Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
A few years ago, Marika Kandelaki, a print-maker, and Virginia Craddock, a business consultant and founder of the brand Kurt Lyle, met at a textile and print trade show called Premiere Vision NYC. Soon, they became friends, encouraging each other's small business. In Fall 2019, they discussed working on a project together derived from Marika’s prints, but were too busy until a pandemic halted their typical schedules. Through isolation, Kandelaki and Craddock took the opportunity to begin creating together, executing a sense of style with a new label named Untitled in Motion. Focused on leisurewear, the new line consists of robes, shorts, button-up shirts, and sleep dresses, with unforgettable prints and fluid fabrics that pierce the eye.
Whitewall spoke with the duo to hear what parallels Untitled in Motion draws between the artist and the dreamer, what the first line's bold prints represent, and what's next for the brand.
WHITEWALL: Virginia, can you tell us about Untitled in Motion and what artistic details we see in the collection?
Virginia Craddock: Untitled in Motion is a celebration of those fleeting moments of pure creativity and connection. Marika and I are unlikely partners born of a mutual respect for each other’s work and life perspective. From that, we drew a direct correlation between the artistic process and the life experience -- we, as humans, are essentially always creating - life is an ongoing creation, untitled and in motion. The brand is an evolving collection of modern canvases that showcase Marika’s art. We want the wearer to be inspired and at ease… to facilitate a space where the wearer might tap into that lightness and inspiration.
WW: Marika, what did you hope the brand would communicate?
Marika Kandelaki: Virginia and I wanted to build a world in which the boundaries between dreaming and being awake are blended. In this sense we are deeply inspired by surrealism and its idea of challenging the boundary of legitimate productive reality and supposedly unproductive periods of dreaming. We call our pieces Wakewear. Wakewear is a new type of leisurewear for an unconventional & creative form of life. Our wakewear pieces are first and foremost driven by art and they can be worn for: waking, sleeping, and all the creative dream-time in between. We believe that one should be comfortable and look great at all the times of day. And we think that sometimes it is not necessary to rethink these transitions. We use simple silhouettes which we approach as canvases for the art. Therefore the quality of the print color, fabric handfeel, and general construction are all very important to us. All the styles in our debut collection are made from Tencel Luxe, which is a vegan, sustainable, breathable, durable, and super luxurious silk alternative. We are in love with this fabric, it has beautiful draping quality and feels amazing!
Essentially we wanted to create an artistic and ever evolving line, something for people to be excited about, to remind them of big dreams, of important artistic movements, of artworks that inspire, of unnamed moments in life which are out of the ordinary, and for unforgettable creative desires. Virginia came up with our name Untitled in Motion, which stands for this ever evolving and unattainable yearning to create and imagine a new life. This quote from Andre Breton comes to my mind: “All my life, my heart has yearned for a thing I cannot name.”
WW: Virginia, how does this work differ from or translate what you're presenting at your label Kurt Lyle?
VC: They are night and day. Kurt Lyle is messy and chaotic—I’m constantly chasing my own fleeting obsessions and re-imagining nostalgic classics from my youth. It’s quite narcissistic and flippant really, while Untitled is this wonderful, considered project that is very much a balance of Marika and my strengths and has a deep undercurrent of art and philosophy.
WW: Does your background with Inside Out Agency (a sales, consulting, and business development agency for independent brands) relate to what you're doing with Untitled in Motion?
VC: At Inside Out we take a holistic approach to each brand’s business and we support where we’re needed. Our focus is sales but our services range from trend direction to merchandising to production and beyond. I’m bringing this experience and knowledge to Untitled and Marika is matching it with her own expertise in trend, design, and print development. Collectively we have a solid foundation of experience. What we need now is a little luck and a touch of magic… we’re leaving that to the Universe.
WW: Marika, can you tell us a bit about creative practice—spanning various disciplines including fine art, ceramics, music, fashion, and textile design—leading up to Untitled in Motion?
MK: I am an artist and designer. My work spans across many practices: painting, sculpture, performance, and design. Some of these practices overlap with each other. I studied art in Tbilisi (where I grew up), and then went to Parsons for fashion design. I started my design career as a fashion designer over 15 years ago. But since I always considered myself more of an artist, a fashion career on its own never felt satisfying enough. So very early on, about 2 years into my working career, I decided to merge my art and design practice, and that is how I made a turn towards textile design. This made the most sense to me, and I have worked as a textile designer in the fashion industry ever since. My last in house job before starting my own textile design studio was at Mara Hoffman. Mara’s dedication to sustainability and ethical fashion production was very inspiring and I have learned alot about the challenges and possibilities of the contemporary fashion industry.
In terms of my art practice, I am primarily a painter and sculptor. I fell in love with ceramics several years back and have been exploring ceramic sculpture since then. In some way my art has always been concerned with architecture, public spaces, historic symbols of female representation, monumentality, ideology and its remainder in the ruins of ever changing geopolitics and nature. I also work in video, and collaborate with Colleen Asper on Hole, an ongoing literary and performative project. I have released an album with my former band Alex Delivery on the record label Jagjaguwar, and am currently working on music with Nino Bozic and Ted Mineo.
WW: You also have a print studio, Moonshake Studio, which has provided prints for other designers like Mara Hoffman, DKNY, Michael Kors, and Prabal Gurung. What is your relationship like to printmaking? How does it impact the label's visual decisions?
