As part of our Passing Points series, we asked Benni Allan about what inspires his modular wardrobe. Named by the Design Council as one of the UK’s up-and-coming young architects, Benni has been celebrated as representing the future of British design. An RIBA Ambassador, he founded his own practice, EBBA in 2017, with a focus on a resourceful approach, public engagement and a responsible use of materials.
If your wardrobe could speak, what would it say about you?
My wardrobe would say, "Stop being so serious!". I dress in a flexible way that allows me to accommodate the various tasks I perform in my role as an architect and as a director of a studio. Deep down, I'm a big kid who sees design and the process of making as a form of play, which should probably come through more in the outfits I choose to wear.
Why are form, fit and fabrication crucial for our enjoyment of clothing?
I live a very active life and my days involve jumping around from meetings (on a bike) and site visits – all the way through to heading back to the studio and then out with friends for dinner. I choose clothes that can adapt to my schedule; but most importantly to feel confident and comfortable in, all of which down are to the fit, form and fabrication of the garment. It's important for me to always look presentable. You want things to sit well on the body, even after a hefty cycle ride!
If you could meet one of your style heroes - who would it be?
There are a lot of individuals I respect for their ability to make things look effortless, such as Pharrell – who also manages to defy the laws of ageing through his unique style. I also think of the work of Craig Green, who seems to mix architecture and sculpture in the design of his clothing.
If you could pick one season to dress for, what would it be?
Autumn is definitely a firm favourite time of year. It’s the season when it's warm enough to dress lightly, but you can start to combine outfits with a jacket and/or light coat. As someone who dresses fairly monochrome in my day-to-day, I like to introduce louder pieces that bring out the playful side in me. Surprisingly, I like any excuse to break into some bolder colour - but obviously not too many at once!
What makes a good modular wardrobe?
For quite some time I have been very aware of our impact on the world, and while I love to build my wardrobe, I feel it's possible to have a staple collection of high quality items that can be mixed and matched. Focussing on quality has also made me think more closely about what I really need. A good modular wardrobe would include a few decent utility pants, some well-fitting t-shirts and a couple of bold, versatile jackets.