Faith In Chaos inspiration for the final week of ARTSTHREAD submissions for the Global Design Graduate Show 2020.

With the deadline for uploading your portfolio on the 31st of July, read GDGS Creative Director Jens Laugesen’s thoughts on Faith In Chaos.

by i-D Staff
|
21 July 2020, 11:14am

Still from Faith In Chaos by Nick Knight 

Jens Laugesen is an award winning designer who has worked in many European cities, studied at London’s Central St Martins MA, and launched his own label in the early oughts. When the pandemic hit, Jens was struck by the effect it would have on graduates around the world, who, unable to show their work, might not be able to secure jobs. Thus, wanting to turn the negative into a positive, he contacted ARTSTHREAD, and this summer’s graduate showcase was born. Below, read Jens’ journey, and his hopes for how the next generation of creatives will be able to use the chaos of the current moment to their own advantage, and triumph against the odds.

When Covid-19 became a reality, I understood very quickly that the need for embracing anything digital would be more important than ever. I saw it as an important challenge to re-channel my own creative practice in to a new realm like I have done several times throughout my long career. From starting out as a photo stylist assistant in Paris in the late 80’s, to working un Munich and Paris, to my MA at Central Saint Martins under the legendary Louise Wilson, hopefully my varied experiences give me insight into an ever changing industry.

GROUND ZERO
Our vision marked a strong mutual eastLondon post-punk street moment and Alastair became my closest creative collaborator and stylist for 6 years. The eponymous brand was part of London Fashion Week from 2002-08 and won many awards in London; Fashion East, New Gen and BFC Fashion Forward in London; designer of the year in Denmark alongside winning the LVMH Group ANDAM Award in Paris.

My first graduate collection launched my career at London Fashion Week and led me to meet and collaborate with stylist Alastair McKimm -- now Editor in Chief of i-D magazine, and partner of the Global Design Graduate Show. He contacted me because he had seen my MA collection at a London PR office. I loved his black and white vision for fashion mixing high-end tailoring with sportswear and utilitarian garments, and asked him to collaborate with me for the Fashion East show that Lulu Kennedy had recently invited me to join.

Our vision marked a strong mutual east London post-punk street moment and Alastair became my closest creative collaborator and stylist for 6 years. The eponymous brand was part of London Fashion Week from 2002-08 and won many awards in London; Fashion East, New Gen and BFC Fashion Forward in London; designer of the year in Denmark alongside winning the LVMH Group ANDAM Award in Paris.

FAITH IN CHAOS
We were at the time working from a small 2 bedroom flat in Bethnal Green with very narrow corridors and many interns helping us create a new vision. The first all-black tailored utilitarian LFW show was influenced by the post-9/11 energy, which helped us define a new unisex vision We were also invited to collaborate with photographer Nick Knight for SHOWstudio, around the idea of morphing. Whilst fast forwarding footage of the shoot documenting me draping and cutting on muse, fit model and close collaborator Camilla Jessen, we discovered together with Nick the VHS glitch of the ‘pixel winds’ that became the glitch aesthetic of the film.

We named the film Faith in Chaos -– as a homage to the chaotic dark layered vision of the ‘PHI – Faith in Chaos film by Darren Aronofski - since I felt at the time, that we were still in the middle of this dark post 9/11 vacuum and needed to find positive answers from within the creative process.

I closed my brand in 200,8 in the midst of another financial crash, and have often used the “Faith in Chaos” mantra as inspiration not only to myself when encountering adversity but also as an educator and creative mentor to art and design students around the world, inspiring them to see how it is possible to find positive answers in the midst of disruption.

POST COVID-19 TRANSFORMATIVE STANDSTILL
In adversity, there is an opportunity to use the forced disruption for self-introspection, and to find new solutions. We have -- as a society -- had to adapt very quickly to the new digital world during this pandemic, and have been pushed to embrace the internet by undertaking online education, holding virtual zoom meetings and webinars all day long.

As I am also an educator, I do of course understand and empathise with the problems arising from Universities having to close down and forcing students to work from home in a low-tech setting that can be extremely disruptive. Especially for graduates who have had to find new solutions and work in very different ways than initially planned.

LOCKDOWN CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

Most universities and courses have had to close down and announce their planned end of year showcases being postponed or replaced with an online presentation. I have witnessed first-hand how young creatives -- who previously relied on traditional craftsmanship in their practice -- have had to reinvent themselves, exploring new craft making connections between the physical and digital.

The advice I give to all art and design students is to use this unique moment in time wisely to learn new skills. They should have faith in the chaos of the current time and try to find inner creative solutions to global problems from within themselves.

I believe this moment will in the future be seen as a much-needed creative reboot for generations to come’, and hope that this class of 2020 will be the most inventive generation arising from adversity and capable of redefining how creativity can be a tool for self-healing and self-discovery.

HOLISTIC THINKING
Students today are more aware of the need to re-think their individual creative practice in more sustainable and ethical manners. But as we see many global brands using sustainability as a marketing ploy to greenwash past exploitative industrial practice, the word loses in its vibration since it is often not transparent what the word covers.

To me sustainability remains more relevant than ever in its original form; "development that meets the needs of the present without hindering the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". We need the new creative generation to think new ways and participate actively in the global debate.

GEN-C19 PILOTS OF CHAOS
It is my hope that this generation of “Gen-C19” creatives will become a much-needed breed of ‘pilots of chaos’ by showing us a new meaningful way forward. Re-discovering hybrid artisan crafts, creating new metamodern pathways forward, and seamlessly connecting the low-tech with high tech, the human with the digital, the intuitive with the analytical, the IRL with URL.

METAMODERN DESIGN THINKERS
For many creatives, myself included, the lockdown has acted as a much-needed reboot and push to re-learn new values, re-discover past craft practices and skill-sets, while also giving us the needed tools to navigate chaos and find the creative solutions we need to change the trajectory of the post Covid-19 world.

It is my hope that this Global Design Graduate 2020 initiative will allow us to discover a new global breed of hybrid design thinkers, able to inspire a new collective move towards in-between design practices where fashion collides and morphs with architecture as textile with product design and analogue craft with tech.

We therefore invite all Art and Design creatives from the Class of 2020 who graduate this academic year 2019-20 on any under or postgraduate course to participate in this global call out for art & design collaboration. Define yourself as a global creative collective -- with new hopes for the future -- under the FAITH IN CHAOS banner.

Jens Laugesen
Creative director Global Design Graduate Show @ ARTSTHREAD

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