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Radiance tulip blossom poncho, Nuno felting on silk, 2012 Photo-Lorena Santin Andrade


Lily of the valley shrug shawl, Nuno felting on silk, 2012, Photo-Lorena Santin Andrade


Magnolia blossom shawl, Nuno felting on silk, 2012, Photo-Lorena Santin Andrade





Artist: Lorena Santin-Andrade, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Interview 71: Lorena exhibited in the major 2012 World of Threads Festival exhibition Quiet Zone at The Gallery at Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre in Oakville, Ontario.

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Interviews published by Gareth Bate & Dawne Rudman.



Lorena Santin-Andrade, fashion designer and artist, started her career in 1987.  She embraces the authentic craftsmanship learned from her family while growing up in Italy and the beauty that surrounds her, with modern design ideals that combine luxury, chic fabrics and mixed media to create stylish one of a kind statement pieces. 

In her various design roles, Lorena has designed collections, fabrics and prints for various fashion houses. She has directed large design and creative teams, in creating and executing complete corporate fashion and design visions for various brands. Simultaneously she pursues her love for art through the mediums of watercolour and pencil and most recently via her felting, which has realized her life long dream of combining her passion for art and fashion with the beauty found in nature, through her chic sense of style and design.

Lorena has achieved recognition and received awards throughout her career in both areas of fashion and art. Her multitude of talents has always driven her to explore and bend the boundaries of function, colour, texture, shape and scale in all she touches. Lorena takes fashion and art to a different level of integrity that stems from her respect and love for beauty within nature, the body, the human spirit and the soul. Her inspirations are endless, and her wearable art represents a cultured, chic mosaic of feminine strength, individuality and intellect.  Lorena's Website


Magnolia shrug shawl, Nuno felting on silk, 2012 Photo-Lorena Santin Andrade


Tell us about your work?

The focus of my felt collection is on designing statement self-expressive pieces, that embrace the wearer’s style, inside and out, hence becoming a personal signature and keepsake. I select the most distinctive fibres of the highest quality for every piece I create. Due to the organic process the material undergoes during fabrication, all of my creations are different, making each piece uniquely characteristic and chic, with no two creations possessing the same charisma. 

Felting allows me to passionately combine my innate love for art and the beauty found in nature, with a chic sense of style and design. My creativity and love for intimately hand-crafting each piece, through the sculpting of the wool fibres, allows me to unwaveringly tend to each detail in each piece, thus ensuring that the highest level of passion exudes from the end product onto the wearer, leaving a lasting impression. 

I find complete balance when I am in a state of creation. It becomes a meditative experience for me and I completely loose myself in my work. I perceive it as an intuitive process which leads to perfectly aligned and surprising results. This magic and enchantment transforms fibres into wonderful works of art. 

My felted creations primarily focus on the use of monochromatic colours and textural details within each piece. It’s about creating products with a soul and a conscience. It’s about awakening the senses of touch through vibrant colour, alluring texture and spirited design. It’s the tactile and magical pleasure of transforming wool fibre to art. It’s not the style itself, but the love and passion infused into each finished work of art, which radiates through the piece each time it’s worn. It’s not about what’s new and trendy… but about what is beautiful and meaningful. It’s about owning a beautifully sculpted, luxury piece, that travels down the path of life with you, which serves to embrace and inspire you.


Magnolia cascading scarf, Nuno felting on silk, 2012 Photo-Lorena Santin Andrade


What other mediums do you work in, and how does this inform your work?

Watercolour and pencil… many of which are in turn printed on fine silk and nuno felted into wearable shawls, scarves and shrugs, in turn combining all my chosen mediums together in one.


Hydrangea shawl shrug, Nuno felting on silk, 2012 Photo-Lorena Santin Andrade


How did you decide on this medium?

