Barbara í Gongini is a Copenhagen based designer born in the cinematic Faroe Islands and graduated in 1996 from Denmark’s School of Design at the Institute of Unica Design. Ever since, she has developed her vision as part of a pensive dialogue between design, form and function. We had a chat with Barbara about sexuality, collaborations and Zen living.
In your latest collection you worked with graphic prints on the garments. This is not something we are used to seeing from you. Where did that come from?
Barbara í Gongini: Well. I have actually worked with graphics, rather printed statements, for a long time. The idea behind my printed designs, is a way for me to share my voice with the rest of the world. Through our wearers, whom become ambassadors of sorts, carry on that voice further where ever they go (smile). I firmly believe in human equality and love in all its shapes and forms, which is something I like to shout out through some of our designs. I like that!
How would you describe your designs to a blind person?
Barbara í Gongini: I think I would love to leave it to that individual´s imagination – whom must have a vivid and abstract imagination beyond its comparison. All other senses are amplified, and if I could grant the option to touch and feel our designs, the true beauty of the garment comes to play between the textures, cuts and the natural scents of the fabric, creating a story of interpretation. I think I would be keener on hearing the blind individual’s description of my designs to me, that would surely be a special experience.
You work a lot with sexuality and androgynity. What is the main difference between designing men’s fashion and women’s fashion?
Barbara í Gongini: Our wearers are free to choose freely between our designs, despite the garments being designed for a male or female. But stepping down to fundamental basics, the technical aspect of the garment is important for proper fit and that is the main difference in our design DNA.
You have worked with several different artists, musicians, film makers etc. What would be your dream collaboration?
Barbara í Gongini: I have always had a fascination for the Japanese culture as a whole. Tapping into the artistic segment in Japan, whether from a musical or theatrical angle, would be such a fantastic experience.
What do you think you would be doing if you had not become a designer?
Barbara í Gongini: Being a designer is such a true sense of meaning for me. But if I had another option, I would like to be involved in politics.
What do you like to do when you are not designing?
Barbara í Gongini: On daily basis, when not designing, I go Zen – I do not practice any religion per se as I love all religions. Leading a full time passion, being married with kids – you need time for yourself. Then again, there is the occasional session with the girls that lies completely on the other end of the “zen-spectrum”.
What do you do to become inspired when you are empty of ideas?
Barbara í Gongini: Let me tell you this, the cup is never half full with me (;
What is your favourite place?
Barbara í Gongini: Depends in what aspect – there are several. But I do miss my home country and fellow islanders, so I do enjoy my visits to the Faroe Islands – Absolutely!
What advice would you give to young aspiring designers?
Barbara í Gongini: Always stay true to your voice and fight for your rights. Align yourself with the right people that support your vision, but simultaneously can guide you in the right direction in this fierce jungle…
What exciting projects are coming up with Barbara í Gongini?
Barbara í Gongini: I am always brewing on different projects and for the nearby future, you will see more exhibitions and creative collaborations. Keep your senses open (;
Photo courtesy of Marlo Saalmink.
See more of Barbara’s work at barbaraigongini.dk