The co-founder of NOTKUNST arte d’emergenza, speaks ABOUT this fashion-art project

Interview with Silvio Valpreda

Please introduce yourself

I’m an Italian designer, with a long worldwide experience in industrial automotive design, and a textiles background achieved working for most fashionable brands like Calvin Klein.
In the visual art field I have a my personal project, not shared with NOTKUNST, and I work as curator in different private galleries and museums too.

How did the idea for this new brand arise and why?

NOTKUNST arte d'emergenza is a new Italian bags brand, a fashion-art project.
NOTKUNST means emergency art; the word comes from German.
The brand philosophy is to achieve a border crossing of the poetic investigation in the flow of daily life, using as medium the creation of handbags.
NOTKUNST bags are metaphorically conceived as a first aid kit useful to bring relief, in case of need, through the administration of small amount of art.

How do you realize the project?

NOTKUNST bags pay high attention to art language, as well to a cutting-edge technical research.
NOTKUNST applies to fashion specific languages of contemporary art to make handbags with extreme attention to quality and product excellence.
The design research has given a special importance to the lightness in order to obtain extremely low weight bags.

How art declines in fashion accessories?

NOTKUNST develops its own artistic and conceptual path.
Fashion is a medium. Not only a medium intended as physical support but in the way used by McLuhan.
Some art investigations fit perfectly in a painting on a wall, others need a large scale installation, some needs to be with us in the daily life, must to be worn.
Fashion relates to art, to politics, to questions people have about the world. Not necessarily answers, but items that raise questions.

Would you say some names of artists or fashion designers you like?

The work of Andrea Zittel, more about the shelters than about the clothes, is very inspirational for NOTKUNST.
Christo and Jeanneclaude been absolutely genius in the use of to hide for revealing.
Also if the formal appearance of their work is very far from the photographic images we use, I fell really important the approach of Mr. and Mrs. Becher.

What about structural approach?

All models are originals. Specific design includes all the elements of the product, like handle, zip and obviously fabrics.
We give importance to the weight trough a long work of materials selection and details design.
Design and manufacture of the bags are centered on fine tailoring techniques to achieve the objectives of simplicity and softness.
The bags are made with finest Italian fabrics and top quality skins. We use eel skin and salmon leather for the bags, lambskin for straps and an hand painted cow leather for handles.
There is a strong technical research behind any NOTKUNST model. All the components are original and comes from an integrated design.
Although full of meanings, the shape of the bags is essential an minimalistic.

What makes your work different from others?

NOTKUNST use bags as medium of a specific art research instead of simply put art on bags.
NOTKUNST believe that the technical excellence has to be compulsory also for something beautiful and artistic.

The woman who likes your bags should be an art expert?

Not really. Art doesn’t need to be explained or understood, it simply has to be felt.
NOTKUNST bags have been designed to be used in everyday lifestyle.
The woman who likes NOTKUNST prefer understatement and a mood of elegant simplicity.

Which is your ethic and quality policy?

Whole process of design, modeling, prototyping and manufacture, is completely done in Torino, in our own atelier.
The bags are not produced in chain series with people working only on a single step but each bag is completed by a single craftsman.
The brand philosophy is a bit different than the simple approach “made in Italy” labeling : all our raw material, fabrics and skins, comes from manufacturer in democratic countries were the labor is paid with western standards and workers benefit of full rights. We focus more on “how” than on “where” something has been done.
By choice leathers and furs are only from animals bred to produce food.

How many time exist your brand?

Our company, founded in 2010, presented for the first time internationally its brand NOTKUNST during the 2014 SS fashion week in Paris, at Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palais du Louvre.

What about the collections?

NOTKUNST bags are an art project that evolves through forms of emotional enquiry classified in thematic collections, each of which contains inside different seasonal interpretations.
Any mood collection contains 4 to 8 models.
Each collection originates from a strong conceptual theme developing an exact poetic investigation of social matters.
Blank space, emptiness are concepts that, in modern industrial and consumerist perspective are charged with a negative implication. The so called unused space is by conversely the only where it is possible to potentially do something. Far from to be useless the unused space is the profitable one.
The same approach is about darkness. As knows sailors, to see something it is not necessary to out light on it but to put other disturbing elements in the darkness.

Where to find the bags?

NOTKUNST bags are on sale in selected stores in Italy and abroad.
Shops who focus on cultural independence and quality. We are proudly small.

What are the range prices of the bags?

The range of prices to the public is 600-1000 €.

Which are the next steps?

We are intensely expanding our international fashion network.
Currently, after the presentation of season FW16 during Paris Fashion Week at the beginning of March, we moved to Asia participating to Seoul Fashion Week, 23/24 March, invited by PR01 and then our collections are in show in Japan during the JFW-IFF trade show.