Saturday, March 5, 2011

How can we empower Colombian Artisan women with sustainable textiles, and handcrafted techniques?
I believe that contemporary designers face complex economic, environmental, social, and technological systems that influence societies’ cultural behaviors and experiences. My ideal designer is one that has the capacity to manage dissimilar point of views, is able to construct clear messages, and communicate environmentally sustainable ideas, practices and experiences to our future generations.

My biggest goal is to challenge the textile discipline through innovation, imagination, craftsmanship and exploration with all kinds of materials. These, as well as other of its goals, are the areas I am interested in pushing forward to discover and develop new ways of understanding textiles. Throughout my B.A. in Industrial Design and my minor in Textile Design, I was able to explore all the areas of concentration, I am intrigued to explore and experience textiles through Mixed Media and develop new approaches to “craftivism”, by transforming, juxtaposing and weaving re-usable fabrics as a final project. So my big question is, what to do with all of the surplus, and how can we re-use and transform all wastes into wearable conscious garments? 
My undergraduate academic work covered courses such as: Introduction to Textiles, Knitting, Weaving, Dyeing (with natural and artificial dyes, explore ancient techniques such as Shibori and Batik), and Print Design, where I advanced my skills and consolidated a strong interest in textiles as a means for sustainable fashion and accessories. Art in all dimensions, especially abstract and geometric have always influenced my creativity and inspiration.  This academic formation gave me a broad view of the ways in which designers can approach their work in order to satisfy our societies’ needs.
While pursuing my B.A in 2004, I started a design brand under my own name LAURA DAZA, dedicated to creating accessories, mainly patchwork belts with different textures and colors. In 2008, I launched a ready-to-wear and swimwear collection YUXTAPOSITION, inspired by Kandinsky´s geometric art. Amo-Aurum, was my latest collection inspired by Pre-Colombian artcraft and Gustav Klimt´s art, making it a unique limited edition collection.
As a passionate Colombian, I attach a stamp of HECHO EN COLOMBIA (MADE IN COLOMBIA) to every product with the meaning of being 100% Colombian, and to promote conscious design and inspire environmentally sustainable communities. RECYCLE-TRANSFORM-CREATE is one of the ideals of my studio, where I transform waste materials and remnants, into wearable objects mainly accessories reflecting crafts, colors, and artistic inspirations. I am interested in exploring and working on this as well as many other environmental ideals focused on offering different design experiences and creative solutions in apparel, fabrics, and accessories to empower contemporary woman.

In 2007, I started working as an adjunct professor at Universidad del Norte, in the Industrial Design Concentration. There I was able to develop innovative teaching methodologies, by focusing on motivation as a key tool to reach college students. I worked as a lecturer for more than three years (2007-2010), and taught courses such as Design Theory, Composition Studio, Trend Forecasting, Intercultural Design, as well as developed new course electives including, Apparel and Accessories Design, Textile Finishes: Print Design and Dyeing, Weaving techniques. In addition to my courses, I was the graduate director of a number of undergraduate students’ thesis projects in the Industrial and Textile Design program. In addition to my teaching responsibilities, I created and led the first-ever organized design exhibit by the Design School, UNINORTE EXPOSHOW, where students had the opportunity to show their final projects to all of our campus. The goal with this exhibitionwas to show the whole campus the Future Design for 2050, based on environmental and sustainable apparel and textiles.
In line with this leadership experiences, I also worked for three years as a High School Art Teacher at Marymount School Barranquilla, and was able to offer and guide many students with their own processes of discovery and creativity. Through my teaching experiences I was able to strengthen my skills as a critical designer, with unique abilities to interact, motivate and communicate my ideas clearly.  
I went on sabbatical leave last year to develop an independent project in conjunction with New York University’s Tisch School of Arts. There I was able to work in conjunction with the artistic director and juxtapose design and yoga, to develop the FREE-FLOWING Apparel, a versatile apparel for yoga. Using Lycra we created a creative and multifunctional garment that flows differently in each body; it twists and turns to create a continuously evolving surface. Springing from one same pattern, getting a seamless garment. Our ultimate goal was to inspire a healthy environmentally conscious community. For the 2010 holidays, Carolina Daza ( and I, developed the TEAccessories, a new concept of eco-friendly accessories .  that fused design with the romanticism of drinking loose leaf tea. Each accessory was thought as an artwork with pleated and origami-shaped scraps, which wrapped the tea bags.
How does an international prospective MA Textile Design student comes all the way from Colombia in pursuit of her dream?
Colombia is a developing country where education is a not a human right, but is a luxury only accessible to few. There are few design programs and some very expensive are starting to pop-up,. Only few have the access to develop and potentiate their creativity and artistic talents.  We Colombians are constantly striving to "educate our educators" and to pass on all the knowledge, design, and research taking place in the developed world.
My biggest challenge will be to positively impact our societies and be able to make a difference by using all that I have learned with the Mixed Media Textiles, and creating new sustainable ways of utilizing traditional Colombian handcrafted techniques, and weaving recycled fabrics and second hand textiles, to ultimately empower our people. I dream of breaking many of our entrenched paradigms and exploring all the innovative ways of creating textiles, and making clothing. I believe that the democratization of fashion and the empowerment of women is a key to make social change. I believe that designers should start thinking about contemporary textiles as a means to strengthening societies’ cultural identity. 

I firmly believe that education empowers human beings to use their personal motivation, dedication, and passion as key tools to our present and future’s progress, especially in developing countries like Colombia.

- Laura Daza