MK: I founded Moonshake Studio several years ago. Moonshake Studio is a multidisciplinary design studio specializing in artistic and innovative surface design. We primarily provide print designs for the textiles, but we also do branding for the apparel industry.
We have our own print archive from which various designers select and purchase from. But we also do exclusive artwork development for clients who are more particular with their direction. Our clients range from high-end, contemporary to the mass market. We have provided artworks for Mara Hoffman, Michael Kors, Munthe, Corey Lynn Calter, Brooklinen, Harper Collins, Kurt Lyle, Uniqlo, Prabal Gurung, AE, etc.
For Moonshake Studio I spend a lot of time making prints and I think about responding to various markets at all times of this process. Even though Moonshake Studio in spirit leans towards more unusual, quirky, and hyper creative designs, I always try to cover all the markets and have a range for the various commercial needs. Running Moonshake Studio gives me a window into so many different levels of industry. Untitled in Motion was a natural progression from this because I already do so much of this work and have the experience with print production and designing for different markets. Moonshake Studio is a resource for Untitled in Motion, but the prints we choose to design for UIM are much more conceptual. They always involve a story.
WW: What do the prints in this collection represent?
MK: The prints in our first collection represent the phases of waking and dreaming through the day. The Dawn print speaks to the soft mother of pearl feeling of a slow awakening, when the morning light starts to play shapes behind closed eyelids. Marenda is what people call lunch here in Croatia, and in this print I wanted to depict that warm and sunny noon, a memory of that perfect marenda in the courtyard of the house by the Adriatic sea. Seance is an evening practice, in this print I wanted to summon the spirit of surrealism. This is a playful dark print, with floating blue hands and an apparition of a face. REM is a paradoxical, desynchronized space guarded by the imaginary. Dream pools, unconscious contingencies, low voltage brain waves, REM speaks to dreaming in color.
WW: Virginia, how does Untitled in Motion draw parallels between the artist and the dreamer?
VC: I think what Untitled does is recognize that we are all artists and dreamers as our most basic creative selves, and that to create or to dream is to imagine that which isn’t there already. Or to capture that which is and is worth keeping. Art and dreams are fueled by passionate emotions—desire, anxiety, longing. They manifest our deepest aspirations and illuminate our darkest fears. Through these processes we find an ease of being, and that is what we want Untitled to do - facilitate an ease of being.
WW: During the pandemic, you spent most of your time on the island of Mali Losinj in Croatia. How was your print work influenced by the beauty of your natural surroundings (by color and the dichotomy of light and shadow)?
MK: Mali Losinj is absolutely beautiful. The flora here is very typical of the northern Adriatic evergreen: lemon and orange trees, huge agave plants, palms, oleander bushes, wisteria, bougainvillea, lots of colors and shapes. I am continually stunned by colors here, both of nature and of the town scapes. I regularly take photos and build my color pallets from them. Lots of my prints involve local landscapes and plants. The sky and the sea here are very blue, and the light very bright, so this results in an effortless geometry of sharp shadows. I am often reminded of De Chirico’s paintings and Matisse’s cutouts.
WW: Also with your downtime during COVID-19 were conversations with Marika to start Untitled in Motion. What were those conversations like?
VC: The early conversations were like everything early in Covid… a respite from the stress of the unknown. There was also a bit of magic happening… the Universe was definitely making it known that we were supposed to work together. The communication between Marika and I is easy and collaborative and inspired… that’s when you know a project has legs and longevity.
WW: How do you envision the label and "wakewear" progressing?
VC: The foundation of Untitled in Motion is silhouettes that have freedom from purpose and prints that are emotionally charged. Our “wakewear” is designed to keep you in that space of leisure and ease, that liminal space where you forget the calendar, the agenda, and just go with your own flow. Who knows where that takes you. As we progress, we will stay true to this idea of the brand as a canvas, but let the art change and morph.
WW: The garments are made from high-quality, sustainable vegan fabric (Tencel LUXE, an innovative alternative to silk made from renewable plant resources. Can you tell us a bit about this, and the brand's focus on responsible production?
VC: I believe one of the biggest problems of our culture is disposable consumption. In the fashion industry, we fuel this with a focus on seasonal trends, low quality textiles, and mass market production that is only viable by exploiting global economic inequality. It seems to me that the most sustainable strategy in fashion is to create garments that the consumer loves with an emotionality that creates its own added value-- and keeps the garment in circulation for many years and generations.
The first step in longevity is quality and we have chosen an incredibly well engineered textile that is made from renewable plant resources. The yarn filament is extra long, creating a drape and handfeel that is superior to that of even the most luxurious silk. And it’s durable and machine washable. I love the science behind it. We have also chosen partners that prioritize skill and craft over quantity. I’ve worked in production for a long time and there are good and bad factories everywhere. Its up to the brand to seek out specific production partners that align with their priorities and standards.
WW: What's next for Untitled in Motion?
MK: We are excited for our next collection in which we are continuing and evolving our word and art references. This is all still evolving, but at the moment we are calling our second collection “The Upper Side of the Sky.” This is a name of one of Kay Sage’s paintings, which is also an inspiration for one of the prints in the collection. Our next collection depicts different aspects of an artist’s studio.