Stavros Karelis, Founder of Machine-A, on a Nicomede Talavera Pillow Bag
GB Tell me why you chose this.
SK I love this as an object because a pillow for me is something very personal. Everyone has one. It’s one of those essential items and you spend so much time with it. It’s not something you think about a lot but overall it symbolizes the time when you’re with your thought, whether those are happy or sad or you just want to dream. This particular pillow bag is from Nicomede Talavera’s Spring Summer 15 collection and I like it because the design is so simple but also unique. You can fold it and hold it like a clutch around your arm or hand. It’s completely unisex and a minimalistic object. There are no straps or extra pockets and the material is like a rubber and this whole collection was based on pleats. The blue is also my favourite colour. It’s a colour that goes with everything and the bag is great from day to evening.
GB And Nicomede is very cool as a designer. Does that add to the beauty?
SK One hundred percent. We only work with designers here that produce a beautiful collection – but also they must have a vision and come to us with a whole world around them that the customer is invited to become a part of, so you want to belong to the same crowd with a specific sense of style, culture, aesthetic and even socio-political ideals. It’s a very strong connection point between people when they’re wearing a brand.
GB Do you find that can intimidate people as well?
SK No because this doesn’t happen in a provocative or aggressive way. You can just be a part of it in a very simple way. Sometimes people take vintage items from a culture that doesn’t exist any more. You can mix anything. I wouldn’t mind what anybody wore with this bag. Fashion is for everyone. Each personality puts things together in a different way and the most successful brands speak to a variety of customers. I like designers who have a strong vision that can be adopted by many different kinds of customers.
GB How do you find these designers?
SK Thankfully we’re in a city that holds so much talent, mainly because of our universities and colleges. London attracts creative people from all over the world. Nowhere else can compare. There’s almost too much talent to choose from here. So we look for things that fit with the Machine-A aesthetic.
GB Do you think that fashion design should be considered a high art like painting or poetry?
SK It’s a massive debate. Many people compare fashion to art and many artists are hostile to that. The truth is somewhere in the middle. Fashion borrows a lot from art and lends itself to collaborations easily, so brands that are successful right now are using a lot of inspiration from art. But fashion is for fast consumption. Fashion gives you a theoretical space to create discussions but art generates those debates and discussions in a very different way. There are so many collections and products a year in fashion now that consumerism takes over more. And now with social media, everyone has a shorter attention span. Art is more timeless.
GB So will you still love your bag in a few seasons?
SK Yes but for me it’s different because I see so many different products every single day that when it comes down to choosing my own wardrobe I choose things I’d like regardless of seasons. Sometimes I might have the key items of the season but I’ll only choose to own them if they speak to me in a very different way. I want things that are easy and will always make me feel good, however many seasons old they are.
GB What makes something worthy of the word Beauty to you?
SK It’s different for everyone but in a product, I like the kind of beauty that is about functionality and quality and is an invitation to someone’s world. It has to create feelings for me when I hold it or wear it. I buy for the shop according to an instinct that’s hard to define. I see certain things and they speak directly to me. Then away from fashion, beauty for me is about personal relationships. Beyond success and money and being good at your job, the thing I consider most beautiful is a good friendship. My life always seems so busy and complicated so I crave the simple beauty of my family and friends and people who make me laugh. I want to be able to take some time every single day to enjoy nature and people and just the sunshine as I walk down the street.