Aesthetic Memories

As one of the last features of this year we wanted to share this special project we did at NewWerktheater. Parallel to our collaboration of last month with Lennard Kok, the Fallen Bird, we’ve been busy in our other role at NewWerktheater and …,staat to work on another collaboration we’re extremely excited about; Jupe by Jackie x …,staat.

The idea behind NewWerktheater Editions is to explore disciplines beyond those that are generally our own. To create great things with great people. To see what we can get from the ground and where we could end up if we walk a road unknown. ‘Aesthetic Memories’ exemplifies precisely this. This body of works took us somewhere we never could have imagined beforehand. We were drawn to the mastery required for this ancient technique. First, we fell in love with the craft, then we met the person behind it and fell in love all over again. Meeting Jackie was one of those instant clicks. You know the type.

When we started discussing designs, deciding on form, translating our inspiration for color, we soon found ourselves entering the territory we set out to find – challenging tradition. Hand-embroidery is traditionally decorative, traditionally representational. But, what if we worked with abstractions? What if we clashed the intricacy of the handwork with geometric elements?

What if we clashed the intricacy of the handwork with geometric elements?

As soon as Jackie showed us the initial designs, that was it. Stand in front of the art works and you will see why. With no representational form to distract, suddenly all focus is drawn to the hands that made those stitches. The extraordinary level of mastery that created those shapes.
Every work of ‘Aesthetic Memories’ is the work of a master. To play part in paying homage to these craftsmen and their rare art has been moving.

Each piece was hand-embroidered in the Jupe by Jackie atelier in India’s Uttar Pradesh. Jackie has developed her atelier of artisans for eight years, now employing around 160 embroiderers. This extreme level of skill and expertise can only be found in India, where the craft of embroidery is considered one of the country’s ‘treasures’. Different regions use different techniques, all handed down between generations within families with century-deep lineage in embroidery.

The works of ‘Aesthetic Memories’ primarily use Zaardozi and Aari techniques. Zaardozi work involves making elaborate designs using ornamentation and traditionally, with metal threads alongside the cotton. For Aari work, the fabric is stretched on a frame and stitching is done using a hooked needle, which enters the cloth from above, while the other hand feeds another thread from the underside. The technique requires the craftsman to work blindly (since he can’t see the underside of the fabric), rendering it an advanced stitch and only possible for the more experienced artisans.

Through growing bonds in Uttar Pradesh and over the course of the long-term relationship, Jackie’s principal ambition has become to draw attention to the artisans’ expertise and methods, to give hand-embroiderers of India the recognition they deserve.

Read the full conversation between Jackie and …,staat  here — also for a full overview of the work and any artwork inquiries.

Jupe by Jackie
Jackie Villevoye started ‘Jupe by Jackie’ in 2010. “…The entire brand was born in my gut. I had this idea to create neckties for women. My husband said “Where is your business plan?” to which she replied “I don’t have one”. That gut instinct has proven exquisitely accurate. Since then, Jupe has grown to be the fashion industry’s go-to for all things hand embroidery. Villevoye is the woman behind the embroidery for Comme des Garçons’ women’s ready-to-wear collections from 2013 to S/S’17. Following her collaboration with CdG’s Rei Kawakubo, Villevoye has gotten together with …,staat to turn her creations from on the body to on the wall.

…,staat is an independent creative agency of 35 minds assembled from around the world. Questioning the boundaries across a spectrum of communication and design crafts; branding, graphic, spacial, product, interior, experience and beyond. Joachim Baan, partner behind Another Something, is a sr creative at …,staat.