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Tiffany Chung

09 Mar 2021

Text by Tiffany Chung

ØLÅF CITIZENS: Alex Zeta

09 Mar 2021

Alex Zeta is an intuitive creator that transforms emotion and feeling into works of art. In this edition of Citizens, the up-and-coming artist talks to us about how life in Spain, The Netherlands, and the pandemic have shaped his body of work.

 

Hi Alex, you’re the first artist to ever be featured in the new ØLÅF window gallery. Tell us about your installation.

“It’s called ‘Now, but not now, but maybe even never’. It’s inspired by the sadness I felt my first winter in Amsterdam because of the lack of sunlight and the anxious time we are all living in now. It’s a concept called ‘solastalgia’ which describes the anger, anxiety and different feelings you get when your environment is changing around you. So, I created this fountain that combines fabric and liquid representing a kind of fluidity and adaptiveness to change that brings hope and new energy. I also used tanning bed lights to give the feeling of sun and combat the lack of light."

 

Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?

“When I was a child, I used to say to my mother that I would be an architect. But I studied graphic design in Spain and worked in a design school for 4 years as a graphic designer. I decided to quit my job because I needed something else. I was more interested in creative spaces, how objects work in spaces, and creating atmospheres."

 

 

Was the decision to quit and move to Amsterdam easy?

“I thought about going to Berlin first. But I visited some friends in Amsterdam and decided to apply to the Gerrit Rietveld Academie instead. I started contextual design but realized that it wasn’t for me. So, I switched to another department called ‘Design Lab’ that is based on material research. It's very open and very free."

 

How has Spanish culture and Dutch culture influenced you creatively?

“They’re really different. I think there’s something very special and particular to Spain, the atmosphere of the people, and I would like to do something creative with it in the future. In the Netherlands, there are many artists from different countries here so this can inspire and blow your mind."

 

Alex in the studio.

 

Where is your studio?

“In Amsterdam Noord. I'm quite lucky because I literally live in front of my studio which is something that I never thought could happen. It's super cool. It's very important to be in a domain for you to develop your things."

 

 

Do you listen to music while you work?

“Yeah, it depends on how I feel. My work is very intuitive, my methodology is guided by emotions most of the time. I like techno or electronic music when I want to keep my energy up, but sometimes I just need something more pop or relaxing. Sometimes I need silence."

 

You seem to work with ceramics a lot. Do you prefer it?

“It’s funny that you ask that because I think that’s the expectation now but it’s actually because of this situation with Covid. I was not feeling very good, being alone every day, not in the studio. Then, I met some people that were working with ceramics and I thought I’d try to just make something out of nothing. No serious expectations, just fun."

 

Ceramic piece from the future.

Table for tea ceremony.

 

 

That’s how you started your @bufffetbufffetbufffet account?

“Exactly. I made some vases, tiny pieces, and then I decided to make candle holders. Basically, I started to post on Instagram as a way to make some income during Corona. At first, I was afraid to post and wanted to delete it, but then I got many messages from people that liked it. So, I continued to do more and found myself selling candle holders."

 

What do you see yourself doing after school?

“I have no clue. I really want to try to explore more things and see what I can do with it. I want to develop conceptually. I want to move to another city too. When you move to a place, you get new ideas. I love Brussels. I think it's a very good city because I like the flow of the people and I like that it’s a bit dirty. It’s also a very queer city. There are also possibilities for creators, like designers and artists. Then, I’d like to go somewhere else like Mexico."

 

Alex working on the fontain.

‘Now, but not now, but maybe even never’

 

 

For our last question, can you name a person, place and thing that inspires you?

“People on the street inspire me. In Spain, I used to take many photos of people and observe how they are different. The pictures are on my @v_____________i______________p account. To me, these people are real heroes because they might look a bit weird, but I think they are very authentic. They are their true selves no matter what. That’s very cool and I wish more people were like that."

 

“Also, conversations inspire me. I learn more by talking with my friends. Many of my friends are artists, so I can talk with them about work and ask how they see things, or how they express things, or what their process is like. I think it's very powerful to have conversations and get different perspectives."

Tiffany Chung

23 May 2022

Text by Tiffany Chung

ØLÅF CITIZENS : Virgil nicholas

23 May 2022

With honesty, well-being, and respect for oneself and each other as the foundation of Danish shoe brand, Vinny’s shoes, Virgil Nicholas has founded a shoe company with real soul. In this edition of Citizens, we step into the creative director’s classic leather loafers and discover more about his work, style, and way of life.

 

Hi Virgil, why loafers?

“Good question. I've always worn loafers and compared to all the other types of footwear in my wardrobe, they‘re the one pair of shoes that I wear to death. A couple of years ago, just before starting Vinny’s, I was looking at my rotation of the same four to five shoes I wore over and over and noticed I was missing that perfect loafer. I realized that's where I have a genuine heritage and story to tell, so it made sense that I bring that to the table myself."

 

How should one feel when wearing a pair of Vinny’s?

“I think the loafer, for me, is like when you put on a blazer jacket. It shapes you as a person, your back gets a little bit more upright and you carry yourself a bit more elegantly. Loafers do the same thing. I want both men and women to feel comfortable, relaxed, well-dressed, and feeling confident. I think when we feel our very best, we're better humans to ourselves and to our neighbors and next of kin. So, it's really about building self-respect."

