Monday, December 7, 2009

The Transformer!

The Prada Transformer is old news in the architecture and fashion worlds, but I have to post about it because it's probably one of my favorite examples of both architecture and fashion seen within one project.

Early this year, designer Miuccia Prada and world-renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas collaborated to form one of the most complex event structures ever seen. The Transformer, which debuted at the end of April, is a 160-ton steel structure that can be lifted and rotated in just an hour to create a completely different shape and interior. The structure cost more than 10 million dollars to build and since April and throughout the summer, it has hosted several art exhibitions, Prada fashion shows, and a film festival. The Transformer morphed for each occasion.

One of the Transformer's most famous exhibitions revolved around Prada's "waist-down" skirts and the structure was put into a hexagonal shape. The other sides (shown above) include a cross, rectangle, and circle. On The Transformer's official site, Koolhaas says that each transformation makes one side of the structure more prominent than the others and that each side is ideal for a certain occasion.

The Transformer is located right next to the Gyeong-Hee Palace in Seoul and its construction was fully supported and praised by the city. Large companies like LG Electronics and Hyundai Motor Company helped endorse the project. The Transformer shows that Seoul is a city that's advancing rapidly technologically. Seoul, with projects such as these, has fully undergone a modernization process.

source egodesign, dezeen

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Material of the Year 2009: Concrete Cloth

The Material of the Year 2009 goes to UK Company Concrete Canvas and their invention of Concrete Cloth.

Material ConneXion, a materials consultancy, has recognized Concrete Canvas and their creation of a cement-like material that actually looks like fabric. The material can be shaped and formed in any way, and then with the addition of water, it'll harden like cement. Concrete Cloth is both fireproof and waterproof, and it is expected to be used in the military and with disaster-relief situations.

Concrete Cloth demonstrates the advancements in fabric technology. It also shows "potential to make a significant contribution to the advancement of design, industry, society and economy."

source dezeen

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Technology's Effect on the Collision between Architecture and Fashion

Although Sung Goo Yang is the leader of the Korean death metal band Crimson, he is first and foremost an architect. Yang recently showed the interplay of architecture and fashion in his project Vogue House (pictured below), which is a structure that moves like fabric and shows off its threads to the effects of the wind. In the most recent issue of the "avant guard" design magazine Surface, Yang said, "As we use technology to introduce new ideas about flexibility in design, the similarities between architecture and fashion increase."

img src archleague

Most architects and fashion designers agree that technological innovations allow for this collision between the two disciplines. We are able to see freer forms of design, as architects and fashion designers borrow from each others' fields. New technology lets these creative artists use materials and space in any way they want: Designers are no longer confined to the limited space directly surrounding a person's body, and architects can create structures that aren't monumental. Technological innovations let architects work on smaller scales using fabric-like material. On the other hand, designers can create garments of more massive proportions with harder and more rigid materials. Architects like Yang now have the chance to make their elaborate structures appear fluid, whereas designers can use recent technological developments to make clothes seem garish and architectural.

These days, intricate details can be seen on both buildings and clothes due to the new forms of creating design. Designers don't need to waste their time meticulously cutting shapes into their fabrics: Now, machines can do this for them. Also, architects don't need to spend hours working on complex computer versions of their models. Take for example Frank Gehry. Gehry and his colleagues are now known to put sensors on every key point of their structural models. These sensors translate the models into their digital forms so that Gehry and his team don't have to sit in front of the computer screens clicking away for days. Technology not only makes things easier for architects and designers, but also allows them to come up with designs that are high-tech and innovative.

One of the newest and most-talked about novelties in the artistic world is New York-based architect Forrest Jessee's "Sleep Suit." The Sleep Suit is a good example of an architect creating something that isn't a building. Jessee designed a cocoon-like suit to save "more than seven hours of resting and dressing rituals per day." He used structural pleats made of EVA foam (the same material used for padding in sports gear) to support the body in all the right places. The suit is adjustable and portable and allows for constant air flow when sleeping in any position - sitting down, against a wall, on concrete.

img src blogitecture

The Sleep Suit challenges the role of private and public space, which is usually made distinct when looking at buildings and clothes in general. The similarity between buildings and clothes lies with the fact that they separate the private from the public: Clothes cover up one's body, while buildings cover up groups of bodies. The Sleep Suit stands as as an object that counters the traditional definitions of architecture and fashion. Because of this, the suit has received critical acclaim among artists of the creative world.

The Sleep Suit, which can also be seen as a "fashionable", new-age outfit, demonstrates architecture on a small scale with the human body's place in regards to its surroundings. Critics praise the suit for having used technological innovations to show the interconnection between architecture and fashion. Technology allowed for the successful testing of the suit material (its key component), including the incorporation of an air ventilation system. In the end, it is technology that made the Sleep Suit structurally successful.

