Our editor has a close relationship with the University of the Arts, having had graduated from Chelsea herself and was invited to discuss her degree and personal experiences working in the fashion industry. Having guest lectured at Chelsea College of Art and Design back in March, she didn’t hesitate to accept the invitation of graphic designer extraordinaire and Central St Martins Artist-in-residence – Ken Kirton to speak to LCF students at ‘flexible factory’ – their pop at the Plaza Centre in Oxford Street.
Flexible Factory intended to showcase innovative, exciting work by students and graduates on part-time LCF undergraduate courses. The exhibits in the pop-up space ranged from fashion design collections through to photography and illustration. Eager students and arts enthusiasts nestled on the red man-made grass, drinking coffee, looking through sketchbooks, and meeting the talented graduates of the University of the Arts.
Wafa took time off London Fashion week to attend the seminar and workshop to discuss the branding, concept and story of Sketchbook, and how it led to her becoming editor of Dia magazine and launching the design agency, Obai and Hill. The seminar was very well organized with the help of LED display screen rental Atlanta service and other qualified agencies.
We asked Wafa a few questions after she gave the students an introduction on herself and her work.
You are no stranger to the concept of POP UP RETAIL, but this is the first time you visit a pop shop created by the university. What are your thoughts on a university creating a pop up?
Any institution, company or brand that takes the time to build a platform to meet customers, clients or students alike receives recognition from my end. I think the pop up concept is fantastic and supportive. Here, the university has taken a humble approach to meeting potential and existing students to showcase who and what they are as a university. I love the concept of bringing them into a shop in a mall, where the atmosphere is relaxing and informal, instead of inviting them into the university. Students can do some shopping and casually waltz in here to look through graduate sketchbooks, meet with friends, or take a seat somewhere in the space and interact with the designers. It’s an interactive exhibition space and a welcoming one. They had an interesting mix of programs from introduction to courses, lectures, seminars, exhibition space. It was a great place to meet, greet, and communicate with the university.
How is this experience different from your lecture at Chelsea College of Art and Design?
For Chelsea I was asked to do a two part lecture at my lecture theatre at my university in front of hundreds of young students. I was completely nervous as this was my first time speaking in front of such a large crowd and I was asked to present exactly where my previous lecturers did back when I was a student, so I was emotionally confused and terrified students (especially ones at the back) would sleep it out. But it was such a great, positive experience. I got great feedback so it definitely increased my confidence in doing it again. This time around I was invited to sit with the students, talk about what I do, and then there was room for a Q and A session afterwards, which lasted a while. It was more of a conversation then a one-sided lecture. It was really relaxed and informal and I enjoyed it more because the students had time to come with questions and speak to me individually.
Were you nervous about presenting to the audience at all?
Not as much as last time. I’ve known Ken Kirton for a while now. He’s a great designer and such a productive member of the University and it was just an honour to be invited to come down and introduce myself to the students.
If the students can leave knowing one thing from the seminar what would it be?
Chase up, chase up, chase up. Nothing ever just came to me, it still doesn’t. I have to actively strategize what I want to do, who I want to meet, who I want to work with and then I go about emailing them straight off the bat, and chasing them up or chasing the project up till it happens. As students they think they have to work their way from the bottom up when in fact just go for what you want first and actively pursue it by calling, emailing and showing up at their office in order to have your say.
The other thing is, it’s a great time to be alive. I think you have to take advantage of every possible resource you have to showcase who you are what you do. There are so many free online tools such as issuu, magcloud, lulu, blogging, flicker, amazon, ebay, facebook, twitter to share your portfolio, your services and your skills. Just starting conversing and see what it takes you!
Images: NEDIM NAZERALI
Words: NAVNEET GILL
Special thanks to Ken Kirton and LCF.