Name: Gabriele Orsech
Place of birth: Düsseldorf
Job: Head of the Design Department
She’s not one to hold her breath. Gabriele Orsech didn’t like the way things were done at her old job, so she quit and took the business with her. Fashion is a hands-on profession and that’s exactly what students learn at her Design Department Academy. Here, she reveals her favourite places in Düsseldorf and what fashion means to her.
You were the artistic director of AMD for a long time, then you founded the Design Department. Why did you do that and why did you do it in Düsseldorf? The system at AMD has changed and I had the feeling I was heading a government agency. It was all about structures and no longer about content. I missed practical relevance. Then there was a clash with the management board and I decided to found the Design Department. Virtually all teachers and students followed me back then. Therefore the choice of location was also obvious – it is here where I have my closest network.
What is the role of fashion in your view? For me, fashion is a cultural asset and an artistic-conceptual product. We try to communicate that at the Design Department.
And what is its superpower? Fashion has the power to transform people completely. Fashion is not superficial, just because it is worn on the surface. It can paralyse or inspire a person. Visual things influence people enormously and deeply, fashion also gets under the skin.
Which designers and artists have had the longest lasting influence on you and your work? In terms of fashion: The Belgians, Hussein Chalayan and Alexander McQueen. In literature, I would like to mention Henry David Thoreau, in music it is Van Morrison – I am probably his greatest living fan. Last but not least: The political philosophies of Karl Marx or Walter Benjamin.
Which design in general would you like to have created? I think I did create what I would have liked to create, in my own collection as well as in my trend publications and the designs of my students, with which I identify, of course. But if it is about which design performance of an individual person I admire particularly: Rei Kawakubo’s aesthetic of poverty.
And with which designer or artist would you like to have an Altbier in Düsseldorf? A glass of wine. With Van Morrison.
What would you talk about? About the spirit of fundamental change of the 1960s. About the burdenof being famous. And about his artistic oeuvre. But I don’t think that he would talk about that – he is very secretive after all.
Germany & Fashion: What is your message to the Germans? That is a question that has been asked for the last thirty years and it is getting a bit boring. I think that Germans have already much improved in terms of fashion and are on a good track. I wish that Germans were a little less pragmatic, a little less concerned with status and a little more aesthetically aware.
Your favourite route for a walk a stroll or to clear your head? In the surroundings of Düsseldorf, there are nice places: Around Stindermühle for example.
What is your favourite place to spend a cosy evening with friends or family? Gallo Nero is a good Italian restaurant. Die Kurve is a good Israeli restaurant.