PRATTFOLIO THE MAGAZINE OF PRAT T INSTITUTE
ELEMENTS OF STYLE The Definition of Style | Fashion Forward | Fabric(ations)
IN FOCUS Madeline Gruen (B.F.A. Fashion ’13) puts the final touches on her hand-beaded wool suit. Gruen received a $25,000 Liz Claiborne Award—Concept to Product, funded by the Liz Claiborne & Art Ortenberg Foundation to help her start her first professional collection after graduating from Pratt. Hers is one of the first start-ups in the Institute’s Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator, launched in fall 2013. The Accelerator is just one of many initiatives that give Pratt alumni the resources they need to adapt and thrive in a dynamic environment. Photo by Alex Weber.
PRATTFOLIO THE MAG A ZINE OF PR AT T INSTITUTE
THE DEFINITION OF ST YLE Five iconic Pratt artists and designers on what style means to them
FASHION FORWARD From “techno-textiles” to sexy soles, Pratt designers are on the cutting edge of innovation.
FABRIC(ATIONS) Pratt faculty and alumni on the synergy between fashion, structure, and story
6 INSIDE LOOK At home with Ruth Lande Shuman, M.I.D. ’89
48 BEYOND THE GATES Pratt's Presence in the Public Realm
Departments 2 SOCIAL@PRAT T 3 FROM THE PRESIDENT 4 INSPIRED Kadir Nelson, B.F.A. ’96, Madiba cover artwork for The New Yorker
36 NEW AND NOTEWORTHY Items in the marketplace created by Pratt alumni, faculty, and students
54 FINAL THOUGHTS Creating Time for Creativity
42 RYERSON WALK Recent Campus News and Activities
A BO U T THE C OV ER Buried Treasure Created by Visiting Associate Professor of Fine Arts Beverly Semmes, Buried Treasure is composed of a lush black velvet dress with a single long sleeve that extends from the wall onto the gallery floor in linear ribbons of crushed black velvet that twist and turn around the space to create an abstract map. This labyrinth circles back on itself like a trail with no clear endpoint in a work that is both landscape and body; the figure becomes the space that contains it. Buried Treasure illuminates conventional functions of architectural space by simultaneously drawing viewers in and pushing them back—constraining them to the perimeter of the work and thus to specific vantage points within the gallery space. Photo by Gene Ogami. Courtesy of Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica.
SOCIAL @ PRATT Via our social media sites, we asked people in the Pratt community about their creative and personal style influences. Here’s what they said.
Q. Where do you get your fashion inspiration?
A. When designing, I want to make clothes that consumers will form a bond with, rather than throw out to follow the next season’s latest trends. MARGARET BURTON, B.F.A., Class of 2017
A. Most of my inspirations derive from architecture—both historic and modern—and my designs are often structural. I’ve always said that I am building garments instead of sewing. NATHANIEL BOON (aka Kit Woo), B.F.A., Class of 2016
Q. Who are your icons and influences?
A. Without a doubt, my main icon is Alexander McQueen. I love the way he connected with his audience on a deeply emotional level and created avant-garde collections that questioned the status quo beauty and made the audience reconsider the true definition of the ideal. McQueen and I are of a kindred spirit. When it comes to fashion design, my main influences are the human condition, psychology, philosophy, and sociology. I consider myself more of an artist, rather than a fashion designer. I love to make very intricate and detailed pieces that highlight controversial topics (such as sexuality, gender, culture, religion, etc.), question tradition, and examine human behavior. I want my life’s work to revolutionize the fashion industry into one that progresses and advances open-mindedness and the conceptual and artistic process of society. KAT HOLLAND, B.F.A., Class of 2016
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S PRI N G /S U M M ER 2014
PRATTFOLIO T H E M AG A ZI N E O F PR AT T I N S T I T U T E
FROM THE PRESIDENT Thomas F. Schutte
Prattfolio is published by the Office of Communications and Marketing in the Division of Institutional Advancement for the alumni and friends of Pratt Institute. ©2014 Pratt Institute
Pratt Institute is home to some of the foremost style makers of our time. Our alumni and faculty pioneer innovative approaches in industries ranging from industrial design and the fine arts to architecture and fashion design. At the same time, Pratt encourages its students to explore a full range of possibilities and develop their own aesthetics and techniques by taking inspiration from as many disciplines as they wish. Like favorite pieces in a wardrobe, these lessons are building blocks to return to again and again. This issue of Prattfolio explores these and other elements of style, both in the fashion industry and beyond. Considering fashion and the many disciplines that it crosses, this fall Pratt students had the thrilling opportunity to partner