Category Archives: Design

Parsons launches Transdisciplinary Design program

A graduate of Parsons, I was surprised to learn about the latest upgrade. Parsons has launched a trans-disciplinary MFA design program which will focus on Design Thinking as a means to problem solving and redesigning the world. This will be offered as an alternative to a more traditional design curriculum which tends to be organized by industry category (e.g. fashion, graphic or interior design).

I am a fan of silo-busting. In fact, it is what I do best. In addition to honing my craft, I look for the connections between changes in technology and its effect on fashion design. I study cultural shifts in food and imagine how to solve sustainability problems with textiles.

Experts are important, but I believe we are in a world dominated by specialists that often miss the big picture. They diagnose symptoms instead of root causes. Designers that see beyond industry sectors to understand how everything works together are rare and valuable. If we learn nothing else from nature, we should know that all things are connected and learning about our interconnectedness is a wise task. NATALIA

For the full story visit: http://tiny.cc/YrGb8

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Nokia Designs that Save, Cost More

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In the New York Times article, “Nokia Tries to Undo Blunders in U.S.,” journalist, Kevin J. O’brien interviews executives at Nokia, a Finnish company and the world’s largest cell phone maker, about its decline in the United States.

Nokia’s comments are best summarized by this quote: “Among its biggest blunders, analysts and former Nokia executives say, the company failed to design many of its phones to the tastes of American consumers, instead mass producing devices for the global market to save on production costs.” That move cost Nokia almost a 30% share of the American market. On Thursday, Nokia posted a 1.36 billion loss and a global sales decline of 20%.

Evident in this story: the value of good design, and the cost of short-term thinking.

Example, Nokia was slow to develop a smart phone that could compete with the iPhone, a consistently growing sector of the cell phone market. And refused to tailor merchandise to local tastes and demands, at a penalty. The cell phone industry is extremely competitive and good design is an important element to any business success story.

Now, “Mark Louison, president of Nokia’s North American unit, says the company is laying the groundwork for long-term success.” Long-term, is a word not often uttered in corporate America. That said, having a vision of the long-term, the future that is, will be critical to any company looking to thrive.

If  only more executives  would take the time to understand the long-term picture and build for local markets, we would all benefit from an environmentally and economically sustainable world. NATALIA

Hip-tech Pop Culture

When I see performers like Kanye West and Lady Gaga sporting light up clothing and accessories I can’t help but think that this could be a glimpse into the near future of fashion.  The visceral use of the technology lends itself in performance but could there actually be a real world purpose? Yes, but not yet. A new technology called Lumalive has emerged, and like most fashion technology collaborations, Lumalive is best suited as marketing buzz. Until there are more fashion designers that understand material technology and see the big picture, we will continue to see frivolous high-tech innovations.

Lumalive is a branch off product from Phillips, and specializes in pieces of clothing with embedded LED lights that can create moving images within the textile itself. So far, they have been pushing the idea that this is an eye catching way to promote your company, product or event.  The images that are created within the garment are very generic and look like a scrolling movie theater marquee. None the less, the experience is visually stimulating, and as this technology evolves the images will become more complex.

It seems inevitable that its novelty will wear off and that Lumalive will make its way into mainstream retail. Considering how fast trends in fashion move people may just crave a light bright garment for back to school.  Now the idea of illuminating clothing becoming accessible doesn’t seem to be so Tron-esque anymore.

CABEZAS

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Carbon Fiber Textiles

Carbon fibers are a woven structure of thin carbon strands used to create a strong and lightweight shell for a variety of products from cars and fishing rods to cycling clothing.

The textiles are stronger than steel but much lighter. This decreased density is why the fibers are used to lower the center of gravity in cars, and create ultra light, durable clothing.

In some cases the fibers endure a multi-step process of heat and oxidization reaching several hundreds of degrees Celsius. The last phase for some of the fibers involves using a plastic resin changing the fiber into Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic. For military use in planes and protective clothing this multi-step, energy intensive process may make sense, yet it seems excessive for everyday clothing.

According to C&F Fabric Corps., the carbon fiber biking jerseys have extra absorbency to keep athletes cooler, cleaner and drier. Overall, the ecological impact seems too great to start mass producing clothing dependent on a process involving extreme temperatures and exposure to toxins.

