YKK's New Breed: Laura Amstein

We chat to one of the nine designers in YKK and Dazed's creative portfolio

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Royal College of Art graduate Laura Amstein is one of nine hand-picked designers part of zip manufacturer YKK and Dazed's New Breed project. With this creative portfolio, YKK and Dazed are highlighting new and exciting accessory and fashion designers in need of support. YKK is also proud sponsor of the International Talent Support’s ITS#ACCESSORIES awards in Italy, and will hand out its very own annual YKK Award in mid-July.

Obsessed with graphic, formed, shapes and bold, bright colours, Amstein makes bags, cases and accessories that, on an almost fundamental level, draw you to them. They make you want to pick them up, examine them and work them out. They are not bags simply to hang over your arm, they are pleasingly tactile in a way that makes you want to hold them, to present them.

What I’m really interested in is how the product is going to be used and enjoyed, of course it is vital that the product is aesthetically pleasing. Balancing these two elements is a challenge I really enjoy

Initially studying her BA in Costume Design at Edinburgh University, Amstein's interest in making smaller bags and items, and the pleasure she got from seeing people use and enjoy what she had made, soon overtook her interest in the course. Moving on to study Accessories at London College of Fashion and then to the RCA, Laura's pieces are the product of someone who has discovered her passion, and it is that which comes through in what she makes. You want to pick them up, to hold them and to look at them, because she does.

Dazed Digital: What first made you want to design accessories?
Laura Amstein: Although I originally trained as a costume designer, I found myself designing and making small accessories to sell on the side. I loved it when someone bought my product. It’s this excitement, the idea of someone using and enjoying something that I’ve designed and made, that really inspires me.

DD: What is your general approach to design?
Laura Amstein: What I’m really interested in is how the product is going to be used and enjoyed, of course it is vital that the product is aesthetically pleasing. Balancing these two elements is a challenge I really enjoy.

DD: There is a lot of bold colour and graphic shapes in your current collection, where does that come from?
Laura Amstein: I’ve just always been excited by the use of bold, block colours and loved bold, simple, clean shapes! I think it’s the strong impact they have that draws me to them.

DD: The technique behind your work is moulding, a quite traditional leather style. What interested you in it to want to use it to create contemporary pieces?
Laura Amstein: I learnt the technique a few years ago. I fell in love with the process and felt it could be a real challenge for me to nterpret it in a more modern way. It’s a process that really shows off the fascinating qualities of leather. Stretching the material to create 3D form and depth, there’s endless possibilities with it!

DD: You have worked with YKK on the zips and fastenings. What do they bring to your designs?
Laura Amstein:
They bring function and quality to my products. For me, hardware works best when it is an integral part of the design rather than just an after thought. Also with using such a traditional technique as moulding, zips instantly make my product more contemporary in style.

For more info on the New Breed project, click HERE

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