Still from podcast.

From interview with Illum.

 

Is that what makes you feel confident?

“A good pair of loafers, yeah. I think one of my confidence boosters is definitely always a good outfit."

 

Do you think good taste is something you’re born with, or can it be developed?

“I think style and taste is definitely something that you can learn. It’s about what you're interested in, what you’re exposed to and influenced by. It's definitely something that you can adapt and grow into and out of. Personally, the influences from my mom and my dad and their post-colonial heritage, my African heritage, but also the urban references from when I was a kid, shaped my wardrobe. I always go to the same things. I have pieces in my wardrobe that go ten years back and it's the stuff that I love to wear the most. Then, occasionally you add new things."

 

With Silas Oda Adler.

 

What are your tips for someone who is developing their own style?

“It starts with knowing who you are. A fashionable look or outfit can sometimes become a way to dress yourself up or to hide who you are, whereas style is about what we actually like and what you can see yourself wearing over and over again that resembles you. Also, read about pieces, find out how the penny loafer came about, the history of the slip dress, or research style icons. What makes hairstyles iconic today? Why do we like 90s fashion so much right now? Why's airport style interesting? I know a lot of men that research trends and decades and fashion and it's really been a way of shaping who they are. I've done the same, more from a research and creative perspective but it definitely helps me to also keep my own style universe sharp."

 

Who's your style icon?

“My dad. He always inspired me a lot."

With kiddo.

Vinny's.

 

Do you hope to be a style icon for your son?

“He already dresses way better than me. I think he already passed me. I just want to be a good role model, that's the most important thing for me."

 

Has becoming a father changed the way you work?

Only that I have to leave work a little bit early. I love to work, so that's why I hate having to leave work early. When he sleeps, I really love to work. Especially when I get to live out my dream. I'm so blessed and lucky that he loves coming into work with me. He's an open-minded kid and really at ease around my colleagues. I can bring him anywhere and that really makes my workflow a whole lot better.

 

At parelstudios.

On the road.

 

What’s your favorite place to work?

“We got our office four months ago and we have a red couch that I love sitting on. The most amazing thing is that our office is an old apartment, so we wanted to create a homey feeling. It's always hard to leave the office which is a good sign of a good workplace, at least for myself."

 

Where do you like to relax?

“Benches in my city. I love just sitting there and people watching. Not having any plans or any distractions, just a good pair of sunglasses to watch people. If you see me on a bench, you know what I'm doing. It’s the most relaxing thing ever."

 

As a successful creative, you’ve had a lot of great ideas. Tell us about your worst idea.

“My worst idea? Ha, that’s a good one. I don’t know, I’ve had a few. There was this one project, it was right after I started my first label, I wanted to create something that was more urban. So, we started making baseball t-shirts and the execution was good, but the name was horrible – it was a combination of three French words. I speak French with my parents, so it’s a big part of me and almost everything I do creatively starts with French. We actually got a lot of traction in France, but no one understood what we were trying to say. It was just the most horrible thing I've done. We had to shut it down quite quickly for numerous reasons but mostly the name was just a killer."

 

Name one thing you hope to get better at.

“I'm always on the go, always thinking about the next step, the next collection, the next campaign, am I picking up my son? I think what I need to be better at is enjoying the present. Enjoying the moment with people that are really dear to me. The thing I really value the most in my life are my relationships. It’s easy to make up an excuse not to meet up or make time for family and friends, but if it matters, then you need to remember to prioritize them. Time flies so fast."

 

Counting blessings.

 

Tell us something you hate to do but have to.

Every month, I have to go through all my expenses and find all my receipts. It’s a work thing that I hate to do. I try to be really good at it, but I hate it.

 

And something you love to do but rarely get to.

I love to read and listen to audiobooks. I hate that I don't have or take the time to do it enough.

 

Do you have a favorite book?

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Love it. It was really a kickstarter for how I started to believe in myself and knowing that anything you set your mind to is possible.

 

What's one song you listen to on repeat?

Gold by Prince. I saw him perform it live at a festival here in Denmark. It was a crazy experience.

 

Young Virgil.

 

Lastly, name a person, place, and thing that inspires you.

One of the places that inspires me a lot is Marrakech. I like it because it's a place where I always calm down, but I also see so much culture and so much honesty and genuineness in the population. I think, in general, Africa is fun because it's very true to its roots.

 

For people, I've always been a huge fan of, it’s so cliché, but Denzel Washington. I love that guy mainly because he's really talented and he can wear a lot of hats, so to speak. His body of work combined with who he is as a person, from what he says, how he thinks, how he operates, and his composure is inspirational.

 

I'm really inspired by tech and how it creates communities. For example, who would have thought even just ten years ago that there would be a car service where you can drive awesome cars without taking anything but your mobile device, logging in, driving it, then leaving it to share with another human being? It’s stuff like that, the whole shared economy in tech, I think is fantastic. It's about being helpful to each other. If the shared economy in tech could be integrated with fashion in a mainstream way, not just in the niches where it is right now, it would definitely be game-changing for the whole world.