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Behind the KENU pattern

Hi Viola! Please introduce yourself!

My name is Balázs Viola, I work on the brink of graphic design and fashion design, I make printed patterns mainly for clothing and accessories. Although I went to art school and then studied at the MOME (Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design ) textile department, I did not think this would be my profession. It was decisive for my career when we started our own scarf brand, VYF with Tomi Szécsi, and that I was able to be a part of a local and sustainable brand like Tomcsányi from the beginning.

At the same time, I had the opportunity to design for a long-established luxury swimwear manufacturing company (Magistral), where I could see the production and technological processes.

These various impulses turned into experience, the ideas and intuitive attempts became user-oriented, controlled design works. The presence of people and friends I met during university years meant a lot to me, especially when I was between stages.

My first joint work with YKRA came at just such a stage, when I decided to start a freelance career. I knew the team and was very happy for the invitation to work together! It was a challenge from both a creative and a technological point of view, since it was a multi-colored pattern silkscreen printed in running meter, which I had no experience with. I was very nervous, but the whole time I felt that we can work well together, what we are doing is exciting and I can identify 100% with the brand's identity.

You have already made quite a few patterns for YKRA, can you tell us about it? 

The first one that I just mentioned, was the OP420, which is composed of "beginner" sailing boats on the water. A lot of sketches were made before we found the right direction for the brand's image: clean, precisely drawn lines and colorful spots, a race of boats on the sunny water. It was difficult to find a graphic design that was unisex and also suitable for adults as well.

Accordingly, my experience is that customers prefer solid colors from the pieces they wear every day. This is the biggest challenge, to make something so good that it competes with its safe solid counterparts.

Our next project was JETSET, which features the different locations of an exotic journey around the World. It was a bold undertaking in that it was made in a surprising color combination: pink orange and blue. The concept that each printed backpack is unique is perhaps most present in this model: it may have an Egyptian or Hawaiian scene on it, but the overall picture is always very similar. This was the technical challenge.

What I especially enjoyed was figuring out the small scale and small details, and drawing it rough, like a paper cutout.

In addition to larger projects, I occasionally adjust patterns made by other designers to be ready for production, which doesn't seem exciting, but it is to me. I have to get to know the work, thought process, and technique of another designer in detail, and finalize it in such a way that it is not damaged and remains imperceptible. The "non-textile designer brain" organizes the pattern instinctively, it does not think about how it will be printed on the material, and the result is often more organic. This work is very instructive, it shaped my design method a lot.

And our latest collab is the KENU, which is currently available.

How was KENU made? 

Balázs called me on a spring day saying that he needed a print right away, that he was completely hooked on Italian Futurism, and had made a mood-board, he would send it over, and I should respond as soon as possible so we could sit down and talk about it.

Ha had several visions, both figurative and abstract, lots of colors. It was a very broad mood board, which I thought for days about what to do with it, what to connect this crazy dynamism to. I decided that some kind of sport would be best for this, and my first thought was kayaking.

Perhaps this was because I live next to the Danube and I see kayakers almost every day. There, the sports equipment appears as a streamlined object, the water as a medium - which is dynamic in itself - and the competitive spirit, the will to win, which brings out the maximum in performance. All power and movement. I started looking for pictures and tried to capture with a few lines the moment when the body tenses up and all the strength is concentrated to pull the biggest with the paddle. Later I found an incredibly detailed study video on canoeing. I tried to visually comply with the rules, but somehow the raw power that was in the first sketch was lost - so I ended up working on the original sketch. During the design, I reduced the graphics more and more. There were two versions: a more saturated and a rarer pattern. Here it came up how interesting it would be if we used 2 colors in the same proportion, and one of them would work on its own - so we don't have to decide!

We tried countless color schemes, and everyone in the office voted for a different one because it worked well with many different combinations, so several were made. I really like this pattern, it was fun to work on and think about. I get a strange feeling when I deal with a sports topic. I played competitive handball in my childhood, and the memories and feelings I experienced come back to me.

What are you doing lately? 

Currently, in addition to these projects, I teach pattern design at MOME. I wasn't particularly attracted to teaching, as I don't like speaking in front of people, nor telling them what the right direction is, but I have had good experiences and really loved it. Teaching inspires me, I learn a lot from the experience.

This is a platform where the spirit of new generations meets experience. I think it's a mutual good thing. Lately, I feel like I want to delve a little deeper into a project of my own, which is still very vague for now, I think it will take time and self-discipline not to abandon it.

I am researching new forms and possible areas of patterns, but for now I am just reading, researching and I try to connect these with my own interests and experiences. And with YKRA, I am happy to start a new project at any time!

What are your long-term plans? What is your dream or dream job?

Until about a year ago, I wanted to gain experience at an international company, to see how it works - but I don't feel that way anymore. Of course, if there was an opportunity, I don't think I would miss out on it, but lately I'm much more interested in local things and problems. The world is also changing and I think I'm getting old.

Anyway, what I would really like is if I had the opportunity to create somewhere on a huge scale, I imagine some gigantic continuous pattern that fills the space and changes the relationship between the pattern and the viewer.


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