PARO STORE INTERVIEW
Dutch sustainability specialist store PARO interview MAKE in Cardiff spring 2020
Interview by Zoe Patience
MAKE are a Cardiff based brand taking a unique and imaginative approach to fabric-first, zero-waste design using deadstock materials. We chatted to founder, Sam Osborne to get to know a bit more about MAKE; where they've come from, the drive behind what they do today, and what the future holds.
If you had to describe MAKE in 2 words what would it be?
Progressive – Agnostic.
What inspired you to start MAKE?
I’ve been collecting fabric from a really young age and have a pretty extensive collection that goes back to my childhood.
Working as a designer and product manager over the last 20 years I have been lucky enough to spend time at factories and fabric warehouses all over the world. I live in Wales and a lot of the people I was visiting globally were also from small lesser known areas with very localised cultures and outlooks and this was one of the things that started to build friendships and build a global team. While on these trips I started to itemise and buy up surplus materials and create small ranges called SMU’s (special make up). SMU’s are common in the fashion industry as they use end of line materials to create small ranges that flesh out a brand offering between the standardised spring and autumn collections.
Once I had become aware of the amount of surplus material that goes to landfill or incineration I decided to start a brand just using this fabric. Trend forecasting and commercial mechanisms in conventional design are becoming increasingly irrelevant and less interesting I wanted to do something new and positive.
The MAKE insignia consists of two birds. The red Kite; a rare bird from Wales that lives on carrion and was recently on the verge of extinction. The Kite represents a very small potent idea based on local community and an instinct to survive. And the black Crow; the only bird species that exists in every country of the world. A symbol of the critical mass, communication and opportunity.
Tell us about the team behind the brand
We have a really small local team of artists, film makers, photographers, most of which I have known for a long time and really wanted to work with (the kite). Casey Raymond – Rose Horridge – Dave Saunders– Jamie Price– Sebastian Bruno – Graham Phillips – Sienna Barnes
I also have a wide spread bigger team of suppliers who have become good friends. (the crow). Mafalda Pinto – Sophia Miranda - Budi Said – Jane Jireh – Sarath Chandran – Nia – Jason Craven – Howard Huo – Ganesh Kumar - Alan Hsieh– Brian Hsieh – Shuyu Chang
What’s playing on the office / studio stereo?
Only Human original 12’ mix on repeat
To PARO good design is all about designing products that have great aesthetic, functionality and make a positive impact. What does good design mean to you?
To me it is mixing time learned techniques with your instinct to produce an object that you the creator connect with emotionally. My moto has always been ‘Do it anyway’ meaning no one may be paying attention but as a creative person it is imperative to create and allow yourself to indulge in a version of the world as you see it or how you want it to be.
My approach to design evolves around a fine art expression which is ‘the medium is the meaning’ which means that whatever resource you use to create whether it be paint, or moving image or fabric becomes the fundamental meaning of the object. For MAKE this is fabric at the moment and the narrative comes from the discovery of fabrics which when they are mixed in different ways create various evolving stories and meanings.
What do you think you are doing well [with regards to good design]?
MAKE product is made by a European team that I know really well and have worked with consistently for many years. I have been blessed with the opportunity to meet these people and develop our friendships and work relationships over the years. Collectively the team love to be challenged and we work together to produce product that we connect with intellectually and emotionally. I feel that the product projects the care and attachment of the manufacturing team who understand in detail the ethos of the brand. Recently I have been really taken back by the affection that a number of people I have met have for the brand and I really believe that the love and attention that have been put into the product translates clearly.
What would you like to do better [with regards to good design]?
My career has been based around tech from the start and the product and material development is a forever developing and going in different directions. I would say that the most fundamental thing that I have learnt is to accept how little I know. This attitude keeps you hungry and nourished simultaneously so I would say reminding myself every day that I can do better at most things by keeping an open mind would be the answer.
Where is MAKE going in the future?
For clothing it depends entirely on what fabrics we find :)
Accessories we are developing a range of full face masks with removable filters.
We have a surfboard and neoprene ranges coming out with No Limits wetsuits and JP surfboards. Both brands are from south Wales Greg Owen (No Limits) and John Purton (JP) are my good friends and design peers so really looking forward to launching very soon.
We also have a range of fanzines coming out soon focusing on people who work at home which has become very relevant in the last few weeks.
How would you like to see the fashion industry progress?
The European couture calendar is becoming increasingly irrelevant due to global seasonal shopping habits and the growth of drop culture. Although I am not against the Couture establishment it offers little or no space for new and underground design and brands, there are 3 or 4 conglomerates that own the vast majority of brands
Culture and youth movements are extremely important for our collective growth for many reasons and the current mechanics of corporate conglomerates does little to nothing to support this.
I’d also like to see the end of fur.