Project 1: Exercise 1 – Sustainability pt.1

How would you define sustainability?

In our workbook consideration of ‘sustainability’ was said to include; economy, society, environment. I think to the root of the word, ‘sustain’, is defined as nurturing of or prolonging of life, quality, and care. From that stand point ‘sustainability’ effects all sphere’s of life. You could consider the cost, impact, of producing a car, it’s parts has on natural resources; water, metals, etc – sustainability becomes about how do you use materials in such a way as to prolong their presence on earth. Considering manufacturing methods – are the hours and conditions laborers work in to produce the car sustainable, are they over tiered, becoming ill, stressed, diseased as a result of how they are being worked or the materials they work with (societal and economic factors play here)?

Dictionary.com defines sustainability as:

  1. the ability to be sustained, supported, upheld, or confirmed.
  2. Environmental Science. the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance
  It defines the word ‘sustain’ as:
  1. to support, hold, or bear up from below; bear the weight of, as structure.
  2. to bear (a burden, charge, etc.).
  3. to undergo, experience, or suffer (injury, loss, etc.); endure without giving way or yielding.
  4. to keep (a person, the mind, the spirits, etc.) from giving way, asunder trial or affliction.
  5. to keep up or keep going, as an action or process: to sustain a conversation.
  6. to supply with food, drink, and other necessities of life.
  7. to provide for (an institution or the like) by furnishing means or funds.
In what contexts is sustainability an issue? 
1. Nationally – can a country sustain itself – economically, socially, environmentally.
2. Globally – on a planet wide level – are there enough resources, the right maintained environment to continue to support life for all people. What are the costs to human quality of life of the practices of others/industry wide methods?
3. Locally/Individually – are my own lifestyle choices sustainable – financially, socially, ethically. Do I recycle? Do I invest in ‘greener’ energy? Do I invest in organic, fair-trade or more ethical forms of clothing? Do I waste food or resources/contribute unnecessarily to waste?
4. Industry/Manufacturing – I think this is a massive/complex are for sustainability to be explored. There is an issue with the way and rate at which we produce and consume all kinds of goods that is reaching a point of  being unsustainable.
This area includes the Textiles/Fashion Industry, Motor Industry, Tech manufacturing, essentially any product being produced.
5. Agriculture/Farming – sustainability here involves ecological practices as well as the treatment of humans who grow, chemically treat and harvest crops.
6.Banking/Economics – is a country’s rate of economic growth sustainable – how do you maintain growth, deal with debt or deficits etc.
7. Waste Management – How do we deal with the waste produced from chemicals, food, clothing, farming, scientific processes? Issue of landfill – requires ever increasing areas of land, which could be used differently. Are there more sustainable methods, Can we use waste to produce energy, or to create consumer goods (clothes, plastics, etc)?
8. Energy Production/Consumption – where do we get our energy from – natural resources or man made? How much of this resources is still available to sustain our modern way of life? At what cost environmentally and socially do these methods come at (i.e. global warming)? is there a viable alternative power source, which can sustain our activity (wind power, solar power, water power)?
Is over consumption/ industry manufacturing part of the cause of instability/pollution – are different practices and energy uses in industry part of the answer to this issue?
9. Healthcare (UK NHS) – can we sustain care with an increasingly population and diversity of illnesses. Are we treating our healthcare professionals in a way that’s sustainable? What about energy use, manufacturing of medicines etc?

Project 1: Exercise 1 – Sustainability pt.2

How do you think sustainability might be addressed in relation to the production and consumption of textiles and other manufactured products? 

In Fashion and Sustainability, Design for Change by Kate Fletcher and Lynda Grose several sustainable options are proposed for the life-cycle of textiles garments, the term life-cycle covers all stages – from choice and method of fibre cultivation to the end life of a finished garment.

Here’s a quote which summarizes the need for multi-angled approach to sustainability within textiles;

“In Order to move towards sustainability in the long term, it is the whole fashion cycle that has to undergo improvement and not just a few isolated parts” p.11 of Fashion and Sustainability Design for Change by Kate Fletcher and Lynda Grose.

1. Agriculture/raw fibre production

Consideration of renew-ability/regrowth of crop – ‘rapidly renewable = regenerating within three years’, or ‘annually renewable = grown in a single year’. Must also take into account the ecological impact of growth, how much water is necessary to maintain crop, organic production – eliminates use of chemicals or pesticides harmful or known to have carcinogenic properties within humans and animals over prolonged use.

Renew ability –

Consideration of ‘life cycle’ or durability of subsequent fabric at stage of crop production – requires consideration of factors like; is this fibre biodegradable (reducing waste), can this fibre be chemically re-used or combined to make a new fibre from fabric once it has reached the end of its wear ability?

Low-chemical fibres –

“for certain fibres – most notably cotton – reducing the amount of chemicals applied to the fields during cultivation would bring substantial positive effects to both the lives of workers and the levels of toxicity in soil and water”, p.22  of Fashion and Sustainability Design for Change by Kate Fletcher and Lynda Grose.

Crops/Cotton/Organic Cotton –

This seems to be a fairly complex issue, but on a simplistic level a strain of GM Cotton Bt was produced which was genetically engineered to include a bacterial toxin harmful to certain pests, the idea being this would reduce the use of pesticides and the subsequent harm to people/ecological systems. However some people on principle believe organic farming (which would not us GM crops), is a better alternative to GM crops – although yield is significantly lower, time consuming and has been shown to cause farmers problems in rate of income. Complex!!!

Reducing use of water –

Water is a massive component in the production of clothing. At the crop stage it’s vital for growing a healthy yield, but it’s also used heavily in the dyeing process. Different fibres require different amounts of water, unfortunately the fibres that tend to require less water at production or cultivation are the Polymer based or synthetic ones. Cotton is a water draining crop.Use of natural fibres which are grown in areas of heavy rainfall (such as wool, hemp, flax), require ‘no artificial irrigation’ and in that sense are more sustainable.

2. Ginning

I couldn’t find any information about best practice in sustainability in relation to Ginning in any of my recommended text books. So I took to doing a bit of research online. I researched ‘sustainable ginning practices’ and found a few links to the WWF ongoing project with sustainable cotton practice in Pakistan.  A further link under the title, Sustainable cotton production in Pakistan’s cotton ginning SMEs (Spring).   Also a link to a lengthier ‘better cotton report’ in which the report mentions a number of changes implemented in Ginning factories to address sustainability.

  1. Increasing efficiency of Ginning machinery = reduction in use of energy – thereby better ecologically.
  2. Introduction of health & safety measures to protect workers – prior to the initiative working conditions were dusty, causes coughs, asthma and TB. Workers often had hearing problems or became deaf due to the loudness of machinery. Electrical wiring was uncased, leading to electric shocks and some workers had seriously injured themselves or died from working on dangerous machinery from a height (without safety barriers). The ‘Better Cotton’ team ensured better ethical, social practices were implemented – ear phones, better lighting, safety railing, dust masks, were all improvements to the care of employees.

On a slight side note, the better cotton report also mentions a partnership with IKEA, who have taken steps to ensure their cotton furnishings used across products are sourced from sustainable cotton. Guardian Article; Ikea makes 75% of its home furnishings from sustainable cotton, by Lorna Thorpe.

 

3. Spinning  &  4. Weaving

I’ve joined comments on these two processes together because they seem to have similar steps towards or issues involving best sustainable practices:

“Spinning, weaving and knitting are largely mechanical processes and the major environmental burdens are related to energy use, solid waste production and the generation of dust and noise”, p.  48 of Sustainable Fashion & Textiles – Design Journeys by Kate Fletcher.

There is also the use of ‘sizing agents’ for protecting fabric during weaving or spinning processes. These sizing agents and those used in desizing (removing) create a waste product which is ‘highly polluting’ and water used/products used are rarely reclaimable.

Best practice in these stages as suggested by Katie Fletcher are;

‘In spinning, ask suppliers to manufacture yarn with readily biodegradable lubricants’ – p.48 of Sustainable Fashion & Textiles – Design Journeys by Kate Fletcher.

‘Avoid woven fabrics where PCPs have been added as a size preservative’  p.48 of Sustainable Fashion & Textiles – Design Journeys by Kate Fletcher.

‘Ask suppliers to combine scouring and desizing processes with bleaching to save chemicals, energy and water’.  p.49 of Sustainable Fashion & Textiles – Design Journeys by Kate Fletcher.

What isn’t mentioned by Fletcher but has been championed by some in the fair trade sector (namely People Tree). Is the use of manual or hand based weaving and spinning techniques.

Hand based practices – reduce use of machinery therefore reducing energy use and carbon foot-print. Reduces the impact of noise/dust on workers. However hand based methods are slower, require longer production times, lower output. Also raise issues of workers health/safety in the workplace – are workers working in safe conditions, being given adequate breaks, access to clean water/toilet facilities etc.

5. Processing

Dyeing – Dye Baths & Dye Houses

Issue of fixation rates – ‘dye for cellulose fibres such as cotton have the lowest fixation rates; approximately 65% remaining, whilst the other 35% of dye flushed away’ p.38 of Fashion and Sustainability Design for Change by Kate Fletcher & Lynda Grose. – by using chemicals to help improve fixation rates, results as high as 95% dye fixing to the cloth have been achieved, reducing waste and pollutants.

Dye types – natural vs.synthetic – there are arguments around the use of naturally derived dyes or the natural colour of woolen or animal based fibres as an alternative to the chemically derived dyes. Natural dyes obvious involve a much lower use of chemicals at the start and some methods have been developed to fix these dyes to textiles without the use of harmful fixing agents. However the colour’s available are more limited. Colour is a huge consideration within the textile/fashion industry and is often what consumers are first drawn to – this makes manufacturers and designers reluctant to use the natural alternatives.

CAD – Computer Aided Design – Can be used to reduce amount of waste at the pattern cutting/arranging stage. Does have it’s setbacks through as the computer is not programmed to adapt to new ideas around sustainability/it eliminates human interaction with the issue of waste from the cutting stage.

