Style Curious


Curiously kinetic milliner, Sandra Bamminger

Sandra Bamminger’s speciality is sculptural design. She grew up in a small village outside Salzburg and was planning to return to Austria to study architecture with an emphasis on interior design. Instead, she attended Central St Martins to study womenswear, after which she spent some time working on costumes for theatre production and dance companies. Sandra then went on to learn the art of creative millinery with Rose Cory and Ian Bennett at the Royal College of Art, where she mastered the use of sinamay, crin and felt in hat-making. She now has her own fashion label, curiously named House of Boing. A small range of hats designed by Sandra Bamminger is now exclusively available from ShopCurious.

I recently interviewed Sandra to find out more about her work and her inspiration and discovered that she became a milliner because “I love the techniques, the craftsmanship, the way one can create shapes in three dimensions with the help of traditions that have been around for centuries.”

What makes her really curious about design is “Initially an idea, which evokes a childlike curiosity within me”.. Her first fashion range was based on kinetic art, the art of moving sculpture – and hence onomatopoeic name: the House of Boing. Her aim is to give all of her creations a living energy that arouse a reaction within the wearer and to create a childlike enthusiasm and curiosity in adults.

Sandra’s ideal customer is “Somebody who likes to play, who gets up in the morning and likes to dress according to their mood, some days more experimental than others - never afraid of getting it wrong every so often.”

Sandra describes her method of working as follows “I may be looking at a sculpture, photo, painting or film, or quite often also furniture or architecture  and I like an element, texture, colour range or shape and I think 'ooh, i wonder what would happen if you take this and cross it with this idea and repeat it here'..." Afterwards she experiments, interprets, perhaps modernizes a technique and translates it into a specific shape or material – sometimes the final outcome just gets 'born'. Occasionally, it takes only a week or so to come up with a new design, and at other times she stores her ideas in the back of a drawer and brings them to fruition much later. The one constant is that each and every one of her unique creations is hand made at her studio in south London.

Sandra draws her inspiration from various sources, cited as “tactile and expressive sculptors such as Naum Gabo and animators like Len Lye. Kinetic artists like David Medalla, Jesus Rafael., the mobile designer Alexander Calder and furniture designer Verner Panton. More recently I keep coming back to artists who are manipulating nature in a constantly changing way - Andy Goldsworthy and Richard Long come to mind”.

At dinner, she’d ideally like to sit next to “Alexander Calder, I imagine he'd be lots of fun, being one of the few artists having completely created his own art form: making toys for his kids. Len Lye seems like a very sound guy too, having predicted various microbiotic shapes and medical advances decades ahead of medicine through doodling and reconnecting two brain halves.” As neither of these is still alive, Sandra would also like to invite another long-deceased genius, Amadeus Mozart, plus “one of my most favourite experimental musicians Amon Tobin.” For desert she’d invite them all around to climb on the rockface of a mountainside so they could discuss how to make a sculpture that could transport people up mountains more easily and to discuss the type of music that should accompany this activity.

Sandra isn’t into futuristic fabrics, preferring to use materials that are already in existence. Her dream collection would be something “that comes straight out of my head” – so I guess that would be cerebrally generated - sounds like style with brains to me... something we at ShopCurious are definitely in favour of.
On the other hand, Sandra is a bit of a sucker for trashy American TV series, especially if she’s engaged in “a wee spot of crochet” at the same time. “Perhaps I'll check out the newest Episode of Heroes and see if this series turns out better... while waiting for the newest dreamlike Pushing Daisies or perhaps even a little fashion-bashing Ugly Betty.”

Thanks Sandra, that’s quite curious enough.