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Luisa Olivera : A Designer's Journey from Honduras to Paris and Beyond

In the vibrant tapestry of Honduras' tropical mountains, fashion and jewelry designer, Luisa Olivera's journey began—a journey that would eventually carry her across continents and into the heart of the fashion world. Raised amidst the lush landscapes of her homeland, Luisa's connection to nature laid the groundwork for her burgeoning passion for design and sustainability. From early encounters with patternmaking courses to working with Hermès in Paris, Luisa's path was illuminated by a relentless pursuit of her dreams.

Upon arriving in Paris—a city synonymous with style and innovation—she navigated the complexities of design education, blending technical proficiency with boundless creativity. Now, as a 25-year-old, Luisa Olivera's trajectory is one of resilience, determination, and commitment to her craft. Her latest venture, the "Fantasy Flowers" jewelry capsule collection, serves as a testament to her ethos of innovation and sustainability, embodying the intersection of artistry and conscientious design that defines her remarkable journey.

Can you share more about your upbringing in Honduras and how it influenced your interest in fashion and design?

I come from a middle-class family; my parents were entrepreneurs who ventured into various small businesses. For most of the past years, the family business has been a campsite in the tropical mountains. Honduras is a beautiful country, yet for the past decades, it has experienced political, financial, and security instabilities. While my upbringing in Honduras didn't directly shape my interest in fashion, experiencing the challenges of life there taught me resilience and the importance of perseverance, which has played a significant role in my evolution as a designer.

How did your experiences with nature in the tropical mountains impact your creative process as a designer?

In Honduras, the artistic landscape is relatively smaller compared to European cities like Paris, but the surroundings were rich in terms of nature and landscapes. Even after leaving the country almost seven years ago, I find myself easily awed by natural objects or beings. To some extent, I even try to influence myself as little as possible from existing fashion designers; for me, extrapolating an idea from a non-man-made thing simply feels more genuine.

How has your academic journey at the "École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne" and the "École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs" contributed to your growth as a designer?

My training as a patternmaker has been very influential during my career. Back then, the Patternmaking program at ECSCP was extremely oriented towards technical proficiency, even if translating a drawing or a photograph into a three-dimensional volume remains a creative endeavor. The teaching at ENSAD is almost the exact opposite; very early in the studies, students are very free and sometimes even encouraged to disrupt technical barriers. After spending a few years in these two schools, I think I have finally learned to reconcile both approaches. I still consider myself a methodical and technical designer; however, I do so now by following my own rules and not the ones I learned in school.

How did your experience as a freelance designer for Hermès influence your design philosophy and approach to craftsmanship?

I had the opportunity to work for Hermès after they did a project call in my school. They were looking for an innovative design in the accessories department. Their demand was very challenging since the specifications they gave were very vague, yet the design codes of the brand are quite strict. Taking up the challenge was a very interesting experience since it was probably the first time I ventured into inventing rather than just designing an accessory. The success of this experience was an important lesson to me since I realize that as "saturated" as the fashion industry might be, certainly not everything has been created, and it is important to question the established categories of wearable products. At Hermès, I also learned a lot about the importance of feasibility in the conception of design; at a house with such elevated standards of quality, the designer must account for every step of the production process required by the design.

What inspired the concept behind your jewelry capsule collection, "Fantasy Flowers"?

This capsule collection started as an experiment for me and slowly progressed into becoming a more serious project. Initially conceived as an experiment, this capsule collection gradually evolved into a more substantial project for me. My first goal was simply to see if I could create a genuine wearable product using a 3-D printing technique that I have been studying for the past years. Such a technique involves an intricate balance between the textile tension and the constrained 3D printed structure. For me, the floral theme was a great starting point since the shape of plants and leaves is generally influenced by pressure and tension within their inner cellular structure. Apart from that, I thought that making flowers is a good way to bring a classic, well-known theme into such a technological approach


Can you discuss the significance of wearability and sustainability in your recent jewelry line?

I believe that making a wearable product involves a set of interesting challenges that involve placing the consumer at the center of the design without forgetting to be bold as a designer. My emphasis on wearability aims to strike a balance between creating a high-quality yet affordable product that remains aesthetically desirable. My approach to sustainability takes place in the selection of my materials, for this collection and the ones to come; I am only using recycled filaments for the 3-D printing and deadstock textiles. This is quite challenging in terms of resourcing since the mechanical properties of the materials I need are very specific.

How do you navigate the balance between creativity and practicality in the design process?

My design process is very much research-based. Before embarking on my experimentation process, I strive to establish clear yet flexible objectives. I start by making many tests of simple, baseline geometries, such as leaves, that I subsequently arrange and manipulate in various ways to compose a potential form. This initial process gives me a good idea of the final design, which I achieve by adjusting parameters such as the proportions and materials.

From your perspective, what are some of the current challenges in the fashion and jewelry industry, and how can designers address them?

I think the challenges in the fashion industry are innumerable, but their perception can vary depending on the identity and final goals of the designer. Nevertheless, I see sustainability as an extremely important challenge that should be faced, in one way or another, by all designers. I believe that the optimal approach to addressing this challenge is to explore new methods of production and consumption, rather than abandoning the industry entirely.

Can you share more about your research into 3D printing on textiles and how you envision it impacting the future of fashion?

The 3D printing technique I use is commonly known as the creation of “active textiles” or “self-shaped textiles”, I personally call them “Active Tensile Structures”. This sort of technology falls in the category of active or auto-morphing materials, which is a domain that has been in vogue in the engineering and physics departments of universities such as MIT and PSL for the past two decades.

Active Tensile Structures and other Active Materials technologies propose alternative ways of transforming a material into a given shape. These techniques harness the intricate properties of the materials to trigger a programmed deformation through a stimulus such as heat, humidity or tensile force. Transforming materials in such a way intends to consume less energy and resources and produce less waste than modelling a material with the use of direct force. I see active tensile structures as a potential reinvention of many categories of fashion production, such as classic tailoring and embroidery practices.



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