The connection to ancient cultures and distant lands is one of the alluring reasons felting has captivated my interest and has become such a rewarding and passionate creative process for me. Wool felt is one of the oldest textiles in the world outside of animal skins. Historically, felt was used in a vast number of regions around the world, making it impossible to truly pinpoint its beginnings. However, it is believed wool felt is the first man-made fabric in history dating back to 9000 BC. Felt has no internal structure like a woven or knit fabrication does with their weaves and stitches, so there are no limitations as its free-form. The creation process for felt is easily customizable and the finished product has a versatility which cannot be duplicated with any other materials, making it a multi faceted art form for me, as there are endless possibilities to what can be created using felt. 

Each wool fibre has a microscopic covering of scales along its shaft. The scales open up and entangle with one another, forming a strong and permanent link when they are exposed to the combination of heat, the alkali found in soap, warm water and friction. The alkali in the soap assists the wool to absorb water, causing the fibres to swell and the scales on the fibres to open up and interlock with one another. An alternative felting method is to repeatedly penetrate the fibres with barbed needles causing them to entangle together. The two processes can, and are, often combined together resulting in exquisite results. Using both traditional and modern felt making techniques, wool fibre is magically transformed into one of a kind distinct, wearable, artistic, statement garments and home decor. 

Re-invented from an ancient textile technique, my felted works are modern and chic creations characterized as wearable art for both body and home, that are distinctive, one of a kind pieces. I choose to work with this naturally derived material given the low environmental impact involved in the production of wool. I also produce my works with minimal wastage. In fact, to eliminate wastage, I utilize all wool remnants arising from the felting process, and incorporate them into the construction of the wool beads found in my necklace collection. 

Additional fabrications such as hand-crochet details, luxury silks, intricate laces and textural knits, are often combined with the wool during the felting process, to create the works found in my felting collections. As well, a variety of multi media materials such as various metals, woods, stones and beads are used to enhance and create textural interest within my statement necklace collections.

I love to create quality pieces which become keepsakes for the wearer.


Eternal lace shawl with blossoms, Nuno felting on lace, 2012 Photo-Lorena Santin Andrade


From where do you get your inspiration?

Nature and my extensive travel to various parts of the world, have inspired and shaped my personal style in endless ways. After spending many years absorbing the beauty found in various parts of the world, I finally was able to gather all my memories and feelings and combine them into one passion, which drives all that I do currently. The use of wool, within my wearable expressions of art, provides me with a sustainable material, which is consistent with the organic beauty of colour, shape and texture found in nature, and which inspires my work. Both my textures and colour choices are inspired by the most beautiful works of art which are nature itself. As artists we strive to create beautiful works of art, however, none can ever compare to the natural inherent glory and perfection found in nature … from the exuberantly coloured petals on blossoming flowers … to the transparency found in the sun-kissed leaves of seedlings … to the incredibly detailed and intricate grain encompassed in a simple piece of wood or stone, … the inspirations are endless. As well, wool felting is a low impact process, capable of producing sustainable and earth-worthy, original works. The handcraftsmanship in felting allows me to bind the past with the present and the traditional with the modern, respectfully connecting me to the earth. The fact that I can sculpt fine fibres into fabric, while simultaneously creating statement pieces which embrace and frame the wearer, is absolutely exhilarating for me as an artist and designer.  it allows me to combine both passions for art and fashion into one fabulous rewarding process.


Aria wrap around capelet, Nuno felting on silk organza, 2011, Photo-Lorena Santin Andrade Photography-Ema Suvajac


What specific historic artists have influenced your work? 

I cannot say I have followed or look to other artists to inspire my work in a significant way. I have always had clear visions of what and how I want to express myself. However I do admire Art Nouveau Artist Alphonse Maria Mucha (24 July 1860 – 14 July 1939). He was born in the town of Ivancice, Moravia (the present Czech Republic). Mucha produced stunning paintings, posters, advertisements and book illustrations and began the whole Art Nouveau (French for new art) movement originally called the mucha style. His works featured beautiful women in flowing neoclassical-looking romantic robes and fabrics which draped fluidly and encompassed a retro pastel colour palette. His fluid thick and thin continuous circular outlines and use of soft colours, initially inspired my fashion illustration work and resonated with my own personal design style. His works evoked romance, femininity and an ethereal softness, which very much reflects what my own brand encompasses and how the ladies I dress, envision themselves when they wear my pieces.



