Academy of Design’s illustrious fashion design alumni inspire creative hopefuls at Design Lokaya Open House

The Academy of Design (AOD) is celebrating the successful conclusion of yet another exciting Open House. On Saturday the 3rd of September 2022, the country’s pioneering design institution hosted the “Design Lokaya Open House” at their address in the Colombo Innovation Tower, where prospective design students, their parents, and industrial partners (and just about anyone creatively-inclined, really) were afforded the privileged opportunity of getting acquainted with, and wholly immersing themselves in a creative ecosystem that molds visionary, socially conscious, and resilient designers of the future.

This year’s open house revolved around the university’s ‘New Local goes Global’ campaign, which aims to both celebrate and bring to the fore the rich heritage and cultural craftsmanship Sri Lanka has to offer the world. Amidst an exhilarating schedule of fashion shows, open mics, workshops, and exhibitions, “with career guidance sessions and tours also thrown into the mix, a popular feature on the agenda was the Alumni Talks.”

As testament to how far an AOD design programme can take you, attendees were treated to the success stories of some of the university’s most thriving fashion design alumni. Lonali Rodrigo, Ruth Weerasinghe, and Nithya Lamahewa, took to the stage to share their accomplishments, inspirations, and also pass on some sage advice to aspiring creatives in the audience.

Lonali Rodrigo, a 2012 graduate of AOD’s BA (Hons) Fashion Design & Textile programme, is now the Founder and Lead Designer of her own brand, House of Lonali. Lonali always knew from the start that she wanted to tackle throw-away culture and provide an alternative to fast fashion, and so, upcycling, resourcefulness, and sustainability have formed the bedrock of her business – true to the sustainable values intrinsically rooted in Sri Lanka’s own history and culture. At Alumni Talks, she spoke of her newest project, Making Matters, for which she collaborated with four local creatives -a dancer, an artist, an architect, and a poet- to bring their sustainable learnings and practices to light, through up-cycling their own textile waste into several statement pieces.

Ruth Weerasinghe graduated with a BA (Hons) Fashion Design & Marketing from AOD in 2018, and just two years later was awarded the Runner-Up prize at the Redress Design Award held in Hong Kong. Placing second at the world’s largest sustainable design competition against 150 other designers from across the globe is no easy feat, but Ruth’s collection, SO4, encouraged longevity in garment construction, and also building an emotional connection with the clothes you wear. At Design Lokaya, Ruth underscored the importance of finding solutions to tackling sustainability for our planet’s longevity. She spoke of how she still actively works towards contributing to the sustainable slow fashion movement by collecting industrial synthetic and textile waste from local industries and giving them a second chance at life; through unique pieces that draw inspiration from concepts of future, protection, and survival.  Ruth works as a Designer at Inqube Solutions Pvt. Ltd (Brandix – Innovations).

Nithya Lamahewa, is a BA (Hons) Fashion Design & Textile alumna, having graduated in 2012. She founded her eponymous fashion label in 2012, built on the ethos of social responsibility. Nithya’s designs seamlessly fuse traditional handcraft such as batik and handloom with contemporary fabrics, and has had her trademark wearable collections featured at prestigious design festivals and well-established storefronts. At the session, Nithya spoke of the importance of ethical fashion, and how the brand’s primary purpose is to uplift the rural artisan community with every collection; showcasing both the flexibility with which these ancient craft textiles can evolve with the times, and the immense potential of Sri Lankan designs to take on the global fashion stage.

A formidable force in design education and innovation, AOD’s fashion department offers two attractive undergraduate programmes; and as with all of the university’s full-time, 3-year BA degrees, both, the BA (Hons) Fashion & Textile Design and BA (Hons) Fashion Design & Marketing programmes, are affiliated with the globally-ranked Northumbria University, UK.

The former is one of the university’s most popular programmes, where students are given the chance to investigate and experiment with a diverse range of fashion disciplines, in tune with the changing tides of the industry. In their final year, these aspiring fashion designers will then be asked to create, develop, and produce their own individual collections for a graduate fashion showcase.

The BA (Hons) Fashion Design & Marketing programme on the other hand, is aimed at future fashion marketers, where students get to engage in all aspects of fashion studies; from research into fashion markets and their customers, fashion forecasting, fashion graphics, illustration, photographic styling, and promotional techniques, capping the course with design realization projects through pattern creation and garment construction.

World-class curriculum aside, students also get to reap the many benefits of AOD’s strong industry collaborations and strategic international partnerships; be it through access to industry specialists, work placements, international study trips, or opportunities to showcase on global platforms.

Additionally, all students at AOD gain the significant advantage of being tutored by a diverse and qualified international faculty, and that too within the walls of Sri Lanka’s most inspirational creative space – the Colombo Innovation Tower. At the very hub of all things design, the campus is equipped with world-class facilities, equipment, and workspaces, students also getting many the privileged opportunity of rubbing shoulders with both industry titans and flourishing entrepreneurs.

AOD invites all A/L graduates looking to carve their own space in the exciting and ever-evolving fashion industry, to learn more about the university’s fashion programmes. For more information please contact AOD on 0775727772, email  info@aod.lk  or walk in between 9am and 4pm Monday to Friday – Colombo Innovation Tower, No 477, R.A De Mel Mawatha, Colombo  www.aod.lk