Waste Reduction – new ideas around use for scraps or waste from the cutting stage; ‘from utilizing scraps in patchwork garments to recycling them into new yarns’,  p.48 of Fashion and Sustainability Design for Change by Kate Fletcher and Lynda Grose. 

6. Stitching

CMT – Cut, Make,Trim sector improvements to workers rights and conditions –

NGO’s and Collaboration between brands sourcing from same supplier can/have put pressure on and made significant changes to working conditions in factories – by increasing amount of visits by pooling efforts/resources.

Fair Trade initiatives – by using fair trade factories for this part of construction companies can be ensured workers are afforded better working conditions, pay, and health benefits.

Local Suppliers – working with local suppliers as opposed to ones which are hard to reach or visit regularly increases transparency of working practices, allowing for a close check on working conditions and how many hours people are being worked. This would also reduce carbon emissions due to transporting clothes overseas to the retailers.

Using non electroplated metal buttons/fixings –

the electroplating process involves a massive amount of water and chemicals which cannot be re-introduced to a water supply for people, ‘The water waste from this process can destroy biological actions in sewage plants, and is toxic to aquatic species…This sludge must then be treated before disposal in a specially lined landfill’, p.52 of Fashion and Sustainability Design for Change by Kate Fletcher & Lynda Grose.

7. Distribution/Retail

Transparent Supply Chain / Carbon Foot Print – Data collection is tricky with a complex supply chain, using technology methods to increase connectivity and dialogue through the supply chain could allow for more real time data to be collected by companies on their energy usage throughout the stages of production to delivery. Increased data here means seeing where changes could or should be made to increase sustainability.

Switching to less fossil fuel intensive delivery methods – from air transport to sea or rail, the amount of fuel needed for a plane is far greater than that needed for rail (which can be electric) or a boat.

Retailers Informing Customers about care for clothes – care labels, can be used to encourage consumers to wash clothing at lower temperatures, thereby reducing the amount of water and heat energy used over the life time an item of clothing is in the care of a customer.

8. Use/Consumption and end of life  

Viable alternate end uses –

Incineration of fabric – can be useful for ‘energy recovery’ (p.17, Fletcher & Grose 2011)

Biodegradable fibres – reduces waste at landfill, which is already at a premium.

Recycling or re-use of fibre’s sometimes known as ‘post-consumer waste’ products – an existing garment made from a fibre which can be chemically reduced to fibre form again or in combination with another fibre to make a new textile product, thus extending life cycle of garment. Apparently even some of the most energy intensive methods for synthetic fibre recycling are; ‘around 80% less energy intensive than the manufacturing of virgin fibre (new fibre), p.26 of Fashion and Sustainability Design for Change by Kate Fletcher and Lynda Grose.

Waste as a Biological Nutrient – In the book Cradle to Cradle, by Michael Braungart and William McDonough, a case example is given whereby  they worked with a company to create a fabric for the seat of wheel chairs which had a positive impact on the environment through its production and at the end of its life. Users could, ‘simply tear the fabric off the chair frame and throw it onto the soil or compost heap without feeling bad’, at the end of it’s use the fabric gave energy or nutrients back to the earth, waste had become a positive thing.

Consumer awareness/responsibility – whilst most of what I’ve discussed explores sustainability from a designers or manufactures point of view I think on an individual or consumer basis there must also be a shift in mindsets. Consumer education here is I think key, education about the ecological, social, human cost of buying certain kinds of textile goods. I think there are companies taking steps to make educating ourselves about these things easier – for instance The True Cost documentary, which explores the impact of fashion on people and the environment highlights the cost of our choices but also offers alternative buying methods.

I think there is also a need for people to take responsibility for the way they look after their clothes – have a longer term purchase view – being willing (and skilled enough) to repair clothes or alter them when and as need be to prolong life span. Also to make an effort to get rid of clothes in a better manner – i.e. make use of charity shops, have clothes swaps.

Conclusion:

This is a very complex field, and I’m aware I could keep reading and researching and just add more information to the sections. For now I’m happy that this is enough research for the purposes of the exercise. I’ve done my best to make it clear where I’ve drawn from textbooks recommended for this part of the module.

Project 1: Exercise 1 – Sustainability pt.3

Notes on:

Clothing to dye for: the textile sector must confront water risks, by Leon Kaye, Guardian Online August 2013.

Firstly I really enjoyed how this article made something as complex as issues around dyeing techniques readable and concise. I’ve enjoyed reading Kate Fletcher’s books which pick up on some of the same issues, but they were clearly written for designers not necessarily consumers who want to become aware about buying choices.

As sad as it is to say this, but I wonder if part of the issue is ‘out of sight out of mind’? Most western countries simply do not see the negative impact first hand as dye houses are ‘in India and China are notorious for not only exhausting local water supplies, but for dumping untreated wastewater into local streams and rivers.’ Articles like this help to raise awareness of the real effects in other parts of the world of our rapid consumption of clothing.

It’s clear reading the article that technologies exist and continue to emerge which offer viable sustainable alternatives to water and human costly methods. Why then are these not adopted on a larger scale? The quote below gives some insight;

“Although dyeing using compressed CO2 has existed for over 25 years, Adidas claims a supplier in Thailand operates the only factory with the ability to scale this technology. So can this process transform the textile industry? Not quite yet according to Christian Schumacher, an expert in textile dyes and chemicals, who points out that investment in such equipment is still costly.”

In the conclusion of the article the author suggests that

“as long as companies do not pay a price for the land and water their suppliers poison, watch for the excessive use and abuse of water to dye clothing to continue.”

And my question is how do we hold these companies accountable? Are fines or suspensions of production possible across a broad range of countries with different social and political landscapes and laws? Would a more viable alternative be looking to increase textile production in the UK where we have regulatory bodies, standards for water emissions, waste treatment etc. Should we be seeking to relieve some of the burden for the manufacture of the good we want to buy and wear?

Nike and Adidas show cautious support for eco-friendly dye technology, by Stephanie Hepburn, Guardian Online.

The article above was written two years after the first article I read by the guardian on textile dyeing practices. I think it’s interesting to see that this continues to be an issue under discussion within the textile industry. Surely it’s positive that there is increased interest in and use of the technologies and companies that use Air dyeing, CO2 dyeing and other water efficient methods.

It’s interesting also to see an increase in the names of major brands which are investing in or exploring ways to change their practices; IKEA, Nike and H&M are all mentioned in the article and were not mentioned in the previous article of two years ago.

However it seems the issue still remains strongly linked to consumer attitudes and buying trends;

“The most significant problem, says Filarowski, is consumer expectations for inexpensive clothing. The textile industry is consumer-drivern and unless customers are willing to pay more for products made with waterless dye technology, the industry isn’t going to adopt it.

Issues of adaptability within the process remain – “DyeCoo and AirDye technology can only be applied to polyester while ColorZen specialises in cotton with no current plans to expand to other materials.”

Change it seems will not be swift, and will require companies to respond over years, I wonder if the fashion industry, which is often so fast passed and seasonal can actually learn to adopt longer term, slower strategies for lasting change in this area…

‘A spokesperson for Nike says “Dyeing fabric with water is a long-established industry, and change will require new technologies and multi-industry commitments over many years.”’

The key issue still remains in my mind the chasing of profit over people, and I can’t see that changing in large driven companies in a particularly swift time scale;

The reality is that many brands are trying to hit price points. “Generally, consumers are still not willing to pay higher dollar for textiles, with the exception of sportswear … brands aren’t willing to make products that no one will buy,” says Filarowski.

Project 1: Exercise 2 – sustainable products

For this exercise I’ve chosen to focus on a skirt which has been produced by Braintree clothing company, which has been ethically produced, and uses fibres which are sustainable. I’ve photographed different elements of the skirt, care labels, sales tag and more which gave initial clues to it’s sustainable credentials. In the post below, I share some of these photographs and further research into the ‘eco’ terms used to see where the labelling is accurate (and if it’s not).

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Project 1 – Life cycle of textiles and materials

Stages of textile product life cycle:

Personally summary of cycle prior to research:

  1. Agriculture/raw fibre production – I think this stage involves the initial planting of a crop, e.g. cotton, the cultivating of it, various agricultural practices (use of pesticides, water, soil enhancers,). I think within this stage is also the harvesting or separating of the fibre from the plant e.g. picking cotton from fields. I’m not sure if this stage involves cleaning of the cotton etc and therefore heavy use of water/chemicals and human labour.
  2. Ginning – I don’t know what this is!
  3. Spinning – the process of drawing out the fibres of the cotton into a single strand or thread, ready for use in the weaving stage. This can be done by hand, as a labour intensive method, I’m not sure if there’s machinery that can do this part too?
  4. Weaving – This involves taking the single thread produced in the previous stage and laying multiple strands in and out of each other to form a woven piece of cloth or fabric. There are hand based looms which allow someone to run a shuttle in and out of the threads to from a woven piece of CAD looms which can be programmed to produce a certain pattern or effect when weaving.
  5. Processing – Not entirely sure what this stage is – as a guess I’d say it’s perhaps the point of cutting garments into pattern pieces for stitching, maybe the dying stage too? Could also include any additional quality or safety checks to the fabric?
  6. Stitching – Using sewing machines, or hand skills to bring pattern pieces together by a stitched thread. This is often broken down (on a factory level), to component parts, with an individual person only responsible for stitching one part of the garment, the next part would be completed by someone else and so on.
  7. Distribution/retail – This stage involves, sending the finished garment or textile to a buyer. The buyer then repackaging the garment to their desired look, sending on to shops/store fronts. Setting a price for the consumer, deciding how to market and advertise the product – photography, social media, etc. Also includes deciding how to display item to customers in store, or catalogues, or online.
  8. Use/Consumption and end of life – Garment or textile reaches user, the product has a life cycle or use cycle with initial owner, may then have several alternative secondary placements. Some fabrics or garments, gain a second life through resale, charity shops, swapping events. Others end up as waste – for landfill, this is a lengthy process of degrading. Some products may be re-invented or ‘up-cycled’ into new garments or products, gaining a new lease of life. Some fibres can even be broken down and merged with other fibres to make clothing from post consumer waste.