Architects come up with conceptual studies like Jessee's Sleep Suit all the time. The question is, who would actually use a product like this, yet alone buy it? The idea behind the suit is interesting and the suit itself looks cool, at best. Technological innovations do allow for advancements in artistic areas such as architecture and fashion. Artists also agree that technology helps mesh the two disciplines together, even though I believe it's sometimes to an extreme extent. But in the end, buildings should look like buildings, and clothes should look like clothes. Sometimes, as seen with Forrest Jessee's Sleep Suit, a cutting-edge design can actually take away the simplicity and practicality of things. I'd much rather have my privacy and take a nap in bed than worry about putting on the Sleep Suit and being distracted by people staring at me.

Zeduce's Photography

img src vectro ave

The photos seen above are from Australian-based photographer Wendell Levi Teodoro's (more commonly known as Zeduce) most recent fashion shoot. Zeduce's concept for the setting and clothes revolve around triangular shapes and pyramids. The model holds onto or touches the pyramid and we can see how shapes (both 3-D and flat) are translated onto garments as structural elements.

It's not just architects incorporating elements from fashion into their building designs. Fashion designers as well are designing in a different way because of architectural inspiration. They aren't only concerned with what looks good; they are playing around with space and different structures.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"From the Spoon to the City": Objects by Architects from LACMA's Collection

Architect Elena Manferdini recently held a panel discussion at the LACMA talking about her Cherry Blossom jacket and skirt (2006) and the Ricami stool (2009):

img src LACMA blog

According to LACMA's official blog, "these objects clearly demonstrate how [Manferdini] uses the same design concept and process to produce two different ojbects."

New digital technologies allow for the parallels between architecture and design. For her pieces, Manferdini used a flat surface (stretch fabric for the garment and powder-coated steel for the stool) and laser-cut them digitally to create similar design patterns.

Monday, October 26, 2009

img src DesignHotels

Clothes and buildings, the central aspects of fashion and architecture, fundamentally arose for the same purpose. Apparel was initially put together from random pieces of material to protect the human body, and generally evolved over time with regards to sturdiness and appeal. Buildings, which probably originated from temporary shelters made by early prehistoric humans, were built to shelter groups of bodies. Fashion, the most up-to-date and trendy style of clothes, and architecture, the practice of creating a plan for any complex object or system, both originated as something practical and utilitarian. But as human beings grew to become concerned with the visual, making clothes and building buildings grew to become disciplines of the creative world.

Fashion designers and architects are working on two completely different scales, but these artists are practicing design while dealing with space, structure, material, and obviously what is aesthetically pleasing. There are clear differences between the two disciplines in size, scale, and material: Architects need to work with rigid and hard structures to create monumental (and hopefully everlasting) pieces of art, whereas fashion designers use fluid and light material to make their garments. More recently, designers do try to mimic buildings by using firmer and more durable material for their clothes. But what's important here are the parallels seen between clothes and buildings throughout history. Fashion design and architecture both, at two different points, turned into creative arts where success laid in coming up with something that would be practical yet beautiful. Nowadays, however, even though fashion and architecture both revolve around the human body as the central point, they are slowly steering away from the traditional definitions of "clothes" and "building" and focusing on something almost completely aesthetic. Fashion is obviously doing this to a bigger degree than architecture.

Apart from the very basic clothes probably made by prehistoric humans, the core idea behind modern fashion came about in the 19th century with the British fashion designer Charles Frederick Worth. Romance author Melissa Johnson in her blog says, "Quoted often as either the founder or father of haute couture, in many ways Worth was a man ahead of his time. He had the foresight to recognize the value of creating a 'brand name,' so to speak, by signing his garments with the Worth label." Worth also opened a "fashion house" (a line of clothing) in Paris dedicated to designing his own styles, while selling his clothes at ridiculous prices. This was when the idea of modern fashion was truly born. This era is also when the discipline or practice of designing and making clothes began to gain momentum. The phenomenon of meshing architecture into fashion and vice versa is more of a recent one: In the 80s, designers started incorporating elements of "contemporary" architecture into their lines.

Creating shelter arose from the functional purpose of protection. Buildings that display this idea are vernacular architecture, which refers to complexes that focus on such aspects as practicality and the usage of local materials. Many early homes seen throughout the world are vernacular. Contemporary architecture is what we see in buildings created today, where architects are more concerned with aesthetics and their personal style of design. Contemporary buildings can be described as looking "modern," but aren't referred to as structures of modern architecture. (Modern architecture refers to buildings from an architectural time period just before now.) Contemporary architects hold a position that is clearly anti-vernacular; these architects are comfortable with new materials and highly conceptualized designs.