Edera mist shawl with blossoms, Nuno felting on silk, 2011, Photo-Lorena Santin Andrade Photography-Ema Suvajac


What specific contemporary artists have influenced your work?  

I cannot say any particular artists have influenced my work. I spend most of my time working on my own art, which is driven by my own passion and which comes from nature itself. The vision and inspiration that I draw from within is what drives me, however I have admired various artists.

Ursula Suter and her incredible use of surface texture within monochromatic colour is wonderful. I admire the simplicity and silence found in her masterpieces. 

I admire Christine Birkle, owner of fashion label Hut Up located in Berlin. She has caught my attention and captivated me, as she is not only a designer but an artist, which I very much admire. She uses a technique called nuno felting, which incorporates a base fabric, which is shaped and decorated through felting only in selected areas. Her minimalistic shapes with selective felted details give her collection a very distinct form and dimension. Birkle’s designs have the sophistication of Italian designer Miuccia Prada yet have a wonderful feminine retro aura.

Designer Romeo Gigli and Alberta Ferretti played key roles in my early design development. The ultra romantic and feminine signatures to their collections captivated my attention at a very early age and helped me find and secure my own look in the process.

And finallly, fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez (February 11, 1943 – March 17, 1987) whose work appeared in all major international fashion magazines, was also an early inspiration to me. He generally signed his work “Antonio”. He was the fashion illustrator who changed the face of fashion illustrations via his use of colour and form. His beautiful illustrations were true works of art and evoked glamour, style and passion. His illustrations spoke to me. He influenced my early works of fashion art, which in turn inspired every aspect of my professional career. In my opinion, he was a modern day version of Art Nouveau Artist Alphonse Maria Mucha.


Fervent necklace and broach Feathers combined with felted petals, 2011 Photo-Lorena Santin Andrade


What other artists are you interested in and why?

The passion in all true artists inspires me. I have had the privilege of meeting many designers and artists throughout my life, who work in different mediums. Every single one who proved to be truly passionate about expressing themselves through their chosen medium, played a silent role in my professional career and inspired me overall as an artist and most importantly as a person. It is their passion and desire to express themselves visually and strive for perfection in their chosen medium that moves me, as I pursue my journey as an artist designer myself.


Exuberant organza shawl with blossoms, Nuno felting on silk, 2012, Photo-Lorena Santin Andrade


What role do you think fibre art plays in contemporary art?

It plays the same role any other medium would play. I do not think it should be treated and labeled any differently than any other medium. Art can be found in anything and fibre is simply another tool for an artist to express their passion with from within. Fashion and textiles are a form of art.


Radiance tulip blossom poncho, Nuno felting on silk, 2012 Photo-Lorena Santin Andrade


Can you talk a bit about the commercial viability of fibre art and do you find it more difficult to show and sell your work than non-fibre artists?

Absolutely not, I have combined my passions for both fashion and art so to capture the attention of both the fashion style seeker as well as the artist, who seeks something special. Art can be displayed, or it can be worn. In my accessory collection it is worn. In my home collection it is displayed. What a scarf is to an outfit, a cushion is to an interior. In ensuring I create relevant pieces from a fashion perspective, I am able to capture a wide range of customers who seek distinct couture wearable art and fashion in one.


Forsythia shawl shrug, Nuno felting on silk, 2012 Photo-Lorena Santin Andrade


When did you first discover your creative talents?

