A.R.M Studio: The Power of the Collective
TLmag spoke to the recently established A.R.M. studio about how their 5 female founders banded together, their core values and the importance of sustainability in contemporary (textile) design.
Having just received their Masters degree from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Brussels, Cécile Cocheteux, Garance Chauveau, Johanna Dos Santos Mellinger, Juliette Pailleux and Saskia De Kinder created the A.R.M. (Atelier de Recherches Matières) collective. Between weavings, assemblages and designing textile materials and surfaces, these designers unite their universes and spin a unique way of presenting their work.
TLmag: It seems as if designers today are attracted by the idea of joining together into collectives. Why is this?
A.R.M.: Our collective was first and foremost a way to extend the work dynamic that began during our studies. We thought of it as a means to multiply our strengths either by combining them or by using on the diversity of our approaches and feelings.
TLmag: What values are you defending via this group?
A.R.M.: The process of using our knowledge and know-how to design is at the heart of our approach. It enables us to work with and reflect on the material in a way that lets us create projects that correspond with our interests and convictions. Another value that emerges from our research and acquired knowledge of the materials is sustainability. We want to highlight the durability and lifecycle of the product. The final value, which seems obvious within the collective, is synergy. We want to extend this idea of sharing and mutual support to other players in design or the textile industry, through collaborations.
TLmag: Many observers consider the future of fashion to be in textile research. Is that the starting point for your approach?
A.R.M.: Yes, in the sense that that is the basis of our work, as the name of our collective attests. We want to experiment, transform, create and tame the materials using different techniques such as weaving, creating patterns, dyeing, extrusion, knitting, etc.
TLmag: Textile research and sustainability now go hand-in-hand. How does this affect your designs?
A.R.M.: It is one of the values we champion. As young designers, we cannot ignore the ecological emergency. We are players in a sector that has a significant impact on climate change. We respond in different ways, by, for example, focusing on artisanal techniques that promote small-scale production and a slow rhythm – but also recycling. In the future, we would like to develop a local approach and work with natural fibres such as linen and hemp that are abundant in our regions.
TLmag: Do you emphasise your Belgian roots?
A.R.M.: To us, it is essential to think local, but we prefer to speak about European roots. Furthermore, we are open to external collaborations with other designers or even people from different sectors.
TLmag: Would you say your work is focused on crafts, new technologies, or a mix of both?
A.R.M.: Our work is definitely a mix of both. The margins that separate them are very thin. Whether we are developing new fibres or new weaves, we use hands, looms and new technologies such as 3D printing.