I am sitting with Alex Clow in his Hackney studio, chatting and having a coffee on a bright spring morning. Here, he spends most of his time in a fun and colourful space full of creativity and perfectly matching Alex's personality. The set designer, installation artist, founder of @glowed__up and co-founder of @oui.cestbon.ldn, who has collaborated with big brands, events and artists, like Melanie C, Up Cosmetics, Boiler Room or Sink The Pink, to name a few, is sharing his experience, favourite designers and upcoming projects with us.

When and how did you start your creative career?

I've always been an artist! Creating three-dimensional pieces and environments has always been at the core of my practice. I moved to London to study Fine Art at CentralSaint Martins, and here I pursued my interest in manipulating physical spaces and creating installations. After graduating, I started assisting Alun Davies, a set designer and art director, who has really helped pave my way to where I am now. At the time, I didn't know that I wanted to be a set designer. I just knew that I wanted to make things for the world to see and that I could make money from it! I started assisting Alun in making weird and wonderful sculptures, costume pieces and sets for everything from club nights to editorials.

What connection do you have with the fashion world?

As I started to make my path in set design, it mainly revolved around doing editorials for magazines such as Hunger, Wonderland, 7th Man, etc. These projects were a great way to see a lot of fashion and work with great stylists, photographers and hair and make-up teams. I find it very interesting to see how the dynamic between everyone works and how one reference can translate across all the departments. I'm also a drag queen, so fashion falls quite heavily into that, plus the many fashion parties I have been to have quite inspired me. Now I love to do work for events, and for club nights, I did for MTV, Sink The Pink, Burberry. I also enjoy seeing the fashion that people turn up with to the events, how it complements my work and how they interact. People are always posing and taking pictures in different areas. I have done some fashion week events but would still love to design for some major runways.

Wonderland, Kenzo special

What does fashion mean to you?

Fashion is a way to express yourself (and also a great way to hide!). It could be to show your personality in general or just your mood that day. The colours I wear often reflect my mood when I get dressed in the morning. Fashion is also a great way to spark interest in yourself, especially in London, where it's about who you know as much as what you know. I hate seasonal trends and what's hot and what's not. It's expensive and a waste of resources. I think fashion is much more interesting when it comes to personal style, and being able to make a fantastic look from some plastic bags and ripped up jeans is much more creative!

RESET issue of 1883 Magazine. Glowed Up studio. Graham Cruz – Styling, Brady Lea – Hair and skin, Photography – Ryan Saradjola

What inspires your work?

Artists such as James Turrell and Dan Flavin are really inspirational to me. Their use of colour and how it affects the space around them is incredible. Their work completely affects your whole body and mental state, and it's not something you can just look at and move on. You're drawn in and absorbed by the work. I also love Gareth Pugh, and the way his designs transform the shape and character of the body is fantastic, and they are entirely beyond this world.

Where do you usually create and feel more comfortable while creating?

I have a fantastic studio in Hackney filled with all my favourite things from previous sets. It constantly gives me the energy to create new dynamic designs, and it is also the space to escape from the real world. I can do anything I want there, and it always feels like being transported to a new world. I also often get most of my ideas when I'm out and about and see an object or building and love its colours or structure, then my mind will start spinning and abstracting what I have just seen and put it into new work. I'm constantly writing down notes on my phone of new ideas whilst on the bus or in a club, so I don't forget anything

Alex at his studio in Hackney Wick

How have you used your time during this pandemic?

I have definitely over-compensated for not having my regular work by starting a million new things! I started making fabulous, glittery sailor mannequins, which now adorn my studio and home. I've made the studio even more spectacular – as well as getting it ready to host the best parties in town when we can open again! I've also started a new homeware company with my fab friend Hannah Dickins called OUi C'est Bon (@oui.cestbon.ldn). 

Are you working on something special at the moment?

Right now, work has picked up a bit, so I have been doing a few fashion shoots. I also have some special festival sets in the pipeline that will be stunning! My most special project, though, has been ongoing for the past eight months and hopefully will come to its full potential in Spring 2022, which is to open a new arts centre in East London. It will be a massive collaborative, multi-installation, transcending exhibition! It aims to reinvigorate the art scene and support local artists whilst also providing a space for people and communities to come together post covid. It will host a wealth of talks, workshops, gigs and events, staying open as long and as late as we can!

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