In 2013, we at the Westerdals Department of Creativity, Storytelling, and Design at the School of Arts, Design and Media at Kristiania University College Oslo, Norway developed a new design programme: the bachelor’s Programme in Retail Design. We positioned retail design as an innovative programme in communication. The objective of the retail design programme at Westerdals was that students and faculty should explore design and social changes in the context of retail design.
Staying true to this objective, our interest in fashion retail has, over the past five years, led us to form an interdisciplinary research group called Typ-0.Lab.
While exploring retail design as a domain, I realised that fashion retail is the first retail typology to react promptly to the processes happening in society, especially the fashion show formerly called a catwalk show, whose main objective is to present the latest collection, as it has become a medium or even a new-age typology that offers clear perspectives on society, culture, architecture, and fashion.
Therefore, the first project delivered by Typ-0.Lab was a book called Fashion Spaces/A Theoretical View that proposed a conceptualisation of the new typology, which could be extended from fashion shows into retail design and urbanism spheres. It was also the first project in collaboration with prestigious design and interior architecture publisher Frame Publishers Amsterdam, Netherlands.
As we were finalising the manuscript for our book on fashion spaces in the spring of 2020, we watched in awe as fashion manufacturers and retailers struggled to convert their businesses to digital.
To properly understand these fast-paced current fashion retail developments, we needed to develop a digital site, a webzine (web + magazine) named NOFILTER.SPACE which we launched the same day the book came out, namely December 17th, 2020. The name of the webzine was a result of our desire to see the truth by removing all the filters, both phygital (such on Instagram) and mental.
Today, a year later, I am writing my last letter as Editor-in-Chief of an active webzine. Why so?
New fashion retail typologies were emerging already before the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic but have further intensified during periods of social and physical lockdowns. The end of 2020 was a unique time for fashion and fashion retail, when all the communication aspects, such as the new collection presentation, were digital. In this situation, we felt like our publishing should be digital as well.
For a year, we have been actively publishing in three categories: PROJECTS, WORDS and REPORTAGE. The original plan was that PROJECTS would post architectural, interior, and design projects within the retail design, while WORDS would focus on trend reports and essays about the state of fashion retail and propose its future. Finally, REPORTAGE was planned as an easily accessible format, which takes the form of reporting news and other events of space surrounding and involving fashion interest.
As a result of 2021, we have fifty-six reportages, and the overwhelming majority are about fashion shows. NOFILTER.SPACE has been very selective in choosing which shows to report on, and it has offered an inside look at the most interesting fashion shows of 2021, such as The Loewe Show That Was Cancelled: Loewe FW2021 and The Palais d'Iena in Paris, Interrupted: MIU MIU SS2022.
I will dare to say that NOFILTER.SPACE is the only online available webzine that reports on fashion spaces, continuously focusing on the space, not the fashion collection itself. Today fashion and spatial design are close like never before (of course, there was 2000 when Giorgio Armani pioneered fashion spaces by developing his home, hospitality, and restaurant spaces, and everyone followed him), but this is not yet the case regarding specialisation in architectural and design writing. By reporting on fashion spaces, REPORTAGE has become NOFILTER.SPACE’s identity – and we have developed the methodology behind the way we express this.
For ParisFashion Week in the fall of 2021, Rick Owens wrote in their press release :
"After four Covid era shows live streamed from my home on Venezia's Lido Beach, returning bombastically at full blast to the Palais de Tokyo Paris seemed to ignore the humbling experience we all went through together; and are still experiencing.Those Covid shows were about defiant ferocity in the face of adversity but should be returning to the Paris runways be about humility and a lesson learned? Or carpe diem?"
I share the feeling Rick Owens put in those words: now that life is getting back to physical reality, or at least part of it, we are starting to wonder what is the next for fashion spaces.
We know that the future is about the fluidity of the physical, digital and elevated experiences simultaneously. Plus, fashion spaces must be sustainable and inclusive. More and more designer fashion, especially in the luxury sector, plays with the idea of investment—investment in terms of money, time, and loyalty. For brands to survive, they must focus on creating their own fashion spaces. I see those fashion spaces as blockchain systems with both figurative and literal cryptos. For example, suppose we remember how the Miu Miu SS22 physical show was punctuated with works of the artist Meriem Bennani on two levels: first, with binocular screens at the site, and secondly, with the interruptions of its live stream with animation. That way, the future fashion spaces will be a hybrid enterprise with sharing as an essential aspect.
Therefore, to share our approach and methodology with a broader audience, we are starting a second project with Frame Publishers. From January 2022, I'll be covering fashion spaces for frameweb.com.
I will cover 5-10 shows per season across fashion cities such as Milan, London, Paris, NY, and perhaps other locations. The four Covid seasons have already established an approach where even a fashion show becomes part of a particular fashion week; it's no longer a site-specific enterprise. For example, to mention one of the most exciting newcomers of 2021, there is the Belgian-Argentinian brand Sadaels. This brand was part of the Paris Fashion Week, and its fashion space takes its roots physically in Capilla Nuestra Senora del Socorro,Villa Pardo, Province of Buenos Aires. Another good example is the Prada SS22 fashion show that took place synchronously in two cities, namely Milan and Shanghai, with a time difference of seven hours. We will follow up on what the big brands are doing and identify newcomers with innovative and genuinely contemporary approaches to spaces. We already know that those spaces will extend to social media and metaverse, but there are many aspects of fashion spaces that we don't know anything about yet.
In 2020 I created NOFILTER.SPACE to explore new typologies of spaces emerging in the cross-section where architecture, fashion, and design meet contemporary visual media platforms, such as Instagram. In 2022 I'll continue this work under the helm of Frame Publishers.
With this editor letter, I want to thank all our authors and collaborators from over the years.
So many thanks to my students at Kristiania University College. They actively developed the webzine, especially my closest editors Christine Kalvik and Silje Kvam. In addition, I want to thank our contributors from our academic partner the Design Department of the Peter Behrens School of Arts, University of Applied Sciences Düsseldorf, Germany, and whom I met on Instagram, such as Niel Eche and Edward Kanarecki. Thank you for trusting me and becoming part of fashion spaces research!
And last but not least, thanks to the Educational Development Fund of Kristiania University College and the Research Support Fund of School of Art, Design, and Media atKristiania University College, that made this project possible.
In 2022 NOFILTER.SPACE will stay open as an archive of four Covid-Era fashion seasons. For the news, let's meet on Frameweb!
Oslo, December 17th, 2021