La Cambre is one of Belgium’s leading schools of art and design.
Founded in 1927 by the architect and designer Henry van de Velde, the Ecole nationale supérieure des arts visuels of La Cambre (ENSAV) has some 700 students spread across 17 departments: ceramics, animation, drawing, urban design, engraving and the printed image, painting, photography, sculpture, and an art restoration department. Its design departments include industrial and textile design, book and paper design (bookbinding), interior design, set design, fashion design, as well as two graphic sections – graphic and visual communication and typography. A new Master’s degree in accessories design completes the curriculum.
Students attend several cross-disciplinary courses, either optional or compulsory, including digital art, live model, colour, video, body arts and performance, book art and illustration. As well as art training, they are taught theory and technical skills, both general and specialised, and are encouraged to go on work experience by taking part in the Erasmus student exchange programme, as artists’ assistants, and at arts centres, creative studios or with companies.
Through its history and its ubiquitous presence in everyday life, textiles embrace symbolic and functional, cultural and decorative dimensions in uses which are both personal and collective. A flexible material, textiles are moveable, made of fibres and threads, wefts and stitching; they nurture complicity with the line, the text and digital processes. They are the bearers of countless expressions of ancestral know-how and a prospective terrain for research, the catalyst for a vast industrial sector. The search for textures and structures, rhythms, drawings and colourations is the very subject of the work of the textile designer, which they implement as a means of autonomous expression or towards established applications.
The studio’s programme enables students to understand the issues of textiles within a wide vista and through them to make coherent choices in accordance with their aspirations. The transversal nature of textiles leads students to imagine it deployed across art, fashion and design and invited into hitherto unseen terrains. The demanding character of interactivity with different fields of application takes the form of individual or collective working partnerships.
The students develop a personal language by fundamentally questioning the medium, as much in terms of its sensory, functional and cultural resonances as through its technical processes. This implies the acquisition of tools of analysis, creation and production through the varied professional backgrounds of the studio’s teachers, and thanks to the assistants who bring to creation the general courses and optional arts-course tutorials. The experimental processes develop through learning the techniques of weaving, stitching and printing. Successive interpretations of the work enable its multiple issues to become more apparent, its special features to be honed, and its status to be formulated. Working partnerships with external bodies or other studios within the school, training courses and enrolling the studio in international networks aim to stimulate the creative processes, to kindle exchanges and encounters, to refine the developments of the project. In addition to the general compulsory training course available to the different studios organized at La Cambre, the bachelor’s aims to provide the student with an understanding of the whole of the textile industry, of its multiple sources and issues. Over the course of the three years, the students develop experimental protocols and respond to given topics by questioning the different levels, statuses and applications of textiles. The demanding nature of a technical polyvalence permits an opening to various specializations.
The master’s entails an engagement on the part of the student in a domain of creation, based on an awareness of what they are undertaking and accomplishing in the professional, artistic and social world. The programme helps the student to choose a personal project, developed over two years and whose implementation transcends the scope of the school. The students have access, in optional form, to different courses and multidisciplinary studios at La Cambre or in other establishments, in such a way to adapt the programme to the demands of the subject chosen. Internships and residences in various contexts at an international level are encouraged during the master’s.
Linda Topic, textile designer Anne Masson, textile designer
The Stylisme and Fashion Design studio offers training which hinges on the two primary axes of its title. Stylisme meets a precise demand in a given context. It immerses itself in brand strategy development from every angle: product, communication, distribution, extensive research. Cultural, social, aesthetic and technical skills combined with analysis abilities, the accuracy of perception and of communication are the assets of a fashion designer positioned at the centre of the company. The design of fashion(s), less influenced by economic logic, develops a more personal and innovative writing. The two disciplines, stylisme and fashion design, have in common the highlighting of the body through the use of volume, images, colours and materials: they study every facet of fashion as a contemporary form of expression.
Through exercises and specific projects, the student is led to work on concrete statements and to develop, collection by collection, an ever-more personal style. Through their investigations they are ineluctably brought face to face with a language rich in signs, which they have to learn how to decrypt in the light of its sociocultural context. It is from this approach that they draw the elements which will permit them to develop a personal and innovative style. Apart from a sound knowledge of what is going on in the world of fashion, a good general grounding in terms of art, history, literature and cinema as well as a large openness of mind and a boundless curiosity will be indispensable for them. The studio’s curriculum highlights a number of fundamentals:
observation of the body and construction of volume ;
creative approach: personal research through the analysis of texts and images, and subsequently the development of themes, collection concepts, the composition of a range of colours and producing a personal dossier;
development of volume through the techniques of moulding, sewing and mesh work, as well as working on materials through various techniques, including screen printing;
construction of a coherent collection through the drawing of silhouette outlines, developing canvas, the choice of materials, producing prototypes in definitive form;
finishing the collection through accessorizing, fashion photography, casting and choosing the staging for the various modes of presentation (installation, catwalk parade, performances, video editing, etc.)
In the bachelor’s, alongside the core curriculum, the student is led to work on concrete statements, to build for themselves a technical vocabulary in terms of cut, couture, the handling and the finishing of textiles, drawing silhouette outlines, graphic design, etc. and to develop over successive projects an ever-more personal style. It is also during the bachelor’s that they acquire the concept of collection and that they complete two external internships in a fashion house or with a designer.
The master’s is the setting for the culmination of a long process of maturation and osmosis between creativity and acquired technical skills. The student must be able to assume full responsibility for their creative choices. They must also be capable of defending them through a coherent sales pitch and an end product which is perfectly in line with them. They complete two long-term internships in a renowned fashion house or with a designer abroad. Their final-year thesis concludes an educational curriculum of at least five years spent within the studio and constitutes a genuine business card to gain entry into the profession.
Pedagogical coordination :
Tony Delcampe, fashion designer