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The Intelligent Optimist: Oliver Thomas Lipp

Oliver Thomas Lipp
Oliver Thomas Lipp

Written by
Colin Buttimer
Published date
17 September 2015

Oliver Thomas Lipp

As part of The Intelligent Optimist, devoted material explorer and BA Textile Design graduate Oliver Thomas Lipp will be exhibiting his project ‘Extending the Body, Skin and Hair’. We spoke to Oliver about the future of textiles, his investigation into unconventional materials and the importance of innovating design. 

Tells us about your collection and what inspired you. 

The skin, the body and hair inspired the whole collection. I was really interested in how you can take something that you usually apply textile to and use that as the main focus of inspiration. I wanted to look at different structures and different textures and reapply them back on to the body in abstract forms to distort the silhouette or change the structure of the skin.

What sort of research did you carry out in order to learn more about these aspects of the body? 

It is a difficult one because as a designer myself I have to work from my own imagery and I have to work from my own objects. I did kind of look into close ups of skin cells and microscopic but I didn’t want it to be a traditional project where you look at structures of skin and then you copy them.

I worked on developing my own image archive, collecting images and making my own imagery and from there I started to play around with materials. I made models using wax, plaster, hair, silicone, gelatine and I continually experimented with those. I’d then take photos of the models and build the project from that.

That process allowed my fabrics in the end to be truly original and heavily tactile. I enjoyed the challenge of taking something like a block of silicon with some hair in it and try to make it into a fabric that can be worn in someway. It really was a long process of material exploration.


Visit The Intelligent Optimist – Material Explorers webpage to read the full interview. 

Oliver will be talking about his project in more detail as part of The Intelligent Optimist event series. Visit the Eventbrite page to book your free ticket.