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Project 2: The revival of craft and the hand-made

What do I understand by the term ‘craft’?

I’m writing this before any research or reading of text books or other sources on the subject. I say this now because I want to clear on how my understanding of the term changes following on from research stages. The term ‘Craft’ in my mind is synonymous with terms like; hand-made, skill based, created with care and human effort. I tend not to think of ‘craft’ as being part of a manufactured process. There are certain types or professions or even creative work that in my mind fall into the category of craft; printmaking, painting, sewing, really any practice that requires extensive time, hand based skills. Maybe for this reason I tend to think it applies to older practices rather than new – but that might just be a naive understanding. I tend to also think of small businesses or collectives rather than big companies or organisations, also for the aforementioned reasons.

I think it will be especially interesting to consider craft or the ‘slow’ design movement in more detail, personally because I’d probably consider myself a crafts person. Why do I say that? At the moment I currently have a very small business making cards and prints from illustrations of mine carved in lino or rubber blocks. I consider this a craft because it’s hand based, a skill that takes time to build up, is small, and not produced on a mass scale. Perhaps my perception of what I do and how I want to present my business will change following looking into this subject.

Example of Slow Design/Collaboration: Floor Nijdeken, Crossover Collective.

Floor Nijdeken is a dutch designer, based in the Netherlands his work explores social interaction and the forming of positive bonds or passing on of knowledge through interaction between people through creative mediums.

The Crossover Collective, according to Frame magazine was a ‘tool for creative embroidery’. A wooden frame with benches and a cross stitch fabric base provided space for people to come together and create an embroidered rug or carpet. The ‘machine’ whilst physical became a ‘social machine’ allowing people to foster and build real new connections. It plays on that notion of craft as something handed down through the generations and as very physical, involving collaboration in person rather than just interaction through social media or virtually.

I personally find the idea of it really exciting, but I wonder how well it would work in somewhere like Britain where people tend to be more reserved. Would people be willing to take part? I think this kind of activity could also be really beneficial way of people making connection who struggle to in other social situations, there’s something calming and settling about having something to focus on, particularly something to do with your hands whilst around other people.

Project 2: Research point ~ Slow Design

Research: Slow Design

What are the guiding principles of this movement?

Slow movement is a really a philosophy for life. Whilst it’s early origins are said to be in the Slow Food movement, the idea of ‘slowness’ as a philosophy has spread and been fleshed out into real life practices and attitudes towards; how we design products, branding, work, leadership, fashion, family. It is encourages a holistic view and evaluation of life, as opposed to the fragmentation often seen as a part of modern living.

Quality over Quantity – the idea that its better to design one thing well i.e. with quality raw materials, with good ethical practices, with less environmental impact, than many things poorly. Being willing to pay more to have an item that will last longer than to pay less and have many items which will be used briefly and thrown away. Longevity is another key part of designing – designing things to last in contrast to deliberately making something with a short life span to keep consumers buying products.

Human Connection – seeing design as something which should add value to society, enriching the lives of every person who comes into contact with a product, from the maker, designer to consumer.

Environmental Connection – taking time to consider different solutions to design which include the environmental cost. Often this movement champions local produce, things made from regional materials or local designers.

Slowing down the pace of life, to allow conscious decisions .

Strong bond between craft and slow movement – craft or craft-manship is strongly encouraged in the movement, as an alternative to the speed of mass production, and the disconnection that can occur in the process with the land and with society.

Balance – although the movement is called the ‘slow’ movement this isn’t an encouragement to literally do everything at a snails pace. They talk about ‘good slow’ and ‘bad slow’, an example being ‘traffic or slow broadband – bad slow’ – something which hinders you being able to achieve your work. ‘Good Slow’ being taking time to read a bed time story to your children, or taking longer on a project to reach a more sustainable design as opposed to rushing it and using the cheapest available materials.

People Not Consumers – Designing with people’s needs in mind and encouraging people to see themselves as valued not just something to be manipulated or squeezed for profit.

‘The slow movement is a cultural shift towards slowing down life’s pace. It is not organised and controlled by a singular organisation. A principal characteristic of the Slow Movement is that it is propounded, and its momentum maintained, by individuals that constitute the expanding global community of Slow. Although it has existed in some form since the Industrial Revolution its popularity has grown considerably since the rise of Slow Food and Cittaslow in Europe, with Slow initiatives spreading as far as Australia and Japan’ (Wikipedia)

Key Figures:

Carl Honore – author of In Praise of Slow – a book advocating a change to our approach to life.

Geir Berthelsen – Founder of The World Institute of Slowness (originally a Think Tank, in 1999).

Safia Minney – Founder and CEO of People Tree, a Fair trade fashion company, also author of Slow Fashion  and advocate in the slow fashion movement.

Alastair Fuad Luke – Slow Research Lab – rethinking the process of research in creativity and beyond. Here’s a link to their Resources; Slow TOOLS – Slow Practices. 

 

Research Links:

Do you believe this approach to design and making could have a positive impact on our consumption of products?

In principle yes – in practice is another thing. I think if designers can communicate this approach in a clear manner then they may be able to affect consumer attitudes. I think it also requires a different approach to advertising, particularly the messages that come across. If advertising continues to push fast consumption or thoughtless consumption people will continue to consume in this way. It’s a bit of a paradox, that designers in this movement will have to ask people to consume less but when they do buy to buy products of a higher value or monetary cost. I think designers must make clear the different value their products bring to consumers and to the world in general, shifting value from being ‘what do I get’ and ‘how quickly/easily can I get it’ to ‘how does this benefit the people who made it, what is the cost to the environment, Do I need this, Does this add value to my life?’.

Would you place more value on a product that has been created with this principle in mind? Why or why not?

Yes, I think so. Partly because if a product is created in this way it tells me that the designer hasn’t just created it to gain the most profit for themselves irrelevant of the cost to people or the environment. But I would still want to research the designers process, to see evidence that their words match their actions. I’m also drawn to the idea of something having been crafted with care and by hand, perhaps it’s a love for stories or something that seems more personal. Another reason is because to a degree these principles make up some of my own approach to designing or printmaking, so it would be strange for me to practice these things but not support those same principles as a consumer.

 

Project 2: Exercise 1 ~ The hand-made

‘The art of craft: the rise of the designer-maker’, Justin McGuirk, the Guardian 1st August 2011

After reading the above article:

Do you believe there is a demand for hand-made objects and work? Why do you think that some consumers seek out these qualities in the objects they buy?

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Project 2: Considering Craftsmanship

I’ve been trying to work my way through reading, On Craftsmanship towards a new Bauhaus by Christopher Frayling. If I’m honest there’s a lot that I’m struggling to get a grasp of but here’s an attempt to distill a few reflections upon reading so far.

The first two chapters feel more like a consideration of the history and culture of Britain as we entered industrialization. I think the reason for this is to address the idea that we are in fact mistaken in our understanding of craft, we think of craft or craftsman as a occupation enjoyed by many pre-industrialization.  When in reality ‘craftsmen far from being typical workers of the past era, accounted for less than ten per cent of the medieval labour force….in modern society there is far greater scope for skill and crafts-manship than in any previous society’. (p.65 quoting Robert Blauner in Work Satisfaction and Industrial Trends).

He uses the example of the craft potter, today seen to be someone working from traditional skills and challenges our notion of this being a highly prized craft in a bygone era;

“For, although pottery is today the most popular of handicrafts, it played a negligible part in the economy of Merrie England…When clay was worked by medieval craftsman, it was mainly to produce tiles and bricks for those who could not afford stone’ (p.65 Frayling, 2011).

If as Frayling suggests we are nostalgic for an era or way of life that never really existed the next question is why? And who is responsible for the prevalence of what Frayling calls ‘the mythology of craftsmanship – the myth of the happy artisan, the myth of paradise lost and the myth against all evidence that craftsmanship is an exclusively rural occupation’ (p.58-59 Frayling, 2011)?

Perhaps the answer lies in the trend towards language associated with craft in advertising. Apparently the use is so widespread that (this would’ve been in 2011 the time of the books publication);

“a recent survey of the state of language devoted a whole section to the word ‘crafted’ as one of those words in everyday vocabulary which ‘beguile as well as inform’. ‘When advertising people use “crafted” as a substitute for “manufactured”, the survey went on ‘they are attempting to delude the public into believing that something has been made by hand in a carefully old-fashioned way'” ( p. 61,Frayling, 2011).

He mentions ‘a series of 45-second films promoting Hovis on television’ as ‘the campaign that made the fullest use of this strategy’. He goes on to say that these adverts make the ‘mass produced goods associated in consumer’ minds with brass bands in rural Yorkshire during an early part of the century, bakeries run by craftsmen….to beguile the supermarket shopper into believing that it is as good today as it has always been’ (p.62, Frayling, 2011).

I wasn’t familiar with the adverts he was referring to, which led to an odd session of finding clips of Hovis adverts on YouTube. I think the ones below are those he was referring to;

 

Now I do agree with the general notion put forward, advertisers do have a lot to answer for in terms of attaching the word ‘hand-made’ or ‘crafted’ to mass produced goods, and in doing so have fixed this word into our language.

However I also think that the rise in craftsmen or designer/maker’s is also behind the surge in this terminology. I think there is a surge in people turning their hands to craft, and in my mind websites like Etsy or Folksy, have given a place for these people to sell their works (and therefore promote them and the concepts alongside it) to the general public in a way never seen before.

I also think the underlying issue isn’t simply nostalgia, it’s a desire for connection, and a desire for stories. Which leads me nicely on to looking into designer/makers which have used stories as part of their selling point or craft…

Project 2: Craftsmanship and quality

Before I move on to researching a designer/maker/artist whose work I’m drawn to, I wanted to touch briefly on a few things mentioned in the course book under the titles; ‘craftsmanship and quality, desire for narrative’.

I think a really good recent examples which shows how both those elements are something people are hungry for (possibly mostly at the luxury or high end of the consumer scale), is the birth of the London Craft Week. London held it’s first week dedicated to craft in 2015, and recently, held its second week in May 2016. Much like the London Design Week and London Fashion Week’s the events took place across London, with artists opening their own studios as well as large high end fashion brands offering an insight into the artistry or craft that goes into their products.

