Nina Feature

Seven Creative Questions for Fashion Designer Nina Dornheim

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If you haven’t heard about studio-842, you’re in for a treat.

The New York design house, founded by Nina Dornheim, is stylish and cool, and creates striking clothes, many of them incorporating unique vintage pieces.

Below we learn more about the designer, who recently had a show overseen by The Set NYC, the event planning group that brings together designers, artists, and showcasers looking to better NYC and to end child trafficking through the Freedom Ladder group.

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SEVEN CREATIVE QUESTIONS FOR…

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NAME: Nina Dornheim (fourth from right)

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AGE (if you want to give it up): 35 

COMPANY: studio-842

HOMETOWN: I grew up in Mainz, Germany and I currently live in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn.

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PLEASE DESCRIBE YOUR BRAND or LINE OF PRODUCTS:

studio-842 started as a vintage boutique. We decided to go a step further and to create new designs with deconstructed vintage and combine them with rare originals and some completely new designs. As a result, many pieces are one-of-a-kind and tell decades of unique stories.

Instead of seasonal collections, we deliver new designs continuously and the initial collection will continue to grow and evolve over the year.

studio-842 is inspired by the cradle to cradle design philosophy, which believes that industry can have a positive effect on people and the environment.

We also offer vintage sourcing for theater, musicals and films.

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PLEASE DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE:

My personal style is eclectic and vintage-inspired. I like comfortable silhouettes with ease and I am very picky about fabric qualities.

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1. How long have you been a professional designer? And what is your earliest design memory?

I have worked as a designer for over ten years now. I studied fashion design in Berlin, moved to Italy for fashion internships, and started my first job as a designer for the Zara group in Spain. In 2009, I moved to New York and worked for fashion brands like Kiki de Montparnasse, Proenza Schouler, and Jill Stuart.

As a child, I was fascinated by my uncle’s garment factory in rural Germany where I first learned about the complexity of clothing production. I loved to sit for hours next to Hildegard and hand her buttons she was sewing onto the garments with this huge machine. I also loved to go through old laces in the warehouse. I designed and made my first dress when I was 15. It was a Chinese-inspired black satin dress with a Mao collar & toggle buttons.

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Studio 842 - Nina Dornheim fashion show at The Set NYC on Feb. 9, 2017.
studio-842 – Nina Dornheim fashion show at The Set NYC on Feb. 9, 2017; Photographed by Jim Sewastynowicz

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2. What has been the best design trend in the last five to ten years? And what has been the worst?

I loved last season’s overlap of contemporary dance with fashion. I definitely want to see the New York City Ballet with the costumes designed by Humberto Leon from Opening Ceremony. Last season’s runways showed that dance can express so much more than models simply walking down a runway. We chose to do a dance performance for the studio-842 presentation as well, because the full silhouettes could really translate in a much more interesting way by dance movements. I also love that pajamas are all over the streets these days!

The worst trend for me as an eco-conscious designer is cheap disposable mass-market fashion. I hope this trend will be overruled by minimalism and replaced with fashion essentials. You can be fashionable without swapping your wardrobe every season.

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3. What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve heard? And do you follow it?

I am inspired by Bruno Pieters, who designs a completely transparent line called honest by. In an interview, he talked about how he really designs one collection and layers in new designs over time, just like a wardrobe. I really think this is a great way of designing. It allows you to work at a pace that makes sense for your particular brand. I don’t just want to hit a number and get into the vicious fashion wheel of having to release more new designs in less time. I don’t want to compromise quality and design for quantity and newness.

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Studio 842 - Nina Dornheim fashion show at The Set NYC on Feb. 9, 2017.
studio-842 – Nina Dornheim fashion show at The Set NYC on Feb. 9, 2017; Photographed by Jim Sewastynowicz

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4. What is your favorite place to shop, anywhere in the world, and why?

I love the antique market in Buenos Aires. You can discover the most amazing stories and really see in these clothes the lifestyle of the time when this was one of the richest places in the world. You can find the most extravagant pieces there.

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5. What music, movie, book or magazine gets you ready to sketch or brainstorm?

There is a book of a photography series called “the farm” where photographer Jackie Nickerson traveled through Africa for several years and photographed farmworkers. The ingenuity of the outfits is incredible! They are creatively draped of different fabric rags and are sometimes very sculptural. I am really surprised of how much effort these workers put into their outfits to go into the fields. So inspiring!

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Studio 842 - Nina Dornheim fashion show at The Set NYC on Feb. 9, 2017.
studio-842 – Nina Dornheim fashion show at The Set NYC on Feb. 9, 2017; Photographed by Jim Sewastynowicz

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6. What is the question a person should ask you, and how would you answer?

What is your vision for the future of fashion?

I am dreaming of a cradle-to-cradle future. This is a concept that believes industry can have a positive impact on people and the environment, where factories return the water and other natural resources cleaner than they received them in the beginning, and where industrial compounds are grown over with plants to create a habitat for wildlife. Products are designed to be endlessly recyclable and there is no waste. Waste basically will become a concept of the past. We can already buy leather made of pineapple leaves or from mushroom skins, and silk made from milk and print with algae, so we just have to run our imaginations wild to find out what else is possible.

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studio-842 – Nina Dornheim fashion show at The Set NYC on Feb. 9, 2017; Photographed by Jim Sewastynowicz

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7. If you could have one photographer shoot an advertising campaign for you, who would that be and why?

Right now I am really into brutalist architecture, and I am super inspired by Berlin-based photographer Nicholas Moulin. I love his series of “architectural wastelands,” where he creates surreal sceneries of massive concrete structures embedded in natural landscapes. For example, a rocky coastline and then this concrete rectangle rises up from the shore. How amazing would be an ad campaign within these surreal landscapes?

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Images Courtesy of Photographer Jim Sewastynowicz, Nina Dornheim, and The Set NYC

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studio-842 – Nina Dornheim fashion show at The Set NYC on Feb. 9, 2017; Photographed by Jim Sewastynowicz

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OTHER “SEVEN CREATIVE QUESTIONS”

* Designer Philippe Vergez

* Illustrator Bonnie Pang

* Artist Rafael Lanfranco

* Painter Laura Lancaster

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