In the spring of 2015 the American writer and conceptual artist Kenneth Goldsmith taught a class at The University of Pennsylvania called Wasting Time on the Internet. Later that year, he published a book on the topic where he argued that while browsing around “wasting time” online, we actually also create a culture of creativity and collaboration. In an interview with the New York Times Goldsmith notes: “The DNA of the web is embedded in 20th-century movements like surrealism, where artists sought to live in a state like dreaming, or pop art, where they leveraged popular culture to make bigger points about society. Postmodernism is about sampling things and remixing them, and that is made real in this digital world.”
Goldsmith’s emphasis on the amazing, creative, unifying qualities of the internet – despite the temporary sense of dizziness that a few hours on social media tends to leave us with – is hard to argue against when examining the biography of the faux fur universe Feast Studio. The brand was established less than two years ago but the astonishing furs are already worn from Russia to the Emirates and the US. Behind Feast is the 30-year old Copenhagen-based designer, Nova Frangø. Her fur universe has developed in its own (fast) pace through Instagram, and although she manufactures her designs in her Copenhagen apartment, she does not necessarily identify as a Danish designer: “I make furs for Feast kids more than for a specific nationality. For the nomads in the modern world, where you do not identify through nationality or social class but through sub cultural groups across all national borders. Social media has been such an eye opener for me. I grew up before they were there and now I just love that you can connect with people through them, and find kindred spirits all over the world,” Nova notes when we meet up with her in Copenhagen on a chilly Sunday morning to learn more about Feast.
“It all took off when I made a fur for the artist Mendoza,” she explains. “I had followed her on Instagram for quite some time and thought that she was amazing. She had so much power and energy. I love her music and her style which is a mix of goth, cyber and rave. If I was to imagine a Feast girl or a Feast icon, it would be her. I wrote to her and asked her, if I could make her a fur. A few weeks after she was wearing it in a music video and at a gig in Copenhagen. Shortly after I started selling my furs in Coexist, a sub cultural, crazy, punk rave aesthetics shop in Berlin. Then some Russian bloggers and different retailers contacted me through Instagram and from that point it just took on a life of its own.”
The Copenhagen-based designer has been in fashion since she was a teenager. Actually, last time she appeared in Dansk Magazine was in a series of interviews with “Copenhagen kids” for the ten year anniversary edition, she says with a laugh. When graduating in textile design she dreamed of a career as a commercial designer but when she got her dream job she rapidly realised that it wasn’t her call: “I had this desire to become a commercial designer. All the energy, no looking back, everything is always new. However, I found out that there were parts of the job I didn’t like. I felt good at it, but didn’t enjoy it and I realised that I had to find my own way. Feast has existed for about one and a half year now, but has been on its way for a long time. Sometimes it feels like Feast has been inside me for many years slowly growing into a substance or a concept. Suddenly the idea and focus was there to just go about it,” Nova notes. “During my studies I discovered that fake fur is an amazing material to work with. I spent a lot time just sitting home experimenting and developing the different techniques of applying things to the fur that I use today. I love its look, the expression is so dramatic, you actually don’t have to do much to make people think that you are wearing a crazy fake fur.”
What inspires your designs?
The internet. Instagram is an amazing source of inspiration for me. I recognise a necklace with an interesting pendant or a great colour combination. It adds to a general stream of consciousness, my brain sorts a bit, and suddenly I know what I want to do next. And pop culture. I love Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Drag Race. Society also affects me. Some days I feel optimistic and think that the world has only become better since yesterday. Then I make a white fur with Future written on it, a fur that radiates this optimism. Other days I feel like we are all doomed, and believe that we are not going to survive Trump. I recently made what I call a doomed fur, with these apocalyptic symbols on it. So I also go with those general feelings. Feast is about creating a uniform for the modern human being in this tumultuous world. That is what I aim to do.”
The readymade designs can for example be found at the Japanese fashion shop Noaburo in Copenhagen, Coexists in Berlin and at the seminal American online retailer dollskill.com. However, Feast is also and perhaps especially, about the works and processes of creating customised furs: “I love making customised furs. I get contacted by all kinds of people from different countries, all with different ideas. Some are very clear and say things like, ‘I have jewish roots and I want that to show on my jacket.’ I like it when it becomes personal. It gives you a lot to reflect on. I’m attracted to people who radiate power. Who look like they are being themselves, or have found a persona that suits them well. I see the furs as something that supports people’s personas, their style and confidence. On the contrary if you don’t feel confident the furs can also give a boost, provide the necessary power to express yourself when moving around in this crazy world. It’s interesting to talk to people about what kind of fur they would like to have. You get to know a lot through their answers. What they are passionate about, what they are into. The furs facilitate good conversations. They are all about how people feel and how they would like to be seen.” To bring the fur fantasies to life, Nova has to work long hours and she still takes care of every step from buying the fabrics in Berlin and making the sewing pattern to delivering the finished fur at the post office: “There are heaps of facets to it, but I feel so connected to it right now. Ideas come to me at a rapid pace and almost immediately when I start reading peoples e-mails I get a pretty good idea of what I would like to create. Most people get back to me when they have received the fur, to express their gratitude. The respons means a lot to me. When you work as a commercial designer you usually have a lot of contact with the retailers but practically never with the consumers. This is direct and immediate. I feel that what I make is being used and valued. Things you just don’t know about when working in an office developing ideas and designs.”
Could you imagine having a physical store?
“It would be cool to have a place where everything substantiated the Feast universe. Like a manifesto. But I wouldn’t know where to place it. I have thought a lot about how best to connect with international customers. I don’t feel that Feast belongs to a physical location at the moment. I think everything should be virtual. I could imagine having a concept store on a field or out in the desert. A weird virtual showroom, a satellite to send live feeds and fashion shows from. There is indeed a strength in having a physical showroom, a place where one can say, this is my place in the world. So if I could combine those two things. Something diffuse and abstract online on the one hand and something physical on the other.” Do you wear the furs yourself? “It is a bit odd but I haven’t got around to making my own fur yet. There is always someone else’s fur in the way and sometimes it’s just easier to make it for someone else I guess. If I was about to make a fur for my self today I think I would make a loser fur, a nobody fur. A bit of reverse psychology. A losers uniform that might have the reverse outcome. But I ought to have a fur for every day…