The video below is the promotional video for the 2016 week. I wanted to include it as it’s insightful about the current mood or desire for craftsmanship today.

Guy Salter – Executive Chairman, London Craft Week says;

“Consumers they have the money to spend, but they’ve got a little bit tired of the same old brands, the same old streets. People are asking many more question about the substance of how is something made, who made it,  where was it made? We are giving those consumers the alternative where one minute you could be going behind the seasons of a household brand. But the next you’re going around the corner down an alley and coming across an independent maker who you’ve never heard of before but whose work is of the same or higher quality.”

“What we aim to do is create something which I think is unique. Which is actually an opportunity for that consumer to shop, collect, buy, learn, discover beautiful things from around the world. meet exceptional makers face to face, and actually understand why what they do is so special.”

To me Salter’s word really express that desire for something hand crafted, as something unique, just as each individual person is unique. It’s also about the experience for the shopper, people are being welcomed into the story as it were, to become part of the craftsman world by seeing their working environment, the skill of their craft and by buying their goods.

I think it’s also interesting the appeal is made to those interested in more luxury goods, the brands that were included (Chanel, Mulberry among others) are not high street brands. I wonder how or if this desire will filter down into the consciousness of lower or middle income consumers. Or if this will remain the new centre of luxury tastes and desires (for a season of course)?

Project 2: Research ~ Ptolemy Mann

For this task I have been asked to research a designer/artist/maker whose work I am drawn to and consider the following questions. I’ve chosen to look more closely at the work of Ptolemy Mann.

What is their craft and how do they approach their work?

Ptolemy Mann is a textile artist and designer, whose craft is primarily weaving. She is a highly skilled hand weaver and so some of her work, commissions, is made by herself at a loom. Her textile work reveal she is an “expert at creating a broad spectrum of vibrant colours in a single design, she is known for her painterly approach” (p.172, Textile Visionaries by Bradley Quinn).

 

Circle #10, 2011, textile artwork woven by Ptolemy Mann.

Circle #10, 2011, textile artwork woven by Ptolemy Mann.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Project 3: Research textiles in context pt.1

I started to take some photos using the camera on my phone for the research towards assignment 5. The assignment focuses on the use of textiles in everyday contexts and asks us to consider textiles as artwork, upholstery, curtains. For the purposes of the assignment it looked like a place with a range of and varied use/application of textiles would be most beneficial.

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Project 3: Research – Zaha Hadid Sackler Gallery extension

The Serpentine Sackler Gallery, extension was commissioned in 2009-2013. A gallery of two different parts, a converted 19th century brick building and a 21st century textile based structure (designed by Zaha Hadid Architects). The structure is made from tensile created from glass-fibre and forms a curved canopy which looks a bit like a sting ray crossed with a space ship (that’s just what I think).

I read an article about it in the Dezeen Magazine online, Serpentine Sackler Gallery by Zaha Hadid. Also in The Architectural Review; Zaha Hadid’s Serpentine Extension exploits old and new. 

Serpentine Sackler Gallery Extension; Front facing view. Architects: Zaha Hadid Architects, photograph by Luke Hayes.

Serpentine Sackler Gallery Extension; Front facing view. Architects: Zaha Hadid Architects, photograph by Luke Hayes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Project 3: Research ~ Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Surrounded Islands Project:

Christo and Jeanne-Calude; Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida 1980-83. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude; Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida 1980-83. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I agree in part with the analysis of surrounded islands as ‘textiles used on an extremely large scale to both define and cover aspects of the natural environment, in this case two islands’. It’s hard to disagree with the scale, but I’m not 100% sure I can see what the aim of this was. To me the bright pink colour is a clash with the natural landscape, this clash brings attention to the natural form of the islands, the shapes of the fabric around the islands also serve to make clear the natural form of the islands. The fabric also acts as a cover over the waters around the island and makes access to them harder. Perhaps an unintentional benefit of the project was the clean up involved on the islands in preparation, apparently some forty tonnes of waste was gathered from across eleven islands in the bay!

It’s interesting to me also to consider why use textiles for this, they clearly state the the surroundings were made from ‘Woven Polypropylene’ a man made fibre, not plastic.

Art or Design

I think this work is an art work or piece rather than a design piece, as it wasn’t created for function or to help achieve a purpose or goal but rather as a project to highlight the islands and make a spectacle of them. According to their website the islands were ‘a work of art underlining the various elements and ways in which the people of Miami live between land and water’.

Temporary or Permanent

This was a temporary piece – the pink fabric surrounded the islands for a duration of two weeks before being removed.

Large Scale or Small Scale

Given that in the photographs the surrounding pink fabric can be seen from the air, I’d say the piece was of a large scale.

Christo and Jeanne-Calude; Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida 1980-83. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

Christo and Jeanne-Calude; Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida 1980-83. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transforming and/or Defining and/or Forming

In our workbook the characteristic highlighted was ‘defining’ – I agree with this but I also think the piece is trans-formative. I think this is because it takes the islands from obscurity, to becoming a focal point or destination (at least for the duration of the piece), which is a trans- formative act.

Immersive and/or Distant

I agree these are distant – they had to travelled to by boat from the bay area, so they weren’t easily reachable or touchable.

Pattern and/or Colour and/or Repetition and/or Shape

Christo and Jeanne-Calude; Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida 1980-83. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude; Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida 1980-83. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colour wasn’t highlighted as a characteristic in our workbooks, which I find odd! The vibrancy of the pink fabric I think it a key part of the piece, if it had been a blue, say in keeping with the water the art works wouldn’t have been nearly so defining or as visible from a distance.

 

Wrapped Trees Project:

Construction view of Christo and Jeanne Claude;Wrapped Trees, Foundation Beyeler and Berower Park, Riehen, Switzerland, 1997-98. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

Construction view of Christo and Jeanne Claude;Wrapped Trees, Foundation Beyeler and Berower Park, Riehen, Switzerland, 1997-98. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art or Design

Temporary or Permanent

Large Scale or Small Scale

Transforming and/or Defining and/or Forming

Immersive and/or Distant

Pattern and/or Colour and/or Repetition and/or Shape

Considering the work from the point of view of the textile rather than the tree is harder than I imagined. The fabric used looks so fragile and light, in some of the photographs it looks like bin liners (they have an transparency). In the photograph below the quality of the fabric as semi-sheer enables for the forms inside, the lines of the branches to still be visible;

Translucent view of Christo and Jeanne Claude;Wrapped Trees, Foundation Beyeler and Berower Park, Riehen, Switzerland, 1997-98. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

Translucent view of Christo and Jeanne Claude;Wrapped Trees, Foundation Beyeler and Berower Park, Riehen, Switzerland, 1997-98. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

The fabric in the photograph left seems to have a ballooning effect, the tree’s become almost cartoon shaped at the edges (at least that’s what I see in it).

The fabric here is confusing – is it there to protect and envelope or to cover and distort? I guess protect, because the fabric used is the same kind used ‘every winter in Japan to protect trees from heavy snow’.

 

 

Sunny view of Christo and Jeanne Claude;Wrapped Trees, Foundation Beyeler and Berower Park, Riehen, Switzerland, 1997-98. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

Sunny view of Christo and Jeanne Claude;Wrapped Trees, Foundation Beyeler and Berower Park, Riehen, Switzerland, 1997-98. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

In the sunlight the fabric has a sheen, an almost metallic quality, which makes the forms seem more fantastical or unreal to me. It really reminds me of something you might expect to see in an illustration or children’s cartoon which features trees or forms from another planet. I think that’s partly the metallic quality but also the sections of shape created by the ropes around the fabric.

 

 

Winter view of Christo and Jeanne Claude;Wrapped Trees, Foundation Beyeler and Berower Park, Riehen, Switzerland, 1997-98. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

Winter view of Christo and Jeanne Claude;Wrapped Trees, Foundation Beyeler and Berower Park, Riehen, Switzerland, 1997-98. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

In the snow the fabric becomes a platform or base for the wider settling of snow on top of the trees. This again alters the shape or highlights different angles or facets of the wrapped trees.

 

 

Finally here’s a link to a YouTube video from Vernissage TV; Christo and Jeanne-Claude (Interview with Christo), in which he discussed “Wrapped Trees” :

Project 3: Research ~ Yayoi Kusama, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec & Marianne Straub

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrored Room 1998

Yayoi Kusama; Infinity Mirrored Room,1998 Les Arbattoirs, Toulouse - Photo: Jean- Luc Auriol.

Yayoi Kusama; Infinity Mirrored Room,1998 Les Arbattoirs, Toulouse – Photo: Jean- Luc Auriol.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art or Design

Temporary or Permanent

Large Scale or Small Scale

Transforming and/or Defining and/or Forming

Immersive and/or Distant

Pattern and or/Colour/and or Repetition/and or Shape

I found some further examples of her work, which also feature repeated shapes, forms, colour, across a variety of surfaces on the Patternity site. 

She works across multiple surfaces, applying her dots in various scales and colours, to plastic forms such as Pumpkins, onto fabrics in collaboration with designers (namely Louis Vuitton) and using mirrors to create an illusion of infinite repetition of these forms.

 

Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec: Clouds

Multiple forms and colour combinations; Clouds by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. Photo by Paul Tahon.

Multiple forms and colour combinations; Clouds by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. Photo by Paul Tahon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art or Design

Connecting tiles for; Clouds by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. Photo by Paul Tahon.

Connecting tiles for; Clouds by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. Photo by Paul Tahon.

I wasn’t sure at first how to characterise the ‘clouds’, on the one hand they were produced from a designers perspective, looking for a solution to our increasingly cold, white environments. But on the other hand the end result is akin to art work and has an individualistic or unique element; the client can make any form or shape they want out of 11 different coloured fabric tiles. It feels to me like design for a creative or artistic end result.

 

Temporary or Permanent

Again this is a tricky choice – the fact that the tiles can be disconnected and reconnected any number of times gives the forms a temporary feel. But these clouds could remain in one household or office for the long-term, even permanently.

