A new designer to join our growing network of talented designers is Heiner Radau from Berlin.
Heiner’s area of speciality is textiles and silk screen printing which he has worked with to be a continuation of his background as an artist and graffiti writer. He is currently studying a Masters course in Textiles at KHB – Kunst Hochschule Berlin, an art and design university in Weißensee, Berlin.
In our interview Heiner shares with us his experiences with studying print and textile design, interning at Alexander McQueen and starting his own brand.
You studied first at KHB in Berlin. Can you tell me about this course and the school.
The school is amazing. But as always it’s what you make out of it. We are well equipped, so I chose to profit from the schools resources as much as possible by printing my scarves and other textiles in our silk screen workshop as long as possible. Which is also why I added a master study just right after my bachelor and why I took a year more for the bachelor. Schools here in germany are almost for free. (300€ with public transport included for half a year)
Had you any experience in fashion design before entering or did you take the direction during your studies?
It was the internship in the menswear department of Alexander McQueen that really gave me the motivation to enter fashion.
You are now studying for your Master degree in Textile Design, is this course with KHB or have you changed schools.
Same school. Same curating professor. Just more on my own.
What advice would you give to students studying Fashion Design about creating your graduating project/collection successfully
Do it like the students in London; spend ALL YOUR MONEY into the project of your dreams and use the bachelor collection as a kick-off for your professional life. Don’t only do what the professor wants you to. Think about rentability and business too though.
What has been the greatest benefit and/or disappointment you’ve had from studying the Masters course and would you recommend it?
The student status is like walking hand in hand with your parents; you’re safe and you’ve got space and time to grow, also from an insurance and legal status point of view. Take your time and slowly, but quickly, become a specialized professional with dedication and high expectations. Managing myself was and is the greatest benefit.
About your internship at Alexander Mc Queen. Can you tell us about your experience there, good and/or bad.
In the print department of the menswear section of Alexander McQueen I felt taken serious in my capacities of drawing, although I didn’t know anything about textiles. Which is a shame after studying textile design for 5 years, but it just didn’t interest me when I was in that part of our studies, and nobody forced me to learn it, fortunately. But after that experience in London and returning to school I finally started learning about textiles, putting myself in the class of the lower years. Not knowing made me know.
Also I gained trust in artist-collaborations thanks to the studio, all the trials of more than two people artist-collaborations I had before, failed. But there it just worked. Everybody was doing something different and then in the end of the season it came together to be one collection. Being part of that bigger thing made me smile sometimes. The chefs were nice and I learned lots of things like using graphic tablet and working with masks in photoshop or listening to vampire weekend the menswear designer alway turned on. It was a good atmosphere, personal and professional at the same time- I think I was lucky.
My girlfriend that I met during this time was really unhappy in the womenswear department, she just had shitty jobs and no real creative responsibility.
What would you tell a student to expect from internship, how to prepare themselves for it, what is expected of them and would you recommend it etc.
If you are a natural curious, things will go well. And if you’re not; become one.
Myself, I now think I should have payed more attention to how the studio works and how it is organized as a working and creation space, how does the communication with producers work and what were the tasks of my chef. how did everybody get there and what are they up to next? My chef Katherine Dale, she was a small women who laughed a lot, said it was all WORK, WORK and WORK.
Tell me about why you like to work with textiles or why you chose it as a discipline
Being a graphical artist coming from the graffiti scene I just wanted to study art. More than that; I didn’t want to learn all that stuff in school that I wasn’t interested in, (like math, geography, history, physics) So I applied without a degree and even though they gave me the advice to finish school first I started right away in textile and surface design. It was my mothers advice to go for textile and surface design, because there are barely students interested in it. I was one of them, I never wanted to do textile design but I always want to draw. On everything. So drawing on textiles came naturally, its a paper that doesn’t tear and you can take it wherever you go, by wearing it. That’s why nowadays I make Street-Art-wear.
Do you have a favourite textile or print technique
I love silk screen printing. Using procion-dyes, colors come solid and pure and thanks to fails when printing it helps creating new techniques. That’s all the complete opposite of digital printing where you prepare everything digitally and then it just comes out 100 times exactly the same. Silk screen printing can be an creative process. There are so many controlling units and wherever you do something wrong, it’s a different result. I like discovering the unexpected and controlling it by understanding the process. I’m best when i’m printing an artwork which took a long time preparing it.
What do you think about new “smart” textiles that change heat, colour, have recharging or illuminating properties, or 3D printed garments, are they a gimmick or a future for fabrics?
To be honest, despite my general curiosity, there is a thing I don’t care about at all: it’s SMART TEXTILES.
You spent 3 weeks coaching students in Marocco, how was this experience and did you learn something in particular there
We went there as a group of 6 students from Germany and Russia with a professor friend of ours. When we arrived in Casablanca in the huge ancient slaughter-house we quickly found out how chaotic it was and that there was no such thing as a plan for the HUGE EXHIBITION in about three weeks time. So we took over the project, making working groups.
It was a cool exhibition in the end, and I had nice moments in the streets of the old city center and on top of the roof of our apartment, breathing that unforgettable salty wet air that’s coming from the ocean.
Casablanca is a great city, Marocco is an amazing muslim country with a very lively handcrafting tradition. People produce parts of garments on the streets in the old city center, men are sewing in small backyards and the people are open hearted and adorable.
Can you tell us something about what it took to start your own label and if you have advice for young designers who are starting theirs, for example if you had some unexpected problems you were able to resolve etc.
I followed the advice I gave you earlier, inspired by the crazy amounts of money that english people put into their studies and the credits that they take for it; I felt like; with that much money you could rather start your own business so at least it comes back!
So I did indeed spent all my money for my dream project of my own silk-scarf-label and manufactory.
But before actually buying, It took me half a year just to figure out what tools and ingredients were needed, which screens for printing silk, which silk, there was so much to learn
Finally I spent €3,500 for 70m of heavy silk-twill and 30m of silk-satin, all the reactive-dye pigments that exist in pure pigment shades and auxiliaries from America so I could mix all the other colors, and seven specially produced printing screens from germany that I made adapt to the workshop in my school.. But you know I didn’t just plan to spend it, I also planned to sell my scarves once they’re produced and I’ve done extensive market research and scarf-design analysis.
The only problem that I was facing after the successful presentation was that I didn’t know anybody who would actually had the money to buy these scarves.
What do you plan to be your next step once you’ve completed your Masters course?
I try to stay in school as long as possible because of the silk-screen workshop. So for now I’m having a half year break that I use for working part-time in a club and pushing collaborations with fashion newcomer-designers as well as continuing looking for shops and platforms that can distribution my work to the right clients.
For the moment and during the whole studies my father payed my rent and food. I know I’m lucky. so the next step of course is to be able to finace myself with ongoing projects. although I want to stay an independent designer I also considered interning again, because there’s so much business left to learn.
My final goal for in ten years is to globalize myself and to build up an entire DIY-Production-Shared-House maybe somewhere in asia, to produce and live independent over there, far from the pressure of time which means money.
I imagine it like a shared flat with a huge living room and a space including all the machinery needed for production of textile, print, and garment, furniture, metal-casting, working with local people and still producing small editions. collaborating with different designers and artists who want to take a time-out from the business of the metropoles , focusing on their own prefects or on common dreams. We would also have someone to take care of the animals and someone for looking after the garden that will feed our culinary needs.
That is my dream-solution for keeping the production in my own hands in a fair and profitable way for everybody involved.
Thanks to Heiner Radau for sharing his experience and knowledge with us, you can find his profile in our Fashion Spyder Designers page HERE
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