About the Programme

Accessory Design studio

Accessory Design as a Profession

The Estonian Academy of Arts is the only institution in Estonia educating professionals in the fields of leather craft, as well as accessory design and bookbinding at the BA and MA levels.
The specialized subjects are taught throughout the three years of the BA programme: accessory projects, which deal with projects related to bags, footwear, gloves, headwear; and in addition bookbinding, which covers both traditional and contemporary bookbinding and design. The specialized studies are supported by traditional technologies along with contemporary methods and lectures.
In addition to the great variety of specialized skills, the students acquire specific knowledge in the fields of activity that support the creativity of the designer/artist, and the skills for working independently, in a team or in collaboration with a client (compiling a portfolio, sustainable design, business fundamentals, etc.).
At the MA level, the students delve deeper into the chosen topic with the support of specialized courses and faculty-centered projects.
Project-based studies at both higher education levels enable changes of topic to be made in the curriculum as needed and provide the students with greater freedom to decide on the content of their education.
The department cooperates with foreign universities and has an expanding programme of student and faculty exchanges. The high quality of the specialized education is proven by the positive feedback and the accomplishments achieved by the students, faculty members and graduates at exhibitions and competitions, and the awards they have received.
Accessory Design graduates have worked and interned for some well-known brands such as Adidas, Bottega Veneta, Louis Vuitton, Knitwear Lab (Denmark), Camper (Spain), Alexander Wang (USA) etc.


Nature of the Department, its Mentality and Philosophy

During the last few years, we have developed the curriculum by turning greater attention to the subjects and methodologies that support creativity, develop the skills necessary for presenting one’s ideas, and provide experiences for working in a team and with clients. The department supports the students’ wishes to attend schools of higher education elsewhere in Europe for one to two semesters as exchange students.
• Openness – cooperation with related specialities, businesses and partner organizations
• Flexibility – associating the assignments carried out as part of the curriculum with real and topical problems
• Innovation – finding new solutions, using innovative materials and technologies


What are the Studies Like?

The specialized subjects of the curriculum are divided into two groups, which are taught throughout the three years of the BA programme. For the main part: accessory projects, which deal with projects related to bags, footwear, gloves, headwear; and additionally bookbinding, which covers both traditional and contemporary craft and design. The specialized studies are supported by traditional technologies along with contemporary methods and lectures.

The two-year MA programme includes subjects related to general theory and the speciality, elective projects and optional projects, specialized practical training and individually supervised master’s theses. Cooperation with businesses and the other departments at the Academy play an important role in the curriculum.
• Individual approach
• Skill to work independently and in teams

Accessroy Design at EKA

The Department of Leather Arts at the Estonian Academy of Arts got its start on 1 March 1917, when the Tallinn Industrial Art School, which was the forerunner of today’s Academy, established a bookbinding and cardboard workshop. The head of the workshop was Eduard Taska, who had acquired his professional skills locally, as well as in Paris, Munich and St. Petersburg.
After Taska, the workshop, and later department was directed for 36 years (1925-1960) by Adele (Mels) Reindorff; from 1961 to 1981, the department was headed by Ella Külv; from 1981 to 1998 by Ella Summatavet; from 1998 to 2008 by Illu Erma; from 2008 to 2020 by Lennart Mänd and since 2020 by Stella Runnel. The department has a noteworthy collection of study projects, the oldest of which date back to 1925.
During the first years of its operation, along with temporary courses, the workshop already dealt with the regular training of specialists in the field of decorative leatherwork. Along with bookbinding and historical techniques for decorative leatherwork, the students learned to design and produce chests and boxes. In the early 1960s, the profile of the speciality expanded to include the design of industrial leather ornamentation, accessories and footwear. Artists were trained to work in industry (in the Linda leather accessories factory, Kommunar footwear factory, Välk, etc.). In 1993, footwear design classes were eliminated due to the reduction in the number of specialised classes, and the closure of the technological base at the Tallinn Fashion House; the accessory programme remained in the curriculum as a minor subject.
The turn of the century brought many changes – the strengthening of contacts with specialised museums and bookbinding circles throughout the world provided the opportunity to become acquainted with new technologies and materials, to participate in exhibitions and to organise international exhibitions. Post-graduate studies were introduced; the completed master’s theses examined innovative technologies as well as the relationships between leather and art. A large number of study trips were organised to specialised fairs, museums, schools and businesses. Foreign relations intensified.
The merger of the former applied arts speciality with the Department of Design has resulted in many fundamental changes in the curriculum. The approach to the subjects being taught has become significantly more design-oriented, and collaboration with the other departments has intensified. The greatest change in the last five years has been in the equalisation of the proportion of the studies related to bookbinding and to accessories in the BA programmes, and the development of the MA programme.  The latter enables students to choose assignments that best support their areas of interest.
The department cooperates with foreign universities, and has an expanding programme of student and faculty exchanges; participation in international exhibitions has been integrated into the studies.

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