Large Scale or Small Scale

I’ve selected both scales, because the forms are able to be made to whatever size is desired.

Transforming and/or Defining and/or Forming

 

Smaller version; Clouds by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. Photo by Paul Tahon.

Smaller version; Clouds by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. Photo by Paul Tahon.

On their website the designers describe the clouds as having ‘significant impact on our rooms’. They also say it’s the culmination of research about ‘reintroducing the textile element into our environment to make it warm and calm’. To me, those statements sound like the aim of the textiles is to transform or enhance whatever environment they’re put into.

The ‘clouds’ themselves have an organic nature, in that they can be ‘transformed’ by adding or removing more tiles.

 

 

 

Immersive and/or Distant

Absolutely Immersive – these are tactile soft to the touch, meant for adding colour, warmth, life to an area.

Pattern and or/Colour/and or Repetition/and or Shape

I guess I could’ve highlighted all of the categories above (pattern could be created using the tile shapes and colour variations).

Here’s a link to a video in which Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec talk about use of the cloud tiles to divide or adapt spaces:

 

 

Marianne Straub: Moquette textile 1970

Moquette Fabric in use on Bus.

Moquette Fabric in use on Bus.

Art or Design

Temporary or Permanent

Large Scale or Small Scale

Transforming and/or Defining and/or Forming

Immersive and/or Distant

Pattern and or/Colour/and or Repetition/and or Shape

 

 

'Straub' Moquette Fabric 1970 by Marianne Straub.

‘Straub’ Moquette Fabric 1970 by Marianne Straub.

Straub Moquette textile in picadily carriage opened by queen Photographed by LT, 16 December 1977

‘Straub’ Moquette textile in use in Interior of Piccadilly line carriage opened by Her Majesty the Queen, Photographed by London Transport, 16 December 1977.

 

 

Project 3: Exercise 1 ~ Straub Moquette & Semiotics

For this exercise I’ve been asked to consider the work we did in Part Three on visual communications, then consider; what function Straub’s textile is serving other than providing something hard-wearing to sit on?

I’ll start by explaining how I came to find a moquette fabric which Straub had designed in 1970 and then I’ll approach a semiotic analysis of it.

'Straub' Moquette Fabric 1970 by Marianne Straub.

‘Straub’ Moquette Fabric 1970 by Marianne Straub.

I found on the London Transport Museum’s shop page a moquette fabric entitled Straub, which was named after it’s designer Marianne Straub and was applied to all new buses and trains entering service between 1969-1978. A little bit further digging around and I found a link to a photograph from the London Transport Museum Collection, of the ‘Straub’ moquette in use during the 1970’s on a new Piccadilly car (see photo below).

 

 

'Straub' moquette textile in Piccadilly carriage opened by Her Majesty the Queen Photographed by London Transport, 16 December 1977.

‘Straub’ moquette textile in Piccadilly carriage opened by Her Majesty the Queen Photographed by London Transport, 16 December 1977.

In my process of digging around the internet  I also came across an interview with Marianne Straub in The Christian Science Monitor; Creating Artwork to Sit Upon, By Christopher Andreae, August 7 1990. 

Whilst the interview doesn’t shed any light on the choice for the design of ‘Straub’ moquette specifically it does highlight Marianne Straub’s love of hand weaving and for her the importance of a collaborative approach when designing textiles.

 

 

 

A more contemporary example of an approach to creating textiles for public transport can be seen in an interview for Mid-Century Magazine; A seat on the train: an interview with textile designers Wallace Sewell, By Hilary Light.  Within the interview the inspiration behind creating a modern moquette fabric for Transport for London (TfL) is discussed. In the discussion use of colour and inspiration are mentioned; “incorporating various abstracted London landmarks in the design”. Later in the interview she speaks of creating “strong exciting designs, that are bold, perform, yet fit an exacting industrial brief. I feel that having a strong considered design around us can be a positive addition to one’s life – making one respond, even if in an unconscious way!”. The mention of design having a ‘positive addition’ or unconscious impact is interesting and what I want to try and decode by using semiotic analysis of the ‘Straub’ fabric.

Semiotic Analysis:

On p.134 of; This Means This This Means That: A user’s guide to semiotics, second edition, by Sean Hall, an explanation of the distinction between connotation and denotation when applied to object is discussed. The example given is in clothing, that it’s not just ‘what we wear (denotation) but how we wear them (connotation)’ (p.134 Hall) that informs our understanding.

So here’s my consideration; it’s not just the appearance, colours, forms of the ‘Straub’ fabric (denotation) it’s the context or application of the fabric (connotation) which frames our understanding of its purpose.

For the purposes of this exercise I’m going to refer to ‘Straub’ as seen in use in the photograph of the Piccadilly Carriage below (and above):

'Straub' moquette textile in Piccadilly carriage opened by Her Majesty the Queen Photographed by London Transport, 16 December 1977.

‘Straub’ moquette textile in Piccadilly carriage opened by Her Majesty the Queen Photographed by London Transport, 16 December 1977.

Denotation: A repeated pattern of connected Light blue, dark blue and green coloured fabrics is woven together to form the fabric. The fabric is not smooth/has a tactile quality.

The fabric has been applied to/covering metal seats which run in an ordered line along the length of the train carriage. The fabric is attached to the cushions of/padding on the seats.

The carriage is mostly formed of metal, or plastic, other features include a wooden floor (perhaps), and some advertisements along the edges of the ceiling.

 

Connotation: The train is used to help people get to and from work, it is also used by people going about their day to day lives. The fabric provides a back drop for this activity. The fabric’s colour adds vibrancy and interest to an otherwise dull carriage. The use of colour here could be seen to be important (I’m not an expert on Colour theory), but simply put, blue is the colour of sky, water, it’s something we see everyday as is green the colour of earth, both colours could be seen to reinforce a sense of calm or grounding. They give the carriage a sense of order which seems important if people of different backgrounds will be using it. The shapes of the pattern are simple; even abstract, lines, rectangles, they could mirror the shapes or forms seen in the London skyline, buildings etc. To me this again becomes a visual reminder of why people travel/where people live (i.e. to work, they work in the city).

Tactile – the fabric used is not only practically hard wearing it was a tactile quality. This tactile quality might encourage touch of the fabric and even an association of pleasure or the creation of an more welcoming or comfortable environment. The use of fabric covering suggests a concern with the comfort of the traveller not just the mechanics of the train/operating it. It is not necessary for the seats to be covered in fabric or given padding for them to be usable (functional as seats), but fabric is applied to encourage comfort and I guess by extrapolation the use of the train (an incentive).

I’m not sure how much further I can extrapolate meanings or connotations from this example, so I’m going to finish my attempted analysis there.

Research- Christian Boltanski’s Personnes

Christian Boltanski’s Personnes Exhibition 2010:

Personnes Exhibition at the Grand Palais, Paris, 2010 by Christian Boltanski. Photo by Didier Plowy, Monumenta MCC.

Personnes Exhibition at the Grand Palais, Paris, 2010 by Christian Boltanski. Photo by Didier Plowy, Monumenta MCC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clothes close up from; Personnes Exhibition, The Grand Palais, Paris 2010 by Christian Boltanski. Photograph by Didier Plowy Monumenta MCC.

Clothes close up from; Personnes Exhibition, The Grand Palais, Paris 2010 by Christian Boltanski. Photograph by Didier Plowy Monumenta MCC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ART or DESIGN

TEMPORARY or PERMANENT

LARGE SCALE or SMALL SCALE

TRANSFORMING and/or DEFINING and/or FORMING

IMMERSIVE and/or DISTANT

PATTERN and/or COLOUR and/or REPETITION and/or SHAPE

In addition to reading Laura Cumming’s review in The Guardian Online; Christian Boltanski: Personnes, 17 Jan 2010 I watched Tateshots: Christian Boltanski  and Vernissage TV’s Interview; Christian Boltanski in conversation with Christophe Ecoffet 2010. 

The noise of heartbeats permeates the exhibition, why do you think that may be?

Partly I think it’s to make the exhibition an even more immersive experience; not only are you seeing things which are fragments of peoples lives, in the clothes on the floor, but you’re hearing the sound of a human heartbeat as you walk around. Boltanski himself (in the Vernissage video above), says he ‘collects’ heartbeat’s, that you can ‘preserve the heartbeat but you can’t preserve the person’. To me this suggests it’s a way of reinforcing the idea of impermanence and human mortality, a heartbeat is a unique thing in every individual which can only be heard when the person is alive. It has an odd effect of acting as a memento mori.

To what extent are the textiles transformed into something other than fabric?

The clothes as suggested by Laura Cumming in the guardian really becoming a metaphor for human life. Their clinical, square formation is suggestive of the organised coldness and brutality of the destruction of human life in Nazi Concentration Camps. Perhaps today the clothes remind us of the refuge crisis, of countless numbers of people struggling to and sometimes not managing to survive.

What’s the significance of the installation title – and of the mechanical grabber?

The word ‘personnes’ has a dual meaning in french –  ‘people’ and ‘nobodies’ – it perfectly frames the exhibition, with it’s contents so rich with cultural and visual connotation but so absent of actual human identification – the people alluded to by the clothing and the numbered biscuit tins are never identified by name or face or ethnicity, they remain anonymous.

The significance of the mechanical grabber – the mechanical grabber according to Boltanski is to represent the ‘element of chance’ or ‘the finger of God’ that one moment you can be alive, and the next you could be dead, without having any control over when or how that happens. I see associate the mechanical grabber and the mound of clothing more with human waste, again another trace of human existence. But also with issues of sustainability and our throw-away culture. But the idea of consumerism/waste issues is kind of dismissed by the arrangement of the clothes and the rusted poles/neon lights which create a path towards the mechanical grabber.

What associations does this work conjure up in your mind?

The first association that came to mind was the holocaust, and the remains of people, items of clothing, shoes, that were left behind by those killed by the Nazi’s during that period in history. I’ve never been to the holocaust museum but I’ve heard part of what remains there are big piles or displays of shoes and belongings of those who were in concentration camps.