with legendary mannequin creator and Pratt Trustee Ralph Pucci. The imaginative knitwear designs that resulted from this second collaboration between Pratt and Pucci were featured in the windows of Macy’s flagship Herald Square store during New York City’s Fashion Week and later traveled to the Dallas Neiman Marcus store during the Dallas Art Fair. We also launched the Institute’s Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator, a unique business incubator that will give New York City’s design start-ups and entrepreneurs the resources they need to launch successful, sustainable creative enterprises. You can read about the BF+DA on p. 26 and learn more about the partnership with Pucci on p. 50. It has also been an exciting spring on Pratt’s Brooklyn campus. In February, we launched the Institute’s new public programs series with a provocative and widely publicized talk by renowned Brooklyn filmmaker Spike Lee. We are now developing a full line-up of lectures, panels, and other original programming for this initiative. In April, we reopened the first four floors of Main Building and plan to reopen the fifth and sixth floors before summer. The success of this recovery and renovation effort would not have been possible without the support of the extended Pratt community, and we remain tremendously grateful to everyone who played a part. I hope to see each of you back on Pratt’s Brooklyn campus on Saturday, September 20 for Alumni Day 2014, when you can visit the restored Main Building and reconnect with former classmates and faculty. We’ll be sending further details over the coming weeks, so mark your calendars now to take part in this wonderful celebration.
Thomas F. Schutte President
Pratt Institute 200 Willoughby Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11205 V IC E PRE S IDE N T FOR INS T IT U T IO N A L A DVA N C E ME N T Todd Michael Galitz E X EC U T I V E D IREC TO R O F C O MM U NIC AT IO NS A ND M A RK E T IN G Mara McGinnis M A N AG ING E D I TOR Charlotte Savidge C RE AT I V E D IREC TO R Joshua Graver S E NIO R A RT D IREC TOR Kara Schlindwein S E NIO R E D ITO RI A L M A N AGE R Marion Hammon GR A PHIC DE S I GNE R Nakiska Shaikh C O P Y E D ITORS Ruth Samuelson Sarah Bruni Jean Gazis S TA FF C O N T RIB U TORS Amy Aronoff Jolene Travis Sarah Bertness Hannah Holden S E NIO R PRO D U C T IO N M A N AGE R David Dupont S TA FF PHOTO G R A PHE R Peter Tannenbaum
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INSPIRED Kadir Nelson, B.F.A. ’96, Madiba cover artwork for The New Yorker
Known for his emotive paintings of heroes throughout African-American history, Kadir Nelson has created artwork for such clients as Sports Illustrated, the Coca-Cola Company, Dreamworks SKG, Major League Baseball, and the United States Postal Service. In 2009, he received the Coretta Scott King Book Award for his New York Times best-selling picture book, We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball, which he also authored. Focusing on subjects that illuminate the strength and integrity of the human spirit, Nelson most recently released a book on Nelson Mandela. So when The New Yorker’s art editor, Françoise Mouly, contacted him about painting a tribute to Mandela, the artist was thrilled. The painting, Madiba, is also Nelson’s first magazine cover. Prattfolio talked to Nelson about the creative process.
What inspired you to depict Mandela during his time as a freedom fighter? I wanted to show Mandela as a young man in the midst of the struggle against apartheid. The raised fist and look of determination on his face captured that. It felt very symbolic and edgy—and a good fit for the magazine.
How many versions of the drawing did you do? I did about four or five sketches. Most of the early ideas were very portrait-driven, but none really worked. Finally, the stripped-down idea of Mandela against a white background dropped in. I felt it was very iconic and somewhat reminiscent of poster or street art.
What challenges did you face creating the cover artwork? The biggest challenge was to create something that was different from anything else people might see on a magazine cover tribute to Mandela. Depicting him as a young man was something I felt that other news outlets wouldn’t do. Since The New Yorker is not the typical breed of magazine, I felt it was a great platform to create something that stood apart from the pack. Above: Some of Kadir Nelson’s sketches for the project; Opposite: Madiba cover artwork for The New Yorker.
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INSIDE LOOK At home with Ruth Lande Shuman, M.I.D. ’89
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Left: Shuman with a cabinet designed by Gaetano Pesce. Above: Boards painted with the spectrum of 177 hues used in Shuman’s first project. Opposite: Shuman’s resin dining room floor features a still life by Gaetano Pesce. Pesce designed all the floors in her home to reflect each room’s purpose.
