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Magazine > November 2009

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GD: I just looked that article up... very interesting! It's this bizarre role reversal of design as an elitist creation to a democratic process. There's this overall sense of self-importance that is also reflected in the blog culture... this idea that people want to know what we do and say from moment to moment... we clearly are not suffering from low self-esteem as a culture. Either this is some reaction to the last few decades of star architects and designers or something that was going to happen naturally as a result of technology and the web? Who knows, but very interesting regardless.


JF: This afternoon I spent at MIT, such an interesting place, Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. It is an incubator for fascinating ideas and prescient directions in technology. That the fellows and faculty there are bringing together sophisticated expertise in design, technology and psychology is really exciting. Wendy Jacobs runs a seminar on autism and her MIT grad students are paired with autistic young adults and together they are developing strategies to aid the autistic kids in negotiating the world--clothing that emphasizes their center of gravity, or grips them tightly, for example.

I had met Kelly Dobson before it turns out, as a lecture at MIT -- maybe J. Morgan Puett's talk, or Lucy Orta's -- and had a great long conversation with her about one aspect of her work. I had not known about the aspect that may be a great component in our project. She designed-invented-created an elegant and sleek silver long strapless dress in which the skirt can inflate, creating a barrier of sorts around the wearer, when protection is needed, to keep that creep from approaching. She will send images of the dress installed in Amsterdam, where it hung from the ceiling at person height.

Kelly Dobson
Kelly Dobson

Kelly Dobson
Discussing Kelly's work and having a virtual studio visit

Amber Frid-Jimenez is working in many interesting directions that take my mind and understanding where it has never ventured. Her interest in on-line social networks as creative forces is very interesting. She too is working with sensors that when embedded in garments, aid communication. She will send me more information, as we only got to this direction in her practice as we were wrapping up and I was heading to meet Kelly.

I sure have used the word "interesting" a lot, but really, it is apt.


GD: Wow, sounds great! Glad to hear Kelly Dobson's work is a nice fit. It sounds like it offers a whole new approach that is more representative of the techie side, without being a science project.

That's good news about Amber as well. She has been such a big help, but I had no idea she was also working in this realm. I look forward to seeing what she sends us also.

My trip to Montreal to meet with Ying Gao was very worthwhile. She is really an amazing designer, and her work was even more beautiful in person. She had her interactive garments set up for me to operate and test out for myself. The first one, called the Living Pod, had these incredible organza and suede poufs that moved, expanded, contracted, when they sensed light. Armed with a small flashlight, I pointed it at various places on the dress and watched in amazement as they shifted shape. A second grouping, reacted to breath, and was activated when I breathed or blew into a small sensor suspended from the ceiling. Intricate origami folds grew with the force of the breath exerted. Wonderful. A second piece in that series was set off by proximity, triggering the same origami-style flowers to open up and "protect" the wearer as someone approaches. Luckily, these works have been shown in various galleries before, so the kinks seem to have been worked out. The interactivity of this will be really engaging in the exhibition.

She is also just embarking on a new project, based on the 1960s movie, Play Time. For our exhibition, she will track her process from where it is now (sketches, photographs of the movie, layers of super organza) through to the finished work, which she envisions as a garment that is a surface for projections of the visitors' image as they approach the piece. Further, she is experimenting with how to make the dress "blur" itself when it senses a camera, so that it is never captured on film.

These incredible mechanical works, together with the pret a porter collection that results, will make for a really wonderful component in the show.


JF: Your call came at just the right moment so that I could slip in a trip to Red Hook, across the water from Manhattan, in Brooklyn, to get a look at Alyce Santoro's work. And good thing, as her studio is in far off Marfa, Texas. Red Hook is the next frontier in New York, right on the water, overlooking the Statue of Liberty and back at Manhattan. The very old streets are paved in stone; abandoned industrial buildings and tiny row houses line the streets. The commercial activity is limited and funky and will be blossoming very very soon, clearly. The 414 Space is a small store front, a gallery started six months ago and run by six artists. Alyce's work is part of an exhibition called "Offerings." The gallery sent out a call and selected a wide variety of works. Santoro's dress and pinafore, evocative of yesterday and tomorrow, worn by a member of Phish (!!), sparkles. It is a clean and simple design, reminiscent of Andrea Zittel's garments. Her line of neckties, made also of the thread woven with audio tape may be more to the point, as it is the fabric rather than the particular design of the garment that is the thing with this work, and what are neckties but decorative (and emblematic) strips of fabric. Subtle dark colors, twinkling, lined with dazzling silk, in orange, red, blue or purple, these emit the ambient collected sounds held by the tape when in contact with some kind of amplifier. They may just have a place in the show.

