Blond and Bieber: Talking Bodies Workshop

Blond and Bieber: Talking Bodies Workshop

Blond & Bieber, Berlin-based design studio, visited the School of Design earlier this month giving an open lecture and offering a handful of students the opportunity to take part in their afternoon workshop.

Essi Johanna Glomb and Rasa Weber are behind Blond & Bieber, who focus on taking a narrative approach to design. It’s this philosophy which the pair aimed to pass on to the twelve students who took part in ‘Talking Bodies’.

Describing the workshop Rasa explained that, “the idea behind it was to apply the abstract idea of material and colour onto the body. Usually when you study fashion you think ‘ah I’m going to make a piece of clothing’ and that’s the end idea. We wanted to look at it in a more abstract way and see the body as a canvas, as a surface to tell a story on and tell a narrative.

“That’s what we always do. Colours and materials are the leading topics which take us to certain expressions. That’s what we want to try to do in this workshop in a short amount of time. We want students to turn a waste product, or something which is almost nothing, like bubble wrap or buttons, into something which has a story or a meaning in a photo.”

talking-bodies, workshop, Blond and Bieber, design, studio, Leeds, University
The workshop brought together students from across the School of Design, creating a mixing pot of ideas from their experiences of different programmes from undergraduate study up to MSc level. Paired together to create design concepts, their ideas started from their responses to specific colours.

It’s this knowledge and skills exchange between different disciplines and ages which Blond and Bieber are constantly searching for themselves and encourage students to take up the potential opportunities to do this within the School of Design.

“The School of Design has so much potential for fusion of different fields of knowledge. We really all have to encourage young designers to cross borders and cross their discipline. The need to and go and find out about materials and about different ways of communication with people in different fields to them. Here you can do it door to door, students should take advantage of this because in this way it’s very different from a lot of other design schools.”

We caught up with a couple of the students as their creations were coming together, to see why they decided to get involved and what they got from the workshop.

Yolanta Gale (MSc Textiles)

Why did you decide to take part in the workshop?

I’m from a design background and I really enjoy collaboration, I think it’s really important to cross disciplines. In my course at the moment it’s quite scientific so I saw this and thought that I would quite like to get back to design for a little bit. It’s really nice to be able to work with all these materials and not necessarily having to have a finished end result.

What concept are you and your partner working on?

Grey was the tone and colour that we both matched together on. We’re also looking at the idea of covering and revealing but also at distortion. We’re covering clay in Clingfilm, creating distortion in itself. Then we’re putting it on a body, so we have to think about how it’s going to cover the body. It should be really interesting.

Laurence Moreton Burt BA (Hons) Fashion Design – Final Year

What interested you about the workshop?

I thought it would be quite interesting to see the more conceptual nature of what they do, instead of the strict briefs that you can get with a brand. It’s a bit more creativity for creativity sake and finding ways around unusual problems.

What have been working on throughout the day?

We started with the colour purple, we decided that purple had this split nature because it’s made of red and blue. Blue is cold and calm and red is fierce, active, bold and bright. We’re trying to convey both sides of purple as a split personality and convey that in two pictures.

What have you learnt from this experience?

I’ve learnt to forgot about other things and focus on one or two points and develop those ideas rather than the broader picture. It’s taught me to explore one aspect and see it through to its natural end point.

However, speaking to the Blond and Bieber duo, it’s clear that they get as much out of these workshops as the students.

“In many different ways we get a lot out of this work, that’s why we do them. So for us, we learn something about strategy and design languages. For us it’s also an investment. In the future years all these students will be designers and they will form a new generation of the people that we collaborate with. It’s very selfish really because we want to work with cool people.”