Introducing: Journal

Samantha Wittwer

September 16 2015

Between the silent landscape and perpetual fog of the Jutlandic Heath of western Denmark lies Elia, a monumental sculpture by Danish artist Ingvar Cronhamar.  The dramatic contrast between Cronhamar’s imposing sculpture and the barren heath served as inspiration for Danish brand Journal’s stoic and highly considered AW2015 collection.

We spoke with Elisabeth Sandberg Leerskov, who serves as Creative Director and Co-owner of Journal along with her husband Ralf Leerskov and partner Jannik Heide, about the inspirations and considerations that are made when designing their Autumn Collection.

How did Journal begin?
It all started with Ralf, me and our newborn son on our living room floor. We had hundreds of sketches, notes and photos and a huge board to gather our ideas for the brand. We wanted to make honest high end products based purely on our gut feeling. To focus on the process, the quality and to find the time to add depth and personality to each garment. Basically we wanted the same process as when making a piece of well-designed furniture—to make an interesting product that you will keep and use for many years

What is the significance of the name Journal and the mark 01: 6?
The name Journal refers to the idea of sharing our thoughts and interest by giving unlimited access to what you could call our diary. The meaning of 01:6 is the date where it all started. It could have been in 2011 but just as well in 2002 or 2020 so it’s to be seen as a snapshot of time which is not focused on a specific year.

How would you describe the aesthetic of Journal?
I would say it’s timeless yet challenging with a high quality level and interesting fabric choices. The design is characterized by a personal interest in a wide range of various artforms like architecture, literature and science. I like to take bold choices and think big and then narrow it down from there to something which will hopefully live on season after season without being a collection of basics.

Is there a driving ethos behind the Journal brand?
We want to make honest products. To put personality and love to each product, so you get the feeling that you get something which is really special but at the same time long lasting in terms of both quality and look. Aesthetic durability I guess

What are your starting points when designing for a new season, in particular the forthcoming Autumn 2015 season?
I often start from an image I have kept in my mind or a comment I have written in my sketchbook. Usually something which has made me wonder. I have walked past Ingvar Cronhammars Elia sculpture so many times when I was younger and wondered about the man behind and his thoughts about this bold piece of metal future. All of a sudden this image popped back in my head and became the inspiration for Autumn 2015. When I’ve decided on the inspiration I write down my thoughts and take more pictures and pull out lines and surfaces or contrasts from there. For the AU15 collection it’s a lot about the suspense of the installation as well as nature interacting with this machine like sculpture.

You take inspiration from many facets of design, how do you apply these inspirations to the design your collections?
Often the inspiration is to be looked upon as an abstract string holding the various elements together as a collection. It can be anything from a texture, the way a yarn is spun, a color palette, a shape, a contrast between old and new, or a sensation or composition of a fabric.

Do you have particular artists or designers that have been of interest to you lately?
I am still totally taken by Ingvar Cronhammar, Swedish sculptor, which we made a collaboration with for the AW15 collection. The grandiosity and suspense that he adds to his work in such a subtle and seemingly effortless way is so inspiring.

The textiles used in Journal’s collection always have unique characteristics. What is your process for selecting fabrics?
One of the most time consuming processes when starting up a collection is gathering and dismissing ideas in terms of the general direction and inspiration. When this is settled I usually have a clear idea in terms of surfaces, structures, compositions and ideas for experiments in terms of fabrics. We send out requests to our suppliers and develop from there. But I also get priceless input from my man who’s like a wizard in terms of sourcing fabrics and coming up with new ideas for fabric developments, so its a close cooperation between us with some quite passionate discussions.

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