“If you stimulate the eye, you stimulate the brain,” says Ruth Shuman. As the visionary behind Publicolor, the organization she established in 1996 to transform drab public spaces in New York City schools into engaging environments, she should know. Her first project was in East Harlem’s Junior High School 99, where she enlisted volunteers and students to cover the halls with a progression of 177 hues on each of four floors. She has since worked with students, teachers, and volunteers to invigorate nearly 150 inner-city public schools and 175 under-resourced community centers. While she’s simplified her palette to 15 colors—at the urging of paint donor Benjamin Moore—her successful approach remains the same today. Shuman’s home environment reflects the same awareness of the power of color and design. “I live in a work of art,” she
says. Designed with pieces by her friend Gaetano Pesce, who was Shuman’s master’s project advisor, Shuman’s home is both a feast for the eyes and a tribute to her more than 30-year commitment to community-based nonprofits, most notably the Big Apple Circus. One of the Circus’s founding trustees and an active board member for 17 years, she was particularly drawn to the organization’s arts-in-education programs for disadvantaged youth. From her visits to several East Harlem public schools where the Circus ran after-school programs, Shuman saw how dreary and uninspiring the environments were—a realization that prompted her to create Publicolor. Her work for the organization marries her visual acuity with the affinity she has always felt for at-risk children and teens. “Secretly, I understood that I was somewhat rebellious and didn’t feel I had a champion,” she says. “These kids have so much potential and just needed someone to believe in them. That resonated with me.”
Five iconic Pratt artists and designers on what style means to them. By Charlotte Savidge
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines style as “a particular way in which something is done, created, or performed; a particular form or design of something; a way of behaving or of doing things.” A recent look at the most popular articles in The New York Times’s Style Section online includes pieces on subjects ranging from sheet pan chicken and Indian pilgrimage feasts to rethinking passion and remaking Downton Abbey’s Lady Edith. As one of the world’s foremost colleges of art and design, Pratt Institute recognizes the contributions its alumni and faculty have made to the world of style. In the pages that follow, iconic Pratt artists and designers in five creative fields discuss what style means to them and how their approach extends throughout their personal and creative lives.
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Laura Bohn, B.F.A. ’77 Interior Design
Laura Bohn is founder of Laura Bohn Design Associates, a New York-based international interior design consulting firm. Bohn has produced a wide range of residential and commercial interiors in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, including the conversion of a Beaux Arts bank into an 11-unit residential building where she also lives. The recipient of two Interior Design Roscoe awards for her fabric and wallpaper designs, Bohn was inducted into the Interior Design Hall of Fame in 1998. What is your definition of style? Style is the ability to discriminate. It is the packaging of curated ideas, being selective with an understanding of the “big picture.” Having a critical eye, an awareness of detail, and—last but not least— an ability to reinterpret ordinary things in a new way. How would you describe your style as an interior designer? I’m a modernist at heart, my goal being to simplify the way of living to the most essential level, but making sure that it is still practical, welcoming, and dramatic. What three words would you use to describe your personal style? Bold, classic, and timeless (I hope).
What role has your style played in your career? I am as passionate about fashion as I am about interior design; it’s a designer’s curse to be visually critical of everyday objects. Detail and proportion dictate everything you do, even down to buying a toothbrush. What influence did your time at Pratt have on your style as an interior designer? I learned minimalism at Pratt. My professor at the time, well-known interior designer Joe D’Urso, instilled in me the love of simplicity and the detailing of it. He taught me the thrill of “the plan” and how you move through the space. Has your style changed since your time at Pratt? If so, how? My basic training as a minimalist is still in place. My plans always consider how you move through the space and what you will see next, creating elements of surprise. My style developed while working for other designers—editing and rejecting ideas as they happened—always collecting inspiration along the way. What person, living or dead, do you consider the epitome of style and why? My mother, who was seriously stylish. She was an artist, a designer, and an athlete, among other things. She’s the reason I became a designer, as she was such a good designer herself.
What do you consider the most important element of your personal style? My spiky white hair; I can always be spotted a mile away.
Above: Interior of a Bridgehampton residence designed by Laura Bohn. Courtesy of Laura Bohn Design Associates.
