Good Taste Meets Bad Taste: Amit Baruch

DesignJune 6, 2017
Good Taste Meets Bad Taste: Amit Baruch

Sometimes a fashion designer, other times a trend forecaster or a contemporary artist. Amit Baruch’s actions resemble minute surprises that suddenly colors the tediousness of daily life. Cheap perfume, political figures, and toilet paper… She reshapes everything that is passé and boring, and each of her works bears a trace of candidness, mischief and humor. Though she’s still in the green days of her career, we’re sure that we’ll be hearing more of her in the following years. 

You’re a trend director, which is an unusual job. How did you come to choose it?

It all started following my move to London six years ago, I was lucky to get a work proposal for a commercial fashion designer role, there they spotted my strength in trend direction. For the last five years, I have been working as a freelance trend researcher for commercial brands and startups. I did this during my studies and always hope to find new projects while creating my own personal work.

Can you describe your job for us?

I am passionate about this field and sometimes find it hard to explain the process of working in trends. The first step is – to feel, to be curious, and to be sensitive to your environment. In my nature, I am an observer. Since childhood I strived to learn about tendencies in all creative subjects. I was drawn to the music and the visual arts world and a bit of a geek in that sense. A never-ending research worm.

I want to know how people feel, I want to make brands look better and to tell them a new story they did not hear before. I recognize the needs and track the information that feeds the trends in consumer and market behavior, piecing out the magic together to tell the story of a brand while finding and connecting the details that would give life to a product.

Do you have an independent fashion brand?

I do not own a brand. At the moment, I dedicate myself to all kinds of artistic projects and do not have a plan of having one, but who knows. I do know that if I one day have a fashion brand it must be personal, creating menswear. This excites me for real.

You are coming from a family who are in textile industry so you are born in a world of fashion in a way. As a representative of the young generation, what has changed in fashion?

So much has changed in fashion. I was a kid running around in fashion shows, growing up in a wonderland of real craft makers and pure creative production. where quality, taste and clothing proportions had such an importance. leisure clothes were worked to its little details. its hard to believe this was all happening in Tel – Aviv. These were days when high fashion was still accessible to the middle class. clothes made by past designers were revolutionary and actually changed the way people were, the way they carry themselves.

Do you feel nostalgic about the past?

I am nostalgic, no doubt. But the way this world is today is mad. The essence of fashion is lost. it is so mass, I don’t even know where to start. To me there is ‘Fashion’ and there is ‘The fashion industry’. fashion exists in my past and remains in my heritage, while the fashion industry is this new machine created in popular culture. I am still exploring the formula of how these two could live together. it is so cheap for the consumer and so expensive for the maker. there is no balance. And there is definitely too much of fashion.

So, what are your opinions about contemporary fashion?

I think it is influenced by the past. It seems like for a brand, the right thing to do is to stick the word ‘contemporary’ next to its label in order to perform a difference. Real contemporary fashion is usually based on the true personal story the designer seek to tell, and it belongs to those who cannot live without it. I do think there are beautifully talented contemporary designers out there.

What is your personal approach on fashion?

I aim to create timeless pieces rather than making something new ones that communicate a strong personal narrative, differing my aesthetic. My approach employs playfulness, intimacy and humor, to engage my audience and draw them into an individual experience.

People’s stories in my creative process are based on sharing, just like a gift gesture. I like to describe human gestures overlooked and worthy of attention. Everything that is considered horribly unfashionable comes to play – political figures, toilets, tiles, cheap perfumery and collected memorabilia.

Do you use it as a tool or is it what you want to do at the final point?

Both. Textiles is my most natural way of communicating and carrying a message, it is my first language. I connect to the personal memoir behind it and interested in ways of inserting poetic meaning to it.

When did you start to show interest in contemporary art?

I am interested in art since young age thanks to my parents. In my late teens, I developed a curiosity in contemporary art. As a fashion student I was attracted to art rather than runways and fashion magazines and searched for ways of finding my own artistic language that will then inspire the clothes I make. Knowing my way of working, mixing the art and fashion practices seemed like the right thing to do.

Can you name some contemporary artists you love?

My favorite artist of all times is Sophie Calle. She frequently depicts human vulnerability and examines identity and intimacy in her work. It often has a detective-like quality to it: involving following strangers and investigating private lives. I relate to it and like being able to fold elements from my daily life into my work.

I admire the way Jeremy Deller uses folk ideas in his conceptual work, and fascinated by his process and collaborative work.

I love everything about Grayson Perry. this man brings joy, passion and never ending inspiration to my life. the last few years I have been obsessed with following each piece of knowledge from him.

Alec Soth adds to the list. In his photography, he uses elements of folklore. he bonds with strangers and every photo has a story behind it. overall I find similarities in the way we work. My favorite work of his is a series he documented in the Niagara Falls.

Walter Van Beirendonck and Henrik Vibskov, coming from the fashion world, are both an example of cutting age designers/ artists that inspire me greatly.

You have studied Art & Design and you create in both areas. Which one do you feel close?

I am a mixed media artist working with textiles. I wish to present new types of fashion production and consumption which move between the commercial and the gallery space. I do aim for my fabrics to have some use, whether it is for fashion or for carrying a message as a flag or a banner for example.

Do you follow different paths when creating an artwork and design a fashion item?

The content of my work relies mostly on coincidence, my curiosity tends to bring some interesting face to face interactions. Most of my projects begin when capturing images of an environment, I am not a trained photographer but it always seemed like an exciting and a very spontaneous medium for finding my inspiration. This ocular connection ends up being the main focus of my visual work.

I do not normally plan my narratives, they seem to always come along my path. I then draw the colors from the imagery and define the further process I take the materials through.

You are from Israel and I believe that we have so many common cultural similarities. What surprised you most about Turkey?

In many ways, Turkey really felt like home to me. I was surprised by the popularity of smoking as if it is the 90’s again.

What is your relationship with the daily objects?

I am a true collector of all strange and beautiful things that touches my heart. It can be a napkin with a poem I found, a little broken door full of stickers, a Britney Spears friendship bracelet I shared with my first boyfriend, a stone or anything really.

I was on a slick road of being a hoarder but I think my move to London cured it a little bit, so I’m better now. More than anything, I enjoy curating the space I live in.

What arouses curiosity in you? What makes you work?

I find the reflection of taste in our personality, and how it appears and translates through the generations very interesting. Especially when beauty is suddenly found in the ‘ugliest’ things of the ordinary.

How do you keep the balance between ugly and beautiful?

There is my favorite quote in the world by Jean Genet – “To achieve harmony in bad taste is the height of elegance.” I am always searching for this balanced harmony in my making and actually, I am very inspired by what I read as ‘wrong’ aesthetic choices. To define one taste is certainly not easy and I am not trying to raise any judgments, but working with the idea of the different tastes enriches my work. Playing with ‘high art’ and ‘low art’, ‘rejected’ materials that catches my eye, the endless humor within, all of this somehow works for me.

Author: Gamze Kantarcıoğlu