Apr 15, 2024

Threads of Home: Anna Rave’s ‘Heimat’ Inspired Designs

Clara Potts speaks to German fashion designer Anna Rave about her contributions to Dublin's evolving creative landscape.

Clara PottsFashion Editor
Photo by Clara Potts for The University Times

Driven by a profound connection to her roots and a relentless pursuit of creative expression, Anna Rave embarked on a transformative journey that led her to studying at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) in Dublin. It was here, amidst the eclectic blend of innovation and tradition, that she found herself contemplating the concept of Heimat, the German notion of home or homeland, that transcends a mere physical space to encompass a deep-seated sense of belonging and identity. Intrigued by the dichotomy of her dual cultural identity, Rave embarked upon a mission to incorporate her German heritage into the fabric of her designs. Each silhouette created draws upon architectural drawings and geographical locations that embody or symbolise comfort and ease, infusing elements of German craftsmanship with the cosmopolitanism of her newfound home in Dublin. When asked about her move to Dublin, Rave described it as a place where individuals were “quick to make [her] feel at home”. Through her creations, Anna Rave invites us on a transcendent journey, blurring the boundaries between past and present and tradition and modernity to redefine the very essence of home in the realm of fashion, utilising a neutral colour palette with block colours and structural, geometric shapes which create her distinct pieces. 

The following interview has been edited for precision and clarity.

How does the cultural and artistic atmosphere of Dublin influence your design aesthetic?


Dublin has influenced my design aesthetic in multiple ways. I find the numerous creatives in various areas and within such a diverse range of creative endeavours and direction very inspiring. The close proximity between a busy city environment with old and new architecture and the amazing nature and sea inspires my pieces. 

Moving away from my home in Germany to establish a new one in Dublin made me think about the characteristics and definitions of the concept of home. The differences and similarities, what made me feel comfortable, and what gave me a feeling of belonging are all considerations that are central to my designs. Throughout all my projects home is an ongoing theme which led to my degree collection Heimat

Heimat was the foundation of my own brand ANNA RAVE, and is a German word without a direct English translation that describes the feeling of home, a homeland, or a sense of belonging. 

Can you describe your journey as a fashion designer in Dublin and how it has shaped your approach to clothing design? 

My journey in Dublin is a fairly new one and has only started a few years ago, when I moved here to study at NCAD. Dublin has definitely influenced my approach to clothing design. I gained so much knowledge during my course but also from Dublin itself and the various ways that people use clothing as a means of freedom and self-expression.  

What inspired you to pursue a career in fashion, and how has Dublin played a role in nurturing your passion?

I have always been fascinated by the world of fashion and design. I think that being able to bring ideas to life and making something that can always be present in individuals’ lives in some form is so special. When I was younger, my granny gave me her old sewing machine as a Christmas present and it inspired me to start creating clothes. 

From my first attempts of bed sheets and pillows to my graduation dress and tailored trousers, the sewing machine is still one of my favourite machines to use because of its sentimentality. It has been a part of my entire fashion journey thus far and I hope that it will continue to work for many more years.  

Dublin has played a central role in nurturing my passion. I moved to Dublin in 2019 to start studying at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD). Even though I have always been passionate about design, learning about design in a professional, academic way made me discover so much more about its possibilities and career opportunities. 

I am so glad that I moved to Ireland as it has provided me with so many opportunities to flourish as a designer. By studying fashion, I have expanded my knowledge and refined my personal design approach and direction. I hope that this will continue in the future and my own brand will develop even further. 

Can you share a memorable moment or experience from your career as a clothing designer in Dublin?

I immediately think of two moments. The first is when I sold my first felted knit jumper. The other one was when I had my pop up shop at the beginning of December. Even though it was only temporary, being able to open up a shop in the morning and place a sign with my own name on it felt so surreal. The whole day was so exciting and an amazing experience as I got to meet customers in real life.

What challenges have you encountered in the Dublin fashion scene, and how have you overcome them?

One of the main challenges I have encountered so far is the distance to a lot of things. Materials in Ireland are quite limited and it can be really hard to find the right materials locally. Most materials can only be found abroad and have to be imported, which makes it a lot harder and a much longer and more complicated process. Even though it is not that far away from cities known for their fashion, Dublin’s fashion scene can also feel quite remote and distant but this also has a beauty within itself. 

How do you integrate sustainability and ethical practices into your clothing design process?

Sustainability and ethical practices are really important to me. When I design clothes I aim to create timeless pieces and not trends. They must be practical, wearable and long-lasting. I work with deadstock fabrics and as many natural materials as possible, aiming to work with local suppliers and I make all the pieces by myself, so everything is locally made. 

For my knit pieces I only use pure lambswool, ensuring I use only natural materials and minimise waste. Ultimately, I believe that as a designer creating new garments, I must embrace the responsibility of ensuring my practices are as sustainable and ethical as possible.

What role do you believe Irish heritage plays in the global fashion landscape, and how does your work contribute to this narrative? 

Irish heritage plays a big role in the global fashion landscape. Looking at the current success of Irish designers and artists around the world is proof of that. Ireland has always had a very unique history which significantly influences its creative scene. The breathtaking nature and landscape inspires people all over the world. I hope to contribute to this narrative by keeping handmade and craftsmanship alive, as well as promoting the benefits of natural materials, high quality and long lasting designs.  

Can you walk me through your creative process, from initial concept to the finalised piece?

The initial concept and inspiration of my brand and collection is based around Heimat. I try to capture this — the feeling of home that is not tied down to a defined place. Heimat describes a safe space of belonging. I have lived in multiple different countries around the world and drew my inspiration from travel journals and architectural drawings of various homes, clean lines from housing structures, and street maps. My collection communicates comfort, safety and shelter. Each piece is unique but is also practical, wearable and long-lasting. 

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for the future of your fashion brand within Dublin’s evolving creative industry?

The saturation of talented artists and designers in Dublin’s creative industry offers endless opportunities and I think with its growing recognition there will be even more in the future. That said, my aim for this year is to continue to connect with talents from different disciplines, and to engage and contribute more to Dublin’s fashion scene through pop-ups. I am also really curious to explore and gain more knowledge of traditional crafts and new techniques with the hope of utilising these to develop new designs and grow my brand, ANNA RAVE. 

Sign Up to Our Weekly Newsletters

Get The University Times into your inbox twice a week.