Aliki van der Kruijs is a designer who humbly accepts randomness in her work. She leaves it to nature, or to rain to be more specific. She has created a few years ago the project called Made by Rain and is about to start an e-shop of her extraordinary natural creations that will make you look at rain in a total new way. Let’s try to learn a bit more about this queen of the rain.
What’s your story? Where do you come from, where have you studied? Where do you live and work?
My origin is Dutch, but I grew up in Nigeria, Africa, the first years of my life. After that I spend my youth in the east of the Netherlands in Wageningen before moving to Arnhem for my study Fashion Design. After graduation I worked for the denim-company G-Star but quit the job to start the master Dirty Art Department a.k.a Applied Art at the Sandberg Instituut. Nowadays I live and work in The Hague.
Could you explain what the Made By Rain project is? I perceive it as the very root of everything else you have been creating, am I right to be thinking that way?
While growing up in Nigeria I experienced rainfall very intense due to the monsoons. In the Netherlands it rains differently than 20 years ago. More comparable with the monsoon in the tropics. During my graduation the question was: ‘Why is it alway raining in my memories’?At that time I received as an inheritance from my grandfather, a notebook in which he wrote down the weather condition every day. It really made me start investigating rain as an actor in my work. With the prevalent rains in the Netherlands and its history of struggling with the elements, rain is deeply rooted in Dutch culture. I questioned what it would be like to capture the experience of rain fall on textile, to make it possible to ‘wear the weather’. For this I developed my own technique of ‘pluviography’; photographic recordings of rain precipitation on textiles with a film coating that is sensitive to water. The textiles form a collection of weather data: visual recordings of a drizzly day or even a monsoon, imprinted on textile. Each unique cloth is accompanied with its actual precipitation data of location, time and weather conditions. There is a collection of scarfs for purchase. The process is documented in a book and responds to the increase in precipitation intensity due to climate change using collaborative projects in fashion as one of the messengers. Made by Rain is an ongoing project and my aim is to make a rain-atlas with all the imprints I collect. Yes you see it right that it is kind of a root of my practice. Actually it all started in the project Weer Blauw (Weathering Blue). This is a direct translation of the calendars of my grandfather. While documenting the process of the blue pigment fading due the weather conditions, I photographed rain drops on the cloth. Seeing this, I realized that there might me a possible way to imprint this WITH the textile instead of only document it with a camera. So that’s how I took it into the next step by developing Made by Rain.
What are your visual influences?
Overall natural processes influence my visual language. Either I use rain, as something unpredictable. Or I create a work method where there is space for an uncontrolled element. I really like this tension between setting parameters and creating space for thing to occur/happen. My interest for natural elements dates back to the beginning of my work and sometimes when I look around in my studio it seems as if I was building a library of the Earth with projects about the weather, water, light, geology.
You’ve made great collaborations with various brands such as ZigZagZurich, Nike KD, Thomas Eyck, Studio Elsien Gringhuis, could you tell us a bit about these collabs? How did they start? Do you have one that you are particularly satisfied with?
The collaborations started most of the time because I was contacted after somebody discovered my project Made by Rain in an exhibition or online. I enjoyed the fact that due to those collaborations, I have been creating pieces I would not have been able to achieve alone. Made by Rain was initiated by an intention to ‘map the weather’ with the idea of creating a textile register. With the use of textile, it comes closer to a humans then when using a paper imprint, so the material was a deliberate choice. I did tests on paper and that works out as well, but I prefer the textiles and the more fluid quality of the material. With these collaborations Made by Rain is put into the domesticated space and that I really like. It is notable that after my textiles where applied into the duvet covers of ZigzagZurich or KD Tees by Nike, people knew better how to relate to the textiles and I got really good feedbacks from it. In the collaboration with the fashion designer Elsien Gringhuis, I used her framework (shape of the clothes) to come up with new ways to print and paint on textile. It worked as a playground for those new techniques. One letting the shape of the pattern dictate the print, and the more fluid result is a ‘fold-and-water’ technique that brings unique print results.