Alyce Santoro
Sonic Fabric exhibition at Space 414 in Red Hook, Brooklyn

Alyce Santoro
Alyce Santoro's fabric made of threads woven with audio tape

Alyce Santoro
The package for Santoro's limited addition Sonic Fabric Necktie

Alyce Santoro
Sonic Fabric Necktie


JF: What an amazing day with so many interconnections.
An easy flight that got in early, followed by a long but direct Underground ride brought me to this tiny hotel, which was noted in the recent New York Times article on bargain hotels in all the great capitals.

I arrived at Spring Studios for a 10 am appointment with Andree Cooke, Director of Spring Projects and was able to meet Jacob Sutton, the top London fashion photographer, and see both his still and video work. Andree also introduced me to the sharp and elegant video work of Marcus Tomlinson, a fashion and product photographer, whose work is in the zone between art and commerce, bringing a conceptual complexity to the world of commerce and a polish and gleam to the world of art. He has worked with BMW, Hermes, Issey Miyake (A-POC), Hussein Chalyan (Airplane Dress and Furniture Clothing) and I think Alexander McQueen. She thought it might relate to this project, though it may have more to do with the fashion show itself than the fashion. Andree suggested I check out his latest show. She also suggested looking at the website "SHOWStudio" to see others working in this zone; she thinks Tomlinson is tops. I wonder if this might be an interesting area to investigate--the relationship between film and design. It turns out that Spring Projects represents Marloes ten Bhomer, whom they too are convinced is a genius. In our discussion, Andree showed me an announcement for a show at Museum Boijmans called The Art of Fashion, and show is organized by the curator Judith Clark. So, it will be terrific to talk with her on Friday, after her lecture at the Victoria and Albert on hair. I will send Andree a prospectus of our Holon show, as she was very interested.

A spirited lunch with Andrea Rose, director of the British Arts Council, was filled with shared experiences, artists worked with, and interests. I will send her a prospectus as well, as she knows many of the London-based designers in our show. She is on the lookout for interesting projects that include the works of British artists and designers, so who knows what might come of this conversation.

A trip to the Huxton Square outpost of White Cube, where they were installing a Damien Hirst show of paintings to open on Tuesday, was very fruitful in learning about the work of Cerith Wyn Evans. His works based on Noguchi lamps and on Tom Dixon light fixtures feed right into our research into the uses of modernism and modernism as a source and subject. This idea continues to strengthen in unexpected ways. We talked about his fireworks pieces and his forthcoming show this spring at the gallery.

I now will prepare for my round of appointments for tomorrow, Thursdays, 19 November having enjoyed a delicious Indian meal with a friend who luckily was in town, She is a barrister and spends a lot of time in her Austrian home and always has great tales.


JF: The morning began at the Studio Glithero, the collaborative practice of two young designers, Sarah Van Gemeren and Tim Simpson. Tomer (from the Design Museum Holon team) had sent me their contact info. They were students of Ron Arad's and his studio is not far from theirs. Their work is very fresh and smart. They are interested in time and the transformation of matter. They love tools and machines. The conceptual foundation of their work and their delicate but forceful aesthetic combine into very interesting projects. The Big Dipper candelabra project and the blueprinting onto ceramics are particularly notable. I was reminded of the work of the Swedish group Front, with whom it turns out they are exhibiting with in the Netherlands right now. Glithero is Tim's mother's maiden name which they took as their studio's name as they didn't want their own names as they are interested in ways of designing and making that are outside of themselves, that are natural processes.

Studio Glithero
The London based Studio Glithero

Studio Glithero
Sarah Van Gemeren at Studio Glithero

Studio Glithero
Sarah Van Gemeren and Tim Simpson talking about "Blueware", Studio Glithero

Tim kindly escorted me to the nearest Tube station, Chalk Farm, as it was a twisting, turning route through housing projects and light industrial buildings. And I arrived only a bit late to meet Simon Thorogood on the 7th floor of Tate Modern, with the Thames and London spread before us. Over lunch Simon introduced me to his body of work that we knew would be spot on for the show, but was hard to understand from the web. I think it will his SoundForm that will bring to the show very interesting element of designing through the transfer from one sense into another, kinesthesia. Here it is sound into visual forms, music into fashion that he works with. Though it is conceptually rich and layered, the actual installation of the project is really quite straightforward as he describes it: the components are a screen of wall as a projection surface, vinyl transfer of the form of the model, a data projector, apple computer and his disc.

