Travelling Designers

Travelling Designers: Elizabeth Zhivkova of Berenford

As the notion and necessity of a "creative capital" becomes less prevalent, we're seeing designers and creatives of all kinds taking their process on the road; living nomadic lifestyles and travelling to places new and old. In our new series, Travelling Designers, we talk to these designers who have no fixed base. Next up is Elizabeth Zhivkova of the eyewear label, Berenford.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your nomadic lifestyle. 

I love creating when travelling. It has always been a dream of mine to work remotely. Sometimes all you need to take with you is a sketchbook and a camera.

Where are you currently based?

I am currently based between Milan, Lugano, and Sofia.

Could you tell us more about some of the places you've travelled to over the past year or two? 

I have just returned from magical Brazil, which gave me so many positive vibes and so much inspiration. I love untouched places such as the Bahian coast, uncorrupted from brands and commercial activities. One can feel fully free there, 'tranquilo como um Baiano' as they say. Simply to escape. I fell in love with the landscapes of Rio, the urban city intertwined with the rainforest. I am obsessed with tropical modernism. I love their open spaces filled with light, the mix of indigenous materials, in keeping with the eco environment. Each project blends seamlessly with the surrounding nature. Other exciting places I have explored so far are India and Mexico. Each of them full of beauty and warmth. I was fascinated by the Kerala region, on the tropical Malabar cost and its people and their positive outlook on life. There is so much to learn out there.

What inspired you to live a nomadic lifestyle?

A tangible sense of freedom and curiosity has always drawn me to travel.

How do your travels influence your designs?

I find beauty everywhere—in colors, textures, shapes. Nature gives us such an abundance in every single aspect. I try to interpret it in my own way, whether in a functional product, work of art, or a piece of writing.

How does being a nomad impact your sense of self in terms of being a designer? 

I wouldn't define myself as a nomad, but I have a free soul that always pushes me out of my comfort zone. It's exactly then that one feels life itself. I never liked the idea of borders or following conventional lifestyle notions. I kind of like creating my own world, a bubble of possibilities and wonders; going wherever my spirit takes me. Having this overall attitude and ethos towards life enables me to be a much more genuine version of myself.

How do all of your travels and places you've lived translate into your aesthetic and approach to fashion?

Unknown places always teach me something new. I love when a  local language is translated into a multi-national one. My approach and vision of fashion is about slowing down, appreciating and creating in an ethical way, crafting timeless, beautiful products inside and out, as well as preserving local arts and crafts. Taking care of our cultural heritage is critical, especially nowadays.

Some in the fashion industry think that staying in a fixed place or fashion capital is essential. What's your take? 

For me, the most important thing is to be open minded and feel international within, stay curious, and keep oneself informed. Travel, explore, get lost! 

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You've lived in numerous places with different cultures. How does fashion function across these cultures? 

In the places I've lived, I have seen that fashion not only gives but also takes away identities. People should be more true to themselves and their inner voice, rather than focusing on the fleeting trends and propaganda. There are, however, many likeminded young people with strong voices and beliefs to change the whirlwind cycle.

What do you love most / what is the most rewarding part of your travels and ability to live in numerous places?

The most rewarding part of my travels is the re-discovery of myself, as well as the new knowledge and endless inspiration.

How does fashion serve as a rooting force for you throughout your travels?

When travelling, I always meet creatives and cannot wait to discover local artisans. My new favorite friend is a craftsman on the Bahian coast, making all kinds of items out of palm leaves. He does it all by hand, with so much passion when it comes to preserving the tradition of his ancestors. It is so exciting to see cultures, folklores, and history overlapping through crafts, aesthetics, and tradition.

What 's next?

I would love to explore the West Indies, Patagonia, Galápagos. Wildlife captivates me and I'm always daydreaming about travelling over the world. Wherever I go, I have a passion for finding new, unknown artists and examining the flora and fauna.