little notes etc.
On the 25th we got up even earlier to make sure we had a full packed day of exploring. We knew that on this day the fashion show was being held in the new trade market which wasn’t too far from the hotel so we decided to walk here, thinking we might stumble across various other places on our way. On the way we seen a lot of fantastic street art and graffiti, we also came across shops that we found very interesting. There was also beautifully shaped houses and benches and boxes with different designs on them. It was fab to see what beauty Amsterdam had to offer. We had walked for ages and hadn’t yet found this trade market so we decided to stop off for a hot chocolate in a cafe. It was a coincidence that the cafe we chose to stop at had various products inside that were inspired by Africa. Some were hand made by African artisans themselves, others made from influences of Africa. I took many photographs here whilst waiting for the taxi we ordered to take us to the trade market that we found hard to find.
We finally got to this trade market, even the taxi driver had difficulty finding it as it was such a new build that not many people knew about. When we got there we realised it was a trade fair, full of stalls all offering different products ad goods. It was eye opening and amazing to see the different variety of products and concepts other artists or designers were producing. One stall in particular stood out to me. Nomi- which combines the African style with Western trends. It was very eye catching and full of bold colours, lines, shapes and patterns. I spent a while on this stall taking to Nomi. It was an experience getting to see how she designed using the African culture, taking certain elements of Africa to create beautiful designs for fashion products.
I also had another chat with a lady who owns a felt making trade. She explained how she creates her felts, dying all the felt herself using natural dyes. She was dressed in a felt skirt that she had made herself which i found amazing as I had seen felt scarfs and slippers before but never a whole item of clothing made in the felting process. After looking at all the stalls this trade fair had to offer we went to another part of Amsterdam. We visited the Stedelijk Museum which from the outside looked very boring. However, I found this was relevant to my theme. There was an exhibition here called ‘Global Collaborations’ which was the title of my last year project when I went on the study trip to Morocco. I documented my findings in Amsterdam, using notes and photographs to refer back to when I got home.
On the 26th we were going home so we didn’t have a jam packed day of exploring so we tried to use our time wisely. We went back to re-visit a few places of our choice to recap and take more images or inspiration down to refer back to when we got home. Then we had a few hours to get food and go on a boat ride to see Amsterdam for a different perspective. This boater ride was really intriguing as we went past a lot of places we didn’t realise were there when we were walking around Amsterdam.
When arriving back home and reflecting on my experience I was really glad I went to Amsterdam as before I went here I was unsure of what my final project should be on as I had so many ideas to choose from. Being in Amsterdam and still thinking about Morocco made up my mind for me. I was certain at this point that I wanted to carry out what my dissertation had been about.