Stefan Ormenisan, Founder & Creative Manager of MINDTHEGAP, joins us to discuss the design process in creating the Transylvanian Roots collection.
Raymond Paul Schneider: When did you first start to develop this new collection?
Stefan Ormenisan: A year ago, we started to think about creating a lifestyle collection inspired by our Transylvanian homeland. At the very beginning, I wasn’t sure about the potential since Transylvania is not well known worldwide for its cultural heritage like, let’s say, Morocco, Rajasthan, or other more famous countries or places. But then, after a couple of days, I changed my mind and decided to go ahead. Ultimately, I felt that it would be a rewarding challenge for us to reimagine and reinterpret authentic folk patterns to show our unique cultural history to the whole world. We have a platform and opportunity to showcase Transylvanian in a way never imagined by the world as a whole, especially as we are not a country known for the decorative arts like Italy or France.
Raymond: What was the overall timeline from conception to achieving the final design?
Stefan: Overall it took about four-five months, and we are talking about over 35 designs and patterns for wallpaper, fabrics, and cushions. Our design team includes five very talented young artists who are always very keen to create new patterns and designs. The whole process starting from research, documentation, drawing, recoloring, and digitalizing is intensive and time-consuming. It is like a long, fascinating journey that starts from scratch, and then day-by-day, you enter deeper into a new world, exploring and discovering, scouring and sourcing the heritage left by the ancestors and learning how to bring them back to life.
Raymond: What was your initial inspiration, and where did the idea(s) come from?
Stefan: I always search for inspiration around me, and I believe we are fortunate to have so many hidden treasures around us, and it is only a matter of time before we re-discover them. This collection talks about my roots and my ethnic background. I am from a mixed family, my father is Romanian, and my mother is a unique mix of Hungarian, Transylvanian, Saxons, and Armenian. Transylvania was, for centuries, a melting pot of peoples, cultures, traditions, and religions. Before we started working on the “Transylvanian Roots” collection, I thought that for MINDTHEGAP’s 5th anniversary, we should come out with a story inspired by our beautiful homeland. Nevertheless, there are so many inspirational stories from other places, but most of them have already been used, so coming out with something new has become a welcome design challenge. To describe the heritage of Transylvania through patterns and motifs is an intricate and yet beautiful process that makes me feel like a contemporary craftsman.
Raymond: Please describe your overall creative and design process.
Stefan: I usually start by imagining how everything should look from a conceptual perspective: the room set and the lifestyle that I am creating, the whole mood I would like to imagine living in. For “Transylvanian Roots,” I imagined myself living for the summer weekends in the countryside, surrounded by authentic furnishings and pieces that recreate the traditional cottages of Transylvania. Then I continue with the mood board and start putting together patterns and motifs created by our design team. We use primarily traditional techniques, building each pattern from scratch almost like a recipe. This creates strength and character in the designs and makes most of our patterns easily recognizable through authenticity and originality.
Raymond: Did you have a specific audience or theme that you had in mind?
Stefan: I do not create for a specific audience; I like to create designs and collections that inspire me and make people around the world interested in our culture and curious to be part of our stories. I believe that a good quality design transposed in a timeless piece has no borders. People will love it, no matter where they are coming from, and they will do that because it reminds them of a world they have seen or heard about and because it will help them live an artful life.
Raymond: Please describe the methods, tools, and materials you used to develop and prototype this design?
Stefan: We are pretty traditional in terms of design methods. Our talented designers have different skills, and as much we can, we try to create traditionally. Especially for Transylvanian Roots, this means drawing, hand-painting, dyeing, block-printing, and then all digitalized to be transposed on fabrics and wallpapers. But for example, our lighting collection has authentic block-printed and embroidered linens, which gives more of an original flavor to the whole collection. Regarding materials, we are addicted to natural fabrics, and also for this collection, we have used only natural linen and cotton for all the range. It was essential to connect this new collection with the past, with our ancestors’ rich folk art and textile history. We have also replicated some authentic linen and hemp stripes used for hundreds of years all around Transylvania.
Raymond: Describe your overall brand DNA and Ethos.
Stefan: Surrounded by a cultural melting pot of crafts and traditions, our artistic identity is rooted in the beautiful homeland of Transylvania. Evocative and individual, our eclectic home decor collections take inspiration from our region’s diverse ethnic heritage, rich cultural history, and authentic wanderer’s spirit.
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