YKRA FACES: ILDIKÓ KELE
This month we sat down with knitwear and clothing designer Ildikó Kele. Ildikó is the founder of the KELE clothing label and lead designer at BOO Studio, a true creative at heart. When she’s not designing sustainable fashion pieces, she works as the Head of the Department of the Fashion and Textile Design MA degree course at the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design in Budapest. We caught up with Ildikó to see how she makes it all work!
Hi Ildikó, please tell us about yourself and what you do!
As a designer, I founded my own brand, KELE clothing in 2011. My other passion is a brand named BOO Studio, which we founded together with Eszter Lebó (YKRA’s C.E.O.)—it’s also a knitwear brand, but specifically focused on accessories for children. At BOO Studio, I’m in charge of the design process as well as overseeing production at the knitting factory. Besides my own design ventures, I’m also the Head of Department of the Fashion and Textile Design MA degree course at Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design (MOME) in Budapest, and I also teach students within the knitting and textile design specializations.
Tell us more about the KELE brand, what are your future plans?
At KELE, we used to make seasonal collections for a long time, but we’ve stopped and instead we’ve started designing basic collections made from sustainable materials. We buy our yarn from an Italian company that makes recycled cotton yarn—they sort the leftover scraps by color, as using less dye and water is far more sustainable. In the future, I’m planning to make custom sweaters, using a hand knitting machine, based on individual orders.
What does your typical work week look like?
I wake up relatively early and start my days at MOME, where I’ll have meetings in the mornings, followed by teaching in class. The rest of my day is filled with emails, planning and organising. This continues after I get home, and then I’ll also work on my KELE or BOO Studio projects or other assignments.
Wednesdays are different—you’ll find me at the knitting club. It’s a project I started with first-year BA students in the knitting specialisation. In the beginning, they learn the basics of knitting by hand, and I noticed that when they gather around a table with their instructor in a relaxed setting, the students are able to deepen their knowledge and learn the different techniques in a calm, enjoyable atmosphere. In such a space, when I go and sit beside them, or even join them to knit, they open up to me in a very different way than during a regular consultation—it’s a much more personal experience. This is what inspired me to open a MOME KNIT+THINK CLUB, and I realised it wouldn’t just benefit the knitters, but other students as well, to relax a little mentally.
The great thing about my role as Head of Department is that I have the opportunity to try out so many different things, bring in my ideas, share them with others, and then implement them. I’m also responsible for putting together and deciding the timetables for students, and developing the themes of courses offered through the university’s MA degree. I also find the right lecturers who can inspire our students. Lastly, together with the department manager we’re in charge of organising the yearly fashion show where we try to involve all our colleagues and students in the textile department.
I’m also working on my DLA dissertation, and the theme of my doctoral research is the reinterpretation of traditions in the field of clothing. I started to work with folk inscribed objects, and as I did more and more research I discovered more and more artworks that combine knitting and textiles with writing on them. This is the type of doctoral thesis that I‘ve been wanting to do, where I can display texts on knitted objects.
What do you do in your free time?
In my spare time I read about knitting, and I also love to knit! It never gets old. Otherwise, I enjoy trying out Japanese green teas and foods. They're my favourite.
Tell us about your bag, and what’s inside it?
This backpack was a YKRA x KELE collab for the Spring-Summer 2014 collection, and it's holding up very well. There was also a sweaters and tops with the same knit, and another style which had a knitted yellow and blue wave pattern. Both were made from the leftover yarn I used for pieces at KELE.
Notebook - It was a present from my friend Lukács Szederkényi, who works at AU Workshop. It’s Japanese, and I use it for my ideas.
Scarf - It’s my favourite slip-through scarf from BOO Studio.
Water Bottle - This bottle is also Japanese, from a brand called Kinto. I never leave the house without it.
Pencil Case - I always have a knitting latch tool on me, and I also love Muji's erasable pens.
Indian - It’s a toy from my dad’s childhood.
Leather purse - This also belonged to my dad.
Hauschka Lip Balm and Hand Cream - I’m a big fan of Hauschka products.
Purse - I keep my MOME keycard in it, my public transport pass and other cards.
Clover - It’s from my colleague Zsóka, she gave it to me this morning to bring me luck.
Apple - I eat an apple a day.
Photos by Botond Wertán