Simon Thorogood
Simon Thorogood on the 7th floor of Tate Modern

Simon Thorogood 
Showing me his work

Simon Thorogood
The amazing view of the Thames and London from the Tate Modern

I just had time to slip in a great boat ride across the Thames on Tate's ferry to zip into the Tate Modern to see the Turner Prize nominees. Perhaps most extraordinary was Roger Hiorns' Untitled 2008, a vast expanse of shaded dust, pale to black, across the floor suggesting the topography of the moon, or the underworld, made from an atomized passenger jet.

Off to Hussein Chalayan's studio for a late afternoon meeting, Though their studio director with whom I was to meet, Milly Patrzalik, was not there, she set me up to meet with their archivist, new to the job, Claudia who was aided by her predecessor who is heading into exhibition design. Claudia will check with Hussein and dig through what they have that we will need. They had little information on the LED dress, and suggested we inquire with Swarovski.

Hussein Chalayan
Preparing to enter Hussein Chalayan's Studio

Hussein Chalayan
Hussein Chalayan's Studio

Hussein Chalayan
Work in progress

Hussein Chalayan
Hangers in Hussein Chalayn's studio

I could walk from Chalayan's to Marloes ten Bhomer, and stopped into a funky little café where she and I had had lunch when we first met her, the light fixtures made of cups and milk jugs and the Lego holders for flatware and straws are very cute.

Marloes ten Bhomer
Meeting with Marleos ten Bhomer

Marloes ten Bhomer
Mixing business and pleasure

Marloes has just moved into this new live-in studio space, two floors, with great huge windows. Literally two tons of rubble have been hauled out and the work to build out the space is still ahead, Camper has invited her to come up with some new concepts for them and a new line of shoes, Laura J, has invited to create collections for spring/summer 2010 and autumn/winter 2010. Her designs are gorgeous but the heels are way too high for me, alas, We sat at a lovely table with flowers and talked for a long time about her new projects and possible directions for the show. There is a lot to think about and it is very exciting, She is so highly regarded; everywhere I went, from Spring Projects to Simon Thorogood, her praises were sung. In telling about our search for more info on the LED dress, they suggested I contact Mortiz Waldemayer who is the one who actually engineered the dress. I tried unsuccessfully to reach him to try to slip in a visit for Friday, but we will have to worked long distance, as he has not yet returned my call. Oh, and Marloes will spend April 2010 in Jerusalem at the Jerusalem Center for Visual Arts (JCVA) as a resident. It would be great if she would get up to Holon and meet everyone there during this time. It was nearly midnight by the time I was back at my hotel.


JF: This turned out to be another long day, only 11 hours to yesterday's 14! Gwyn Miles, director, and Claire Catterall, curator of Somerset House were very generous in their time, sharing the history of the institution and their aspirations. It turns out this is just their third exhibition, and we had seen the first, their version of Brook Hodge's Skin and Bones and then Isn't She Lovely that was on last fall when I was in London for Frieze. The exhibit designer of the current show, SHOWStudio, Abe Foster is the son of Norman, and his solutions to very challenging problems were terrific, Gerard O'Carroll had designed the last show, and I had really loved it as well. Claire and Gwyn were very interested to hear about Holon and our show.

Claire Catterall
Claire Catterall at the Somerset House

Somerset House
The Somerset House, inside look

Somerset House
From the exhibition: Naomi Campbell, SHOWstudio.

A mad dash over to the hidden away London College of Fashion and there I met Philip Delamore, who heads the 3D imaging department and rapid prototyping facility there, His background is in fashion but he has moved into the techno side, and theory side, and it was most provocative to hear his ideas about the future roles, possibly, of these technologies-astronauts on long journeys fabricating their own clothes, mechanical parts for repairs to the spaceship, etc.!

London College of Fashion
London College of Fashion, street look

I walked to the Victoria and Albert Museum to meet with Judith Clark, at 6pm, who had just presented at a panel on Hair, It was great to finally meet her and we had lots to talk about around the subjects of exhibitions of fashion and related issues. She is very impressed by the show as it is developing.

