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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Jolly Good

Interview: Morgan Allen-Oliver

Written by Jonno Ovans

When did you last hear an amazing story? A tale of derring-do, help medical or grand ambition, shop heights scaled, ambulance depths plumbed – simple stand-up human decency or quiet unassuming endurance or some quirky ingenuity fit to inspire generations to come. The kind of stuff they used to sing songs about, and still do.

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Sat around their dining table one evening, David and Clare Hieatt pondered. They were rubbing their chins over what they could really do about the things they cared about. They’d started howies back in 1995, something of an awesome inspirational-type clothes company in itself, but this was clearly not enough. From that evening of reflection, they figured that the world’s Doers are the best people to inspire people to go Do something. In David’s words, ‘They show us what is possible. They leave a trail that we can follow. Knowing how they did it helps us to connect the dots about how we can do it. They give us the inspiration, the final push we need to go and do our thing. Whatever that might be. From starting a new business, to inventing something that hasn’t been done before to fighting for your cause, doers seek.’

And so the Do Lectures were born – a series of talks by people who have Done stuff, and might well Do more, if we let them up and at it – a few days gathering each year to share ideas and stories, to meet other fantastic Doers, and thereby get these stories out and about in the world. Here are a few Qs – the As courtesy of David Hieatt – that might give you more of an idea.

Why do people get involved with the Do Lectures?

There isn’t a set of talks like it in Britain. The talks have sustainability at its heart. Their reason to exist is to make a positive change. The speakers do not get paid but we do cover their expenses. Speakers come from all over the world to tell their story. They want to share their learning, they want to share their new ideas, they want to share their journey. They want to tell the world about the change they have made or are seeking to make. It might be a small tent but there are some big ideas being shared. They have a story to tell. People remember stories. They forget facts.

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How do you choose your speakers for the Do Lectures?

We spend the year researching the speakers. We find out who has written the most interesting books, written the most thought provoking articles, who is doing the bravest thinking in their field, and then we pull from that research and start to compile a short list. We already have some of the speakers booked for next year. We also have a number of Do mentors throughout the world. They report back to us from time to time. They tell us who their doers are in their part of the world. They we literally get on the phone to the people we are going to invite. Even in the second year, an invite is starting to carry some kudos.

What is the most unusual topic for this year’s Do Lectures?

Maybe, Mount Everests binman. Or a school that aims to create chaos and not order. Maybe the man wants to change how concrete is made. Or maybe the man who’s doodles have ended up on the big screen for what could be the biggest film of the year: Where the Wild Things Are.

Where do you see the Do lectures in 5, 10, 20 years’ time?

In 5 years – There will be a series of How to Do books. That cover the subjects that the talks cover from clean tech to inventing to climate change. Global talks. The talks will take place all over the world. From Sydney, to Bangalore, to Stockholm, to Tokyo, to San Francisco, to Beijing. The talks will over time become an important set of talks, respected throughout the world. In 10 years – The aim for the Do Lectures over the next decade is to build a world resource for Doers and to supply that knowledge for Free for the world to use. To make a positive change. In 20 years – To build A Do school. There will be a physical and a virtual library available free to the world.

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So here’s a gathering with a difference. At one thousand pounds a place, you’re less buying a ticket, more contributing to the speakers’ expenses and the future free distribution of the lectures. David and Clare are thinking big – what is fast becoming a respected annual event should attract over a million people across the world this time around to get inspired for free. If you can go, I most humbly and slightly jealously urge you, go. And if a back seat is the order of the day – well, don’t make a habit of sitting there. Once this year’s stories are out and available, I think there’ll be more than enough get-up to go. Yes, I surely Do.

One of Amelia’s Magazine‘s favourite graduates from the Central St Martins MA back in March was knitwear designer Morgan Allen- Oliver, treatment with a selection of horse jockey- meet- Soviet minimalist graphic patterned jumpers. We caught up with him to find out how the last few months have been treating a designer with very British sensibilities.

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Hi there! How are you doing? You have nice hair.

Hello, approved thank you. I think both my hair and I are feeling the effects of a rather busy couple of weeks!

What have you been up to?

Well I’ve had my brothers wedding in Somerset, diagnosis where I was making waistcoats for the wedding party, and then I’ve been at the Avalon Camp, the charity I work with (a week in a very rainy, muddy field with 32 children, trying to give them a summer holiday!!) then straight back to London to reacclimatise to city life!

You graduated in March – what have you been up to since then?

I needed a break. It was 18 months of near hell, I loved almost every minute of it but it was emotionally, physically and financially draining – I loved it! Then after a couple of weeks lying in a darkened room, I went back to my old uni, Ravensbourne, to help some very talented young designers pull their collections together ready for Graduate Fashion Week. It was fun but strange at the same time – working so hard only to see someone else get the glory! I have not done that before but I suppose it gets you ready for the real world! Then I started doing some work for Christopher Shannon and Natascha Stolle, sort of knitwear consultancy I guess you could call it? This has actually been very beneficial and given me a lot of creative freedom.

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Describe your design aesthetic in three words.

British. Elegant. Me.

Who do you see wearing your clothes?

It is odd, but I always have my friend Ed in the back of my head when I design – I think, “would he wear it?” Then I go with it. I also see my clothes as really easy-to wear, and could work on anybody who wants to wear them – as long as they are happy, I am happy. I think that as long as people are confident in their clothes, they will look good! Man that sounds cheesy!

Who do you admire within the industry? Any other heroes?

A strange choice but I am always really excited to see the new Miu Miu shows when they come out. I know it is mainly womenswear and not my forte, but there is always something fun and new that really gets me. Every now again Burberry come out with some beautiful knitwear that makes me wish I had designed it!

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Why knitwear?

As stupid and as lazy as it sounds, when I was in my last year at Ravensbourne, no one was doing it so I thought it would be a good way to stand out, and it was. You need to stand out in fashion, however possible! But as I got more into it, I actually started to like it and really enjoyed the process, designing as I knitted and being so much freer than when I was working with wovens. I must have enjoyed it I guess as I went on to specialise in it at St Martins!

As a knitwear specialist, are you pleased to see a lot of recent students showing an interest in knitting?

I really am. It was amazing that only two years after I left Ravensbourne as the only only pure knitter, there were six or seven people doing it when I went back, all of whom were doing some of the best and most beautiful work I have seen. I was also really pleased to see so much on show at GFW. I sat through nearly all the shows and the knitwear was definitely the highlight in most shows.

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Morgan’s BA collection from Ravensbourne

Now for the important question…you inherit 5 million dollars the same day aliens land and say they’re going to blow up the world in two days… what do you do? (Editor’s note: definitely not lifted from anywhere)

Well I don’t believe in aliens. But if I inherited 5 million pounds (we are in England!) and then the world ended that night, I would probably be too panicked to come up with a coherent plan, so would no doubt waste my time thinking about what to do!

Who or what is your greatest enemy?

Time. There is never enough and I waste it terribly.

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Who would you ideally like to work for, and what’s the future for Morgan Allen-Oliver?

I want to work for one of the classic British houses. I feel that is where my style sits best. Then who knows, one day go out on my own? When I was younger, and still finding my style, I always thought New York was the place for me, and actually in the past week, two opportunities have come up over there, but we will wait and see!

To get in touch with Morgan (and maybe get yourself one of those jolly nice jumpers) pop him over an e-mail by clicking here.

Photographs: Josephine Ma and Catwalking.com

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One Response to “Jolly Good”

  1. Frenchie says:

    One, please, for a jumper!
    i think M.A-O’s work is amazing.
    So talented.

    (ps. nice polaroid)

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