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Karim Rashid, Former faculty member, Industrial Design
Karim Rashid has created more than 3,000 designs in production for both luxury and democratic products, as well as furniture, lighting, brand identity, packaging, interiors, and exhibition design, with works in more than 40 countries and 20 permanent collections. The recipient of more than 300 awards, including the Red Dot award, Chicago Athenaeum Good Design award, I.D. Magazine Annual Design Review, and IDSA Industrial Design Excellence award, Rashid is also the author of numerous books on design, including the monographs Sketch (Frame Publishing, 2011), Evolution (Universe, 2004), and I Want to Change the World (Rizzoli, 2001). In 2014, Rashid received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Pratt Institute. What is your definition of style? Style is a loaded word. For me it refers to past trends or movements. When a movement ends we tend to categorize it as a “style.” You could say that a person who has style has an original sensibility of dress, and cognitively has a certain particular personal elegance and personal expression. Having style can refer to a way of being, a love and respect for one’s immediate environment and oneself.
How did you come to teach at Pratt? I had spent seven years in Toronto designing machinery, medical equipment, power tools, mailboxes, laser devices, snow shovels, etc. The companies were disrespectful of design, and I became disillusioned. I decided to become a full-time academic. I received a three-year teaching contract at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and was fired after just one year for focusing on philosophy, theory, and technology. I was then hired by Parsons but let go after three days when they heard I’d been a “troublemaker” at RISD. Penniless in New York City, I was fortunate to run into my friend Tucker Viemeister, who told me that Pratt was looking for a senior design studio teacher. Without an appointment, I went to Pratt the next day and met Peter Barna, who then headed Pratt’s Industrial Design Department. After seeing my work and experience, he hired me on the spot. I was thrilled but concerned what he might hear from RISD. Peter just said, “That is what I want here, troublemakers who are positive change agents!” He definitely helped my career. Has your style changed since your time at Pratt? If so, how?
Sensual minimalism, technorganic, unichromatic (either all white, all pink, or all lime).
During the Pratt days I only wore black and gray to “blend in.” When I left Pratt, I took all my black clothes to the Salvation Army and never looked back. I bought one pair of white jeans, one white sweater, 15 pairs of white socks and 30 white T-shirts, a white coat, etc. I now have 20 pairs of white shoes, watches, eyeglasses, rings, bracelets all in whites and pinks.
What do you consider the most important element of your personal style?
What person, living or dead, do you consider the epitome of style and why?
What three words would you use to describe your personal style?
White and tight—it makes me feel optimistic, free, and liberated, like a blank canvas with no references to the past. I also wear pink (my super-optimistic white), fluorescent lime, and the occasional electric blue.
David Bowie, the thin white duke, who is forever changing and evolving, forever technological and experimental. Above: Nhow Hotel Lobby, Berlin, Germany, by Karim Rashid. Courtesy of Karim Rashid Studio.
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Beverly Pepper, ’42 Advertising Design
Beverly Pepper is known for her monumental, site-specific sculptures, which are frequently designed to function as public spaces. Her works have been exhibited and collected by major museums worldwide, and her 1987 solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, Sculpture in Place, was among the most comprehensive ever devoted to a living sculptor. The recipient of numerous awards, Pepper was honored with France’s Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1999 and with the International Sculpture Center’s 2013 Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award. You’ve said that you admire the resistance and stubbornness of iron, and that you also find stone to be combative. At the same time, you both utilize and find inspiration in the industrial tools that your Pratt instructors in the 1940s believed women wouldn’t be able to use. To what extent is working against something—material, beliefs, social norms—part of your approach? Combat is part of my approach, but it is something personal and should not be evident in the finished work. I like to seduce the materials yet not show submission, but rather cooperation. I prefer the word “outwit”—I outwit the seemingly intractable. What impact has Pratt had on your life and work? Pratt was a beginning in various ways. Practically everything I use in sculpture today has its roots in the industrial design class I took at Pratt. It taught me to look and see, and it serves me to this day. Our instructor would have us draw from a model— but he would have us look at the model for a few minutes and then have the model leave. Then we
had to draw what we had in our mind’s eye. I learned to take looking very seriously. This was not only training in the most careful observation, but in exercising that part of the mind that can be devoted to remembering the present. This, in turn, leads to my fascination with the persistence of form, which is a quality I strive for in all of my sculptures. So much of your work has been developed in relationship to a particular landscape or urban environment, yet you specifically use materials that are designed to endure. How do you feel about the changes that take place over time in the environments where your works are located? Persistence is different from immobile fixity. It is about how something participates in processes around it without losing its integrity while respecting such forces as the weather, time, and—of course—social use. Some of my sculptures deliberately include organic materials—such as plants, trees, vines—so that is an obvious collaboration with the natural world. I also have a deep commitment to patina, and this too not only invites, but requires, the touch of atmosphere and the passage of time and otherwise unseen components in the air—minerals, chemicals. You’ve mentioned that your mother and grandmother were both particularly strong women. How have they been role models for you? Just look at the work I do and have done fifty years ago . . . they were fearless and they gave me that quality. Above, L–R: Longo Monolith, 2008; Nuova Twist, 2008. Courtesy of Beverly Pepper. Opposite: Photo by George Tatge, Firenze.
