Known for mixing unique forms in deep, multi-layered concepts, Marit Ilison is a multi-disciplined artist with a penchant for design. We were thrilled that she set aside some time to sit down and tell us about her latest collection Longing for Sleep.
Did you want to be a designer when growing up?
I made my first dress for my doll Kristiina when I was 2 and a half years old. I’ve always liked making things, often very complicated things, with my hands. In 8th grade, I was inspired by my desk mate and started sewing my own clothes, but when I graduated from high school, I thought I didn’t have enough talent to be a designer. So I pursued pattern maker’s studies instead.
Describe your creative process.
I think a lot. I am an absolute over-thinker in every aspect. I run through tons of ideas and look for the ones that resonate and create good feelings inside me. I see every project as a puzzle, which comes together from different bits and experiences I have been through – visuals, feelings, materials, sounds. Sometimes it can even take years. I think that the ideas are freely floating in the air and they come to you when you are ready, when you have a set of experiences and knowledge to execute a project. I always start from a very big picture and go deeper into the details step by step. As a pattern maker, of course I enjoy making ‘toiles’ and I get very excited transforming my ideas into 3D. That is where the magic happens.
I am an absolute over-thinker in every aspect. I run through tons of ideas and look for the ones that resonate and create good feelings inside me.
You are a designer, artist, teacher and drummer. How do these different aspects of your life impact your concepts?
I see my creative world as a whole and I am very happy to work with so many different disciplines. They all bond with each other and all the experiences I gain make my world richer, both in creative and practical ways. For example, playing drums at a live concert has taught me to stay calm during extreme stress at fashion projects. I also love meeting all the different talented people from various disciplines who inspire and impact my work in some ways.
Tell us a little about your latest project Longing for Sleep, and how kaamos influenced your designs. (What is kaamos?)
Longing For Sleep is a conceptual project inspired by my wish to sleep and stay daydreaming during the wintery time called kaamos. Kaamos is a special word only known in Estonian and Finnish and it refers to the darkest time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, when the days are very short and we don’t see much of the sun. But though I’d like to stay wrapped in a blanket for the whole day, I hear my pricking conscience whispering in my ear that I should actually be working. So this little voice is like sand on my side or a pea under the mattress which won’t let me fall into slumber. I’ve translated this feeling into the rich embellishments inside of the coats (the actual crystals are soft and comfortable!) and I also love the idea of a personal secret dream world inside the coat, reflecting and shimmering with beautiful dreams. The unique one-off pieces are made of carefully hand-picked vintage woolen blankets dating back to the Soviet Union, 30 to 40 years back. We work hard to find and source them and all of the coats are handmade in our studio. Each piece is labeled and numbered and each of them is unique.
But going back to the process – this project took more than 10 years to come to fruition.
From any of your many disciplines, what is your favorite piece you have created?
It’s very hard to choose, but I think it is “Teine – a site specific perceptional experience consisting of 26,000 meters of hand cut and knotted viscose threads creating a hanging cubic space. And, of course, “70 Cotton Smocks, a mind-twisting performance with 70 girls.
What is one word that describes your style? Why?
Detailed – no matter if it’s a concept, collection or exhibition – I always go through to the finest details. I always turn the hems myself and I love small hidden details which reveal themselves step by step.
What do LUISAVIAROMA.COM and your style have in common?
I think that both feature a fresh energy and distinctive selection of style. I felt mesmerized, when we met Silvano Vangi and he liked our collection. It felt like a dream.