What is design – Elizabeth Romanin Introducing Elizabeth Romanin, our new teacher in Digital Tools. With a rich and varied background in fashion and art, she’s an inspiring addition to our team and we are very happy to have her on board. We had a chat with Elizabeth about her thoughts on design and creative professions I studied visual merchandising, airbrushing and have a degree in Fine Art (majoring in Ceramics and minors in painting and silversmithing). After working as a visual merchandiser, airbrushing teacher and exhibiting artist, I was offered role designer working on jewellery, hair accessories, sunglasses and watches for one of Australia´s biggest brands Mimco. This was an amazing opportunity where I learnt all about commercial design and production. After several years, I made the decision to move to the other side of the globe and live in Oslo with my Norwegian husband. Initially, I worked as a freelance doing jewellery design, fine jewellery commissions and designed a range of sunglasses and handbags for Norwegian brand Fall Winter Spring Summer. Eventually I landed the role of senior accessories designer at Bik Bok where I was responsible for 11 product categories in addition to the creative direction of the brand along with several other fellow senior designers. This gave me the chance to travel the world and experiment with new categories of design which was really interesting. After a few years I was approached to come on board full time at Fall Winter Spring Summer, where I eventually took over as the head of design for the entire ready to wear collection and accessories. Right now, I have started my own design consultancy. I am still working with Fall Winter Spring Summer, but now I am also able to work on other projects which is really exciting! What is ’design’ for you? To me, design is predominantly problem solving. For most of my career, I have worked on a commercial level, therefore the most common challenge is bringing an idea to life in the real world. There are so many parameters which need to be considered such as cost, viability, finding suitable suppliers, material sourcing, quality, minimums, sale ability, point of difference, fitting, working within a tight deadlines and generally being responsible for making it happen. It is one thing to have great ideas, but another entirely to bring these to life. There is so much work going on behind the scenes which is really where the magic happens. On an aesthetic level, when I see true and inspiring design, it is like recognizing an old friend or seeing something which always should have existed but also feels like something you have never seen before. What role do you think the fashion designer has in today’s modern society? I think it is the role of designers to be responsible with the product they are putting out there. It is especially important to focus on sustainability, quality and breaking away from the system of mass production and throw away culture. To me, this is not an option, this is a must. The fashion industry cannot continue in the way it has, our planet will not take it. It is our role to find clever and elegant solutions to the challenges ahead. I believe this is the most important role of designers working in any discipline today. How do you find inspiration? What inspires you? I am mostly inspired by nostalgia. I am constantly revisiting images and influences which effected me as a youngster. Whether it be The Face magazines that I read as a teen in the 90´s or He-Man and She-Ra cartoons that I used to watch as a kid in the 80´s. I never underestimate the power of nostalgic references, these seem to resonate on a deeper level and inform better and more original design than looking at contemporary references. It is important to be up-to-date and aware of what others are doing, especially as a commercial designer in the contemporary market, however the work I am most proud of usually has little to do with what is current and already on trend. Why do you think creative professions are important? I believe that creative professions are important in creating a rich and varied society and pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable. Artists, designers and creatives of all kinds seem to keep the balance in society by breaking conventions and presenting new ideas, opening them up for discussion in the public arena. Let´s face it, without creatives out there, life would be so boring!