Category Archives: Innovative

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

 

The New, Green Museum

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The California Academy of Science in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park has long been dedicated to the study of nature, and after 8 years and half a billion dollars in sustainable renovations, Italian architect Renzo Piano’s design is a pioneer in sustainable architecture. Unlike traditional theater museums, this museum is built inside the park, well underneath it to be more specific. The 2.5 acre living roof is the signature element. After walking the grounds in silence and observing the hills from a run down building, Piano sketched a simple rolling hill with a line underneath and with only his sketchbook, Piano beat the other five competitors.

Not only has Piano’s design been compared to Frank Lloyd Wright’s spiraling Guggenheim Museum and Frank Gehry’s titanium Guggenheim in Bilbao, the new museum is expected to capture the attention of the public with its design and green focus. Hoping to receive the highest ranking from the U. S. Green Building Council, a platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, the living roof absorbs storm water and according to the museum will prevent 3.6 million gallons of polluted water from entering into the eco-system. The living roof is also home to wildlife and California wildflowers. It is said that the roof keeps the building 10 degrees cooler and turns carbon dioxide into oxygen.  Solar cells produce 5-10% of the museum’s energy as well. The structure is insulated by nearly 216,000 pairs of Levi’s jeans, paying homage to the native San Francisco denim company.

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Underneath the living roof, the museum houses the Steinhart Aquarium, Morrison Planetarium, Kimball Natural History Museum and includes a four story rainforest, a coral reef, a 100,000 gallon tank with Pacific coast marine life, a swamp, a habitat for penguins and exhibit on climate change and global warming.

Piano explains, “You almost never get a chance to build something in the middle of a great park, so it needed to be transparent…here you need to know about the connection with nature, so almost anywhere you are in this building you can see through to the outside.”

California Academy of Science: http://www.calacademy.org/
More on Renzo Piano: http://architect.architecture.sk/renzo-piano-architect/renzo-piano-architect.php

NANCY GANDRUD

Green Architecture, Brave New World

For some urbanites, a sustainable lifestyle means unplugging their MacBook at night, carrying a reusable tote bag to Whole Foods, and buying organic cotton t-shirts at American Apparel. While doing all these things can certainly help to lower one’s carbon footprint, believe it or not, there are even greater ways to live green. Enter a new wave of architects and designers, who (literally) take green lifestyle to new heights.

As natural resources dwindle, it is no wonder that sustainable architecture is a rapidly growing trend. Carbon neutral buildings and green housing projects are cropping up in cities around the world. Many countries now have their own rating systems for green buildings, such as the well-known LEED standard in the US. Companies like URBN Hotels are revamping the concept of eco-hotels by updating them for the urban jet-set. These new hotels feature minimalist aesthetics, recycled materials, and 5 star luxury, just for starters. From New York to Singapore, green housing projects are also making appearances. The benefits of living in one of these apartment complexes include solar powered energy, water-based air conditioning, and rain-water collection systems. Even the pre-fab home has seen a recent rise in popularity since it’s mid-century beginnings, with a new exhibit at MoMA in NYC dedicated solely to these DIY properties. Lastly, another emerging and innovative concept is the “smart building,” which incorporates bio-mimicry techniques into architecture, creating buildings that are seamlessly integrated with their surrounding environments.

What is interesting, and relevant, about all these new concepts is that it takes sustainability to a whole new level. In these new eco-buildings, people don’t have to consciously change their behaviors to live green; rather, it becomes their surroundings that are changing instead. Instead of focusing on changing the way people act, these buildings are designed to directly change the way people live by infusing sustainability into their daily lives. WU

Eddie Bauer’s Mountain

Eddie Bauer is going back to its original roots by hiring mountaineer legend Jim Whittaker for insight on its expedition outerwear. The goal is to revive the brands sense of adventure and produce better performing products. Also to move away from its focus on indoor casual apparel in hopes of a big comeback.

When conservative companies hire athletes as design consultants they take a pronounced risk. In my opinion it is a great way to get the inside scoop on athletic apparel. Athletes know best what works and what does not. Brands that hire designers who live and breathe the brand are more successful.

Eddie Bauer’s new line of apparel will be put to the test when their new collection is launched in 2009. Their goal is to sell $450 per square foot, which is far from their $260 per square foot from last year. If sales increase for Eddie Bauer, these types of partnerships may become a more common occurrence. HANNA

Dress Detective Gone Green

Although this is a project, the design idea is interesting enough for us to cover. All around us, the push for going green is visible. But have designers gone too far to try and capture the “green market”?

