“What is it?”
These are three of my favorite words (though perhaps not at a restaurant). And that was certainly the effect the work of Romania-born, London-based Andreea Mandrescu had on me when I first saw it.
That work – called “Inlaid Skin” – is haunting, sexy, edgy, subversive, lovely.
More specifically, it consisted of a soft skin-colored rubber (or in some cases, wood veneer) meticulously carved, applied directly to the body with body glue or applied to diaphanous silk. It’s lace for the 21st century.
But it wasn’t just the eye-candy aspect of it. What was particularly compelling about the work of this 2011 Central St. Martin’s grad (and former Alexander McQueen intern) was that she’d applied research of traditional furniture marquetry and inlay crafts to a cutting-edge process she’s invented herself. That’s just what we like to see: artist, designer, maker, inventor.
How do you classify what you do? Textile designer? Designer in general? I would say textile, material and surface designer.
“Inlaid Skin” is based on your research of marquetry and inlaid craft. How did you get inspired by those crafts in particular? I am always interested in various surfaces and textures, and in different combinations of materials. This was also my MA project where I tried to push the boundaries of these crafts by using different materials and aesthetics and implementing these crafts in textiles.
Tell me a little about your history: your move from Romania, studies in Israel … what was that like to make that kind of move? How old were you? I emigrated with my parents when I was 15 to Israel. It was a very unique experience moving from one culture to another and it took time to adjust to the new place. So I can say I’m half-half, more of a mixed person.
Then how did you decide to go to Central St. Martins? Well, I had a previous MA in Arts from Haifa University, but I had always a passion for fashion design as well (except the sewing and the pattern making). So I decided to find something that it is in between the two, where I can use what I know and apply it to a fashion field such as textiles. It was an interesting course that I followed at CSM since it is more about finding interesting new design surfaces rather than simple textile design.
How did your background affect your sense of aesthetics or design? My previous education helped me with things like color palettes, drawing, surfaces and textures. But above all, I think that it just made me more open minded regarding the aesthetics since the art is limitless and free, where the design is more functional.
How did you start designing and making? Were you always doing this as a child? I wanted to get into the art high school. At 14-15 years old, it seemed the ‘coolest’ high school in my eyes. And around that age I started taking drawing and painting more seriously, and took drawing courses etc. Then I moved to Israel where the high school starts a year later, and in the meantime, I changed my mind and followed the fashion design course to later on come back to art at university and later going back to design. I can say it has been a creative journey! (We do love that.)
Why did you choose textiles to work in? As I mentioned before, I have always been interested in surfaces and materials, and I could use my previous art knowledge into it.
What stories do you tell with your work? I am in a constant search for new things, new combinations of materials, concepts and aesthetics. I think my work is about journey of discovery, of innovation.
What most influences you? Nothing and everything. I am a very curious person, and I am in a constant search for the next ‘new’ design or drawing or painting.
What’s your process like? Do you sketch? How do you create these amazing pieces? It started as research/material research/craft research. Than sketch, find a new aesthetic within my choices of materials. And after many samples and material experiments, my work came to life, so to speak.
What’s next/what are you working on? Commissions and ideas for my new collection!
What do you like best about what you do? Sampling, experimenting, new materials.
You’ve had an amazing career to date (how many people have already had their work shown at the V&A?) How do you see your career unfolding? I opened my own design studio, which allows me to get commissions and also create my own collections. Also for the future, when the time will allow I would like to expand my knowledge and maybe find and hopefully work in a material lab.
Do you prefer morning or night? Night, dreaming away.
Do you have any rituals as you begin a piece of work? Are you superstitious? Hmm not that I can think of. But I am suspicious … but just not related to my work.
What objects define you? Do you have a talisman? I am a curious person, so I think movement defines me. But really, I don’t think I have a talisman.
Who would play you in the movie of your life? And what kind of movie would it be? Oh I don’t know! Oh I think it would be nice to be in an action, SciFi movie though. And I’m also fascinated with vampires.
All images provided by Andreea Mandrescu