Tag Archives: Design

Revolutionaries are T-shaped and Rare

“Revolutionaries who have driven most recent innovation and who will drive nearly all of it in the future are T-shaped. That is, they have their specialties—areas of deep expertise—but on top of that they boast a solid breadth, an umbrella if you will, of wide-ranging knowledge and interests. It is the ability to work in an interdisciplinary fashion and to see how different ideas, sectors, people, and markets connect,” says Donofrio.

I recently read Innovation that Matters, by Nicholas M. Donofrio. It articulates the characteristics of many innovators and describes them as rare individuals. More interestingly, it argues for a new era of invention, one that thinks not about quantity but about problem solving. Donorfrio, an IBM veteran acknowledges the advancements made in computing but points out the need to examine the world and see what is missing, instead of simply assuming the answer is more of the same.

Today innovation normally centers around more power he says, more storage or more speed, whether it is necessary or not. He argues that better education is the solution to creating more revolutionaries. I agree but do not believe the solution is as simple as good education. Depth and breath can be learned but creativity and good will are not simply products of the mind. NATALIA

For the full article visit: http://tiny.cc/OH8UY

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

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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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bionic Yarn

Beautiful, sustainable and durable. That’s the motto for Bionic Yarn and hopefully part of the fashion industry’s New Years resolution. 

Return Textiles Corp, a two-year-old New York based company, engineers and manufactures sustainable yarn and fabric made from recycled plastic bottles. The construct is made of a polyester core wrapped in recycled plastic and then depending on what the fabric will be used for, a combination of nylon, polyester or cotton will be wrapped around the recycled plastic in two different directions creating a tension similar to a Chinese finger trap. The durable fabric is used to make backpacks, luggage, handbags, active apparel, work wear, denim, footwear, home and outdoor furnishings.

Bionic Yarn Construction

 

According to Bionic Yarn it takes eighteen 1 liter recycled water bottles to make an average piece of luggage and seven recycled plastic bottles to make a pair of jeans. With 60 million plastic bottles from consumers being put into landfills daily, there is more than enough supply to continue developing these types of sustainable fabrics.

 Pharrell Williams

Pharrell Williams the Grammy winning musician and a new investor and owner of Bionic Yarn has incorporated the new material into his own clothing lines Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream.  Pharrell was quoted as having said he was fascinated with the technology and pleased with the softness of the denim as well. With growing concern for the environment Williams will be an ambassador to the company. As Pharrell says, “Our goal is to be the go-to fabric supplier. We want to provide quality fabrics that also happen to be sustainable. We want to do everything from high end luggage to high end denim, to university caps and gowns to Parks Department uniforms. It’s a plus that the fabric brings environmentalism to a whole new level.”

Let’s hope so Pharrell, let’s hope so.

Bionic Yarn

Billionaire Boys Club & Ice Cream