Following Threads: Interview with Mandy Kordal, AIR Cycle 4

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with former AIR Cycle 4 resident, Mandy Kordal, who since her time at TAC has created her own women’s knitwear clothing line, Kordal. In addition to touring her studio, I was able to learn more about her process, inspiration, and how her work has evolved since her residency at Textile Arts Center.

 What is your process?

I have a women’s wear company that focuses on more sustainable fabrication and production, and in terms of  process I guess I would say it’s more knitwear-focused. In the past two years I have expanded onto woven and cotton-silk, but it started out as primarily a knitwear collection. The process would start with what kind of yarn and swatch development more, it was more of a material exploration first and then sketching with those materials and designs, and moving from there to the garments. Along with that, color selection would happen as I would be knitting or seeing what materials are available. When you are working with more organic fabrications and yarns, you are a bit more limited but that’s also in some ways an added extra step. For example, I would order a natural fabric, a natural yarn, because that’s what is available and then have it dyed custom colors afterwards.

Designs by Mandy Kordal.

Designs by Mandy Kordal.

What inspires you?

Let me think about that one… I  think it varies over time. Mostly films, or photography, or even just vintage garments and things like that, where I get more design ideas, even music. For example, for this next season, I had seen a more modern and contemporary dance from this Israeli choreographer and all of the movements were bizarre and slow, which was kind of creepy but in a pretty way. The costumes were very simple, with variations in the shade of color. So that was a big inspiration for this spring season. It is a mixture of film, dance, and photography.

What’s the best thing about living in NY?

For me, its the variety of things that you can get out of living here. Like the fact that you can drive two hours north and go hiking, or take the train an hour away and go to the beach, or go into the city and go dancing somewhere. It’s so much variety, and there’s also the mixture of cultures, you hear different languages in the train or you are in some way forced to interact with different kinds of people, in a good way.  And just in general, the attitude here is really exciting and you meet such interesting people.

Designs by Mandy Kordal.

Designs by Mandy Kordal.

How has your work evolved since AIR?

I would say that it has evolved more so, maybe not in a creative sense, but rather in a more organized way. When I was in the residency program I was doing a lot of my own production, so I was just starting my business. Luckily it has grown, and I’ve been able to start working with other manufacturers and explore different textile manufacturing. Now I’m working with a knitting group in Peru, that I’ve work with for the past three years and they are incredible. And then with some hand loom knitters in Queens, for example I was making this one hat of ours myself and it was getting to the point where it was pretty overwhelming. So the evolvement has been learning to allocate what works needs to be done, and finding really good people to work with, and then I also think adding a variety of textiles; so adding wovens and cotton added to the mix so it is not just a full knitwear collection has been a big evolution. I would say that the evolvement has been more so on production and business side, than the creative which remains pretty similar to when I was at TAC.

Seed Stitch Hat by Mandy Kordal.

Seed Stitch Hat by Mandy Kordal.

How did you find the AIR Program?

Actually, this girl, Tao, had interned with me when I had just started. I was putting together this Kickstarter, and all the pieces for the giveaway, and she was helping me with the knitting and finishing. She forwarded me the link to the residency saying that I would probably would be interested in it, so I applied.

Do you have any future projects? Or places you would like to expand your line?

Coming out of how great it was to devote time during the residency to longer term projects, or even projects that aren’t necessarily designs to be sold on a larger scale, I want to work in objects that take a little longer to create and from there being able to start incorporating into my brand and practices. I would love to do another residency to kinda just kickstart that, maybe focus in homegoods or even furniture pieces. I think mostly creating things that are not meant to be sold, more as an expanded body of work.

Designs by Mandy Kordal.

Designs by Mandy Kordal.

All photos courtesy KordalKnitwear.com

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