Saturday, 14 July 2012

Wallpaper* Handmade... Sebastian Tarek

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From the promising talent of Tariq Mahmoud explored below we turn our attentions to one of his teachers, Sebastian Tarek. Ever since we encountered the bespoke shoemaker's beautiful, bespoke and handmade men’s shoes in the eclectic surroundings of the NEWGEN MEN and Fashion East Installations AW11 we have kept a captivated eye on the craftsmen. Given his own excitement by the challenge of fusing his traditional skills as a maker of a timeless artisanal product with a more contemporary and relevant aesthetic, it should come as little surprise that he RCA MA tutor was so enamoured with the work of Mahmoud. Tarek has worked on the MA course for some time now and admits that "at times I get jealous of watching the students create in complete freedom, designing when only the sky is the limit." Thankfully for us, Tarek has recently been given such an opportunity through Wallpaper* HandmadeThe release of the Handmade Issue signals the culmination of the the design and style publication's annual celebration of creative talent and the story can now be told. 

Each year the project starts with ideas being thrown at master craftsmen, innovative manufacturers and free to dream designers. creative connections are made, problems are solved and wishes fulfilled. Editor in Chief of Wallpaper explains, "Handmade is a testimony to great design, talent and ideas, and the determination to achieve the extraordinary. We are once again celebrating beautiful new friendships and beautiful new things." It is a celebration of new friendships and beautiful new things. 

The Handmade logo that inspired key elements of both of Tarek's shoes, the Handmade issue and a quick look at Tarek's contribution alongside the Stash bag.

Alongside Lernert and Sander putting Brioni on film, Aldo Bakker laying some skin on the ‘Valet’ chair and Paul Cocksedge making a marble bookmark, Sebastian Tarek was invited to contribute stunningly crafted shoes. An extension of his bespoke shoemaking business and approach to design, the project allowed Tarek to push both himself and his peers to create something wonderfully unique. We caught up with the craftsmen at his East London workshop to learn more about the project and to take a closer look at the result of the collaboration...

"The handmade project for someone like me is just gold dust, an incredible platform and the very idea of it being commissioned fits well with what I do as a bespoke shoemaker. I've never considered myself as someone who designs but rather I make items to people's request. Wallpaper originally asked me what I'd like to do and I went away and thought hard about it. I gave them a few ideas and the most suitable was collaborating with two people that I know personally, have worked with previously and whose work I think fit very much within the same ethos and same position, they are peers. Duffy and Claire Barrett are both London based and work within beautifully British styles and techniques."

The two designs.

By recruiting two likeminded craftsmen who marry traditional skills with contemporary design, the results are quite breathtaking. Using the handmade logo (shown above), embroidery designer extraordinaire Claire Barrett applied it to a neat creeper lace up whilst one of Tarek's good friends and master jeweller Duffy embossed it on a buckle to help create a truly special monkstrap.

The first person I worked with was Claire Barrett who runs a company called Hathawne & Heaney and has worked for a number of designers in the past and previously she was creative director of Hand & Lock who are the embroidery firm who deal with most of Savile Row's requirements. Amazing stuff. She spoke to me a while ago about working together and the Handmade project was just the ideal opportunity to do so. I got in touch, explained the project and she mentioned that she'd love to do something with blacked out gold work, the embroidery style that are more common on large military pieces. To tie it in with Wallpaper specifically we experimented with elements of the Handmade logo, deconstruct it and take portions from it. When it came back I was blown away."

"For the overall construction, I had this idea bouncing in my head for some time to make an entirely handmade creeper. I've never been hugely trend led or derivative but you do see brothel creepers everywhere and it is very much one of those shoes that is comes from the post-industrialisation age. They've never been a handmade object, benchmade to a degree but they came in to existence when manufacturing came in to place. I liked the idea of trying to make it a handmade object. It is entirely made out of leather and essentially a welted shoe  with a cork footbent which is wrapped and fixed to the welt with leather and then channelled horizontally to make the ridges."

Have you encountered a finer creeper? Barrett's delicate embroidery work and Tarek's masterful construction embody the real spirit of Wallpaper* Handmade.

The creative coming together with Claire Barrett was a first for Tarek but he has worked with his other collaborator, Duffy, previously. The result is just as special though. Thanks to Duffy's fine metal work and Tarek's touch with leather, the pair have helped reimagine the monkstrap...

"In many ways the idea evolved from an initial conversation with one of my regular collaborators, Duffy. I'm not a massive fan of the monk shoe, it is neither a real classic yet still feels a little stuffy and odd. We wanted to make it feel more contemporary and modern. I know for a fact that there are only about three buckles in circulation across British footwear manufacturing that are used for monk shoes, just another indicator of the demise of the industry. I just couldn't use one of them. Given the relative simplicity of the shoe itself we wanted to make it really decorative. Duffy took the banding that goes around the logo and reimagined the cross hatching on the buckle, there's a sense of movement throughout which I love."

The fruits of Tarek's collaboration with Duffy.

Examining the fruits of the collaborations and listening to Sebastian Tarek talk about the Wallpaper* Handmade project in general it is easy to see that the shoemaker enjoyed the creative freedom and working with like minded specialist craftsmen. Each were given the freedom to really express themselves. The resulting cocktail of traditional skills and true innovation ultimately delivers objects of great beauty. I'll leave you with Ignore This Film's documentation of Tarek making the shoes...


Matthew Spade said...

i remember reading about this in wallpaper a few months back, totally forgot about it actually. really nice surprise

mysticaldodo said...

The separate details are nice to exquisite. But when it comes all together, i find the shoe to be slightly messy looking.

Top Fashion said...

Love those shoes on you! Looks like they have a great selection!


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