How would you describe yourself and the objects you make?
I am a clothing designer. My favourite part of designing is transforming ideas that captivate my imagination into physical objects.
What does your office/studio look like? What kinds of things do you keep around you for inspiration? What kinds of soundscapes do you surround yourself with?
I work in a space with big windows and lots of greenness in the summer/snow in the winter. I feel closely connected with and inspired by nature all year round. I have many found objects on surrounding shelves. I usually listen to minimal classical/contemporary music, but I do also enjoy working in silence.
Can you tell me more about the found objects on your shelves? What do they mean to you?
The objects on my shelves reflect my aesthetic and set a mood for me to create in. They capture: nature, vitality/mortality and human creative efforts throughout history. I have quite a few bones, antiques and pieces of spiritual/devotional art.
What does a typical workday look like for you? What is your schedule like?
I wake up early and plan what I will create that day. I will work all through daylight hours and usually well into the evening.
What kinds of tools do you use? How do you use them? What is your creative process like?
I use cloth, leather, cutting tools and sewing machines. I like to use paper as an initial creative canvas, instead of fabric. I usually make my patterns by cutting, pinning and adjusting sheets of paper before making a prototype out of cloth.
What kind of mental processes help you get work done?
I tend to envision the final garment in its completeness. This “final form” energizes me and keeps me striving towards its fullfilment.
What inspires you in the creation of your objects?
Music, images and characters that exist in the climate of my imagination. I invent the person for whom I create: I imagine their favourite objects, their home, their collaborators, their energies.
What kind of music and images inspire you? Can you tell more about the characters you imagine?
I am inspired by dark romantic images and bleak, futuristic landscapes. I love wild and raw nature, open expanses of land. I also love sleek and minimalist architecture, especially when it is found in nature (eg. Futurist Architecture.) In individuals, I am inspired by contrast, adornment, and lack thereof, and most of all personality. I define personality as the drive and courage to transform one’s inner realm into an outer representation. As for music, I listen to a huge variety of sounds when I create, depending on my mood and energy levels. Some of my favourites are Chopin, Summoning, Warduna, Maria Callas, Vemod, Lamia Vox...I could go on.
What do the objects you create mean to you?
They feel a bit like talismans to me. They are something I pour my energy and attention into and pass them on to others. I think any object which is so personally inspired and created, is naturally bestowed some energy of the creator.
How do you see the relationship you have with people who buy your clothing?
I feel like we are part of a cycle of mutual inspiration. When my creations are worn by unique individuals, I am inspired to create. I love seeing my garments in photographs and as part of the creative endeavours of others. I am also inspired by the way that my garments are interpreted through the lens of individual style. It brings me great pleasure to know that I can contribute to someone’s creative process.
What do the materials you use mean to you? What are your favourite materials to use?
I love working with leather, denim, wool and stretch fabrics. I think natural fibres have their own special beauty and I try to highlight these unique characteristics with particular drape and fit. I am always interested in using traditional materials and silhouettes in non-traditional ways.
How do you transfer your material presence, in terms of your self and your handmade objects, to the digital world?
I love to use photography as a tool to pour my imagined worlds into the visible sphere.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
My aesthetic is fascinated with human history but inspired by the rawness of nature.
(Interview in excerpts; originally conducted and published by Belinda Heliot for CraftCvlture Blog.)
Velvit: When did your interest for designing begin?
Anastasia Ikonnikova: I moved to Toronto, Canada from Moscow, Russia when I was 9. I was an introverted child who “loved drawing dresses” and my interest in design began early on. I grew up with a mother who was a seamstress and I inherited her love of sewing, as well as, her perfectionism.
V: I hear your focus in school was quite the opposite of fashion design!
AI: I completed my undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Medieval History with a focus in medieval latin and latin manuscripts. I studied magic in medieval manuscripts, with a focus on various kinds of Divination.
V: Do you often pull inspiration from your studies of Medieval History?
AI: I think my academic career influences my work subversively, through a filter of my own perceptions and not through historical accuracy. I would not say there is anything “overtly” medieval about NUIT, but I do think my garments are comfortable and timeless. I could see some of them being worn on a pilgrimage.
V:Tell me a little about your process as a designer.
AI: I am inspired by dark romantic images and bleak, futuristic landscapes. I love wild and raw nature, open expanses of land. I also love minimalist architecture, especially when it is found in nature (eg. Futurist Architecture.) In individuals, I am inspired by contrast, adornment, and lack thereof, and most of all personality. I define personality as the drive and courage to transform one’s inner realm into an outer representation. I also listen to a huge variety of sounds when I create, depending on my mood and energy levels. Some of my favourites are Chopin, Summoning, Warduna, Maria Callas, Vemod, Lamia Vox…
V: Who do you create for?
AI: I create for like minded individuals: artists and art appreciators, those who want to transcend the bonds of the mundane, everyday world, and create a world of their own. I infuse every garment with a certain timeless nobility and strength and I think these characteristics are likewise found in members of my audience.
V: Genderless clothing and accessories is becoming slowly more popular recently in the fashion community, why do you think that is?
AI: I create unisex garments which highlight creativity and elegance in the individual rather than gender. There is a certain poetry about the way a garment interacts with the human form, one that excludes and precedes gender, in my mind.
V: With the slow garment movement trying to make headway, what do you think are ways artists and designer can lessen their carbon footprint?
AI: I think the made-to-order model is a great way to not “overproduce”. Also using sustainable, classic and versatile materials which are beyond trend. My aim is to make clothes which will last years not seasons, in style and substance.
V: Congratulations on your most recent launch of Antithesis. What inspired this new collection?
AI: The S/S 2015 Antithesis collection is inspired by a documentary I saw about Japanese fishermen. Their respect for the balance in nature, as well as their weatherworn clothing, inspires me the most. I tried to portray this balance in the use of contrast with black and white, as well as, shapes which traverse and oppose one another.
V: You are not only a designer and a scholar, but a musician! Can you tell me a little about your music career?
AI: I have played music from a young age. First in orchestras and now in bands. Music is an incredibly pure way of manifesting my internal landscape into external form, almost completely unhindered by the demands of the modern world.
V: How has being a musician influenced you as a designer?
AI: I admit, when I am creating, my focus must be poured into one or the other creative activity, since I leave nothing behind. No energy is spared in bringing ideas into reality. I think, the musicians I am surrounded by certainly inspire my aesthetic.
V: How has traveling with your band helped inspire you as an artist and as a designer?
AI: Travel, especially to Scandinavia, has been huge influence on my inner landscape and thereby my aesthetic. The first thing I explore in a new place is always nature, and everything else is secondary. Nature fills my consciousness with awe, which is the cleanest fuel for my creative endeavors.
V: Who are some of your favorite designers or fine artists you either wear or admire?
AI: I love Hogan Maclaughlin, Hunter Gatherer, LaLaYeah, Ovate, Noctex, Ann Demeulemeester, Rick Owens, Yohji Yamamoto, Constantin Brâncuși, Le Corbusier, Louise Nevelson and many more. I admire the work ethic, commitment and philosophy of these individuals the most.
V: Black is…
AI: ...as infinite as the night.