Unknown Fields Unknown Fields Division - Kate Davies & Liam Young

Unknown Fields

Destination - nomadic

The Unknown Fields Division is a nomadic design studio that ventures out on expeditions to the ends of the earth; to bear witness to alternative worlds, alien landscapes, industrial ecologies and precarious wilderness. These distant landscapes – the iconic and the ignored, the excavated, irradiated and the pristine, are embedded in global systems that connect them in surprising and complicated ways to our everyday lives. In such a landscape of interwoven narratives, the studio deploys time-based media to animate this network of hidden stories and re-imagine the complex and contradictory realities of the present as a site of strange and extraordinary futures.

2017 (dates tbc)

“I don’t do fashion, I am fashion.” Coco Chanel

A camera flashes, a model pouts, a sharp cheekbone and a whip of a hip catches the eye on the catwalks of Paris, Milan, New York and London. Fast Fashion’s rolling tide, dumps mountains of cheap clothing on the high street shores. Objects of desire, worn for one wild night and destined to be discarded. The whims of the style minded have set in motion a global industry that is reshaping developing economies half a world away.

For our 2017 Expedition we pick at a loose thread on the garment we are wearing and unravel it across continents from wardrobe to warehouse, from factory to field, in search of the landscapes behind the runway dreams and street blue jeans. Before we wear them, our clothes make journeys of tens of thousands of miles in their process of production making textiles the most globalized industry on the planet. The garment trade has for a long time played a critical role in the evolution of developing nations. As labour costs rise in China we follow the threads and travel through the factory floors and fabric mills now manufacturing in India and Bangladesh. Here iconic rivers run with the colours of the season as chemicals used in the dye process are dumped untreated to poison the land along the rainbow banks that will mark our trail from mountains to the sea, as we embark on a waterborne journey down river from India to the Ganges Delta in Bangladesh. We will visit the ‘T-shirt cities’ and ‘textile valleys’ that span from field to factory and will pick from vast cotton crops and silk-worm cocoons and draw yarns across deafening shuttles as rows and rows of automated looms weave the fashion fads of a distant world. Plain t-shirts, haute couture and throwaway high street chic all begin their lives in these landscapes.

We delve in the dressing up box, into the wild, whimsical, weird and wicked world of fashion, and look deep beyond what is reflected in its glittering gilded mirror. Behind the parties and the cash-registers the textile industry is the focus of this year’s investigation and speculation. What might happen if one reimagined its seasons or re-wrote its trends? Join us alongside international collaborators from the worlds of film, art, technology and fiction to witness some extraordinary landscapes, set in motion by the everyday. Together we will operate between the scale of the stitch and the planetary supply chain to weave new connections and reimagine the relationships between consumption and production.

Past Unknown Fields expeditions have traversed the Galapagos Islands, the Australian outback, the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, and the Burning Man Festival in our refurbished school bus. You can find out more at: www.unknownfieldsdivision.com.


Applications for the 2017 expedition are not yet open. To express your interest in this year’s expedition and to be added to our mailing list for further info, please email visitingschool@aaschool.ac.uk with a CV and a short statement about yourself and your interest in joining the program.


Workshop and all-inclusive expedition fee: tbc
The Unknown Fields summer expedition is open to all architects, designers, artists, writers and interested parties, students or young professionals.
On the road, through India and Bangladesh

Programme Heads
Kate Davies
Liam Young


Programme Heads
Kate Davies
Liam Young

Visiting School Director

Christopher Pierce

T +44 20 7887 4014
F +44 20 7414 0782

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Visiting School Prospectus


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