Connecting to the West Coast U.S. 

This week I traveled to L.A. and San Francisco to explore making better connections between the Fashion School and West Coast designers and businesses, as well as to view the TechnoCraft exhibition at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Shawn Gordon, our College of the Arts Development Director, and I were scheduled to meet with Dov Charney, the CEO/owner of American Apparel.

photo courtesy of American Apparel website

Unfortunately, he was called away to NYC, but we had an excellent meeting with American Apparel Production Manager, Marina Andrade, instead. Marina took us on a tour of the entire facility. The vibe of the entire company was very energetic and friendly. Thanks so much to Marina for meeting with us; and we hope to be able to find ways to connect more in the future. For more information on the company, which is a vertical manufacturer producing all of their product right in L.A., check out their site: About American Apparel

Digifab and First2Print - LA (photo courtesy of Digifab)

On the following day, we spent time speaking to Alex and Avedik Izmirlian of Digifab , a full service digital textile printing business.

On Friday, August 6th, in San Francisco, I was able to view the TechnoCraft exhibition at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The show, curated by artist/designer Yves Behar, was organized into six subthemes: Crowdsourcing, Platforms, Blueprints, Hacks, Incompletes, and Modules. His delineation of these themes define the real value of the exhibition, but he has also selected some great examples for illustrating the themes.

TechnoCraft - Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

As described in the Core77 site:
Crowdsourcing mines the collective talent of the community to develop new design solutions. From product generation to the voting process, Crowdsourcing puts the decision-making power in the hands of the masses. One participant in the exhibition, Threadless, is an online apparel store that solicits consumers to design and vote for new t-shirts each week.

Platforms consist of designers creating open, software-based platforms, that provide the tools for individuals to create and/or customize their own unique products. From shoes to t-shirts to fantastic creatures, platforms make it easy for individuals of all skill levels to take on the role of designer. PUMA’s Mongolian Barbeque is an iconic example of this theme.

Blueprints act as ideas that can be given away or sold, putting the power to create in the hands of the consumer. Rather than create and sell a finished product, designers sell or give away instructions so that anyone can create/recreate the design in their own way. Autoprogettazione (or “self design”) is Enzo Mari’s collection of designs for furniture you can make yourself. Originally exhibited in 1974, Mari gave out a free catalogue with detailed instructions for making these basic, easy-to-assemble furniture pieces using off-the-shelf lumber and nails.

“Hacks” is used as a term that has moved far beyond the manipulation of computer software, extending into the public’s consciousness. Tables, iPhones, and bikes are revised, modified and manipulated to achieve a new look or new functionality.

Incompletes intentionally leave room for creativity on the part of the user. The degree to which the end user is involved varies with each design, but all depend on the role of the user to provide input for a design to properly function. With Marijn van der Poll’s Do hit chair made by Droog, through a hammer or other tool you can change the original stainless steel cube into a chair of your own design.

Modules are individual components that come together to create customized creations. Intelligently designed modules allow for the user to develop an outcome that is driven in equal parts by ingenuity and budget. Designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec’s Clouds, made in collaboration with Kvadrat, allows the user to arrange and re-arrange a variety of tiles to create installations and new designs.

View information on the exhibit here: TechnoCRAFT (July 9th through October 3, 2010 @ Yerba Buena Art Center, San Francisco)

UCDavis Professor and friend Susan Taber Avila, toured the exhibition with me and then we met artist/designer Corrine Okada Takara, who took us to meet fashion designer Colleen Quen at her studio. See Corrine’s post about our visit at her “techfusionfabrics” blog. ¬†Colleen’s partner Rick Lee is an exceptional furniture/interior designer, and both Rick and Colleen are collaborating with Corrine on a project that will be displayed in the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. The gown that Colleen is working on will include digitally printed silks that we printed in our TechStyleLAB in the Fashion School.

Here are some of my photos from the TechnoCraft exhibition:

YBCA - Window

YBCA - Window inside

TechnoCraft - "Modular" units

TechnoCraft - "Modular" units - Kradvat

TechnoCraft - "Modular" units

TechnoCraft - "Modular" units

TechnoCraft - "Modular" units - part of a networked community

TechnoCraft - "Unfinished" wallpaper

TechnoCraft - "Unfinished" table legs

TechnoCraft - "Unfinished" lamp

TechnoCraft - "Unfinished" lamp

TechnoCraft - "Programmable" felt pad chair

TechnoCraft - "Incompletes" stool

TechnoCraft - "Incompletes" daily calendar clock

Adidas - "Modules" - 'mongolian bbq'

TechnoCraft - "Modules" - messenger bags

TechnoCraft - "Hacks" - chair 'sketches'

TechnoCraft - "Hacks" - chair 'sketches'

TechnoCraft - "Hacks" - chair 'sketches'

TechnoCraft - "Unfinished" Color-able dress: the dress is digitally printed in black and white and comes with washable markers, so the wearer can color it in and change the design after each wash.

TechnoCraft - "Unfinished" Color-able dress: digitally printed in black and white with washable markers

TechnoCraft - "Unfinished" Color-able dress.

Here are photos I took at Colleen Quen and Rick Lee’s studio:

Colleen Quen - Chinese lamps for digitally printed gown

Colleen Quen - Sewing sleeves for digitally printed gown

Colleen Quen - cutting lanterns for digitally printed gown

Colleen Quen and Corrine Okada Takara - digitally printed fabrics from our TechStyleLAB and Spoonflower

Colleen Quen and Corrine Okada Takara - digitally printed fabrics from our TechStyleLAB and Spoonflower

Colleen Quen - previous design work

Rick Lee - circle coach desig