News & information about Philadelphia University's Textile Design programs
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Design Reality Check for PhilaU Students
Re posted from designwire.interiordesign.net
by Ian Volner | Tuesday, April 3, 2012
In phase two of a semester-long collaboration, designer Lori Weitzner recently traveled toPhiladelphia University’s College of Design, Engineering & Commerce to look over the initial wall covering and textile proposals presented by 30 participating graduate and undergraduate students. In phase one of the program, the group of industrial designers, fashion designers and business students had visited Weitzner’s studio and Pollack’s headquarters in New York.
Thirteen groups submitted designs for this first review, with seven getting Weitzner’s approval to continue work on the prospective wallcovering products. Two groups with similar ideas merged into one group, while the six groups whose ideas didn’t get approved were disbanded and their members reassigned to the advancing teams.
One successful group developed a concept for a shaped or embossed jute-based wall treatment. With recycled burlap bags as a possible material source giving it a green hook, it comes as no surprise that Weitzner —who has a preference for recycled materials—approved the concept. Still, according to Tina Brumm, a member of that team, all of the student proposals showed promise. “If I had been Lori, I would have had a really hard time choosing,” says Brumm.
Meanwhile, the encounter with real-world textile design had a bracing effect. “In school, we’re always taught to think outside the box,” noted Brumm. “It was sort of a bummer to realize, yeah, some of these things… may not be practical.”
Yet, Weitzner seemed open to a number of fairly far-out textile pitches. Jennifer Gin and her team won approval for a textile using thermochromic ink that effects a color change “like a mood ring” when activated by electronic sensors. Another team got the green light for a cork wall-covering idea. “We used recycled wine cork to create a few different iterations,” explains teammate Madia Willis. “The one [Weitzner] really resonated with was where our industrial-design collaborator had built a jig, and then we sliced and diced the cork in many ways, including a scalloped tile.”
Material innovation seemed to a favorite with Weitzner. Christianna Wincek’s group experimented extensively with the idea of a “growing” wall of real moss. When faced with the proposal, Weitzner and the teacher observers wondered whether a “lighter” look could be achieved with other materials, and whether the concept might be more of an “art piece” than a product. Nevertheless, the proposal was approved and Wincek’s team moved into the next phase.
For many of the students, the semester’s collaboration is carrying them beyond their areas of expertise and outside their comfort zones. A second-year graduate student specializing in prints, Ingrid Johnson’s work with raffia and felt is a break from her standard two-dimensional work. “It’s also really great to be working across disciplines,” says Johnson, “because I’m working with students I wouldn’t have had a chance to come in contact with otherwise.”
Marsha Weiss, one of the teacher observers, believes the program will produce innovative and practical products. Adds Weiss: “When you craft a project that’s open-ended enough to let [students'] creativity play… they’ll be able to develop their ideas fully.”
The successful groups are set for another review with Weitzner this week, followed by her final visit on April 25th when she decides which ideas will be commercially produced by her firm. Stay tuned.