The current key difference between fashion design and architecture is that fashion is "more embedded" in the artistic and creative world. Certain designs can be seen as impractical. Many pieces we see on the runway these days aren't able to be worn in our everyday lives, and so designers successfully incorporate architectural elements into their clothes. These architectural elements refer to designs that look too technically difficult to achieve. Architecture, on the other hand, is more limited in its creative sense. No matter how aesthetic an architect wants his or her design to be, in the end, buildings have a functional purpose, which is to protect and shelter humans from weather and man-made external forces. Architects cannot solely focus on what looks good; they need to make sure that the complex structures they design are suitable for living and utilizing. An example of an exception to this is Japanese architect Shigeru Ban's Curtain Wall House, which I've mentioned in a previous post. Even though the use of cloth as walls in this open home is completely artistic, many architects criticized the building of losing the practical aspects of architecture.

So at what point did these two seemingly different disciplines collide? From November 2006 to March 2007, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) here in LA hosted an exhibition called "Skin + Bones: Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture." This was the first major museum exhibition dedicated to the similarities between the two disciplines and how these first came to be. Ego Design, Canada's first global design webzine, aptly describes the beginnings of the collision between fashion and architecture:

"Since the 1980s, a growing number of avant-garde fashion designers have approached garments as architectonic constructions, while architecture has boldly embraced new forms and materials. These developments are due in part to numerous technological advancements that have revolutionized both the design and construction of buildings and made techniques like pleating, seaming, folding, and draping part of the architectural vocabulary. Garments of increasing conceptual sophistication and structural complexity have been seen on the runways and in the streets, as buildings of unparalleled fluidity and innovation have come to grace major urban centers around the world."

To be able to conceptualize architecture's presence in fashion and fashion's presence in architecture, imagine a building (like Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall) as pleats of a dress, and an "architectural" dress as being a huge space filled with rooms and people. Playing with this imagery works more and more in today's world where fashion and architecture collide.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fashion in Architecture: Shigeru Ban

Shigeru Ban, also known as the "paper architect", is one of the most famous, contemporary Japanese architects. He is known to have a highly modern and structuralist approach to architecture, but unlike other contemporary architects, Shigeru Ban's buildings are quite simplistic. His primary building materials are paper and cardboard. In 1995, Shigeru Ban worked with the UNHCR (The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) in Rwanda to create temporary refugee shelters out of paper tubes. These lasted longer than the previous shelters made out of aluminum.

image source: design boom

Shigeru Ban's most famous building is the "Curtain Wall House" (pictured above), where the building lacks walls and is instead replaced by huge, white curtains. His usage of fabric for most of the exterior of the home shows how an element of fashion can transform a typical, modern home into a critically-acclaimed and unique piece of art.

Currently, Ban is visiting universities across the United States to lecture about "green" architecture and sustainable growth.

source: architecture720, cornell

Architectural Inspiration in New York Fashion Week 2009

New York Fashion Week just ended a few weeks ago, and Massimiliano Giornetti, Ferragamo's head menswear designer, directly stated as getting inspiration for his pieces from Los Angeles' architecture. He pointed out the Getty Center as his favorite building and said, "It's geometric, sculptural, contemporary form clad in an ancient material, all located on a site like the Acropolis in Athens."

Giornetti's show in September displayed the designer's emphasis on the types of material used and the structure of the outfits, as he paired puffy jackets with silk trousers. His collection closely adhered to modern, architectural elements with the usage of different shapes, fluidity, texture, and an overall sleekness.

source: the faster times

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Omotesando, Tokyo - Any luxury retailer's dream home.

image source: viewonfashion

Burberry just announced the re-opening of its store in the Omotesando district in Tokyo on September 5, 2009. The store's design concept was developed by Burberry Creative Director Christopher Bailey.

The Omotesando District epitomizes the clash between architecture and fashion. Many luxury-good brands such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Tod's have flagship stores in Omotesando. The Prada store, for example, was designed by architects of the famous Swiss firm, Herzog & de Meuron. The Prada store is a six-story, glass building with sharp angles, but also "bubble-like", diamond-shaped window panes. Architects of this building have said that when fashion and architecture meet, it "encourages the meshing of consumption and culture"... Many people around the world visit Omotesando not to shop, but to view the building designs.

image source: chosun

Louis Vuitton
image source: designboom


Architectural Fashion, defined

Architectural fashion relates to how designers manipulate fabrics and handle them with a more engineered and structural mindset. Architectural fashion involves the use of fabric as "building materials" to create angular shapes, undulating layers, etc. It is all about structure, shape, and form and designers are concerned with creating 3-D elements to clothes.

image source: atelier-ad

These looks seem far from practical, and none of us would be seen walking around campus in these outfits, yet alone on a special night. But these looks show that architecture in fashion design is all about the process of how an outfit is made and how it is interpreted by a third-party viewer.

Many famous designers have stated that they get inspiration from buildings. Derek Lam talked about Frank Gehry's IAC building in NYC that he saw every day while going to work as giving him inspiration for one of his fall collections. Pierre Balmain (1914-1982), the founder and former head designer of House of Balmain, and Gianfranco Ferré (1944-2007) were both known to be fathers of architectural fashion, incorporating structured elements into their clothes and stressing the actual construction of dresses. These two designers also held degrees in architecture.

source: NYtimes blog