Principal of AOD British Designer Karen MacLeod talks about her life in fashion and her vision for building AOD to be South Asia’s number one
Designer Karen Macleod moved to Colombo to take over as principal of the Academy of Design (AOD) in Colombo with the vision to make AOD the No. 1 design school in South Asia with a partnership with the acclaimed Northumbria University School of Design.
MacLeod graduated from the Northumbria University with a first class in Fashion and Textiles. Her 25 years of experience in international fashion design stretches across world-class brands like Max Mara (Italy), Daniel Hechter (France), Hemisphere (Japan) and many more.
MacLeod’s work in her own company – the designer brand ‘Mr. & Mrs. MacLeod’ together with her husband (Fashion Designer Stuart MacLeod), which focused on luxury sportswear involved a great number of prestigious international retailers; Barney’s (New York), Joseph (London), Biffi (Milan), Belinda (Sydney), Theresa (Munich) and more.
Following are excerpts of an interview:
Q: Why did you choose to work with AOD in Sri Lanka and what is the speciality that you see in the school?
A: I see Sri Lanka as a country that has heritage, inspiration and human resources that could establish itself as a regional leader in design, but for this Sri Lanka needs to produce home-grown design talent that is capable of leading and taking initiative in international design. And that’s where AOD comes in; it is a unique school that thrives to produce the design leaders Sri Lanka needs and I’m proud to be a part of that movement now. While we contribute to establish Sri Lanka’s leading position in design, we also will be setting up AOD as the leading design campus of the region.
Q: What establishes AOD as the top design campus in the region?
A: AOD is known to deliver excellence in design education, and we see the results through the achievements of our students. We have produced some promising designers for Sri Lanka including, Lonali Rodrigo (SLDF Ethical Fashion Award Winner 2010 and presented to London Fashion Weeks Esthetica Panel), Kasuni Ratnasooriya (International Young Fashion Entrepreneur 2010), Chanuka Wijayasingha (Winner for Cannes Lions Advertising Festival 2011), Dihan de Silva (Winner for Cannes Lions Roger Hatchuel Programme 2011) to name a few. Through producing designers who will eventually help the regional creative industries to thrive, I believe AOD will become the most influential design school in South Asia.
Q: What’s behind AOD’s superior education and design graduates?
A: AOD’s curriculum is recognised world-wide and grants a Northumbria University School of Design degree. In addition, this is delivered by an international faculty from various parts of the world, including Britain, USA, Canada and many professionals in Sri Lanka who have studied abroad and come back. AOD’s excellent education and the graduates are a result of both these.
Q: Why will you recommend AOD to a prospective student?
A: AOD is clearly the only design institute that offers a BA honours in design that can be fully completed in Sri Lanka. AOD also has a great International faculty who understand the global movements in design and who are capable of delivering world-class education.
We have also invested in state-of-the-art studio facilities so that our students are trained with the best available tools and technology. AOD is also the most industry-relevant design campus as we work closely with both international and Sri Lankan design professionals from creative industries; so an AOD student is a designer well prepared to work anywhere in the world.