Programme: Intermedia - BA

Year: 2010

Intermedia graduate Ciorstaidh Monk co-founded Scottish sleepwear brand SÒLAS with a focus on minimalist design, comfort and modern luxury.

Tell us about your time at ECA

I always knew I wanted to go to art college and was so delighted when I was accepted to Edinburgh College of Art (ECA). The first year was broad, so we could experiment in the different departments; I had always been drawn to fashion but also loved drawing, photography, events and installations. Intermedia seemed to be the course that drew all of these elements together. My time at ECA was spent experimenting with cut paper, installation and photography and always had a fashion element running through it.

A highlight of my time there was our class trip to Japan in 2008, where we spent two weeks in Kyoto working with the students at the art school there. We visited a tiny island, galleries and art parks including 'Site of Reversible Destiny'. I drew so much inspiration from that trip, and subsequent international travels.

"Be authentic, trust what you are drawn to and do it. Nobody has your creative brain so trust yourself!"

Ciorstaidh Monk, Co-founder, SÒLAS

Tell us about your experiences since leaving ECA

I currently live in Glasgow and have worked in and around fashion internationally in places including Reykjavik, Iceland and Lagos, Nigeria. I am co-founder of sleepwear brand SÒLAS, Producer of Fashion Foundry and have worked freelance in photography, videography and styling.

I am really keen on collaborations, and over the years have collaborated on various projects including a capsule collection of hand-printed garments with Alice Dansey-Wright, a fashion performance with Colour Deaf for Cryptic Nights and more recently a sleepwear label called SÒLAS with long-time friend and co-founder Ruth Mitchell.

SÒLAS is a partnership of two halves: Ruth is the print designer and I create the garment shapes. The collection is based on comfort and modern luxury with thoughtful details, deep pockets and exquisite finishings, the contemporary floral prints are designed to illustrate wildflowers growing freely on the machair in the Outer Hebrides where I grew up.

As Producer of Fashion Foundry, I work closely with designers throughout Scotland, and more recently Internationally, helping to develop their fashion businesses by matching them with a creative mentor and other industry professionals. We are currently working on a pilot programme with the British Council and The Assembly Hub, where we have supported over 50 designer businesses based in Lagos, Nigeria.

SÒLAS Sleepmask
Image courtesy of SÒLAS
SÒLAS teal buttercup sleepmask
SÒLAS sleepwear
Image courtesy of SÒLAS
SÒLAS sleepwear

Alumni wisdom

Be authentic, trust what you are drawn to and do it. Nobody has your creative brain so trust yourself! Collaborate as much as you can. The people you are studying alongside (and your tutors) are going to be the ones you’ll work with in the future, make as many connections as possible and be experimental with your work while you’re in art college. Reach out to artists or designers who you admire, ask if you can intern or help them out in some way. Turn up and be in the studio; developing the discipline to make work in the studio is one that will help you continue to make work once you’ve graduated.

This article first appeared on The University of Edinburgh alumni page


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