– GANDRUD

History of the Bike Jersey

Design Futurist – joins World Economic Forum – Young Global Leaders

natalia-allen-design-futuristNEW YORK, NY – February 25, 2009 – Natalia Allen received an honor, bestowed each year by the World Economic Forum. The Forum recognizes and acknowledges between 200 and 300 outstanding young leaders from around the world for their professional accomplishments, commitment to society and potential to contribute to shaping the future of the world.

Drawn from a pool of almost 5,000 candidates, the Young Global Leaders 2009 were chosen by a selection committee, chaired by H.M. Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, comprising 31 eminent international media leaders.

About The Forum of Young Global Leaders – Established in 2004 by Professor Klaus Schwab, The Forum of Young Global Leaders is a unique, multistakeholder community of the world’s most extraordinary young leaders who dedicate a part of their time to jointly address global challenges and who are committed to devote part of their knowledge and energy to collectively work towards a better future. Together the Young Global Leaders work to discover innovative solutions to today’s most pressing problems through various initiatives and workstreams as well as catalysing the next generation of leaders. Please visit the link for more information. Source: http://www.weforum.orgWorld Economic Forum announces Young Global Leaders 2009 http://www.younggloballeaders.org

Hussein Chalayan

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“I’m not a fashion person or an art person. I’m an ideas person.” That is the most succinct description Hussein Chalayan can offer to a world of outsiders looking at his creations. The British Designer of the year for 1999 and 2000 has a new exhibit at the Design Museum in London. True to form, his clothing is arguably art. Dresses made from LED screens, futuristic silhouettes, it is all very inspiring perhaps, but who will buy it and wear it? The avant garde designer makes no attempt to choose between art and fashion and that is evident in his creations.

As a Central Saint Martins senior he buried his collection of silk clothing in the earth to see how it would decay. Clearly, Chalayan is an idea person. It does not seem he is designing practical clothing for people to actually wear despite his admission that he hates it when people say they are inspired by his collections. He wants people to buy.

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In his 2000 Sadler Wells show Chalayan’s models stepped into what looked like coffee tables and then pulled them up over themselves and they were garments. In his current collection the His Before Minus Now dress is programmed to change shape by a remote and is made of aircraft materials, there is a dress made of over 15,000 LED lights and one that shines lasers. Hard to believe Chalayan also works for Puma, but he seems to criss cross barriers in fashion and art effortlessly.

Seemingly excessive in ideas and unusual materials, yet fascinating, Chalayan’s last 15 years of work can be seen at the Design Museum in London until April 24th.

– GANDRUD

Design Museum

Hussein Chalayan

 

English Retreads

English Retreads

English Retreads is a Boulder, CO based company born from Heather English’s own desire for a vegan handbag. Heather, a strict vegetarian, was looking for a leather alternative handbag. One day while floating down Boulder Creek on an inner tube she got an idea to refurbish vintage rubber and made herself a bag with tools from the local company McGuckin Hardware. After producing her bag and a few for friends, the company was officially founded in 2001 and operated out of her basement. Now based out of North Boulder, English Retreads continues to collect used inner tubes from local bike shops and gas stations, reusing the rubber for everything from dog collars to purses and belts. The average inner tubes have traveled an average of 60,000 miles already according to English Retreads.

Aside from a personal commitment to vegetarianism, Heather had no formal background in design or production. The company’s philosophy is to create “one-of-a-kind, hand-crafter accessories that make a high-impact fashion statement and a low impact on the environment.” Eight years later the company offers its hip, urban, waterproof products throughout  local boutiques in the U.S. and Canada. Not only is the product committed to social and ecological consciousness, English Retreads is a member of Co-op America’s Green Business Network and offsets its carbon footprint.

The bags themselves are very individual since each inner tube has different markings and as of now the product is made by hand. Recently the line has expanded to include lined bags as well and the lining is made for PET, recycled plastic bottles. Of course the bags are sturdy because of the material and also a little heavy. English Retreads is a great example of a local business born from an individual need for a smart product.

English Retreads bags are only sold in local boutiques and the average cost is between$100 and $200, with the large Beetle (pictured above) retailing at $209. – GANDRUD

 English Retreads

McGuckin Hardware