The support network behind the finalists of International Young Designers Contest. Introducing Estonian Academy of Arts (EKA)
Among IYDC partners there are also advanced educational institutions, such as Estonian Academy of Arts (EKA).
Established in 1914, EKA is the leading university in Estonia in the fields of fine arts, design, architecture, media, visual studies, art culture and conservation. Currently, the Academy enrolls around 1,200 students and contributes to 30 specialties with 200+ staff members resulting in an unique teaching perspective – offering a wide selection of specialties through individualized study and personal mentorship by members of the faculty.
EKA Department of Fashion Design provides practice-oriented education in clothes design and associated fields, such as innovation and new technologies along with mapping the needs of target groups at both a consumer and producer level. Having established a long-term partnership with the industry – for example such as Baltika Group, the leading fashion enterprise in the Baltic states which operates 5 brands and has a high street presence in 9 markets, – teaching assignments and student placement are effectively merged with real-life cases. In addition, manufacture-focused practice bases in Asia are continually expanding, ranging currently from Vietnam and Bangladesh to India and enforcing the transparency of the industry on a student level.
Moreover, the fashion department is the pioneering branch and cornerstone of sustainability at the Academy, running numerous projects over the years, including Experimental Form, Trash to Trend, and creating the Sustainable Design Laboratory (SDL) in 2016 – a new hub of up-to-date design education and research that focuses on cooperation with companies, public sector organizations and professional designers. The objective of the SDL as a design and sustainable innovation platform is to accelerate and support practical and problem-based design education at EKA. It aims to link the theoretical learning of product development and design with practice by bringing together researchers, students and practitioners. Currently, SDL is running a cooperation project with the Estonian Defense Industry Association, Estonian Police and Estonian Army: analyzing their leftovers with the aim of finding multiple ways to upcycle them. A strong focus lies on respectfully integrating handcraft-driven design process into innovation driven apparel concepts and multidisciplinary contexts. Researching Finno-Ugric ethnic minorities over decades has led to a strong practice of reinventing traditional skill-sets for innovation-based environment together with sustainability which are both having a stable presence at ERKI Fashion Show, what stands for the annual graduate and young designers fashion show hosted by the Estonian Academy of Arts. Created not only for the graduates, the show also gives a chance for the self-educated expressionists in fashion to contribute in the local talent at large.
ERKI Fashion Show is the most iconic fashion competition for emerging designers in the Baltic region, that has been running for the past 30 years. The 33rd show of ERKI is still inspired by the first editions of the event that took place during the rebellious 1980s. Kicked off as a contra political action giving a voice to the most urgent matters through fashion. From its launch till now this event addresses new challenges. At this moment we are challenged to rethink the concept of a traditional show format. Over the years ERKI has taken the form of a rave, had totally soundless presentations, re-erected houses, set shows on trains and travelators, and was one of the pioneers in using digital broadcasting already back in 2007.
ERKI offers the participating fashion designers a neutral environment to showcase their wildest ideas.
During the last years, ERKI has grown to an international status, with applicants reaching to France and Italy. The judging panel of ERKI could boast by the names of internationally recognized experts and professionals, such as designer Roberta Einer, the Head of Accessories at Jean Paul Gaultier Olivier Jault, International Network & Design Director for Camper Adriana Rodriguez, the Director of the MA Fashion Design in Hong Kong Polytechnic University Basia Szkutnicka, the Art Director of IED Milano Giovanni Ottonello, the representative of David Koma Florian Wowretzko, Professor of Design Studies and Fashion Studies at Parsons School of Design Hazel Clark, the Adjunct Professor of Fashion Research in Aalto Annamari Vänska, Polish Vogue representative and Head of Fashion in Academy Of Fine Art in Warsaw Janusz Noniewicz and others.