Disruptors in Fashion Education: Colomba Leddi, NABA, Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti.
NABA’S CROSS-DISCIPLINARY ENVIRONMENT HAS THE ABILITY TO PROVIDE STUDENTS WITH A WEALTH OF DIVERSE OUTLOOKS ON THE CREATIVE PROCESS. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR STUDENTS TO THINK BEYOND THEIR CHOSEN DISCIPLINE AND EXPLORE NEW ARTISTIC MEDIUMS?
It is particularly important for our students to think beyond conventional ideas, their time in the classrooms, and what their future work place will be like. We encourage them to ponder on new forms of communication and production to stimulate their creativity.
As a matter of fact, this is already part of the philosophy of our Academy, since students from different departments are asked to work together as part of the same team on various projects, intended as an experimental approach to finding solutions for Fashion Design and Communication.
The multidisciplinary approach (which offers Undergraduate and Postgraduate Programs in the fields of design, fashion design, graphics and communication, multimedia arts, set design, and visual arts) combines traditional visual disciplines with new digital technologies, and mixes individual study with group project work. Projects are developed in collaboration with Italian and foreign companies and institutions, whose involvement in educational activities provides students with the opportunity to experience real life assignments, consequently increasing the effectiveness of their learning experience and enhancing the development of competencies useful to a successful career.
WHAT DOES MILAN ADD TO THE NABA ACADEMIC EXPERIENCE THAT IS UNIQUE TO THE CITY? HOW DOES THE CITY SURROUNDING ENHANCE AND INFORM A DESIGNER’S JOURNEY?
The industrial network around Milan includes a good number of manufacturing companies operating in the field of Fashion Design. As a consequence, Milan offers many opportunities for students to compare and improve their knowledge of the high-end fashion sector. The city's institutions support the schools of Fashion Design and the young talents in this field, organizing specific events and meetings that offer them visibility during fashion weeks (Milano Moda Graduate, Fashion Graduate Italia, White Street Market).
With the aim of favoring accessibility to what is historically known as the milanese pret a porter, the city's fashion-houses open their doors to the public at certain times of the year (Apritimoda) and fashion students are the means that enables this to happen.
HOW DOES ITALY’S LONGTIME DEDICATION TO FINE MATERIALS AND ARTISTRY WITH DESIGN INFLUENCE THE NABA CURRICULUM?
NABA students have the opportunity to cross the thresholds of haute de couture producers and experience material quality and experimentation first-hand, especially textile design. The project methodology taught by Design professionals at NABA, has within itself the DNA of Italian history.
WITH A NEW CAMPUS IN ROME, NABA TAPS INTO TWO OF ITALY’S MOST STORIED CITIES. WHAT WAS THE REASON BEHIND TOUCHING DOWN IN ROME?
Rome has a strong tradition linked to the arts, cinema, and the typical life style. It still has very productive and excellent workshops that are unique worldwide. The mere fact of being in a place so full of beauty is a value per se where the light perceived is somehow different. With regard to Fashion, the school intends to offer students direct contact with fashion- houses and costume workshops operating in the fields of haute de couture and show business. A historical archive from which we can see examples, compare and help our students during their educational career with us.
Furthermore, Rome is a complementary city to Milan from many points of view, while also constituting an epicentre of Italian culture. The new campus is an ambitious project that intends to involve the city and its key players in the world of fashion. The project also aims to give life to that connective tissue able to contribute to the city's process of evolution in close collaboration with the most important local institutions.
HOW DO YOU ENABLE YOUR DESIGN STUDENTS TO CREATE OUTSIDE OF THE VACUUM OF A CLASSROOM? WHAT SORT OF OPPORTUNITIES DO YOU PROVIDE?
The training methodology integrates classroom study with experiential workshops. Our professors are highly skilled educators who are also active art and design professionals. There are a lot of opportunities at NABA. We develop a number of projects, some specials with companies and offer our students the opportunity to work within professional realities, and complete a work placement (fashion shows, showrooms, fairs, fashion houses, textile firms.....). On top of that, our students also work in teams with students from the other departments, involving a good number of disciplines (Fashion Design, Fashion Styling and Communication, Set Design, Media Design, Visual Arts...).
HOW DO YOU WORK TO EMPOWER YOUR STUDENTS TO EXPERIMENT AND DEFY WHAT’S EXPECTED?
Currently, both the didactic and everything that is part of NABA’s Fashion Design Area has a digital and a physical aspect. What I am expecting to see at the end of such period of time, will be the students’ capability to manage the various situations and find the right solutions for either of the two aspects in sectors such as communication, production, and fruition because that is how they will be expected to be able to work in the coming years
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF A DESIGN EDUCATION?
I believe it is the methodology linked to a certain amount of experimentation and inter- departmental collaboration. Coherence within each project is certainly another important element.
HOW DO YOU PREPARE YOUR STUDENTS FOR THE REALITIES OF THE INDUSTRY AHEAD?
By giving them a good cultural knowledge of the processes involved in projects, of the materials, and of contemporary social influences. Our students are used to working in teams, to running and sharing the various phases of a project and to being curious.
HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR STUDENTS WORKING TO RESHAPE THE CURRENT FASHION LANDSCAPE?
In my mind, there will be a radical change in which sustainability will be part of fashion. I believe there will be new ways of producing new materials and the new generations will have to start from there. At the same time, I believe that the fashion distribution system, as we know it now, will implode and therefore this is a new opportunity and stimulus for new projects. We will no longer be able to design anything without taking into consideration the various aspects of the fashion.
AS AN EDUCATOR OF THE NEXT GENERATION OF DESIGNERS, WHAT EXCITES YOU THE MOST ABOUT THE FUTURE OF FASHION AND THE NEW VOICES THAT WILL WORK WITHIN IT?
Surely the opportunity to rethink everything. I hope that NABA has formed minds that are ready and free to reshape the world of fashion without any restraints.