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Tangram a brand in Asia with Latin spirit

words by Angelica Castillo Balanta 

Paola Sinisterra is a Colombian fashion designer based in Hong Kong since 2008. She studied interior design, fashion and textiles in Barcelona, where after finishing her studies worked as a designer for Zara and other brands. In Barcelona, the city of inspiration, she also met Ignacio Garcia her husband, friend and business partner. Ignacio is an architect by profession, born in Barcelona, schooled in Bogota, ​​and like Paola he has also been involved in design projects, art and culture. After gaining experience in Spain and the European fashion world, their next adventure has been to conquer Asia, where their last project, Tangram is born. Now, living in Hong Kong the Asian market is her next objective for her creations. I talked with Paola to get a little closer on the latin designer living in the chinese metropolis.

M • What was the inspiration for starting Tangram?
T • After years of working for fast fashion I was longing for something more meaningful, for working on a product that was more meticulously done, for garments that had a soul. To work on a project that was far from the treadmill of trends and seasons and the never ending machine of “new just for the sake of new”. Tangram grew out of an interest in craft, textiles, colors and material. I wanted to create garments that I and the stylish, interesting women in my life could wear. Pieces that were a bit poetic without being gimmicky, fun without being silly and comfortable without being hideous.
M • How was it to enter into the fashion world in Hong Kong?
T • After working in Zara in Spain I came to Hong Kong to work for a German company doing sourcing and design. Both jobs were very interesting and the latter gave me the opportunity to meet factories and get acquainted with the way business is done in Asia, which has come very handy now that I run my own business. At a certain point I felt I had the great opportunity to start the brand and to my delight found a very supportive design community in Hong Kong willing to help out and be enthusiastic about the project. Hong Kong is not a design city per se, but it’s highly creative and people here are incredibly driven and talented. It’s a great place to start a business and it’s very strategic location makes it feel like the most exciting place to be as Asia grows as both a market and producer of interesting design content.

M • How have your Latin roots influenced and inspired you?
T • I’d like to think that it is a subtle subconscious influence but I guess if we look deeper the very basic principles of the brand are exactly those things that make me love my latin roots. Passion for craft, the imperative of fun, an unapologetic approach to colors, a daring love of prints, being unafraid to mix high and low references, the idea that garments must be comfortable (and sexy) to wear for a night out dancing; can all be traced back to my latin roots. Needless to say having moved around so much has also greatly influenced the way I approach the design process.
M • Could you describe your collection for spring / summer 2012?
T • Being textile trained, for me inspiration always start with the material. Be it a fabric with a fantastic or interesting hand feel, a vintage button, a print. Then in a process that I’m sure any designer finds difficult to explain; ideas, images, limitations, commercial awareness, details just slot together to create a vision.

The two prints were in this case a starting point and defined a palette that is vibrant and fun yet highly wearable. The shapes and details come from garments I was craving to have in my own closet, to versions of classics I love, to vintage inspired shapes I wanted to recuperate. It’s all about beautiful functionality and timeless craft. I don’t really believe in seasons but rather try to build a wardrobe of indispensables that the Tangram woman can continue to wear season after season.
M • What were your main challenges when you shifted from Barcelona to Hong Kong?
T • Actually there was La Coruña in between for a couple of years so that was the kind of bridge that prepared the Asian adventure. Barcelona is a vibrant creative city that I look forward to visit more; even though it seems to have a habit of looking at it’s bellybutton too often.
At that moment Asia simply felt like the place to be, so aside from being very far from family and the normal challenges of living in a place where you feel you never completely decipher everything it’s been a fantastic experience, where the rewards have been more important than the challenges.
M • Can you tell us about your future projects?
T • The main project is figuring out a way to grow without having to get on the treadmill of fast fashion. I believe in collections that have a concept that drives them but have a problem with the idea of throwaway fashion and trends. I believe in super well made garments that layered one way or the other can be part of a woman’s wardrobe all year long. So the main project is continuing to fine tune that vision of strong, individual garments that become a staple in a woman’s closet.
There are also more accessories in the works. Fun, conversational pieces that have proven to be an interesting way to express the Tangram vision.
Opening the Asian market (and the Latin-American one, why not?!) is definitely a priority and last but definitely not least continuing to collaborate with all the interesting people I have gotten to meet through Tangram.

Happy Lunar Year of the Dragon! Here is to it roaring loud and blazing trail!
Become a fan of Tangram [here].