London designer Brooke Roberts is fusing the worlds of science and fashion within her luxury knitwear line. The radiographer turned designer explores the link between science and design, programming her knitwear from x-rays and CT scans, body mapping and contouring to achieve striking graphic effects through colour and texture.
The playground managed to catch up with Brooke as she prepares to launch her SS14 collection later this year.
Hi, thanks for talking with us. Can you give me a bit about yourself? How did you get into radiography and from there how did you get into design?
I got into Radiography because I wanted to work in healthcare, but in a technical capacity. I did a science degree at Sydney University then worked at a hospital in Sydney for a year. I found x-raying people fascinating and loved the images. It was the very routine nature of the job and the lack of creativity that didn't suit me right from the beginning. I moved to London and eventually enrolled at LCF then Central Saint Martins, wanting to become a pattern cutter. Everything spiralled from there and now I'm running my label and supporting my growing business with Radiography work.
So, why did you decide to incorporate science into your designs?
It was something that occurred to me when I was doing a brain scan. The brain is scanned in very thin 'slices', which show the different tissue and bone structures depending on their density - I see the images as being very textural. That's what gave me the idea to experiment with turning them into knitted fabrics. I began creating programs from digital brain scan files that are directly loaded into STOLL digital knitting machines, and it all grew from that idea.
That sounds amazing! What are you planning for your next collection? When will it be ready?
My next collection will be S/S14, and will fuse themes of culture and technology. It will launch in September 2013.
Other than your scientific work, what else inspires you?
Travelling, exploring Eastern cultures, music, artists who mix vastly opposing and jarring themes in their work - I also find ambition and curiosity inspiring.
What is your favourite piece you've created?
The Alta Brain Scan Jacquard dress. It is now on display at The Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, which is a great honour.
How would you describe a typical Brooke Roberts customer?
My customers like their clothes to tell a story. They like to experiment with colour and texture, but they'd never consider themselves a 'fashionista' or chase trends. They are intelligent, dynamic and curious - they're want to learn something new every day, have an edge of practicality and understated cool.
So far, what are your career highlights?
Winning the Creatives in Residence Award at The Hospital Club and gaining the support of Vulcan Inc. for my Woman+Machine presentation. Having my work on display at The Allen Institute for Brain Science.
Talk me through your project with Ricardo Buscarini, how did that come about?
I am now working on my second collaboration with Riccardo, who is also a great friend of mine since we met as Creatives in Residence at The Hospital Club. The current collaboration is 'Athletes', which has reached the final of prestigious dance award, The Place Prize, 2013. I have created the costumes for the piece, using concepts of stark uniformity and human v's machine. The costumes render the dancers anonymous and blank, with the main feature being the built spine projecting from their backs. The finals are at The London Contemporary Dance School in April.
So you’re really busy then! What are your plans for the future?
Work really hard, expand my label into menswear and interiors and take more holidays!
Sounds great. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us