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Interview with the designer of the OP/420 pattern, Viola Balázs

Meet the designer of our Summer’19 Collection, the talented Hungarian textile designer Viola Balázs, who is telling us a little about herself, her projects and how the OP/420 pattern was born.

YKRA: Hi Viola! It’s nice to have you back at our studio! Tell us a bit about yourself and your works!

VIOLA: Hi! I’m Balázs Viola, I’m a pattern designer, and I’m so happy to be able to do what I love! Designing patterns means setting up frameworks, making continuous patterns, and what I especially love about it, is to have the freedom of not following anatomy and creating unusual space combinations.

I usually work with Hungarian fashion designers, and I founded a silk scarf brand called VYF with one of my friends, Tomi Szécsi. For practical reasons we wanted a really simple product, with no size range and something which doesn’t need a lot of space, so we could start the business without an office. Scarves are a really interesting transition between a picture and a clothing item, it’s actually a picture on a soft material. You can vary which part you want to be seen, the graphics deform on it, it’s really interesting! We usually choose strange subjects: ordinary things, which are honestly not so pleasing, like an office or canteen and we try to present it in a humorous way.

YKRA: Where do you look for design inspiration?

VIOLA: I try to avoid the internet, but it’s really hard, because you can easily find everything there. My goal is to use my own experiences and through that make my works more honest. When Balázs (the founder of YKRA) came up with the idea of the designing of the OP/420 pattern, we did not know which technique we will use, so I started to paint with watercolor and to draw with crayons, and then it became clear that we’ll want this pattern to be produced by silkscreen printing. We wanted something fresh and summery, but not too childish. I was not familiar with sailing boats and their types, so Balázs showed me, which are his favourites boats and I watched videos of sailing competitions. I always do a little research on the subject I’m working on, because it’s really important to get to know the frameworks, not only the visual appearance.

YKRA: Patterns can appear in so many formats, on so many surfaces. What is the most interesting for you?

VIOLA: I was making patterns for a Hungarian luxury swimsuit company, which was really instructive for me. I learned how to place flat graphics on a form in space and how you can obtain optical effects like slimming. I also gained practice in production, how to prepare a pattern for manufacturing. I’d love to design more positioned patterns, so they have an exact spot on the product, you can play with that a lot! In the case of backpacks, the textile is cut out from different parts, but the pattern has to look almost the same, which is also a great challenge! 

YKRA: Do you have any special memories with Lake Balaton?

VIOLA: When I was a child I really enjoyed spending my summers in Balatonlelle. I have a funny memory of my granny. There was a summer with an eel pestilence, with dead eels everywhere in the water, and she flapped away the eels as we were marching in the water. She had a collection of swimsuits, I really loved them! I also saw people kissing for the first time in my life at the Balaton, it was shocking!

Family photo of Viola

YKRA: Do you have a favorite spot?

VIOLA: At the age of 4-5 I spent my summers with my grandparents at a resort for workers, back in the socialist era. Later in my teenage years we went to Almádi to the beach, and visited the local wine cellars.

YKRA: What are you up to these days?

VIOLA: I always have different projects running parallel, I’m working on a summer collection for VYF and also on the next collection of Dóri Tomcsányi. I know Dóri from university, we worked together on projects back then, and we still are! We get along really well, and what I really like about her is that she has strong opinions. Her clothes are amazing, I wear them too! My favourite is an overall with the pattern of a tennis court and plastic chairs.

I also have plans of stepping outside the world of textile. I’m really interested in animation, different technical solutions and how to use the logic of patterns, to show their buildup and how they are flowing into each other in an animation. I want to learn more about this in the future!

photo: Milán Rácmolnár

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