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Fendi x RCA

Product design students from the RCA have teamed up with the Italian luxury brand to produce a range of exciting installations for their new store to celebrating British design

Luxury Italian fashion house Fendi is celebrating opening its brand new Sloane Street store, with special tribute to British design to coincide with the 2011 London Design Festival. Royal College of Art students have created special installations for temporary instore displays, including Meret Probst: Starting with a Blank Canvas which will feature in the store's window, which celebrate the merging of creativity between fashion and design. RCA graduate and Fendi collaborator, Simon Hassan has been overseeing the project where students use discarded materials to incorporate innovative uses of Fendi' craftsmanship into their work. We spoke to Silvia Fendi to find out more about the exciting project and what we can expect from the new store.

Dazed Digital: How did the idea for the project first come about?
Silvia Fendi: When the economical and financial crisis of 2008 happened, we realized that it was very important to limitless support creativity, as this would have allowed us to have 'fuel' for the future. I've always thought that fashion and design are very close one from the other as they both have a functional aspect which makes the 'reading' easier (which - for example - art does not share). So we decided that Fendi should support limited edition design and we started by collaborating with Design Miami on different projects from the 'Design Talks' to 'Craft Punk, to 'Design Vertigo'.

Since then, we have been working with more than 50 designers, including the recent live performances organized in the Fendi stores worldwide called Fatto a Mano for the Future (where designers and artisans collaborate to create live limited edition design pieces from Fendi scraps of leather). At this stage we decided to support young talents instead of working with a big 'star' of design. We had the desire to take risks and have the chance to be surprised by the new generation. Our collaboration with RCA students is the latest step of this committment and is based on our common desire of creativity. We were looking for, and we eventually had, an active, no gimmick, contribution.

DD: How did you decide who should be given the opportunity to showcase their work and why was it important to use students from the RCA?
Silvia Fendi: We thought about RCA because we are working on 'limited edition design' and RCA has a section called 'Product Design'. Contemporary Design has a magic, and is made of the same ingredients you can find at Fendi : total freedom, excitment and a bit of madness... melted thoughtfulness and serious techniques. While working on a limited edition design piece you follow the same process as in the creation a handbag for example: you aim to create a beautiful object yet with a function, an object that will be used during real life: a chair like a clutch for example!

I was very curious to see what RCA's young design students would create with our discarded materials and Selleria leather. It's really interesting to discover these amazing projects, made with our discarded materials and giving them new life. The students were incredibly talented in giving different meanings and interpretations to a bag and to all materials they're made with.

DD: Was Simon Hasan going to be involved in the project from the outset? What kind of role has he undertaken?
Silvia Fendi: Simon was one of the designers that collaborated with us at Craft Punk, April 2009. I loved his project, and all his work in general. Moreover, he graduated in RCA. We could not have dreamed about a better tutor for this beautiful project!

DD: Do you think this kind of creative project would be something Fendi will do again?
Silvia Fendi: Our engagement in supporting limited edition design is continuous and on-going without any limitation. After this beautiful project with Royal College of Art, we will be in Miami again in December. To be continued...

DD: What can we expect from the new store?
Silvia Fendi: You'll find our most precious, handmade leather goods, as well as the most 'fashion forward' pieces from the catwalk, mixed, for one month, with the installations of RCA students. Two of the works will even be exposed in the windows!

In-store until 25 September at FENDI, 181 - 182 Sloane Street, London SW1X 9QP