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It's Time to PONK! We talk with Philipp Kern on How Artificial Wombs and Non-Dualism Inspired His Philoso-Fashion Movement
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N: Hi Phil, so nice to catch up with you finally! I know you recently moved to Paris. How's that going? Also, give us a quick introduction. Who is Philipp Kern?

P: Hi! Super nice indeed, thank you for your interest. Paris! It has definitely been an exciting time for me. I came to Paris with no job and no flat, just trusting that I would find everything once I moved. And I did!

I just starterd working at Givenchy. I have a group of lovely friends and I see plenty of opportunities work-wise. All very pleasant news.

Concerning me, Philipp Kern. There are many directions I see myself going and I’m planning to just trust wherever my guts lead me.

I am on a mission to make it cool to be spiritually aware, generally friendly and to hold a non-dualistic mindset.

Kind of embracing everything with a lot of love and giving everyone the empathy they deserve. I am building a visual alphabet that represents these values while exploring what I am naturally coming up with in my work.

N: We're here to talk about PONK. Could you introduce the concept of PONK to our audience?

P: It’s quite simple: MONK + PUNK = PONK!

While theoretically exploring the mind of an artificially born human, I came up with the PONK concept.

Imagine having no karma and being free of the prenatal influences of your family. Also not having to bow to our society’s history, language, concepts, and values. Imagine being a totally blank slate.

Far away from dualistic perception, without exclusion, without rejection, accepting of everything with complete compassion. These qualities are usually associated with the archetype of the Monk. Equally, the potential for radical thinking, rejection, rebellion, and hatred.. these qualities are associated with the term Punk. Basically PONK is about mbracing the full spectrum of human potential, without restriction.

N: The idea of PONK beings being a "blank slate" is really poetic to me... they're unburdened from generational trauma, karma, or influence and they're free to move in whichever direction they like. Drawing parallels to your own life, what parts of your personality have stemmed from a sense of rebellion or a search for freedom? Conversely, what parts of you have been "inevitably" shaped by your upbringing? Essentially, on a scale of one to ten, how PONK are you?

P: I love this question!

For as long as I can remember I’ve been trying to do and see things differently from the majority of people around me. It’s a natural urge I have. In general, having a different approach results in different outcomes, which lead to less common situations. In less common situations, you are more likely to act freely because you are basically unburdened from pre-conceived notions on how to deal with that situation.

I think that to to be free is to be free of concepts. I am critical on a universal level towards the human urge to define, label, and categorize everything, since that is what makes way for people having ingrained opinions, which leads to conflict.

Since I was little, I have always been sensitive to the well-being of the people around me. I react very strongly to an unsettled mood, so I tend to be quite shy of conflict.

I’m searching for my freedom while being as empathic as I can be to all the people I encounter. When you come from a place of empathy, it becomes difficult to be bothered by other people’s behavior, because you can see where they are coming from. To stand within yourself, unbothered, makes way for a free mind.

I am currently still busy with exploring all the concepts that society teaches you to build your self-image on. Things like gender and sexuality, but also constructs like morals etc. It’s hard to un-cluster oneself to a point where you confidently stand behind all aspects of what makes you, you. A level 10 PONK would be at the end of that process. I would give myself a solid 7; there is a lot to learn for me still.

N: In just three words, could you define the quintessential PONK fashion look?

P: Lucid



N: I’ve picked up on some design elements in your creations that really bring out the PONK dichotomy. For instance, your use of leather, a material that is both hard and soft. The 3D printed bracelets come with spikes, but with rounded edges, as if to suggest they're not meant to harm. Can you tell us more about your thought process behind the selection of fabrics, experimenting with 3d printing, laser-cut appliqués, and more

P: My process is very visual. While I like to base my work on deeply rooted ideas, I really like to stay light and playful during creation. I trust that once a certain direction is established all that comes out of the process is loaded with the right energy.

I actually like to think about the meaning of my decisions after I made them or not at all.

N: What's on the horizon for the PONK movement? Any projects you wish to develop?

P: My last project in the name of PONK was a collaboration with London-based image and performance director Yiling Zhao . We really tried to give a first direction to what PONK`s visual language could be. Putting the clothes in a different context worn by two individuals existing in a strange, multifaceted world.

Since PONK is indicative of a mindset, I am curious to see how other creatives can adopt this framework in their work. I am playing with the idea to start a PONK magazine! And I have started to make way for my next collection/series of objects.

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N new narrative no-nonsense nonbelligerent nonconforming nourishing

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All images courtesy of Philipp Kern
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