Believe it or not – Koskisen thin veneer plywood can even be used to make hats. The ingenious “Big Bang” hat designed by young British designer Keely Hunter was recently entered in a fashion competition arranged by Vogue.
But who is this talented, young designer, and how on earth did she end up making her hat from Koskisen thin veneer plywood, of all materials? We asked Keely about her background, her sources of inspiration and the materials she likes most.
- My name is Keely Hunter. I’m originally from the Isle of Wight and I’m now a London-based milliner with a love of directional fashion and structural design. I started off in the fashion world as a tailoring and product developer for the major high street fashion house Arcadia. I then decided to go into millinery and interned at Judy Bentinck Millinery and gained work experience with Noel Stewart before embarking on an HNC in millinery at Kensington & Chelsea.
- As a milliner I largely design hats and headwear. Ultimately, though, I am always looking for ways to take conceptual techniques/processes and apply them to the body within an art and fashion context. A lot of my work is very shape driven and I’m attracted to architecture, engineering and modern sculpture. But above all of that is the idea of the future. It underpins everything I design. I’m always looking to form something from a fresh angle. As a designer, I want to move things in a new direction, so it is vital that I’m constantly looking forward and pushing materials into new areas of design. ‘BIG BANG’ – the hat I made out of Koskisen veneer plywood – is an example of this.
- I recently entered ‘BIG BANG’ in an international millinery competition organised by Vogue, Stephen Jones and Talenthouse. The grand prize was having your piece exhibited in Stephen Jones’ exhibition ‘Hats: An Anthology’ which was on at the V&A but has now moved to the Bard Graduate Center Gallery in NYC. Unfortunately, I didn’t win.
- Big Bang, which is the piece predominately made from KoskiFlex plywood, is from a millinery collection called New Build – a series of designs made from wood and other non-traditional millinery materials. The collection takes what is normally rigid and transforms it into something light and fluid. Fundamentally, though, the aim was to take a simple building material and recontextualise it within the realm of fashion. Big Bang in particular was inspired by building sites, more specifically the bare-bone membranes of a building that are visible at the start of its creation. In this piece, I used metres of KoskiFlex, cut it down and wove super-thin, brightly coloured strips of plastic into the design to make it pop.
- The hat was ultimately part of my graduate collection, so it’s intended for exhibitions. However, it is supported by an internal birch structure, so it sits comfortably and securely on the head. The wonderful thing about the piece is that it is so light – which was mainly achieved by using the KoskiFlex plywood, which is very lightweight and flexible. It really is a beautiful material and was very easy to use. It’s perfect for manipulating and creating shapes with.
- The entire collection, alongside Big Bang, has received some amazing feedback and has been featured on some major fashion and design websites including Vogue.com, Design Weekly online and A Shaded View of Fashion (a popular fashion blog).
- I investigated various types of plywood and KoskiFlex seemed the best. It is such a wonderfully fluid material; I believe it has a lot of potential for use within the realm of fashion. This is something I would like to continue to develop and explore.
More on Keely at www.keelyhunter.com