Heli Miikkulainen-Gilbert-Eco Furs Convertible Coat

At Design Interviews

(Excerpt) Interview with Heli Miikkulainen-Gilbert : Frank Scott: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?. Heli Miikkulainen-Gilbert : I wanted to create animal friendly furs i.e. faux furs that are also environment friendly. I also wanted to prove that intelligent i.e. functional and wearable clothing can feel and look fabulous! .Frank Scott: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?. Heli Miikkulainen-Gilbert : To create garments for busy ladies, like myself, who travel lots especially with airlines and don't have any interest in paying high baggage fees or spending time queuing at the airports. Also my pieces were to serve working mothers who don't have time and money to shop different coat for every hour of a cooler day. In addition to creating intelligent and ecological furs I wanted, by creating tufted garments, to add versatility to the use of a hundreds of years old crafts technique that still today is mainly used to create flat wall decors and floor rugs only. .Frank Scott: What are your future plans for this award winning design?. Heli Miikkulainen-Gilbert : I'm working on finding a few suitable retailers for this coat and the whole collection, I am also looking to expand my clientele for bespoke pieces. .Frank Scott: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?. Heli Miikkulainen-Gilbert : I started creating the collection in autumn 2009 in Roundwood, Ireland and launched in full at the Showcase 2013 trade show in Dublin, Ireland in January 2013. It takes 6 full weeks to put together this particular coat, at my most efficient. .Frank Scott: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?. Heli Miikkulainen-Gilbert : I created my very first convertible tufted coat - different from this - for curated Elsku Helsinki Fashion Exhibition in Reykjavik, Iceland in spring 2000. It received warm feedback from the organizers, press and the visitors and was invited to another Icelandic Fashion Exhibition called Ur og I, in Akureyri Art Museum in autumn 2001 of which organizers told it had again received lots of admiration among other things from the editor of British Dazed and Confused magazine. The coat came back to Finland from its almost 1-year-long Icelandic tour and I started wearing it myself, everywhere and daily, it became my favorite garment simply because it was so functional, comfortable, warm and simply different why it grabbed people’s positive attention everywhere I went in it. At the time I was working for someone else and had no time to do anything except test my creation. In autumn 2009, when I had lived in Ireland for a couple of years already and done loads of coat testing in both countries - and been happy for a while of how good the product is and how much it was liked everywhere it was seen I was encouraged to start developing a full collection of the Ecological Furs for women – who are like me i.e. who appreciate a super functional, good quality, minimal size and beautiful wardrobe and easy, money and time saving but fabulous traveling. This coat is my very last and the very best piece. .Frank Scott: Is your design being produced or used by another company, or do you plan to sell or lease the production rights or do you intent to produce your work yourself?. Heli Miikkulainen-Gilbert : At the moment I'm producing all orders myself, however I'm open to new business ventures. .Frank Scott: What made you design this particular type of work?. Heli Miikkulainen-Gilbert : My love for traditional Scandinavian Rugs and creating something different for women in need for functional clothing. .Frank Scott: Where there any other designs and/or designers that helped the influence the design of your work?. Heli Miikkulainen-Gilbert : I've always admired the work of Alexander McQueen and the other Couturists. My collection wasn't inspired by any particular design or designer though, it was more of their everything-is-possible attitude that inspired and encouraged me to create my pieces. .Frank Scott: Who is the target customer for his design?. Heli Miikkulainen-Gilbert : The powerful women, stylish working Moms. .Frank Scott: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?. Heli Miikkulainen-Gilbert : The every-day-wearability and its environment friendliness. .Frank Scott: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?. Heli Miikkulainen-Gilbert : I wanted it to be the most descriptive. It means that the production of my pieces does not harm animals - shearing the lambs, of which produce the wool is, actually prevents deceases in their skin, so it's necessary. Nor the disposal of the coat harms the environment like the disposal of the regular 100 percent synthetic faux furs do. The timeless design and carefully tested high quality materials ensure the pieces are lifetime companions. .Frank Scott: Which design tools did you use when you were working on this project?. Heli Miikkulainen-Gilbert : I sketch by hand and use old fashioned water color pencils for testing color combinations and shapes of the patterns. I also design as I go - I try the pattern by tufting it. If it doesn't look as I want, I pull the tuft off and re-do it as long as it looks the way I want. .Frank Scott: What is the most unique aspect of your design?. Heli Miikkulainen-Gilbert : Its convertibility and how the tuft is made. .Frank Scott: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?. Heli Miikkulainen-Gilbert : No, all is done by myself. .Frank Scott: What is the role of technology in this particular design?. Heli Miikkulainen-Gilbert : The zips, fabrics, tuft yarns and the other trimmings I use in my work are factory made, the end result is purely hand crafted from those listed. .Frank Scott: Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?. Heli Miikkulainen-Gilbert : Testing on humans only. .Frank Scott: What are some of the challenges you faced during the design/realization of your concept?. Heli Miikkulainen-Gilbert : To find a material combo that would make the garments last fairly hard wear day after day - like the Vikings' tufted capes would have done at the time. After testing my very first coat for 5 winters in daily basis and deliberately putting the coat under lots of pressure, some wear-and-tear appeared in the original silk lining. I replaced it with synthetic lining which after 5 more winters still looks like new, like the tightly spun tuft and the dense jute canvas base cloth do, too. .Frank Scott: How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?. Heli Miikkulainen-Gilbert : I got some very good feed back for my coat design from Irish Fashion Community at the Showcase 2013 trade show in Dublin where I launched my very first tufted fashion collection in January 2013. Also one piece of it, the Crowned Crane inspired 2 in 1 vest was selected among 23 projects in designboom's ITO JAKUCHU INSPIRED design competition and exhibited at Tokyo Designers Week 2012 in autumn 2012. These 2 events encouraged me to submit my piece. .Frank Scott: What did you learn or how did you improve yoursel.[ End of Excerpt: Read complete interview with Heli Miikkulainen-Gilbert on Eco Furs Convertible Coat at design-interviews.com ]

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