At first glance of the fabric, one almost can’t resist but touch it. It’s bumpy, dimpled, and it’s covering most of the garments hanging in Area’s studio. Dangling from the racks are metallic pieces made from their signature embossing technique – most of which are meant to evolve over time, increasing the individuality of each garment – and all of which are compelling to the eye and to the touch.
Simply called “Area,” this emerging fashion label is the synthesis of two designer’s individual visions. Founded by Kentucky-born designer Beckett Fogg and Polish-Dutch designer Piotrek Panszczyk, Area stands out for its innovative aesthetic.
We met up with Area for a sunrise photoshoot on the rooftop of their Chinatown studio. Clad in their own designs, the duo discussed their creative process and signature embossing technique.
Rebekah Mikale: Tell us the story behind Area. Where did the name originate?
Piotrek Panszczyk: Area started when Beckett was working at Calvin Klein, and I was about to graduate from Parsons and working on the show. Beckett came over to the studio one day with some embossed leather, and I made a pair of shorts out of one of my patterns. People really responded to them (they are in the SS15 collection). That motivated us to start thinking about Area. We always were attracted to each other’s work when we were at Parsons, and we started flirting with the idea of starting on our own at some point… that became November 2012. Why, I think we both felt like it’s the right time, and we both have things to say and share.
Beckett Fogg: For us, the word Area was kind of like a fresh, blank space; a starting point. We like to take images and textiles and manipulate them. So for us, the name really speaks to our process.
RM: Area certainly has a love for texture. Can you describe your signature embossing technique?
PP & BF: Textures and textiles are definitely a starting point for us. I think we both like to view fabric as a blank space. We don’t usually just use a fabric as is, we really like to think about how it can be manipulated. So far, we have really focused on screen printing, shaving and embossing.
Our embossing texture has really become a signature code for us. There is a specific plate that we came across several years ago, and we can’t seem to stop using it, so this has definitely developed into a sort of identity.
RM: Beckett, you studied architectural design. How do you incorporate this knowledge into your current career?
BF: Studying architecture taught me how to think critically, not just about buildings, but how to think about space and my surroundings. My program was a very conceptual approach to design. It was more about recognizing connections and revealing them. It really taught me how to be excited and inspired by almost anything if you look at it the right way. I remember we did a month long intensive study on the handle of a teapot… and it never got old.
RM: Piotrek, you previously worked at Chloé. What are some experiences from your time there that helped shape what AREA has become?
PP: I think it was crucial because we got exposed to a high level of craftsmanship and work ethic. Working is the best and only way to build up a vocabulary of important contacts and strategies within the industry. There are so many crucial things that just can’t be taught in a classroom or discovered on your own. Working for such established brands in the past has opened many doors for us, and our times there were incredibly inspiring. There is really no other way to get realistic experience and learn how the industry functions. That being said, we both agree that you risk losing parts of your personal identity the longer you work for someone else. It becomes easy to get personal interests and the interests of the brand confused, so it’s a delicate balance that I am sure is different for everyone.
RM: What was the inspiration behind your most recent collection?
PP & BF: We were interested in the idea of dualities, in personality and wardrobe, and times when these are revealed. For instance – a walk of shame, when a girl’s outfit from the night before is suddenly perceived differently – maybe this is something that she enjoys.
RM: What are some of your favorite pieces from this collection?
BF: I think we are just really happy how it came together as a whole. I personally love the viscose white wool pieces because I can see myself wearing them all. Piotrek loves the stretch lamé story, because it relates to the luxury lamé velvet that we use every season, but it has stretches and forms to the body, so it feels like a more accessible update.
RM: Do you two work very collaboratively, or do you each have your own specific roles?
BF: We have really fallen naturally into more specific roles. It’s not something we planned out, it happened much more organically, which is nice. Piotrek takes over most of the sketching and pattern-making, and I do more fabric development and general day-to-day business. We both work very differently, but our styles compliment each other. We are both interested in different aspects of the business and design, so we have started to have more individual focuses, however, everything is a constant dialogue. It is really important for us to talk everything through.
RM: What does the future hold in store for Area? What are some of your goals?
PP & BF: Our goal is really to just be successful and happy doing what we love to do. We don’t like to plan too specifically because I hope we couldn’t possibly predict now where we will be in several years. For us it is very important that everything happens at the right time. We don’t want to rush a process to the point where is doesn’t feel organic or deserved.
Photography: Roberto Patella for NeueJournal