Aniela is a designer, researcher, and full-time sustainable fashion advocate at the University of the Arts Centre for Sustainable Fashion.
Aniela’s work is concerned with fashion as an expression of emotion. She researches fashion to express collective and individual identities, as well as to communicate and relate them to each other in order to understand and map possibilities for more satisfactory futures.
Her works include, ‘I’m not feeling the fashion thing’ – An emotional couture project that captures thoughts and feelings of individuals throughout the contemporary Covid-19 pandemic and ‘Diamonds are Whatever’ – a speculative design hybrid between a lab and a tailor-made retail experience.
Can you relate the idea of ripples to your everyday practice?
Definitely, I can see three main ripple categories that affect my practice.
First, I’m convinced that my practice and interests are a product of the ‘zeitgeist’ – the social, economic and environmental circumstances of our time;a selection of big splashes that create waves that we all can experience, often collectively.
Second, my personal circumstances, individual past, present choices and content I choose to expose myself to, impact my perception of the world. It’s a ripple caused by my birth, which defines who I am now – a collection of my experiences/waves.
The third is related to emotions. I often observe emotional dynamics, the verbal and nonverbal communication and experience of them, existing within interactions – ripples. Situations and emotions they cause often ripple across many relational connections, which are woven through the tsunami of our daily actions.
The above are very complex and intertwined. They affect our behaviour and value systems, which I intend to explore and map through my work.
What ripples has your work caused, and how far-reaching are these?
I use my work to find and develop my voice, and I hope to inspire others to be critical towards their beliefs and so-called status quo. From my perspective, the most important ripple I caused so far is my personal transformation. It’s in my nature to be working with many different ideas and experiments, but it was always difficult for me to accept the possibility of failure and humiliation. Not so now. Healing my worried ego was the biggest splash I caused within myself. Since, I’m open to play, connect, learn and create bigger waves with others and the reach of that is difficult to measure – probably far!
What ripples do you want to set in motion that you want to see take effect in the future?
I want to experience and develop collective ways of making fashion. Through my practice, I’m looking at the means of communicating a multiplicity of stories through clothing. I want to work on a project, which will expose the defining power of the narrative behind our perceptions of fashion and give more people power to recognise the narrow storytelling-marketing strategies behind products they desire. I want to work towards togetherness, collective mental health and an increase of empathy – I can imagine that being a worthwhile splash.
I want to work on a project, which will expose the defining power of the narrative behind our perceptions of fashion and give more people power to recognise the narrow storytelling-marketing strategies behind products they desire
What does it feel like when inspiration hits you? Do ripples come to you or are ripples generated from within?
I don’t have one way of getting inspired. I’m always involved in one or more projects, either personal or work related, and they usually give birth to another. That is a ripple. Having an idea feels great, but I believe that it’s more about what you will do with it than how you experience its arrival. I used to get very excited about new concepts, and the side effect was the fear of not managing expectations of my own imagination. For me, the ripple is in the process, in people you meet, thoughts they will lead you to and the decisions and changes you decide to make. And it’s crucial to find the strength within you to cause it by throwing the idea out of your brain into action.
We know that actions cause ripples of all kinds; with this in mind how do you perform care through your work?
Part of my work process is to sleep a minimum of seven to eight hours a night and consciously, regularly disconnect myself from the Internet. I also meditate, track my feelings, and try to run a few times a week. I believe that to grow as a person you need to have self-awareness, build healthy connections, push your boundaries, and do work beyond your comfort zone; you need to maintain a solid base through regular self-care. I found that the ultimate ripple effect of nurturing yourself is confidence, power to face uncertainty, peace of mind and strength to be there for others too.