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Design for the Soul

In my late twenties I worked as chief designer of a large international clothing company. On the surface I had everything I needed to be happy. But my work had begun to feel shallow, without meaning, and it seemed impossible to continue designing clothes in the traditional way. 

In the depth of my soul something was stirring that I just could not disregard. A deep longing to find new ways pointed me in another direction. 

So I left my job, not knowing where to go from there. 

As a designer I was well aware of how fashion trends express collective moods and attitudes through the combination of colors, textures, patterns and clothing styles. I had also begun to understand how deeply we are affected by the colors, shapes and patterns of our clothes. 

How much did we, as designers, really know about the human being who wears the clothes? It almost shocked me that an entire occupational group, in charge of designing the things we wear closest to our skin, had no clue, nor any training, regarding what’s beneath the surface.

If I was to work with clothes consciously, and in a way that was sustainable, I needed to learn more about the forces of the psyche and human development. 

I delved into studies of psychology, mythology, philosophy, religion, esoteric teachings and different traditions of human development. As all of this information was integrated, an inner knowing grew. I saw how it was all connected. Whether it was a creation myth, a scientific explanation or a consciousness model it all said something similar: 

In order to manifest on the material plane Spirit/Essence (or the element Ether) lowers its frequency. Through this process it is divided into an active and a passive polarity. Combinations of these give rise to four primary forces (heat-cold and dry-moist). Out of these the four basic elements are created as secondary forces. 

Our psyche consists of a center and several polarized forces. 

When we are born we have access to all of these. But as we grow up, and are influenced by the world around us, they become imbalanced, blocked, denied or even twisted. What we call our personality takes form. 

The concept of five elements is a simple way to look at human consciousness. Since we are indivisible from nature its also a great metaphor that strengthens our relationship to the whole. It helps us sort out the complexity of interwoven energies in our psyche.

The elements are like the basic building blocks of our psyche, and a healing process involves balancing and integrating them. 

For many years I put a lot of work into translating the elements to colors, shapes and patterns, while trying to disregard the ready-made (and at times conflicting) interpretations of different schools. Mine are based on my own life-long relationship to colors, shapes and patterns, and my own experience of their qualities. I also did many experiments of how we are affected by the different fabric patterns.

From studies in Astrological Psychology I learned that each basic element has three distinct phases (stages in the natural process of psychic energy); cardinal, fixed and mutable. These are expressed through the colors red, green and blue. (Read more about them in Three Faces of Color).

A collection of fabrics called The Elements was born, where the different fabrics can be used as tools to balance and integrate these building blocks of the psyche. 

Are you interested in conscious clothing and the future of clothes?

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