Published 01 June 2007
Singaporean designer Grace Tan muses upon the rectangle to shape out some wonderfully quirky pieces for her clothing label, Kwodrent. She shares with FRV how her design ideas take flight.
The love relationship with the rectangle began in the second year at fashion school. “I wanted to present something pure and meaningful, without referencing past styles or trends,” Grace, the affable 27-year-old designer says. With that in mind, she started focusing on geometric and organic shapes, and soon discovered that the rectangle made a wonderful “starting point with endless possibilities”. Since then, this fateful shape has been a constant root in Grace’s designs, following her through a four year stint at Song+Kelly, and four collections from her own label Kwodrent, which she established in 2003.
It is a fascinating paradox that while Grace limits herself to a rectangular piece of cloth, her creation process and views on apparel are anything but fixed. She does no such things like paper plans or detailed technical drawings. Instead, she lets spontaneity take over and gets inspiration from “nature and everything”. She folds, she bunches, she ties, she joins, she mixes materials and fabrics – whatever the method, the result is always something strikingly out of the ordinary. Her latest 2007 collection of neckpieces and decorative components, for example, takes its cue from the organic forms of plants with a view that they are a “symbolism of all living things”. Similarly, the flouncy skirts and intricate sashes from her third collection in 2005 are created with chrysanthemums and bird’s wings in mind. She conceptualizes and creates all these pieces herself, and labels and dates each one of them.
Currently based in London, Grace is surprised how well her “weird accessories” have been received there. She doesn’t really think about who Kwodrent’s target customers are, because she feels that the designs will speak to every individual differently. The open-endedness of her pieces is deliberate, because she strongly adheres to empowering the wearer. “I believe we should have our own interpretation and voice when we put something on. The object becomes the person and not the person becoming the mannequin for the garment or accessory,” she says.
In the meantime, Grace continues to search for new ways to manipulate the rectangle. She reckons that her work is becoming more abstract and expressive, and focusing more on accessories for modular dressing rather than clothes. Whatever the case, it’s all about going with the flow. As she articulates, “Kwodrent is an ongoing search for design and ideas…I don’t believe in completed work.”
Grace’s drastic departure from convention has created a couple of ripples in the fashion world, and deservedly so. By firmly holding on to her design ideals and ingeniously blending influences from nature and architecture, the Kwodrent label she’s established is truly one-of-a-kind. And to think it all started with an unassuming rectangle.
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The philosophy of Kwodrent
kwodrent is rectangle clothing kwodrent explores infinite possibilities working around the rectangle kwodrent pieces are numbered/recorded/dated kwodrent is progressive kwodrent is designed by hand kwodrent is made by hand kwodrent is life kwodrent is love kwodrent is happiness kwodrent is geometry kwodrent is architecture kwodrent is not fashion kwodrent is concept kwodrent is rhythm kwodrent is liberating kwodrent is thought process.