25 November 2011

Andrezej K Pytel: The King of Kowloon

Andrzej K Pytel, founder and creative force being The House of Ezis, has a unique approach to the concept of design. Annika Hein speaks with him about his ideas and principals in relation to fashion and architecture, as he aims to cross the boundaries of design and truly integrate them to become an extension of the human form...

C&C: Can you give the readers a brief history of your career and how you started? When did you turn to fashion design and why?
A.P: I completed a Bachelor of Architecture at the University of Queensland in 2002, and a Bachelor of Environmental Design at the University of Canberra. In my early career, I worked for Daryl Jackson in Canberra, HOK and BMA in Brisbane. I was also the head designer for the New York Highline competition with A4A architects in Milan, receiving an honorable citation by the jury. However, after only three years of working as an architect, I began to feel frustrated with the repetitive, commercial aspects of the industry and progressively became drawn towards other fields of design. I began exploring with a different range of mediums and materials, applying the design processes acquired from architecture to inform my studies. I then participated in international competitions and several of my works, including a furniture piece and kitchen tiles, were selected and showcased in MiART Milan and Earls Court London Exhibition. The graphic nature of the work led me to experiment with t-shirt print applications and ultimately fashion design as an alternative to architecture.

C&C: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A.P: My inspiration emerges from the here and now, beginning with movement, gesture and touch to initiate the design process. It is vital to be flexible during the act of making and to allow, encourage, orchestrate and view unexpected mistakes and accidents as arising opportunities and catalysts for change.
Emergence occurs out of the creative act within the context of the female body, shaped by natural forces through response, impulse and reflex actions. Natural forces that influence gestures include thought, body, purpose, context, geometry, material, technology and budget. The key principles to my approach are navigating fluidly, allowing actions to evolve and the concept of change and growth.

C&C: What motivates you?
A.P: The notion of moving forward and living, learning and striving to know more. The excitement of discovery through exploration, with the intent to create novel objects of desire that can be shared and enjoyed by others, while in the search of the ideal form of self-expression.

C&C: Tell me about you current collection
A.P: The current collection, ‘Forgotten,’ has been exclusively produced by an invitation from an arts education organization, ‘Hong Kong Creates,’ and can be viewed at the, ‘Memories of King Kowloon Exhibition,’ in Hong Kong (April 20 - May 31). It explores the concept of unity, (non-duality), through metamorphic growth processes and the idea of disappearance through negative growth, or degradation. This is in reference to the King of Kowloon calligraphy and the nature of his message disappearing within the urban context of Hong Kong, gaining meaning and eventually becoming valuable through remembrance. The design process focuses on the unit and its evolution, without adding or subtracting anything from it, pure change. It is a conscious move away from the permanent/static model, the drawing, pattern/plan, and pre-conception. A move towards the impermanent, natural and the ever-changing.

C&C: What are you favorite fabrics to work with and why?
A.P: Shifting between opaque fabrics, raw silks, digital prints, soft satins, interwoven, shear chiffons and organza to exaggerate structural fluidity through tension. Also, I am constantly exploring geometrically cutout vinyl, manually applied to jerseys to embody the fabric with structure, volume and texture. In essence, working with rigid materials that bring more shape to straight bodies and fluid materials that flow with curves.

C&C: Who do you design for? Who is the target customer and why?
A.P: EZIS inclusively meets the demand of two forms of expression, printed and sculpted. I design for the human body with a primary focus on four types of fit, sharp-structure, soft-drape, fitted-stretch and oversized-relaxed. My target customer is a highly expressive individual seeking an extension that portrays their creative self, performing artists, creative professionals and youth culture.

C&C: Who is your fashion icon and does this influence your designs?
A.P: I highly regard Japanese sensibility to nature and the Japanese folding arts. This definitely has an influence on my work, in particular the connection with the higher self through the meditative act of creation.

C&C: Can you explain your concept and ideas about architecture and design? Why do you feel this is so important?
A.P: Both architecture and fashion are at the core of our existence as physical beings, creating a sense of belonging to our land and wider community. They provide us with shelter, cultural identity and security from the surrounding environment. Their primary function is to enclose or expose the body in different degrees to its environment. Both architecture and fashion act as symbols for remembering our past, where we have been, and where we have come from.
For a long time there has been a distinct separation between architecture and fashion, although we have experienced the two fields borrowing from one another in a constant exchange of knowledge that influence each other’s evolution. On the other hand, we are aware of nomadic lifestyles that blur the boundaries between the two fields, as their sense of belonging to the land is mobile. I believe that with new technologies, and alternative working methods, the two fields can be united, or at least brought closer together.
This is important as we are experiencing a major shift due to the digital era. The computer and the internet now allow us to shop online, work from home and connect through social networks. At the same time, we are able to connect virtually with people from all around the world, which in turn results in a disconnection from nature and one another on a physical level. It’s possible that one day the need to leave the security of our private home will diminish to the point where we will only leave ‘the nest’ purely for the purpose of communal congregation and ceremonial purposes. Once again, architecture and fashion will have to change to accommodate this social shift.
It is important to investigate, question and blur the boundary between architecture and fashion to encourage new forms of exchange between individuals from different walks of life, as well as creating new means of interaction and alternative relationships to the land and the sense of belonging.

C&C: What goals have you set your self for this year, the next five years?
A.P: The primary goals for this year include teaching at QUT, initiating a private lecture series with Michelle Sewell, aligning House of Ezis with the industry buying cycle, further expanding my wholesaling to a national level, completing a Fall/Winter 2012 collection, delivering Spring/Summer 11/12, launching an on-line store, launching TyDi clothing line as a collaboration with Australia’s #1 DJ, creating and publishing architecture and fashion images, aligning three private exhibitions/events with Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth fashion festivals, publishing a book and showing my collection at New York Fashion Week in an off-schedule show.

C&C: What’s your ultimate goal, what do you hope to achieve within your career?
A.P: Build architecture, inspired by knowledge I have gained from fashion, continue to design seasonal collections, blur the boundaries between the two fields and pass on the acquired knowledge gained through my practical research to the new generation of students.

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