The wall of biscuit tins with numbers at the entrance to the main exhibit also brings up associations with genocide or mass murder, the de-humanisation of people, reducing them to clinical cold numbers. The rusting poles and white neon lights, again have an industrial or cold feel to them, a visual reminded to the aesthetic of a lab or a warehouse, for me it reinforces that idea of people being ill treated or worse. The mechanical and methodical action of the grabber lifting and dropping the clothes brings to mind a sense of detachment and randomness. The machine is unfeeling – it has no ability to consider human life etc.

The sound of the heartbeats – heard as unique sounds by each square of clothing and as a mass in one unified beat which fills the hall, are suddenly eerie in this context. A heartbeat could be a sound that brings Joy – the sound of an unborn baby, a sign of life, or the closeness of someone, but in this context it’s a memento mori, a sad sound which reminds the listener of the inevitability of death.

Further reading on the artist Christian Boltanski: Grove Art Online Biography. 

Project 4: Research ~ Fashion images and photographers

Irving Penn

Irving Penn, whose photography was said to ‘bridge the gap between commercial photography and fine art’ photographed fashion for the likes of Vogue magazine and many designers, he was well known for his his photographic work for designer Issey Miyake. I read an article about their collaboration; Cross Disciplines: A New Exhibition Celebrates the Collaboration Between Irving Penn and Issey Miyake by Lynn Yaeger for Vogue.

Issey Miyake Dress photograph by Irving Penn

Issey Miyake Dress photograph by Irving Penn

Textile qualities brought to the fore:

Silhouette

Volume

Drape and movement

Colour and or/Pattern

 

 

 

 

Issey Miyake Dress; White and Black, New York 1990 photograph by Irving Penn.

Issey Miyake Dress; White and Black, New York 1990 photograph by Irving Penn.

 

Textile qualities brought to the fore:

Silhouette

Volume

Drape and movement

Colour and or/Pattern

 

 

 

Dovima, March 1947 photographed for Vogue by Irving Penn.

Dovima, March 1947 photographed for Vogue by Irving Penn.

Textile qualities brought to the fore:

Silhouette

Volume

Drape and movement

Colour and or/Pattern

 

 

 

 

1950 Christian Dior Dress, photograph by Irving Penn.

1950 Christian Dior Dress, photograph by Irving Penn.

Textile qualities brought to the fore:

Silhouette

Volume

Drape and movement

Colour and or/Pattern

 

 

 

 

Richard Avedon

Photographer for Harper’s Bazaar, then Vogue, Avendon was highly regarded as a fashion photographer. His photographs were full of personality and movement, he sought to bring an element of his own character and that of those he photographed into every picture he took.

Veruschka, dress by Bill Blass, New York, January 1967, photograph by Richard Avedon.

Veruschka, dress by Bill Blass, New York, January 1967, photograph by Richard Avedon.

Textile qualities brought to the fore:

Silhouette

Volume

Drape and movement

Colour and or/Pattern

 

 

 

 

Doe Avedon and Diana Vreeland New York 1946 by Richard Avedon.

Doe Avedon and Diana Vreeland New York 1946 by Richard Avedon.

Textile qualities brought to the fore:

Silhouette

Volume

Drape and movement

Colour and or/Pattern

 

 

 

 

Theo Graham evening dress by Dior Le Pre Catalan Paris August 1949, photograph by Richard Avedon.

Theo Graham evening dress by Dior Le Pre Catalan Paris August 1949, photograph by Richard Avedon.

Textile qualities brought to the fore:

Silhouette

Volume

Drape and movement

Colour and or/Pattern

 

 

 

 

Linda Evangelista Versace Advertising campaign New York Nov 9 1992 by Richard Avedon.

Linda Evangelista for Versace Advertising campaign New York Nov 9 1992 by Richard Avedon.

Textile qualities brought to the fore:

Silhouette

Volume

Drape and movement

Colour and or/Pattern

 

 

 

 

 

Mario Testino

Testino is well known for his fashion and commercial photography. A current favourite with Vogue, having photographed celebrities and models for the US, UK and Paris editions of the magazine. His commercial clients include; Dolce and Gabanna, Burberry, Versace and more.

 

Taylor Swift Photographed for Vogue November 2014 by Mario Testino.

Taylor Swift Photographed for Vogue November 2014 by Mario Testino.

Textile qualities brought to the fore:

Silhouette

Volume

Drape and movement

Colour and or/Pattern

 

 

 

 

Taylor swift photographed for Vanity Fair 2015 photograph by Mario Testino.

Taylor swift photographed for Vanity Fair 2015 photograph by Mario Testino.

Textile qualities brought to the fore:

Silhouette

Volume

Drape and movement

Colour and or/Pattern

 

 

 

 

Kiera Knightly in Chanel Haute Couture Dress photographed for Vogue Us Oct 2012 by Mario Testino.

Kiera Knightly in Chanel Haute Couture Dress photographed for Vogue Us Oct 2012 by Mario Testino.

Textile qualities brought to the fore:

Silhouette

Volume

Drape and movement

Colour and or/Pattern

 

 

 

Mario Testino photograph for British Vogue.

Mario Testino photograph for British Vogue.

Textile qualities brought to the fore:

Silhouette

Volume

Drape and movement

Colour and or/Pattern

 

British Vogue June 2016 photograph by Mario Testino

British Vogue June 2016 photograph by Mario Testino

Textile qualities brought to the fore:

Silhouette

Volume

Drape and movement

Colour and or/Pattern

 

Bruce Willis photograph by Mario Testino.

Bruce Willis photograph by Mario Testino.

Textile qualities brought to the fore:

Silhouette

Volume

Drape and movement

Colour and or/Pattern

 

 

 

 

Project 4: Research ~ Channel’s Tweed

According to an article in Ellie magazine; How Coco Chanel Discovered Her Iconic Tweed, by Ruthie Friedlander, March 2014 Chanel first discovered Tweed in the from of Menswear worn by the Duke of Westminster. In 1924 she began creating her now infamous tweet using a Scottish Factory. Today Chanel tweed is made in the House of Lesage in Paris.

I watched a beautiful video about The making of Chanel tweed on the Telegraph Luxury page.  The video makes it clear how innovative and creative Chanel are with their designs, but also how skilled the House of Lesage weavers must be to fulfil the demands set.

We were asked to begin our research by looking at Chanel’s Fall 2013 Ready to Wear Collection. 

Fall 2013 RTW Collection:

Chanel Fall 2013 RTW Tweed with metallic strips photograph by Yannis Vlamos.

Chanel Fall 2013 RTW Tweed with metallic strips photograph by Yannis Vlamos.

In the picture opposite a different kind of tweed or woven fabric is created using black velvet ribbons and silver ribbons and thread. The effect is a much large check detail and a metallic sheen or quality to the piece. It’s also interesting to see a different garment shape created from the fabric in the top or cape that covers the shoulders as well as a skirt with a perhaps more traditional (although shorter) shape.

Overall it has the effect of something ultra modern, even futuristic made using an ancient hand based skill (weaving).

 

 

 

 

Chanel- Bright Pink Tweed in traditional coat and skirt form Fall 2013 RTW photo by Yannis Vlamos.

Chanel- Bright Pink Tweed in traditional coat and skirt form Fall 2013 RTW photo by Yannis Vlamos.

Perhaps a more traditional ensemble in terms of shape and garment choices is seen opposite, tweed has been used to make coats and skirts for a long time due to it’s durability. The twist here is I think the bold bright pink colour and the addition of a cape or hood made from tweed with a leather tie fastening. It makes the tweed feel much more contemporary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring 2014 RTW Collection:

The garments and textiles used in their Spring 2014 ready to wear collection had a number of interesting/varied approaches to the construction of tweed. I’ve picked a few of my favourite/stand out examples below.

Chanel - Woven top with cut away Spring 2014 RTW Photo Gianni Pucci.

Chanel – Woven top with cut away Spring 2014 RTW Photo Gianni Pucci.

In the photo a left the raw edges of the top have been left mostly exposed showing the threads of the woven fabric. It gives a much more free almost punk style to the top. It’s a tactile looking garment. Also interesting is the giant slash across the middle of the top, I’m not sure how long lasting this fabric would be as the strength of the tweed is due to unbroken woven strands! They’ve also used thread or ribbon of different widths, colours and textures to create a bold, raw look. The colour hear is also reminiscent of the clashing bright pinks and blacks associated with the punk movement. It’s softened a little by the hint of blue thread running throughout the garment.

 

 

 

Chanel - Woven Plastic neon threads Spring 2014 RTW photo Gianni Pucci.

Chanel – Woven Plastic neon threads Spring 2014 RTW photo Gianni Pucci.

I’m not sure if you can call the textile used to create the arms of the coat (see photo left) tweed, it seems more of an new take on that method. It appears to be a mix of neon plastic  ribbons and fabric ribbons held together by a fabric woven structure underneath? It’s very bold and striking against a more traditionally shaped main body of the coat. Although in the main body of the coat it seems that neon colours have been woven underneath which are just visible in the dots between the woven chevron shapes. I really like the way they’ve taken the idea of a woven fabric to an extreme here, it’s playful.

 

 

 

Chanel- Half woven coat Spring 2014 RTW photo Gianni Pucci.

Chanel- Half woven coat Spring 2014 RTW photo Gianni Pucci.

Another complete re-working of tweed is seen opposite. Here a combination of fabrics meet half way through a sort of suit jacket. Ribbons are woven together, again with the raw edge exposed at the tops and bottoms. The colours are an assortment of pastel tones with some bright pink thrown in which draws the eye to the pattern created by the weaving process. The ribbons have a crochet appearance which is quite organic looking and a contrast against the more smooth looking top half of the jacket.

 

 

 

 

Fall 2016 RTW:

Chanel- Two kinds of tweed fabric in one coat Fall 2016 RTW Photo Marcus Tondo

Chanel- Two kinds of tweed fabric in one coat Fall 2016 RTW Photo Marcus Tondo

The coat left is a really interesting mix of textured fabrics within a red colour scheme. The jacket shape is more formal or traditional but elements have been adapted for a dramatic look. The top half is woven with a mix of different shade of red ribbons and some metallic looking red threads. The bottom half is a tightly woven traditional tweed but in a brilliant red shade. I love how they’ve used the fabric from the top half of the coat again on the pockets for a contrast.

