Old Mold But New Design, Ami Park
Ami Park is a New York and Seoul-based women’s wear designer who graduated from the Parsons School of Design BFA fashion design. She was born and raised in Seoul, Korea and later moved to New York to follow her career. She gained experience in the fashion industry interning for Louise Goldin, Derek Lam and Alice & Olivia. After working with unisex Designer brand Kittae, Ami Park went on to create her first capsule collection, Mold.
How did you get into the fashion industry?
I always loved art in general such as music and painting. I actually did painting and craft art at my first college in Seoul. I think my mom influenced me a lot. She’s such a fashion and art lover. I still remember she enjoyed shopping with little me whether at designer boutiques or old vintage stores; and she always turned on music. Thanks to her, I naturally started to have an interest in fashion but I didn’t plan to do it professionally until I turned 19. I just enjoyed fashion and style before. That was all. But one day I thought, “What am I doing now?”, “what do I like or what do I like to do the most?”, “what do I really want to do for my whole life?”, “Why shouldn’t I do fashion that I always care?” ... I had these thoughts so deeply during my freshman year in college in Korea. This is when I decided to move to New York City to do fashion. I quit my college and started a portfolio for Parsons.
Tell us about the inspiration behind your Mold Collection
My first collection, which was inspired by mold, is an examination of innovative textile collaborated with creative construction. I was intrigued by the shapes, colors, and textures of mold. And the more I researched, the more I could find more interesting characteristics of mold and fungus. It has its own way of growing and there have been many studies to see if there's a specific pattern which decides the shapes, colors and textures. I wanted to see the whole process of the growth so I grew mold, and I was led by Ali Schachtschneider and Annelie Koller who were Parsons School of Design alumni researchers and biological fashion designers. In this workshop, bacteria were a biologically grown design medium, and they were used to create a print for textile. I worked with naturally colored bacteria, which secretes pigment that will be grown and printed onto fabrics, creating individual bio-textile pieces. Biomaterials and bio-design is a new and unknown, yet exciting, field to be discovered and appreciated because it will soon facilitate the use of science in art and design.
Do you have a favourite piece from this collection?
I honestly love all the pieces from the collection of course. I made most of the fabrics that I used for this collection by myself and it already was effort-intense process but I would pick the most memorable piece because it was so hard to make it out in reality. It’s an asymmetric vest cape from 6th look. I designed this piece from my original sketches from shape of mold. It started with an intuitive and spontaneous idea so it was tricky to construct for the human body with right materials to give right texture and shape. The whole body is sewn with a long rope wrapped with yarn and attached by crochet ruffle around the edge. It took me the longest time to finish the piece with all the handcrafting process.
What message are you conveying in the film for this collection?
As I liked the organic characteristic of mold that it grows in its own way and it has all different shapes, colors and textures. I wanted to show the variety and what I see and feel to it with a short film.
What do you find to be the strongest influences for your designs?
I am often inspired by nature especially microscopic and biological images because they have unique and unusual visual effect. I’d also say, I find it curious and interesting in odd things. For example, typically, mold is perceived as ugly and unhygienic. But I thought I could make it into something of beauty.
What can we expect from Ami Park over the next few years?
I want to keep exploring things with creative and open mind. I used to be obsessed with the idea that I had to have my own style and taste and keep maintaining it. But I realized that such thought makes me caught up with limited opportunities to try new things and find out what works or not. So I want to be able to show the change and progress of my journey in the future. Of course, I hope I can make people to be inspired by my designs.