Judith Clark
Meeting with Judith Clark at the V&A

Now, to get back home - I am typing this over the Atlantic - and digest, discuss with you, Ginger, and move forward.


GD: It was great to catch up this morning after your super-productive trip to London. It's so nice when everything falls in to place and everyone is free to meet. And, the way the fashionistas in London are interconnected is insane. This show is starting to feel like six degrees of Marloes.
Anyway, in re-reading your last entry about your trip to Red Hook to see Alyce Santoro's work, I did a bit more digging and found some explanation about how the fabric can be "played". It turns out that the little felt pads in a walkman or other audio cassette device can be used to create gloves that, when rubbed against the tape, produce sound. Kind of great, huh?


JF: It is just great that Hannah Perner-Wilson from Kobakant was able to fit in a visit this morning before all of the country decamps for Thanksgiving. She is a first-year grad student in the very selective program at the Media Lab at MIT. She is part of the High-LowTech group, under the direction of Leah Buechley. The Media Lab is all packed up into orange crates and over the weekend will be moved into their huge, state-of-the-art headquarters, right next door, literally attached. And the Visual Arts Department (where Kelly Dobson is head-quartered) will take over the former Media Lab space.

The Visual Arts Center - Media Laboratory

Koba means, in Japanese (Mika Satomi's native tongue) a family run factory. Kant, in German (Hannah's native tongue) is the worker in such a place. So their name describes them and their practice. Hannah walked me through their work, and we discussed how the Piano T-shirt might come to life within the exhibition. I am most attracted to it, as I told Hannah, as the design is the actual machinery. It will correspond in very evocative ways to Alyce Santoro's musical garments and Simon Thorogood's musically determined design process and garments. We talked about their making a sequence of the shirts in incremental stages of assembly, and the finished shirt, and they would make several, would be there to be tried on by visitors. They are very interested in leading DIY workshops (Hannah is off to Portugal next week to lead one). This is an opportunity that the museum may want to pursue as part of the program around the show. They have led these for the inexperienced, for kids, and are very interested in working with design, fashion, sewing students and professionals.

Hannah Perner-Wilson

Working Materials at the studio

Moving orange crates around the studio

Here are some links that Hannah just sent related to bits above:

book >> Home made Electronic Arts / Migros-Kulturprozent  
photo >> Photos of handmade electronic crafts

Piano T-shirt links:
>> Piano t-shirt instructable (step by step instructions)
>> Piano t-shirt flickr set
>> Piano t-shirt workshop

More links:
High-low tech group at MIT Media Lab
Leah buechley's work

Happy Thanksgiving to all!


GD: That is great news about Kobakant. It is nice to know that we have seen everything in person and can feel good about each piece of the checklist. I will work on wrapping up our proposal with Marloes' new addition and the Kobakant information and get it out on Monday.
We had my brother's girlfriend here for the holiday. She is a textile designer and has designed prints for small fashion design houses and bigger corporations like Lily Pulitzer. We had quite a bit of discussion about this show, and she was really intrigued, particularly with the role that machines play in her line of work and how that relates. Yet another element that goes into the completed garment that has this handmade/machine-made coexistence. It led me to take another look at Basso and Brooke and their amazing computer-generated prints and designs. Check it out here.


JF: The long Thanksgiving weekend in Connecticut was the jumping off point for a day in New York City. Though very windy, we walked part of the High Line and I recalled our evening stroll with Galit in September. Then a late lunch at Standard Grill, did not disappoint, as our dinner with Galit was so delicious. The reason for the trip was to see the Bauhaus show at the Museum of Modern Art. So many aspects of it were superb and I really learned so very much. Pertinent to our project is the suite of work by Vasily Kandinsky that he created in response to Modest Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition." The movement from sound to image that defines Simon Thorogood's process in SoundForm is a further iteration of what was going on here. Mussorksky composed 10 movements, each based on a single painting, translating sight into sound. Kandinsky then made 16 scenes for Mussorksky's score. April 11, 1929 at the Friedrich Theater, Dessau, these scenes, lit by colored lights suspended form the ceiling and moved across the stage, were somehow displayed while the music was performed. The first music video? Certainly related to what Simon is investigating, sound as a means to create image.

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