Traditional Crafts to Hot Homewares
Some European inspiration for you: Alexandra Fefelova has lovingly nurtured the handcraft techniques and traditions from her parents and grandparents and blended these ideas with origami, knots, modern techniques and textures to create innovative homewares and accessories.
by Mindy Cook
From ku me ko, her creative studio in Berlin, she works with felt, wool, jersey and other sumptuous textiles creating works that reflect simplicity, embrace sustainability and bring handcraft to a new level. As we are always interested in new techniques and products, we asked Alexandra to share a little about what inspires her and how she creates…
What is your background and from where did your interest develop?
I have always been interested in crafting and design since I was young. My grandmother worked in the fashion industry and I spent many happy hours at her work, playing with the fabric off-cuts and learning to sew. That was probably the biggest influence over my love for textile design. In my professional life though, I became an architect like my father, but after a few years of practice decided to create something of my own.
Where do you get your inspiration to make your products?
I am very inspired by hand crafting. It always amazes me that we can make such beautiful things by hand. I like to research old techniques and create my own based on them. I’ve recently been inspired by the work of Ariele Alasko, a young woman from Brooklyn. It is amazing what she does with wood. Another amazing source of inspiration for me is the Design Lab by Hella Jongerius and her ‘misfit’ concept.
What materials do you like to work with most and why?
I can’t say I have a favourite material – there are so many to choose from. I generally prefer materials with a beautiful texture like felt, a nice tactile feel like wool, or with interesting physical properties like jersey. I am always looking for new materials to experiment with.
What materials are recycled and how do you access these?
I have recently discovered recycled leather which I currently use for some details, like the labels for example, and my plan is to work more with this material in the future. I also use polyurethane foam off-cuts as filling for the cushions. These come from local foam factories as well as my own production and they help to minimise the amount of wastage that can occur.
Can you describe the process involved in making one of your favourite items?
I love the Knotty cushion and I start this by stuffing jersey tubes with polyurethane foam. Then I ‘knot’ them together into a half sphere shape using the technique which is something in between basket making and crocheting. It took me about three months of experimentation to develop the technique which was right for this material. The next step is to fix the ends then the cushion cover (see pic) is ready!
Have your designs featured in exhibitions?
I would describe my work as something in between experimental and commercial but I hope to collect enough ideas and find enough time to hold an exhibition in the future.
Do you have any tips for working with felt?
Felt is a pretty easy material to work with. You can leave the edges raw, cut pretty much anything from it and it holds its shape very well. I would recommend using a heavy duty sewing machine and sharp cutting tools when working with thick felts.
If you love the idea of working with textiles and mixed media, the Creative Textile Show in Canberra, May 2 – 4, 2014 offers the perfect opportunity to make and create something yourself with lots of inspirational, unique creations to see from textile artists, along with workshops, stage presentations, the latest tips and techniques plus plenty of textile works and supplies to buy. Diarise the date in your calendar now – there’s plenty of time to start planning your trip!
Currently the only place to purchase Alexandra Fefelova’s products is via her website. Shipping is offered worldwide, however she hopes to secure local stockists in the future.