At the age of 5. As I moved back and forth between Italy and Canada, I spent my days drawing and painting. My hero was Walt Disney and I borrowed as many of the Topolino (Italian version of Mickey Mouse) comic books from my uncle as possible, so I could practice drawing the characters. By the age of 7, I asked my grandmother and mother to teach me how to knit, crochet and sew. Shortly afterwards I received my first little pink sewing machine via mail order, from a department store in Milano, Italy. I remember the day it arrived as vividly as today, as it was one of the most monumental days of my life. I designed an extensive wardrobe for my Barbie collection and simply could not get enough of everything which involved creativity. By the age of 13 I knew I wanted to pursue a fashion career and never looked back. I still have the sewing machine in my studio, reminding me of the joy I felt, and still feel today, knowing I am still “doing what I love” and “loving what I do”.


Vivascious scarf with golden thread blossoms, Felting merino wool, 2012 Photo-Lorena Santin Andrade


Please explain how you developed your own style.

Years of travel assisted me in discovering myself and my true sense of style. I spent many years working on other brands, which required me to focus on others visions. Therefore, it was not until I made the choice to primarily focus on my brand, that it all came together for me effortlessly, through the drawing forth of all the ideas and inspirations I had spent years collecting and storing in my memory bank. Sometimes less is more and more is less and when you clear the way, the answer becomes very obvious.


How does your early work differ from what you are doing now?

De-finement and clarity of personal style is the main difference. My style has always been similar… but I guess I grew up in the process. As I move towards spending more time on my brand and less time working on others brands, I further redefine my own look and style through focus and vision. My early work was experimentation. My current work is a statement.


Fervent shrug with fervent necklace, Nuno felting on silk organza, 2012 Photo-Lorena Santin Andrade


Have you experienced fluctuations in your productivity over the years?

Absolutely. A positive state of mind is key in setting the proper foundation for creativity, hence allowing ideas to flow and be developed in the purest most wholesome way. An artist must be connected on a completely different level in order for ideas to become a physical reality.


Symphony sequens shawl with blossoms, Nuno felting on lurex knit with embroidery, 2012 Photo-Lorena Santin Andrade



Tell us about your studio and how you work:

I keep it portable so I can be outside as much as is possible in spring, summer and fall months! Exposure to the earth, sun, air and texture and colours in nature promotes my creativity and productivity. The connection to the earth empowers, energizes and recharges me in unexplainable ways. My home studio allows me to be close to what and who inspires me most.


Lily of the valley shawl shrug, Nuno felting on silk, 2012 Photo-Lorena Santin Andrade


What project has given you the most satisfaction and why?

My very first projects which were experimental in many ways and took me so much more time than anything I work on currently, due the learning curve involved. They allowed me to really feel the fibre, water, soap and process with my hands. They inspired the evolution of my works that followed. These cherished pieces in my personal collection will always be symbolic to me and a reminder of a fundamental professional change in my life.


Embracing scarf with golden thread details and blossoms, Felting merino wool, 2012 Photo-Lorena Santin Andrade


What do you consider to be the key factors to a successful career as an fibre artist?

Passion. Without passion an artist cannot be inspired and moved to create from within.

Commitment. Without commitment to execute and manifest, regardless of the obstacles, an artists’ idea is simply an idea that never comes to life.
“do what you love … and love what you do”


Transluscency shawl, Felting merino wool, 2012 Photo-Lorena Santin Andrade


Where do you imagine your work in five years? 

Possibilities are endless… but definitely evolved and expanded.


Warm ombre throw, Felting natural undyed merino wool, 2012, Photo-Lorena Santin Andrade


What interests you about the World of Threads festival?

The opportunity to express myself through my creations with as many people as possible.


Magnolia blossom shawl, Nuno felting on silk, 2012 Photo-Lorena Santin Andrade

Magnolia blossom shawl, Nuno felting on silk, 2012 Photo-Lorena Santin Andrade

Do you have any upcoming shows?

Nothing confirmed yet. Please check my website and facebook page for updates and details.


Radiance tulip blossom poncho, Nuno felting on silk, 2012, Photo-Lorena Santin Andrade


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Interviews published by Gareth Bate & Dawne Rudman.


Hydrangea shawl shrug with blossoms, Nuno felting on silk, 2012 Photo-Lorena Santin Andrade