Embarking on a new collection is like stepping into unchartered territory - both exciting and a little bit unnerving. Each day in the studio brings new ideas to explore and we like to experiment with many different creative processes and techniques. Gradually as a story of colours, shapes and patterns begins to emerge - we know we’re onto something beautiful and worthy of a Kouamo print.
The fabulous tribe who supported our Kickstarter Campaign will know that the next Kouamo collection is inspired by Julie’s travels in Bali, Indonesia and more specifically Ubdu and its region. We want to share the early beginnings of this new creative journey with you…
Ubud is a lesser known part of of Bali, located inland away from the white sandy beaches which are usually a draw for tourists. It is famous for its artful and creative scene. Bali is predominantly Hindu and Julie was captivated by the spiritual feel and iconography of Ubdu. Each family has a temple, no matter how small, laden with exquisite colourful offerings and protected by figurative statues believed to inhabit spirits.
Another inspiration point for the new collection is Balinese dance. Julie was lucky enough to see the Barong Dance, a battle between the Barong (king of the spirits) and the Rangda (the demon queen) symbolising the eternal battle between good and evil. She explains -
“The costumes were so beautiful, silk embroidered with gold yarns, clothing made from leather to make the dancers move harder and stiffer like dolls, masks sculpted in wood to create imaginary characters and to personalise spirits. The new collection will be inspired by these travel tales, these colours and the Balinese spirits and gods - imagery which transported me to somewhere else.”
To get started we love a trip to nearby Atlantis Art to source new art supplies - It always gets our creative juices going and we wish we could take home the whole shop. Drawing on Julie’s photography and travel memories we explore a number of different colour palettes. The colours need to encapsulate the feel of the collection - bolder shades influenced by the vibrant culture and landscape in Bali as well as softer, gentler tones which capture the subtle experience and complexity of a spiritual place like Ubdu.
We’re still at very early stages of exploring pattern and form - we call this secondary research as it helps to inform our final designs. At Kouamo we always use a number of different creative processes and techniques including photography, watercolour, lino print and batik.
For the new collection batik is a particularly important process. One of the highlights of Julie’s trip to Bali was a workshop in Yogyakarta, to learn their very specific and skilled batik style. Dots and lines of wax are applied to a wax resistant fabric with a spouted tool called a 'canting' or by printing the resist with a copper stamp called a cap. The applied wax resists dyes and allows the artisan to colour selectively by soaking the cloth in one colour and removing the wax with boiling water.
We are still practicing and playing. We love the way the collection ideas are starting to evolve and look forward to sharing the next stages in the design process with you soon.