She wants to create a different world, a unique space where everything will be unfolded. Jule Waibel understands fashion as sculpture, and design as original. Starting from a piece of material, she’s developed her own techniques to bring the most stunning attires to life when she’s not thinking about folding glass for new design objects. And it is simply fantastic! It all started in London before moving to Berlin: she discovered her passion for folding during a school project at the Royal College of Art. Today, the German creator lives and pursues her daydream in Berlin surrounded by the energy of people who simply make it, believe in it and have a certain drive.
Her work looks like a game, a poetic game; everything should be folded and unfolded. Furniture, vessels or clothing turn out to be the best once unfolded. In the same vein, fashion is about enriching, inspiring and pushing people to express themselves. Jule is trying to expand and explore realms of endless possibilities. Once in her hands, typical fabrics and objects are actually experienced quite differently. From then on, her deepest desire is to unfold ‘everything’; so to say, the universe!
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Let me start by asking you how would you define your universe (your ‘unfolded universe’)?
In my unfolded Universe everything is pleated, everything is unfolded. So, it’s just like a normal world, but you can imagine that the walls, the garments, the table, the glasses, etc.; everything is folded. Maybe people dance like they are folded; the music sounds folded. I don't know, I fold any material. I don't work only with paper, for example; or only with fabrics. I think everything can be folded. This is what I am slowly trying to create; I call myself ‘the creator of the unfolded universe’.
How did you start working on these hyper-architecture-textured pieces of clothing? Were them originally thought to be sculptures, or to be actually worn?
You probably think about my paper garments, my paper dresses. Everything started back in 2013, when I did my Master at the Royal College of Art in product design, not in fashion. I was working with folds (just in an abstract way) as a product designer. I had a project about minimum and maximum spaces, and that's why I started thinking about folding, because you can make something go much smaller, but you can make something super big as well. Expansions and contractions.
That's when I started folding objects and folding all kinds of materials. After this project, I had huge interest in folding items, materials, fabrics, shower curtains, leather, paper; everything! Then I was always so fascinated by the world of folds that I just continued folding. That was actually my idea for my final project: I wanted to create an unfolded universe, like pop-up things in a bag (just like Mary Poppins). You have all your unfolded pieces in it, you take them out, and you just open them. It's like a pop-up world. But I had two months time so there was no real point in doing it.
So I rather thought of creating something more like an homage to the world of folds. I thought about making this woman who wears a dress, an umbrella and a bag. Every element shows the possibilities that folds offer: the dress shows the movement, the umbrella shows the beauty and the aesthetic –it is just really satisfying to look at–, and the bag shows the expansions and contractions. So that was my idea. It was never thought to be worn; it was more a sculpture piece, or even a performance piece. 
Would you say there is any difference between being an artist, a plastic artist, and being a fashion designer? Between working around space and exploring body movements?
No, I would say there is no difference between an artist, a designer, a fashion designer, a product designer, etc. I mean, there’s obviously a ‘typical’ role as a fashion designer or as an artist; you can always tell in which area you're working at. But since I am kinda everything… (laughs). I would say there is no difference because you shouldn't think with borders. Even though you're not a fashion designer, you still can create fashion and have a feeling for body movements.
For example, the fact that I was not a fashion designer made the unfolded dress happen. Fashion designers thinks differently; they think with patterns, for example. I just thought about an architectural way to work with folding techniques. I just had a massive red triangle piece of paper, and I started folding it. By doing so, I ended up creating the dress. It is something completely different from fashion: I created a dress without any cut, without any sew: it’s just one piece, you fold it and… ta-dah, here you have it! This was only possible because I’m not a fashion designer, but a product designer. Still, I don’t think of myself as a designer of any kind or an artist; I’m a creator, and I create things.
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Most of your creations seem to be made from paper. Sometimes it is leather, and sometimes it is actually paper. How do you generate these materials? Are you maybe looking to develop your own innovative fabrics?
There are many different kinds of materials I work with, which is amazing. It always starts with the material. I see a material and I ask myself: is this possible to pleat? Then I try to fold it through different techniques: sometimes I steam it with heat, sometimes I just fold it, sometimes I have to grease it and then cut it or dip it into something liquid. Every material requires its own approach. Then I think about what could it be turned into. For example I used felt once, and I thought: is it possible to pleat? Does it stay in shape? I finally achieved folding it by using hot steam, and then I created a pouf and some little furniture pieces for myself. After that, I used organza and silk; with them I created very nice, fragile-looking garments, dresses, a bra and trousers (and people can actually wear them). My next challenge is going to be folding glass. That's different because you have to blow it and to unfold it.
So there is still so much to fold, and of course, I am also working with future fabrics at the moment; for example, this kind of pineapple leather. I'm also folding cork for an installation, which looks really nice and creates a warm atmosphere. And yes, creating my own fabric would be amazing! But I need to find a more time to focus on such things.
How long does it take to make, let's say, a dress?
To make a dress out of paper it takes between 8 to 12 hours. The folding ‘thing’ takes around 10 hours more; and then, comes the rest of it (to attach the thing together and print it on the paper). So, within two days the dress is done.
Your pieces are truly poetic. Is it something that keeps you moving forward (the poetic of clothing)? Why do you make clothes?
Thank you! I make clothes because I love the human body; I love wrapping it, playing with it, changing it. There is definitely something ‘human’ in my work, and I want to put that together. About the poetry of clothing –having this world of aesthetic and emotions–, it is something that always grabbed my attention. I've always been fascinated by things that seem chaotic at first but that, once you open them, you understand that they have its own place and way of functioning. Imperfection-meets-perfection is my biggest fascination.
Would you like to properly sell your dress someday? To see people walking on the street in it?
That would be nice, but the dresses are not made to be worn; I mean, that was not the initial idea (but you can actually wear them). So yes, I would actually love seeing it. I've never focused so much on the fashion scene, so I've never gave myself enough time to organize the production for the dresses. But soon –actually, this coming year– my website is gonna have a shop. It is on the queue. Everything will be made, obviously, in my little unfolding factory, with my owns hands. At the moment made in Germany, it used to be made in London, but I've just moved to Berlin. So yeah, this is planned. So watch out, soon you'll be able to get a piece of folded pants, and spread it to the world ! I would be happy to see that, definitely.
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