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We have asked three creatives outside the comfortable realm of our own industry what creativity is and how inspiration occurs – and about the essential components in their work as well as ours: colour, shape and material.
THE ESSENCE OF CREATIVITY
In the creative world of Danish fashion designer Mads Nørgaard, it is the little things that make the big difference – and there is no greater satisfaction than when a piece of clothes makes people feel, not think. However, it all starts – and ends – with choosing the right materials.
What was the very first material that caught your attention?
I don’t remember exactly. I do remember, though, how as a teenager I used to wrap my favourite album covers in plastic in order to keep them nice and clean, but also because I thought it looked cool. This fascination with how the interaction between different materials adds something new and unique to an object has stayed with me. It never ceases to amaze me how textiles in different qualities, densities and structures can work together; how something soft and compliant acts when met with something rough and coarse, and what happens when you mix the polished and shiny with the understated and matt.
When speaking of fashion design, how would you describe the importance of material?
In my line of work, we constantly discuss the grif. This term is used to describe how a fabric makes you feel when you touch it, when it moves, how it drapes or stays firm, crinkles or folds, if it’s heavy or light. When designers meet and go through the different items in a collection, you will often hear one of them exclaim with enthusiasm when holding a dress or a shirt: This one has such a great grif. Today, I am wearing a t-shirt made with 60% cotton and 40% polyamide, and the difference from a 100% cotton t-shirt may not be instantly visible – however it’s all in the grif; how this exact combination of fibres makes the textile slightly lighter and fluffier, hence more interesting. It’s a pretty simple t-shirt, so I am convinced that all the compliments I have received from my colleagues today have to do with the textile. It’s the little, seemingly insignificant, details that will make you feel, not think. And that’s what I’m after, because the moment you start thinking, it’s too late. Nobody needs an extra t-shirt, but we all tend to want one if it feels right.
IT’S ALL IN THE DETAIL
What inspires you the most?
Real people wearing real clothes. I get a lot out of watching young people in the streets of Copenhagen. What’s on their minds? What music do they listen to? How do they dress? Where do they hang out? And when a new season starts, a new generation will hit the streets with their special ways and preferences, and it changes all over again.
When do you get a feeling of professional fulfillment?
When I go for a walk and see a complete stranger in a sweatshirt or pair of trousers that we designed at Mads Nørgaard a few seasons back. It makes me proud and happy that someone has kept it, and that it still makes sense for her to wear it. That’s a huge compliment. It can also be a small technical detail in a design or a fabric that I have worked on with my team. Nobody would ever notice it quite the way that we do, but it’s there, and that gives huge satisfaction.
What is your favourite material?
Cotton jersey! It’s easy to work with, and it has a straightforwardness and a modesty that works well with me. It was the fabric for my first designs, and it will probably also be the fabric for my last. We have a company policy here at Mads Nørgaard, that if a customer comes in with our classic 101cottont-shirt,which has been used for more than twenty years, we will swap it and give her a new one for free. I keep the old one to see how it has aged; what has happened to the colours, the stitching, and the knit. Most people know how it feels to wear a favourite old t-shirt just before it falls apart – and that feeling cannot be imitated. It comes with the wear and tear, and only when you love something so much that you don’t want to throw it out.
ABOUT MADS NØRGAARD
Designer and co-editor of the Danish fashion anthology Dansk Modeleksikon, Mads Nørgaard is a household name in the Danish fashion industry with his seasonal collections taking inspiration from street life, music, art, and youth culture. His label is also synonymous with the 101, the striped cotton t-shirt designed by his father Jørgen Nørgaard in 1967, and up to this day worn by fashion-forward youngsters and sophisticated ladies alike. The iconic Nørgaard stripes were also the inspiration for the special edition of the Kevi Chair designed by Jørgen Rasmussen in 1958 – now dressed in classic black and white fabrics by Kvadrat as a result of the unique collaboration with Mads Nørgaard for Engelbrechts.