Laudatory risqué or gratuitously loathsome? Soulfully slow-cooked fashion or soul-lessly parched? Much like Debbie Harry’s braless Blondie looks back in the day, the new wave of China-inspired brands and products is both cause for oldschool Sinophiles to turn a whiter shade of pale as well as the world of fashion faddism having a field — hold the cross-continental trip — day. GARRA Studio, nonetheless, is one brand which does enchant so high time for Temper to take five with its owner: Spanish architect, artist and performer Rosana Galián.
Inside a rapidly saturating fashion (production) market, tempers and temperaments flare high among fans eager to see the hottest new presence on the trending scene — from Weibo KOLs to runway. Being Temper Magazine — this is one fine specimen of cheesy irony, even if we do say so ourselves — we at times admittedly sigh at the sight of yet another disappointing China Fashion dust eating attempt at innovation resulting in been there done that aggravation.
GARRA Studio proves a much appreciated antidote to fashionable (Shanghai) Fashion Week boredom as the drop‐dead elaborately styled accessories brand coolly evokes — in non-offensive almost satirizing through oversizing sense — hallowed imagery of that archetypical Chinese performance culture in non-culturally appropriating manner.
It’s that new wave done oldschool right.
“Spanish production in the past years has been led by fast fashion manufacturing (i.e. Made In China). I thought it would be a playful contradiction to invert the producer — consumer relationship.” Founder of GARRA Studio Rosana Galián
Take 1. Back to Basics: Who is/ are GARRA Studio?
Galián: GARRA Studio is the name under which I, Spanish architect, artist, and performer Rosana Galián, have signed my new creative project combining handicrafts and digital thinking. The idea turned into a full-fledged business project one year ago when I decided to use my seven years of work experience as a digital creator in the fields of art and architecture to explore the realm of product design. Aside from directing GARRA Studio, I am also the co-founder of the creative Fru*Fru group.
GARRA Studio studies the different cultures, civilizations and ancient architectures and draws upon ornamental shapes which are re-thought in contemporary languages and processes. Our very first project subsequently resulted in… CHI-01: A collection of acrylic jewels inspired by Chinese ornaments.
“We’re fully aware that nowadays cultural appropriation is one highly sensitive issue and in this respect, GARRA Studio does try to be transparent — and respectful.” Quote, Galián
Take 2. Getting to the Point: Asian Inspiration — why China in particular?
Galián: As an architect, I have always been fascinated by Chinese ornaments and how they display both mythologies and popular teachings. Nevertheless, I decided to really dive into this amazing culture because “generating a production 100 percent made in Spain inspired by China” provokes an interesting discourse, if you will.
Spanish production in the past years has been led by fast fashion manufacturing (i.e. Made In China). I thought it would be a lovely contradiction to invert the producer –consumer relationship.
The research about the relationship between Asia and Europe actually began two years ago when the Fru*Fru group for the first time ever exhibited its “EurAsic Bath” project at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. “Eurasic Bath” showcased a dystopia across the Eurasian continent and brought new notions of globalization to our CHI-01 collection.
I am fully aware, though, that nowadays cultural appropriation is one highly sensitive issue and in this respect, GARRA does try to be transparent — and respectful.
“Global protocols of consumption have changed. Digital natives now follow the rules of instant consumption and look for an experiential value in the product. GARRA pieces try to fulfill an artistic experience, a manifesto of sorts. ” Quote, Galián
Take 3. The art that is Designing: Where does it start and how does it end — if ever?
Galián: The creative process of GARRA Studio is a complex one, continuously crossing paths with other disciplines. Narratives, illustrations, video art and music altogether build a cultural cloud around every piece of jewelry before it is even born.
We think that global protocols of consumption have changed. Digital natives now follow the rules of instant consumption and look for an experiential value in the product.
In that sense, the GARRA pieces try to somehow fulfill an artistic experience, a manifesto of sorts. Consequently, we share all the digital documents of the creative process with our customers and the archive we keep is as important as the finished product itself.
“The digital-handicraft duality is repeated throughout the designs and their manufacturing processes. We do follow in the footsteps of traditional logic and design a classically architectural ornament, yet we use digital tools and software to finalize the blueprints.” Quote, Galián
Take 4. The Debate: Artisanal versus Digital. Or do both walk hand in hand?
Galián: GARRA works with digital thought, but also has its artisanal ways.
This duality of digital-handicraft is repeated throughout the designs and their manufacturing processes.
We do follow in the footsteps of traditional logic and design a classically architectural ornament, yet we use digital tools and technical software (computer-aided design or CAD) to map out the finalized blueprint. And in that very same way, we use computer-aided manufacturing or CAM to obtain each piece — but we still must and do assemble and paste together the pieces one by one, all by hand.
“I’d like to think that fashion and design in general are in fact political tools. When you look at them as such, gender and technology could very well become the protagonists of the future. ” Quote, Galián
Take 5. The New Made In China: Your two (or ten) cents on the topic. Please?
Galián: I may not be a fortune-teller, but I have my personal intuitions and wishful “thinklings”! I’d like to think that fashion and design in general are in fact political tools. When you look at them as such, gender and technology could become the protagonists of the future. We are living in crazy, yet very necessary revolutionary times set in this topical context around both topics; and the objects surrounding us must become part of the overall transformation we’re headed for.
Chinese design is slowly but surely starting to show its provocative power and prowl in the abovementioned respects and I think this will keep it going strong in years to come.
GARRA and Fru*Fru Froom prove to be both Va Va Voom as well as thought-provoking. One way or another, one day, probably next week, The New Made In China tag is gonna meet ya. Take it from this tempestuous white-ish blondie.
Featured image: DAN face necklace, available right here . Image courtesy of Vincent Urbani (IG: @vincenturbani ) . Model: Nick O’Brien (IG: @nick19_ob )
Contact GARRA Studio via:
Phone: +34 650550341
Images come courtesy of GARRA Studio
Extra, extra! GARRA Studio is available in brick-and-mortar in New York City at Chop Suey Club!
Copyright@Temper Magazine, 2018. All rights reserved
After tackling Beijing for some six years where she worked for China International Publishing Group, she spent a moment in time moseying down steep alleyways and writing about their fashionable and underground features in Hong Kong.
Van Paridon most recently managed to claw her way through a Europe-based academic endeavor called "Journalism". 'Tis in such fashion that she has now turned her lust for China Fashion/ Lifestyle and Underground into a full time occupation.
Van Paridon hunts down the latest in Chinese menswear, women’s clothing, designer newbies, established names, changes in the nation’s street scenery, close-ups of particular trends presently at play or of historical socio-cultural value in Chinaplus a selection of budding photographers.
Paired with a deep devotion to China’s urban underground scene, van Paridon holds a particular interest in the topics of androgyny, the exploration of individuality and the power that is the Key Opinion Leader (the local term for “influencers”) in contemporary China.
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