Designer Stephanie Sandstrom developed a dress that detects harmful emissions in the air. You can identify the smoggy days and areas when crinkles and kinks start to form on the dress. Powered entirely through sensors incorporated into the fabric, the wrinkles stop with higher quality air. This idea will allow you to stray away from the harmful air that lurks in the most precarious conditions, or to even make a statement about our declining air quality.

The harmful effects of global warming are changing our world and it is time for everyone to notice. But do ideas like this help us achieve the goal of becoming more “green-friendly. Instead of replacing ones wardrobe with fashion that senses smog, which would increase the carbon footprint, we suspect there are better ways of addressing the problem of air pollution.

You can learn more about the Dress along with other imaginative designs at the San Francisco Exploratorium’s 2nd Skin Exhibition through September 7, 2008. HANNA

The Future of Bottled Water is Dry


Saving our environment is talk. The sale of bottled water has not declined since its introduction. A few facts from the Water Quality Association:

* Bottled water sales and consumption continue to rise, according to statistics released April 9, 2007, by the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) and Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC).

* Total US bottled water volume exceeded 8.25 billion gallons in 2006, a 9.5 percent increase over the prior year.

* Wholesale dollar sales for bottled water exceeded $10.8 billion in 2006, an 8.5 percent increase over the $10 billion in 2005.

My goal as a designer is to inspire and lead. It is evident that people are still consuming bottled water. This may be the result of too few alternatives. Forget your Nalgene (www.nalgene-outdoor.com/store) water bottle at home and your next alternative is bottled water. Tap water has earned such a bad reputation, spending 2 dollars on 12oz of water seems normal.

As a solution, I propose:

* Providing consumers with easy Internet based access to the quality of their local water supply.

* A nationwide roll out of water fountains. Yes, water fountains. Prior to the ubiquitous plastic Poland Springs water bottle, your average citizen was happy to use a public water fountain.

Some disagree with me because there is no money to be made by giving filtered water away for free. My reply, because it is not in a bottle does not mean it needs to be distributed freely. An example:

A few visionary restaurants in New York and California have offered filtered tap water as an alternative to bottled water. The filtered water costs the same as bottled water, yet has none of the environmental set-backs.

As the cost of producing and shipping bottle water surges and consumer awareness towards the environment increases, the popularity of bottled beverages will decrease.

I am currently designing filtered water fountains for the public space and welcome the feedback of water drinkers, beverage companies, city planners or filtration companies everywhere. NATALIA

Interesting Links

http://www.globalpackagegallery.com/main.php/v/bev/bottled+water/

http://www.wqa.org

MacGregor Golf: Interview with Innovator

Greg Norman

MacGregor Golf is a 100 year old golf company, one with a new CEO. Michael J. Setola shares with us his vision and strategy for keeping the innovative brand strong.

NATALIA: Please give folks a bit of insight as to what your role entails.
Michael: As CEO of MacGregor, my primary role is to manage the investments and direction of the company. As it relates to product, inventory is our largest investment, so I keep a keen eye on product and product development.

NATALIA: How did you first become interested in fashion?

Michael: Funny story, but my first job was with Hanes Underwear. I was selling boxers and white briefs. Suddenly for the first time, colored underwear came on the scene and I saw the effect of fashion on something as simple as underwear. I was hooked on the excitement of newness and the effect great product has on business.

NATALIA: How would you define good innovation?

Michael: Good innovation is the combo of design, merchandising and sell through to the consumer. It needs to be relevant as truly new, but have meaning to the consumer.

NATALIA: Is innovation important to you? MacGregor?

Michael: At both the Greg Norman collection and in our MacGregor Golf Club companies, innovation is what separates us from the field.

NATALIA: How is innovation realized in your business?

Michael: Design, product development, technical services and production all must work together to bring innovation to the market in sync.

NATALIA: Any challenges or successes you have had bringing innovative design to market?

Michael: There are always challenges in getting all these components firing at the same time. Often, one area is ahead or behind in the ability to deliver innovation, so a project may be delayed.

NATALIA: What are some of the current innovation projects you are working on?

Michael: In apparel, climate controlled fabrics are becoming more important for the active golfer. Body temperature regulating developments are in our market and improvements are in the works. In golf clubs, we have a new metal that we are introducing to the clubface for game improvement.

NATALIA: Do you feel technology in fashion is just a trend?

Michael: Everything is a trend. It’s just about how long it stays with us. Technology will be with us for a long time, the consumer likes it.


NATALIA: In a few words please share with us your vision for the future.

Michael: Companies that innovate and develop consumer centric products will excel even more in the future. The combination of economic challenges and modern expectations will raise the bar for products to succeed.

Michael J Setola