Arts & Culture Fashion Lifestyle

Interview: Fashion & Furniture Designer Sarwarish 

We had a rare opportunity to speak with a designer who’s clearly fascinated with the design opportunities afforded by technology. The result is a portfolio of work that looks to the future while delivering beauty and precision in the present. 

Our guest today is Sarwarish, a fashion and furniture designer who specializes in accessories and leatherwork. 

Sarwarish’s talents and unique design sensibility have led to a highly successful career and numerous awards, including multiple awards during his time at the School of the Art Institute Chicago, SAIC. 

His credits include work with Optimo Hat Company, KERCHER, Stephen Kenn, and La La Lexa, in addition to a great deal of independent work. We would like to encourage interested readers to explore his website to learn more. 

During our interview, we asked Sarwarish to reflect on his ideas, his craft, and the ways in which these elements and many others congeal into stunning designs that attract attention and curiosity. 

Which did you start working with first, fashion accessories or furniture?

They went hand in hand. I dived into accessories design by learning how to make shoes, which presented an obstacle to either using prefabricated soles and heels or learning 3D printing to model my own designs. Through learning different fabrication techniques, both additive and subtractive, I started developing an interest in furniture design so as to explore more silhouettes across both disciplines. 

Furniture and accessories share a core value of experimentation and not just functionality. People gravitate more towards objects in life that make them stand out from the crowd and feel good about their investment, through sustainably created long-lasting products. My clientele is fellow artists and designers as they, more often than not, through their own creative struggles, tend to appreciate my inspirations and the work that comes out of it more.

From a design perspective, do you have a set of common goals, regardless of the project you’re working on?

My design ideas are always transforming and growing, so the common factor across all products is craftsmanship. I focus on creating something that can be passed on to the next generation, an act that can be incredibly significant. Thus my choice of material for the majority of my projects is leather, a remarkable material from a past life that continues to develop beautifully once it has entered its new life as a functional object. 

Craftsmanship has always been at the center of my designs, especially in today’s market, where phrases like “made in Italy”, which once carried a certain value of being manufactured with high attention to detail, have now become an exploitative marketing tool for companies that mass produce these products with very little consideration towards their clientele. 

I would like to think that my work presents itself as a fresh and authentic outlook that’s needed in today’s industry, where even products manufactured in living rooms have an incredible attention to detail and reaffirm the notion that luxury isn’t limited geographically. I think it’s necessary to bring back quality over quantity, by working with natural materials that patina beautifully over time as a reminder of how important the product has become to me and to people who invest in my craftsmanship.

Do you have a consistent process for selecting the materials to be used for a specific piece?

I specialize in made-to-order objects. Sometimes I’ll create a collection to garner interest from new clients or to channel my own creative flow but most of my work is made by interpreting the personality and style of the owner. As the designer, I do exercise some control over the main design but I do give the clients the liberty to pick materials, alternative materials, etc. Sometimes circumstances dictate as well. 

For example, for akrylovi, my initial thoughts were to utilize leftover acrylic from shields made during COVID to make the project more sustainable, however, the pandemic continues so as of now I am sourcing old acrylic off-cut pieces from different vendors and having them polished to be reused. Sometimes the material availability drives the practice.

akrylovi | Model – Wife (IG – @wifeafterdeath) | Photo – Yana Abolishna (IG – @yanaiseating)

Do you ever revisit some of your older creations? Do you enjoy seeing how your designs have changed?

My designs almost always change during the prototype phase. I have a folder of old sketches which I try to cherry-pick for specific design lines or details to incorporate into newer designs where it suits the client more. I think every artist has an archive which they pull inspiration from.

 To what degree is collaboration part of your process?

I love collaborations across disciplines. It has its issues, though. On one hand, it broadens your perspective, shares the workload, infuses new ideas into a project, and breathes new life into it. On the other hand, it brings the challenge of dealing with people on a different wavelength and the priorities are not aligned, leading to misunderstandings and inadequate use of resources. I collaborate with people whose work ethic matches mine. The ideas start flowing, and more often than not, we create a wonderful objet d’art that will enrich the lives of people interacting with it.

Photo – TheOxProject | Model – Abigail Grohmann | Fashion Designer – Sofiia Slynko | Footwear – Sarwarish

Please tell us about some of your most significant career accomplishments thus far.

My career has its own significant accomplishments. Whether they are significant for the world, I don’t know. I have always used new and upcoming technologies in my work, mainly 3D printing and that has been the most significant part where I have my own style of heels that I use for women’s footwear. I designed and fabricated a crown for the costume worn by Madison Anderson, Miss Puerto Rico, for the Miss Universe Pageant 2019. It was an opportunity I got through my friend working with Joshuan Aponte, the designer who worked on the costume. 

We collaborated on that project where we sketched out the design, and I 3D-modeled it in Rhino to give Joshuan an idea of what the crown would look like. After a few iterations, we created the parts through 3D printing and assembled them. It was one of the most positive experiences in my early career (sophomore year), being given a chance to create something that would be displayed on a platform of such magnitude. So, I guess that counts too.

Are you currently working on any projects that you’d like to tell us about?

Currently, I am working on having three of my designs manufactured on a limited scale (to ensure craftsmanship & quality aren’t compromised) to be released and tested in the luxury goods market in India and most of my time is being devoted to expanding and showcasing my work in India. I am also working on developing my new collection, unnamed as of now, which is rooted in childhood memories and their western influence. I have worked on transitioning my brand into two branches where with STM I will continue to prototype new silhouettes and designs for my clients and with Hsira Wras I will bring out designs that have been successful with my clientele in the past as well as designs that I know to have the potential to be a game changer in the accessories design market.

About the author

Mike Thompson

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