They have been working together for ten years. They design taut concepts many times inspired by art, always keeping their characteristic style in mind. Judit is in charge of the operation of the entire fashion company, she is responsible for everything from design to production, while Adél participates in certain phases of creative processes, and in designing partial collections – full honesty, harmony, and complete flow. If the coronavirus epidemic didn’t come along, the Hungarian athletes and para-athletes would have worn their clothes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. We interviewed Judit Garam, founder of and lead designer of NUBU, and Adel Kovacs, the co-designer of the brand.
Judit: We first met more than 10 years ago. Adél was a student at Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, and she contacted us to see whether she could work for us – this is how she became our intern. In that period, we didn’t really have an established program for anything: I asked her to be attentive, be present and do what she likes. This way, she more and more started to get to know the brand and, with it, my style. In the meantime, it turned out that we have many things in common, in terms of taste, too, so she started helping me in a couple of things and getting more involved in our everyday tasks. This was a several years long process. When she finished university, we hired her permanently.
Adél: That’s right, I saw a few NUBU pieces in Mono Studio first, and I liked them very much, this is why I applied to the company. I remember that my first job entailed brainstorming about and designing menswear.
Judit: We design the annual two big NUBU collections together in all cases. On these occasions, we are in the studio almost every day, and we monitor the entire patterning process. Production is mainly my task, and Adél creates the creative and graphical materials. We always clarify the current tasks at our weekly meetings. We try to establish our everydays in line with the intensity of work and our current do-dos.
Adél: The entire process starts with the fabrics fair, where we look at the trends and we start designing with the textiles we like right away. At these times, we already have an exact idea about what we would like to create and of which materials. Recently we build our collections around Asian philosophy and harmony.
Of course we also do trend analysis, a kind of collection, and we try to incorporate one or two trends into the given collection, at the same time, consistency is important in design, so the basic concept is always there, with slight changes.
From the perspective of the work process, we first brainstorm and then I usually draw these designs. Matters related to form are usually my tasks, and Judit determines which fabric suits my design, or how the given textiles can be combined. Of course it is difficult to separate these two. If a prototype is completed, we often interfere with each other’s work. There is no such thing as your trousers or my top, we always add to the other’s idea, and try to further develop the pieces. I am primarily intrigued by technological issues. Fastenings and fascinating lines, pocket fittings, so the engineering part of it. The design process is followed by photo concept and window display design, all following the inspiration and theme of the given collection. Of course we have help, but usually we design these, too.
Judit: At the fabrics fairs already mentioned by Adél, by browsing through the various textiles, we always form a connection perhaps through a previous art experience, and then we start to build the given collection around it subconsciously. I would like to highlight that creating our apparel by supporting Hungarian contemporary art and using their artworks as inspiration was important for me from the very beginning, already in the first NUBU collection. We continue to work with this approach even today. When Adél and I travel together, we always visit museums and galleries. We are inspired by many artists. In addition, we talk a lot, we share our experiences with each other, which then of course shape the common narrative.
Adél: I love and respect it about Judit that she’s not afraid to experiment. She is very open and she likes to incorporate new things into the collections. What’s important for both of us conceptual thinking, and this also represented in the brand’s identity. To that end, the brand’s style didn’t change a bit in the past 10 years, which is quite rare amongst large fashion brands.
//ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OR CRITICS//
Judit: We tell quite frankly if we don’t like something; we don’t beat around the bushes.
Adél: I am quite straightforward. If something is really terrible, then we take the edge off with some humor.
Judit: NUBU is one of them. Of course I personally have many dreams that I would like to pursue, but our positive shared vision is to make the brand known on an international level in the future.
Adél: Yes, this is absolutely true. Another big dream of ours is to open stores in Europe, in various countries. And outside of work, to have a harmonious life and for everything to go smoothly.
Judit: We have many experiences together; successes, awards, foreign travels, and weekends spent together during the summer. I cannot highlight just a single one of them.
Adél: A good story or not, the current epidemic is a situation that brings many challenges into our lives, even if on a temporary basis. We have to think and plan a lot about the future. Of course we had other adventures, too, for example when we were supposed to send clothes to Shanghai Fashion Week, but owing to a pallet made out of bio materials (which cannot be imported to China) the entire shipment was kept at customs. In the meantime, we also had a show at home, so we were very eager to receive the package, and then we started to sew the entire collection again.. Needless to say, this united us even more, and this was a positive out-turn of the story. I hope the current epidemic will end soon, and we can look back to this period as a test, which only made us and our brand stronger.
Judit has 25 years of experience in the world of fashion, and was the exclusive distributor of several fashion brands including Kookai and Patrizia Pepe in Hungary, and then she was the owner and designer of Miju brand. She opened Mono Contemporary Art Gallery in Ostrom utca in 2006. She has been the owner and designer of NUBU since 2007, and she is the co-owner of Mono Fashion Shop and Mono Art & Design. In addition, she created and launched the quite popular Tihany Piac Placc gastro market in Tihany in 2008.
Adél co-founded k e p p showroom in 2009, and obtained her masters degree at the textile design MA course of Moholy-Nagy University of Art in 2011, with a specialization on knitted fabrics. She spent her internship at NUBU. Simultaneously, she studied a few months at the menswear department of the London College of Fashion. She is a co-designer at NUBU since 2011, while she also worked in London first as an intern at Marios Schwab and later as assistant designer and studio manager at Eudon Choi in 2012. She has been teaching fashion design at Budapest Metropolitan University since 2012, and holds preparatory courses for admission at Corvin Art School Budapest.
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In this article series, we ask artist duos close to our hearts and respected by us (spouses and creative duos) about the same six topics.