 

 

 

 

 

Chanel - Fall 2016 RTW Tweed and Denim Combination Bag and Jacket Photo by Marcus Tondo.

Chanel – Fall 2016 RTW Tweed and Denim Combination Bag and Jacket Photo by Marcus Tondo.

In my final pic from the fall 2016 collection (left) a surprising combination of denim and tweed. For me this is an unusual mix of fabrics because denim is normally associated with informal or casual wear and tweed slightly more formal or at least professional wear. I think part of what makes this work is the choice of soft pink’s and blues throughout the weave of the tweed. if you look more closely at the garment you can also make out an almost pearl like sheen to some of the tweed, I think they’ve incorporated some metallic or pearl threads to the weave.

 

 

 

 

Fall 2016/17 Haute Couture Collection: 

Chanel’s Fall-Winter 2016/17 Haute Couture collection feels a bit more traditional in terms of it’s colour palette; taupe’s, grey, black, cream, very sophisticated muted colours. Also it seemed like a more traditional use of tightly woven woollen tweeds. The twist or contemporary touches seem to come in the shape of the garments; strong angular shoulders, suits with pants and in the form of embroidery.

Chanel - Layered tweed dress and jacket, with embellishments and sequins. Haute Couture Fall- Winter 2016/17.

Chanel – Layered tweed dress and jacket, with embellishments and sequins. Haute Couture Fall- Winter 2016/17.

An tailored bolero shaped jacket is placed over a layered, almost tiered dress to create a more contemporary shape garment. The embroidery is carefully place, not overwhelming the garment but providing visual points of interest and flow down the garment. It feels a much more subtle arrangement than in previous collections.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chanel - Tweed and embroidery Haute Couture Fall 2016 photo Marcus Tondo

Chanel – Tweed and embroidery Haute Couture Fall 2016 photo Marcus Tondo

The use of tweed here is really subtle, different shades of grey woven into black for a soft effect. The tweed is also interspersed with tiny reflective sequins, as well as the bolder embroidered flowers and forms across the top half of the coat and the arms. I think the use of the embroidery towards the top half emphasises the angular lines of the shoulders and stand up collar.

 

 

 

 

 

Chanel - Tweed and satin suit Haute Couture Fall 2016, photograph by Marcus Tondo.

Chanel – Tweed and satin suit Haute Couture Fall 2016, photograph by Marcus Tondo.

Opposite – a fairly traditionally woven and coloured tweed gets a modern update with satin trimmings on the collar, tops of the pocket and cuffs. It’s an unusual mix but I think it works because it’s on a formal or more traditional jacket setting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another part of the show I think is noteworthy is the decor or background setting. For the show Karl Largerfield made a point of flying in the atelier’s who worked to create the garments seen in the collection. The premiere’s can be seen working with the fabrics and fitting garments to models in the background of the show. They’ve recreated the workshop space that would normally be part of the atelier too. In an interview with Karl Lagerfield about the show he mentions that nobody see’s the ‘craftsmanship’ or the craftsmen that go into making the garments and that they in turn don’t usually get to see the finished garments on show. I mention this because it seems to be within the trend towards show casing ‘craftsmanship’ within contemporary culture today, Chanel have chosen to really pick up on this and champion it in this collection.

 

Chanel Houte Coture Fall -Winter 2016/17; Background scenes. Photograph by Alessandro Garofalo.

Chanel Haute Couture Fall -Winter 2016/17; Background scenes. Photograph by Alessandro Garofalo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chanel Ateliers on show at Haute Couture Fall-Winter 2016/17. Photograph by Alessandro Garofalo.

Chanel Ateliers on show at Haute Couture Fall-Winter 2016/17. Photograph by Alessandro Garofalo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Making – of the Fall-Winter 2016/17 Haute Couture CHANEL Collection Video you can see the beautiful meticulous process that went into creating the garments (and a couple of glimpses of the use of tweed).

I will finish my musing with this video of the ‘Story of the Fall-Winter 2016/17 Haute Couture CHANEL show.

 

 

 

Project 4: Research ~ Pattern and Print

For the purposes of this research point I have been asked to find examples of  any designer/high street brands that are characterised by their use of print and pattern. The two that instantly came to mind were; Cath Kidston and Orla Kiely.

I’ve been asked to consider this question when looking at the brands;

Do you think this (use of print and pattern) is primarily about aesthetic considerations or is it in part an attempt to create an identifiable brand that can then extend to other products such as fashion accessories, household items etc?

Orla Kiely:

When considering how to approach this research project. the first thing I began to do was look for examples of Orla Kiely’s work and how that might provide evidence to answer the question above. It doesn’t take much digging around to find plenty of examples where certain shapes, or forms emerge in patterns across several different formats from; women’s fashion, to candles, to home furnishings and kitchen goods.

I decided to focus on one pattern or form which found different expressions across a variety of goods, textiles and non textiles. I picked the ‘Wallflower pattern’, seen in the photo below:

Orla Kiely Wallflower pattern on scarf.

Orla Kiely Wallflower pattern on scarf.

This ‘Wallflower’ motif is seen across a range of collections, seasons and kinds of products. In the series of photographs below you’ll see examples where Orla Kiely has really adapted and kept the print interesting by playing with different scale motif’s, varying colour and application onto different kinds of surfaces.

My personal favourite application of the ‘Wallflower’ pattern is the application in a orange/red colour on women’s wear for fair-trade fashion pioneer’s People Tree.

 

 

Orla Kiely Textured Vinyl Winter Wallflower Print Bag. Photo from polyvore.com

Orla Kiely Textured Vinyl Winter Wallflower Print Bag. Photo from polyvore.com

The scale of the pattern has been reduced on the bag opposite to create a greater repeat for the pattern.

The introduction of  the yellow/creme colour in the shape of the flower adds a contrast to the navy blue which keeps things feeling fresh and simple at the same time.

 

 

 

 

Orla Kiely Wallflower Pattern on Candle. Photo from PrintPattern Blog.

Orla Kiely Wallflower Pattern on Candle. Photo from PrintPattern Blog.

On the Candle ( see photo on left) colour has been add in a sophisticated on trend slate grey. Kiely has manipulate the scale of the ‘wallflower’ here, making the shape larger emphasises the form of the shape for a bolder appearance. The effect is I think fitting for a candle which you want to add interest to a room without appearing too busy (a small repeated pattern might have that effect).

By highlighting the flower shape in white another form within the whole shape becomes apparent and breaks up the grey overall.

 

 

wallflower pattern on duvet cover photo john lewis

Orla Kiely Wallflower Pattern on Duvet Cover. Photo: John Lewis

For the duvet cover (left), the wallflower pattern has been scaled up again to create a large repeating pattern. The ochre or mustard yellow colour gives a retro graphic quality to the print overall. Here there’s an sense of use of negative space too as the flower head is white and recedes into the white background of the cover. I think the use of the negative space in using white helps stop the print from becoming too busy or making it hard for the eye to settle. In a bedroom a sense of calm or rest is probably a good idea so this simple bold repeated pattern works well.

 

 

wallflower pattern on melamine jug photo by john lewis

Orla Kiely Wallflower Pattern on Melamine Jug Photo by John Lewis.

I think the melamine jug pattern (left) is the most retro looking application of the wallflower motif. The mustard coloured background provides contrast next to the white body or stem of the wallflower. Another two colours are added by the pink flower head, and grey circle. These colours feel justified when applied to a surface or product (melamine) which has a strong association with the 1970’s and all things retro.

 

 

 

Photograph of Wallflower print in use on People Tree Spring-Summer 2015 Collection. Photograph: Christy Archer.

Photograph of Wallflower print in use on People Tree Spring-Summer 2015 Collection. Photograph: Christy Archer.

In my final example of application the wallflower motif is seen in a small, closely repeating pattern on women’s garments (see photo left). I think this works well partly due to the limited colour palette, the use of two shade of red/pink and a contrasting grey circle for the flower head.

 

 

 

 

I wanted to include examples of Orla Kiely’s collaboration with People Tree as I feel this is in part evidence of activities which help build a sense of brand, by bringing greater brand awareness by reaching different groups of people (in this case ethical shoppers). There’s a link to two video’s about her collaboration with People Tree in Spring Summer 2014 & Spring Summer 2015 below:

And for a final measure a couple of images from previous People Tree collections against examples of pattern or print found in Orla Kiely’s book ‘Pattern’:

Orla Kiely 'Alpine Forest print in Ruby for A/W 2016, seen in book 'Pattern by Orla Kiely'. Seen in context in People Tree Spring/Summer 2012 Collection.

Orla Kiely ‘Alpine Forest print in Ruby for A/W 2016, seen in book ‘Pattern by Orla Kiely’. Seen in context in People Tree Spring/Summer 2012 Collection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teacup Print/Pattern in Book; 'Pattern by Orla Kiely' and in use on People Tree Collection Autumn Winter 2011. Photograph: Christy Archer.

Teacup Print/Pattern in Book; ‘Pattern by Orla Kiely’ and in use on People Tree Collection Autumn Winter 2011. Photograph: Christy Archer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orla Kiely has had several collaborations with Uniqlo, a collaboration with Clarks to create a shoe range in 2014 and an unusual collaboration with Halfords; Olive and Orange, a range of bikes, tents and outdoors equipment with her signature prints.

Orla Kiely’s willingness to use print and pattern on a broad range of surfaces and in collaborations strikes me as more of a brand approach than an purely aesthetic or artistic venture.

I didn’t think my word alone, or my observations of her collaborations are evidence enough of there being a concerted effort to create an identifiable brand. So I did a little bit more research to find some kind of interview in which Orla Kiely discussed these kinds of considerations. I found a suitable interview on the Drapers Business website. I had to sign up for 12 weeks free access so I’m not sure if this link will be accessible to others but nevertheless its; The Drapers Interview; The World of Orla Kiely by Graeme Moran, 9 Dec 2015.

