Regenerate, a Student Spotlight featuring Karolina Mikolajczak



Regenerate concept board
Regenerate Concept board

With our Graduate Showcase launching this week, we caught up with some of our graduating students to find out more about their final year projects.

This Student Spotlight features BA (Hons) Design for Textiles student, Karolina Mikolajczak and her project, Regenerate.

Karolina tells us, “Inspiration for this concept was taken from nature, particularly from the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Different areas of focus were identified for each element. 'Earth' encapsulates themes such as the protection and preservation of the land, habitat conservation, and healing of the environment. 'Air' focuses on the reduction of pollution and the use of renewable energies. 'Fire' encompasses encouraging new growth, rehabilitation of wildlife, and promoting healthy ecosystems. 'Water' covers themes such as the restoration of the coral reefs, the support of vast underwater ecosystems, and the impact of rising sea levels.

“This womenswear collection is aimed at individuals who want to look at natural processes to help guide their lifestyle choices to be more respectful of nature and the elements. This collection's target customer enjoys travelling to discover what the world has to offer. On their travelling journeys, the customer seeks to uncover healthy and sustainable ways of living and to learn about the cultures, values, and practices of the locals they interact with. This collection is inspired by the desire to discover nature through travelling, whether by flying around the world or taking a walk around one's neighbourhood. 

“The central theme addressed in this project is regeneration, presenting a vision for a sustainable way of living through a collection of versatile knitted fabric designs for womenswear.

“All the fabrics in this collection have been knitted using Loro Piana cashmere yarns. Each of their yarns is created with unique properties, so the yarns for each sample in this collection have been chosen carefully to ensure their properties match the yarn's intended use. The 2/27 and Coarsehair yarns will represent the solid elements in nature, such as rocky surfaces and landscapes. In contrast, the Royal and Wish yarns will help convey nature's softer qualities, including water ripples, wind breezes, and sand movements.  

“Various techniques have been used to create pieces that capture the flow and movement associated with nature and the elements. Ripples and ruffles have been incorporated to recreate the folds and layers of water and air. A combination of purl and plain stitch creates surface texture on some pieces, adding a sculptural element. And the use of Shima allows details from visuals to be translated into movement on some fabrics.  

“I always designed with longevity in mind, which is why many of my fabrics are multi-use and reversible. Learning so much about the materials I used through factory visits and store visits has helped me better understand the market and the complete cycle of garment production - from raw material to finished product. This knowledge is invaluable and has helped me grow as a designer in today's textile world.”

When asked about her plans after graduation Karolina was happy to explain her plans to go on to work at Chanel owned company Barrie: “Barrie is not only owned by Chanel, but Chanel is one of Barrie's biggest clients. Since I was little, I have always wanted to work in luxury fashion, and it was what pushed me to come to Heriot-Watt to study fashion in 2017 before I moved to the textiles course two years later. Barrie, now considered more of a fashion company than a knitwear one, is the perfect choice for me. Barrie is all about sustainability, innovation and pushing the boundaries with what they can achieve with knitwear. All while working as part of a team of experts in what Barrie calls their factory's design hub. It combines my love of fashion and knitwear. Once I learned more about Barrie in my third year, I knew that was where I wanted to go after finishing my degree."
We wish Karolina all the best in her flourishing career. If you would like to see more of Karolina’s work you can follow her on Instagram follow her on Instagram @Karolina_knittedtextiles