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LCF x LINEAPELLE: Cordwainers student designers create innovative products for international trade fair

LCF and LINEAPELLE logos on white backgrounf
  • Written byJ Igiri
  • Published date21 March 2022
LCF and LINEAPELLE logos on white backgrounf

In an industry collaboration with LINEAPELLE – the international leather, accessories, footwear and fashion materials exhibition – students from London College of Fashion’s Cordwainers courses were tasked to design a collection of footwear or accessories for their own luxury brand.

Produced with leather from LINEAPELLE, the prototypes were assessed based on creative and innovative development choices. Three students were voted as winners across two categories, and awarded prizes for their style-conscious designs. Their prototypes were also exhibited at the recent LINEAPELLE trade fair in February.

Headshot photo of Daniel
Daniel Charkow | BA (Hons) Cordwainers Footwear: Product Design and Innovation

WINNER | FOOTWEAR CATEGORY: Daniel Charkow from BA (Hons) Cordwainers Footwear: Product Design and Innovation

Headshot photo of Apollonia
Apollonia Celentano | BA (Hons) Cordwainers Fashion Bags and Accessories: Product Design and Innovation

JOINT WINNER | ACCESSORIES CATEGORY: Apollonia Celentano from BA (Hons) Cordwainers Fashion Bags and Accessories: Product Design and Innovation

Headshot photo of Sojin
Sojin Oh | BA (Hons) Cordwainers Fashion Bags and Accessories: Product Design and Innovation

We interviewed the winners to find out their inspirations, insights and values as designers.

Congratulations on winning! Why did you want to take part in the competition, and what does this prize mean to you?

APOLLONIA: I strongly wanted to participate in this competition because LINEAPELLE carries on the essentiality of ‘made in Italy’, which is certainly part of my DNA, and I liked to think that I could share a little of my roots with my colleagues and tutors during the development of the project first, and maybe at the fair, if selected. Surely this prize makes me proud of myself, and I see it as recognition of the hard work demonstrated, and motivation to do more.

DANIEL: Being able to collaborate as a year group with LINEAPELLE was a very special opportunity. I remember when I was 15, I was speaking to some of the designers at Steve Madden and they were telling me all about LINEAPELLE and the endless rows of leather, shoe materials and innovation. Since then, I have always dreamed about the fair. To know that my work was displayed and then chosen by the attendees was very fulfilling and like a dream come true.

SOJIN: Thank you for the congratulations. Firstly, I participated in this competition as a natural part of an industrial project conducted by the school, but this award means a lot to me. It gave me a chance to strengthen my personal belief in design, and it was a good opportunity to get inspiration for design along with an understanding of sustainable leather.

What was the inspiration for / story behind your entry?
leather bag accessory design
Apollonia Celentano | BA (Hons) Cordwainers Fashion Bags and Accessories: Product Design and Innovation

APOLLONIA: I don't think there is a real inspiration behind my project, I let my instinct prevail. It was a very strange period of my life, I had lost my dad a few months ago, and I had decided to take some time out from my studies. On my return, this was the first assignment of the academic year. It had been a bit a sign for me, as my dad was passionate about leather, and he appreciated LINEAPELLE so much. I don’t know if this could be considered as inspiration, but for sure it is how everything started. After some time, I realized that I had expressed exactly what my mood was through this collection – externally structured shapes, for many people perhaps apathetic, but with many details for the more attentive eyes.

leather footwear design
Daniel Charkow | BA (Hons) Cordwainers Footwear: Product Design and Innovation

DANIEL: The main inspiration for this project was ‘Pataphysics (spelled with the intentional apostrophe at the beginning of the word), a term coined by Alfred Jarry in the late 1800s. ‘Pataphysics is an abstract concept that refuses to be defined, however it is mostly regarded as the science of imaginary solutions. It is a pseudo-science that highlights the absurdity of everyday life and was the predecessor to surrealism, dadaism, and futurism.

Having completed this project during lockdown and remotely from Canada, it seemed that my life had been flipped upside down. During that strange period, it felt that the only way to understand what was going on around me was to just accept the absurdity of it.

collage of leather bag accessory design
Sojin Oh | BA (Hons) Cordwainers Fashion Bags and Accessories: Product Design and Innovation

SOJIN: The starting point in my design process was an animation called Finding Nemo. Seeing a small fish struggling in the open sea to find his son was quite different from when I watched this film when I was a kid. I wanted to talk about the life that, due to people's selfishness, is considered merely for ornamental purposes.

Personally, it was a shame that the outcome could not be made with real leather in the aftermath of covid. I wanted to make a real bag out of the genuine leather provided by LINEAPELLE.

Are there any insights you can share from the development process?

APOLLONIA: It was not easy to complete this project as it was in a period during the height of the pandemic. I found it difficult to make my tutors understand my countless ideas. It was certainly my process, very confusing, but also very challenging for me. I remember that while in the making process I was so focused on the job itself. A friend came to me, telling me “You have to remember to enjoy your journey”, and this was one of the things that I will carry always with me as guidance.

DANIEL: From doing presentations at 4am due to time difference, to picking leather and having my tutors ship it to me across the pond – this way of working can be pinpointed to the way of life at the beginning of the pandemic. Considering my initial ideas arose from the absurdities of the pandemic life and using ‘Pataphysics to make some sense of it, it is interesting to see how that was reflected in the development of the project.

SOJIN: The design of the bag was paradoxically focused on using the net, which is a tool to catch fish, to arouse people's awareness and make it intuitively easy to recognize what that is. In addition, the orange colour, which symbolizes the goldfish, was placed on the outer bag to express the idea of 'not being possessed'.

What is the most important thing to you as a designer, and why?

APOLLONIA: I am acquiring the awareness of wanting to express a concept to provoke an emotion through my works. Also introducing key problems of our era, taking care of social responsibilities. I truly believe that we all must see the need for change, improvement, and motivation, now more than ever, and the best way for me to share this idea is through my pieces.

DANIEL: For me, one of the most important things as a shoe designer and maker is to push the craft forward while still respecting the traditions it was founded on. Rooted in sustainability practices and innovative techniques, I believe it is important to push the boundaries of what we consider footwear to merge artistic value and wearability. By doing this I believe footwear has the power to be more than an accessory, it can also be a work of art that tells a story.

SOJIN: Thoughts change depending on the situation. Personally, as a designer, I think the most important subject is the executive ability. No matter how good a design comes to mind, if you don't create it, it doesn't exist in this world. In order not to do that, I think you need to get inspired, take notes, and create.

What was your favourite part of this opportunity?

APOLLONIA: Because of the pandemic, we were unable to show our project in person at the fair as planned originally, but for sure that would have been the best part of it. I am so glad to have been part of this project with two institutions as prestigious as LCF and LINEAPELLE. Honestly, it still doesn't seem true to me.

DANIEL: It was definitely very special to be able to present my work and ideas to the team at LINEAPELLE and hear their feedback throughout the process. This helped me to develop my ideas further and learn from some of their expertise. It was also extremely rewarding to know that my work was displayed at the actual fair and I was able to share my absurd project on ‘Pataphysics to a wider audience.

SOJIN: I came across a lot of new materials that I had never encountered before, and they even had sustainable aspects. It was the greatest honour for me to have had the opportunity to work with my favourite material, leather, by applying sustainability – which is a must-have virtue as a designer living in this era.