It’s certainly clear in this interview that not only is Orla Kiely regarded as a brand by those within the industry (she won Drapers Premium Brand of the Year award in 2015) she is also happy to discuss the business as a brand herself. She refers to colour and pattern as ‘the two cornerstones of what we do’. Moran says “unwavering focus on her signature quirky style has enabled the 53-year old designer to build her name from small handbag collection into a flourishing business with global reach”.

On the subject of her collaboration’s Moran says, “while there have been numerous collaborations that have seen her signature patterns appear across a range of products, they’ve always been beneficial to the growth of her brand”. Orla Kiely is quoted as saying, “we’re approached with a lot of projects and we don’t do all of them. I want to work with people that I like and I feel understand us”, which indicates a considered attitude and efforts to maintain a certain style or feel of brand.

I do think it’s important to state now that I don’t think this is a completely contrived effort on Orla Kiely’s part. What I mean by that is she doesn’t design pattern or prints solely with the objective of creating whatever will make the most money or achieve the highest brand recognition. These factors are considered but it seems at the heart of the business is her personal love for and pleasure in creating these things. She says in the aforementioned interview; “I never design anything thinking, ‘this is going to be a winner’. I just do what I like. It’s good when you’re [making] things that you love, or would wear. I want to like it. I want to love it”.

Project 4: Research ~ Mary Katrantzou

Having read the review in Vogue Runway; Mary Katrantzou Fall 2011 by Sarah Mower, I found and listened to Mary Katrantzou’s TedxAthens 2012 Talk; Challenge yourself to define your limits (see video below).

 

Whilst she talks at length about philosophical and practical limits which she fought to against to develop herself and her brand she also touches upon key interests and theme’s within her work. Mary Katrantzou was born in Athens, and initially began her creative journey by studying towards a BA in Architecture at Rhode Island School of Design. She transferred part way through to Central Saint Martins to complete a BA in Textile Design. Following on from this she graduated in MA Fashion from Central Saint Martins being awarded distinction.

Her MA collection featured printed dresses which played with tromp d’oeil  jewellery. It was this collection that really helped her to marry together ides of shape and print in creating strong designs with an element of visual illusion or trickery. There’s an interesting interview with her after the MA show with fashion magazine Dazed – Mary Katrantzou Does Pretty Robots by Alexa Hall.

Dresses from MA Graduation Collection 2008 Mary Katrantzou.

Dresses from MA Graduation Collection 2008 Mary Katrantzou.

Katrantzou taught herself how to use photo-shop to apply digital patterns initially to interiors and subsequently onto female clothing.See’s her practice as a marrying of the theoretical and a practical approach to fashion. It’s clear from her Ted talk that she’s driven to test and push boundaries in print and textiles. With each collection her technical expertise develops and she pushes herself into different avenues, not just pursuing print design but thinking about new shapes and approaches to women’s wear.

Her Fall 2011 RTW collection was a critical success and in another Vogue Review by Tim Blanks talks about the collection being about ‘the woman in the room’ as opposed to ‘the room on the woman’. I think this is referring to the collection having a greater focus on how textiles are used, in terms of shape and drape on the female figure as opposed to the garment simply being another surface (much like any interior surface) on which to place a print. I think the collection marked a significant turning point for Katrantzou away from interior design to women’s wear/fashion design.

Mary katrantzou Fall 2011 RTW Look 6 Photo Yannis Vlamos.

Mary Katrantzou Fall 2011 RTW Look 6 Photo Yannis Vlamos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look 22 Mary Katrantzou Fall 2011 RTW Photo by Yannis Vlamos.

Look 22 Mary Katrantzou Fall 2011 RTW Photo by Yannis Vlamos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s clear looking at her collections since 2008 and 2011 Katrantzou is not a one trick pony, her drive to push the boundaries of print and her own understanding of how fashion works on the female form is consistently evident.

Her Spring 2016 RTW & Fall 2016 RTW collections are an example in point;

Look 1 from Spring 2016 RTW Mary Katrantzou Photo Yannis Vlamos.

Look 1 from Spring 2016 RTW Mary Katrantzou Photo Yannis Vlamos.

On the dress opposite embellishment and sequins are used to from pattern rather than digital printing methods. The silhouette and shape of the outfit are much more streamlined, sophisticated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look 22 Spring 2016 RTW Mary Katrantzou Photo Yannis Vlamos.

Look 22 Spring 2016 RTW Mary Katrantzou Photo Yannis Vlamos.

On the maroon coloured dress opposite texture, colour and shape become the dominant features (and print is unseen). A much heavier weighted material gives the dress a different drape than in previous outfits, showing an understanding of different fabrics.

The texture appears to be created almost by way of quilting or embossing a pattern onto the surface of the fabric. The solid single block of colour on the dress also marks a departure from the bold multi coloured dresses of Katrantzou’s previous collections.

 

 

 

In The Vogue Review of Spring 2016 RTW Mary Katrantzou by Sarah Mower, speaks of Katrantzou’s versatility; “in her intelligent way, senses the danger of being boxed into a trend. In this outing she also showed she can take on the challenge of proving she’s able to design without print, without colour and without embroidery or texture…Compared with the clothes she was making when she came out of CSM, this collection bore almost no relation stylistically.”

 

Look 22 Mary Katrantzou Fall 2016 RTW Photo Kim Weston Arnold.

Look 22 Mary Katrantzou Fall 2016 RTW Photo Kim Weston Arnold.

Print was more of a feature in her Fall RTW 2016 collection. However prints where taken to new levels in combination with other textile techniques. In the dress opposite print is married with embellishment in the form of sequins and new form is considered in the shape of a shirt dress.

The cut away details of the shoulders is also a different consideration of shape or form against the female figure.

 

 

 

 

Look 29 Mary Katrantzou Fall 2016 RTW photo Kim Weston Arnold.

Look 29 Mary Katrantzou Fall 2016 RTW photo Kim Weston Arnold.

In the design left, print and pattern are boldly applied to the surface of a (presumably fake) fur coat. The shift onto the form of the coat represents a step into considering other garment shapes beyond dresses for Katrantzou. It also represent’s her continued experimentation with different kinds of fabrics and textiles in women’s fashion.

The colours of the print are vivid but the shapes are kept simpler, fitting with the simpler outline or silhouette of the coat.

 

 

 

 

Look from Mary Katrantzou Fall 2016 RTW Photo Kim Weston Arnold.

Look from Mary Katrantzou Fall 2016 RTW Photo Kim Weston Arnold.

In the dress opposite the scale of print used is much smaller and subtler fitting with the lightness and drape of the fabric it’s printed on. I think here there’s an example of playing with volume, by using a lighter almost crepe fabric and pleating the skirt sits further away from the body.

It’s also a much more restrained colour palette than in previous garments or collections.

 

 

 

 

 

My final finding from research was an video of a conversation between Mary Katrantzou and Alexander Fury (then fashion editor of The Independent). They discuss her AW 2013 collection, but more revealingly she elaborates on her approach to designing women’s wear. To me it’s clear she’s interested in textiles, the treatment of fabrics, through print or embellishment, or distressing or pattern, and then secondly is interested in shape, how a fabric can be used on the female form.

 

Project 4: Exercise 1 ~ Analysing a fashion image

I was initially unsure of how to approach this exercise so I chose a few different fashion images, printed them out and annotated them in my physical learning log. Doing this helped me to decide which image to analyse in more detail for this exercise. I took some photo’s of the annotated fashion images I’ve stuck in my physical learning log, see below:

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Assignment 5: Research ~ Hampton Manor

In preparation for the assignment, throughout part five I took a few photo’s of textiles in context that I encountered in my day to day life. I’ve included these photographs with some analysis of the textiles in my physical learning log (see pictures below):

Photograph of pages from physical learning log.

Photograph of pages from physical learning log.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also did the same for some of the photographs I took during my afternoon at Hampton Manor:

Examples of annotated photographs and research in physical learning log.

Examples of annotated photographs and research in physical learning log.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Textiles in context: Hampton Manor

 

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Hampton Manor is a ‘country house and restaurant’ situated in the small village of Hampton on Arden, between Solihull and Birmingham. My husband used to work there and it was one of the first places that came to mind when considering an environment where textiles play a key role.

From my last visit to Hampton I remembered that textiles were used to create a sense of luxury and welcome, there were velvet upholstered chairs, silk or satin curtains and bold patterns covering cushions. I asked the current Head of the House, Joshua Oakes, if it was possible to visit to  take some photographs and ask questions about their use of textiles. I was kindly allowed to spend an afternoon photographing not only the guest rooms (there are fifteen in total), Peel’s Restaurant, their afternoon tea room and lobby area.

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As I went around the Manor, and in the course of my questioning, it became clear Hampton Manor was undergoing a change in terms of it’s aesthetic. It was interesting to discover how important textiles are in creating an new aesthetic and environment which sought to celebrate The Arts and Crafts Movement. In this assignment I want to explore their transition from one aesthetic to another, and touch upon how they are using textiles to reflect values from The Arts and Crafts Movement. I think that the shift towards a ‘hand-crafted’ look within Hampton is part of a general trend against what Guardian Journalist Justin McGuirk called, ” a culture surfeit of branding and cheap mass-produced goods” the end is result is that we, “romanticise the hand made because we yearn for quality not quantity”. McGurik’s article makes the claim that the mass population will not be able to afford the cost of paying for higher quality goods, “we’ll be seeing more crafted industrial goods coming our way, as we lust after craftsmanship we can’t afford and disdain the industrial products we can”. If this is the case, then the luxury sector, and I consider Hampton Manor to be a part of this, may well be the area to champion goods created by a new wave of designer-makers.

I took a truck load of photographs whilst at Hampton, and I’ll include them all in this post purely so it’s clear that I took plenty of primary research before then selecting which were appropriate for the assignment essay…

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Assignment 5: Tutor Feedback & Re-writing Essay

I wanted to take some time to reflect on my response to my tutors feedback on assignment 5. I’ll try and be clear about practical changes, where I’ve added or re-written elements of the essay and worked on any other feedback my tutor gave me.

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