Interview with Christian Heikoop:
Identity Needs Space
The cover image on form 274 shows one of the results from the “Normcore” research project by Christian Heikoop on the eponymous fashion trend. Heikoop studied at the Design Academy Eindhoven and now works as an interdisciplinary designer. We asked him a few questions about normcore, his way of working and his intentions.
What is special in your representation of the normcore trend?
Normcore as a subculture is based on the conscious, artificial adoption of things that are in widespread use, proven to be acceptable, or otherwise inoffensive. Ultra-conformists.
I was thinking about the future of Normcore and how this trend would influence the way we dress tomorrow; I researched the underlying mindset that sits at the base of the Normcore movement. I found three core mentalities that I expressed and translated into a visualisation of the Normcore future by re-shaping a number of Normcore approved outfits based on the values and characteristics of the found mentality.
Raggedness: Normcores value seclusion making body observance impossible for others.
Anonymity: Normcores like to keep to themselves and dress inconspicuous, therefore very private.
All-in-one: Normcores don’t like to distinguish themselves by making a choice, reducing the amount of options.
In what context did the project arise?
The project was initiated during my studies at the Design Academy Eindhoven, when we started looking at trends and what drives them. That’s already two years ago when the word Normcore just had popped up. By stripping down the outer layers of what we see, it became possible to look at the core of current movements. I was finding the clash between people and society and the friction in-between, which results in a change and develops a new direction.
How is normcore different from generally practised fashion design?
During my research on the trend Normcore, I discovered that it is not about the way you look but Normcore’s approach to fashion: it’s about the way seeing oneself and the relation to an outfit – the thoughts towards the movement.
Which I think differs from other fashion trends, where the created image is mostly present.
What feelings do you want to elicit from viewers of your design objects?
This work is about triggering a question by forming an appearance that’s slightly different than usually, yet still familiar.
How would you describe your working methods?
As a designer I’m prone to study the nowness and the newness, in order to inspire, explore and to stretch the borders of industry.
What role do aesthetics play in your products?
I believe that aesthetics can derive from innovation, techniques, and methods. With Normcore it’s the way you think, which leads to the way you dress. Here aesthetics develop from a deeper thought process that determines the look.
In an ideal world, how would you like to work over the next few years?
In my work I would like to keep questioning aspects of design. Why do we dress or act in a certain way? Also I would like to question methods in industry. I think design is one of the few professions that acts within different fields and even creates bridges between them.