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We recently caught up with Belfast fashion designer Karishma Kusurkar, creator of the beautiful One Square handbag and accessories range. One Square is a range of origami-inspired luxurious bags that takes use clever design and production to create geometric fashion accessories unlike anything else on the market. The bags truly are incredible and must be seen to be fully appreciated. Karishma recently graduated from The Belfast School of Art with an MFA in Multidisciplinary Design and is now planning on taking the product range worldwide due to inquires and interest from several major fashion retailers. 

Thing: Where did you learn your craft?

Karishma: Formally, I learned my craft through studying Textile Design at Chelsea College of Art and Design in London in before completing my MFA in Multidisciplinary Design at the Belfast School of Art. It was in London that I became fascinated with digital prints and all of the opportunities it offered, as well as its ability to fuse elements of graphic design and illustration with traditional printed textiles. I worked as a print intern at Topshop Design with Amelie Roberts and it was one of the best working experiences I have ever had. I worked with trend boards, on creating commercial prints and using found and vintage fabrics to create digital versions of them. The Topshop offices were situated near Berwick Street in central London, a mecca for fashion designers because of the beautiful fabric shops located there, and this was where we sourced swatches and threads for the different seasons. Other great experiences have included working in the Costume department on “Your Highness” and “Game of Thrones” and working freelance to create bespoke fabric collections.

Thing: What inspires your designs?

Karishma: My designs are inspired by a myriad of things – from other designers, to pieces of writing and places I have visited. I often look for inspiration to other fields of design. For example, One Square drew inspiration from Flip and Fold, a product created by the Piet Zwart Institute to make lunch box packaging efficiently and cleverly, as well as Kenya Hara’s experiments with tactile objects. Another of my works “The Sari Project” drew inspiration from the hidden history of the Canary Islands and the Guanche tribes, lost beneath the veneer of commercial tourism to those islands. I think that as important as visual aesthetics are to design, what makes a product different, original and appealing is the concept or idea – the thinking – behind it.

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Thing: How relevant are tangible things in a digital age?

Karishma: In a world where digital equals everything being made rapidly, immediately and virtually, there is definitely a space for things that are made at a slower pace, with tactile qualities and a “realness” to them. I spoke to someone from the technology sector recently about fashion and they were quite dismissive of it in general, saying that there was no future in it. However, looking around the room, everything that they sat on or wore – all of the tangible things- were made by designers. The well-fitted and cut suit, the glasses and the brogues they wore were all the creations of fashion designers. I think sometimes its easy to dismiss traditional areas of design, but these are a vital part of most people’s lives, from the cars we drive to the clothes we wear. I also think that the reverse of the digital/traditional relationship is true, whereby a lot of traditional designers are quick to dismiss digital design when in fact it could benefit them in a huge way through the tools available, sourcing products as well as showing off their own work to new audiences.

A lot of people pit digital against traditional, but some of the most successful contemporary designers – in my opinion – are those that are able to meld the best qualities of the two.

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Thing: What is your favourite design icon of all time?

Karishma: “My favourite design icon of all time” is a very tough question, as there are many! Some of the runners-up were Wes Anderson for his film sets, Viktor and Rolf for their Russian Doll fashion collection and Thomas Heatherwick for his complete and utter ingenuity. However, my favourite has to be fashion designer Manish Arora because of his amazing theatrical fashion that still appeals to me after 10 years – when I first stumbled upon his work. I was lucky enough to see his studio – a fascinating home to brightly coloured materials, sketches and brilliant ideas. The amount of detail that goes into each of Manish Arora’s pieces is astounding, and I love designs that have several layers and a complexity to them.

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Thing: What’s your favourite album cover design?

Karishma: I love No Doubt’s cover for Tragic Kingdom because of its Americana and ska influences and Gwen Stefani in my opinion is one of the most stylish people in the music industry.

Big thanks to Karishma. You can see more of her amazing designed products at karishmasworld.com