Fendi x Royal College of Art

Future Stars of British Design Dress the Luxury House’s New Store With Leather

Design students from London’s Royal College of Art have created a series of punk-inspired installations for Italian luxury house Fendi’s new Peter Marino-designed Sloane Street boutique. For the brand's latest scholastic collaboration, five post-graduate teams were challenged to construct works with discarded leather scraps from the brand’s Selleria handbag collection. The participants made full use of the leather’s versatility by using its granulated imprint to cast silver ornaments, manipulating it into unexpected shapes or extracting and bottling its dramatically-hued dyes. “As a student, you have much more freedom to dream and explore in a natural way as opposed to worrying about the outcome all the time,” explains designer Simon Hasan, who played mentor to the chosen candidates. “They had this irreverence, this sense of not having to treat the leather as a precious luxury material.” Hasan, an experienced leather craftsman and former RCA design student, participated in one of Fendi’s very first design projects in 2009. The label’s head accessories designer and driving force behind its innovative program of collaborations, Silvia Venturini Fendi, talked NOWNESS through the project’s aims.

Why work with students?

We wanted to take risks and decided to take the chance to support, and be surprised by, young talents. Our collaboration with the students from the RCA was based on our common desire for creativity. We were not interested at all in customization. We wanted an active, no gimmick contribution.

What draws you to product design?

I firmly believe that there is a far stronger connection and affinity between fashion and design than there is between art and fashion. I was amazed to see so many projects, each of them giving Fendi and our discarded materials new life, different meanings and interpretations. And I came to have a better understanding about why the fatto a mano [handmade] is so loved by young, new generations.

The brief you posed was based on the keywords “handicraft” and “punk.” How does the latter relate to Fendi?

The word “punk” was not used as an aesthetic meaning but rather as a description of an attitude and a spirit. It suggests fearless defiance in the face of adversity, individuality despite pressure to conform, the drive and inspiration to make something from nothing, finding beauty in things that are imperfect, and asserting one’s voice despite restricted opportunities. It is the power of creative thinking over high production values.

What do these five resulting creations say about Fendi?

All were a reflection on fashion. Some were inspired by technology and art; some took a more poetic approach. We chose these five designers because they all understood Fendi DNA and gave their vision in total freedom. And freedom in creation is the greatest luxury that exists.

The new Fendi boutique is located at 181-182 Sloane Street, London. 
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