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Stefan Sagmeister, M.S. ’89, Communications Design
Stefan Sagmeister is co-founder of Sagmeister & Walsh, a New York City-based design firm that creates identities, commercials, websites, apps, films, books, and objects. Sagmeister’s clients include the Rolling Stones, the Talking Heads, Lou Reed, and the Guggenheim Museum. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States, Asia, and Europe and is in the collections of New York’s Museum of Modern Art and London’s Design Museum, among others. In 2013, he received the AIGA Medal in recognition of his unorthodox, provocative designs that tweak the status quo and question the designer’s role in society. What is your definition of style? Somebody smarter than me described style as the outside of a concept, and the concept as the inside of style. How would you describe your style as a designer? We used to have a sign in the studio saying “style=fart,” but I do not believe in this notion anymore. I found that attention to style can make the delivery of good content easier, so why not pay attention to it? I also found that by changing our own style on every project, we stayed on the Above: Aizone-14 for the Aizone department store ad campaign in Lebanon. Creative Director: Stefan Sagmeister; Art Director/ Designer: Jessica Walsh; Photographer: Henry Hargreaves; Body Painter: Anastasia Durasova; Creative Retoucher: Erik Johansson; Hair Stylist: Gregory Alan; Producer: Ben Nabors, Group Theory; Production Designers: John Furgason, Andy Eklund.
surface stylistically and were in danger of ripping off styles developed by other people. What do you consider the most important element of your personal style? In our design work, I’d say the most important elements and strategies are the emotional and the personal. What influence did your time at Pratt have on your style as a designer? Through Tony Dispigna, I got to be very familiar with Herb Lubalin’s work; that had a big influence on me. Kevin Gatta introduced us to Pushpin, and Alisa Zamir opened me up to strategic formmaking within the corporate world. Has your style changed since your time at Pratt? If so, how? At Pratt, I thought the only important element within design was the idea, and style did not really matter. I have since learned on numerous projects that good style and good form can enhance the power of a project enormously. What person, living or dead, do you consider the epitome of style and why? My old friend and mentor Tibor Kalman. He used to say, “I have nothing against beauty, I just don’t find it all that interesting.” I used to agree, but ultimately changed my mind: I think beauty can be a fantastic means of communication. And it can help a piece to become very emotional and touching.
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Mickalene Thomas, B.F.A. ’00
Mickalene Thomas is a distinguished, multi-disciplinary visual artist best known for combining art-historical, political, and pop-cultural references to create striking figurative and nonfigurative paintings. Thomas introduces a complex vision of what it means to be a woman and expands common definitions of beauty. Her work stems from her long study of art history and the classical genres of portraiture, landscape, and still life. Inspired by sources ranging from the 19th-century Hudson River School to Édouard Manet, Henri Matisse, and Romare Bearden, she has created a signature style and continues to explore notions of beauty from a contemporary perspective infused with influences of popular culture and Pop Art. What is your definition of style? When an outfit conveys a poignant statement about who someone is, or, more importantly, who they want to be to the world. How would you describe your style as an artist? My style is consistent in that it is layered, nonsymmetrical, and usually includes the color black to contrast the vibrant colors I surround myself with on a daily basis. What three words would you use to describe your personal style? Post-hetero, neo-industrial, queer Afro-punk chic.
What do you consider the most important element of your personal style? Layered fierceness. What role has your style played in your career? I am not sure that my style has played a role. What influence did your time at Pratt have on your style as an artist? No-nonsense, roll-out-of-bed fabulousness, ready to wear. Has your style changed since your time at Pratt? If so, how? The change is ever so slight. The basic concepts are the same. Except now, instead of altering my clothes, I am able to afford to buy the designers who have inspired me over the years. What person, living or dead, do you consider the epitome of style and why? I can’t name just one. Paul Harnden, Comme des Garçons, and Junya Watanabe. Also, Rick Owens is such a pioneer in the world of fashion. He has a very diverse audience, which is just enough, yet his pieces continue to communicate unpredictable allure and simplicity. If you haven’t seen his Paris runway show in 2013, YouTube it now. Above: Mickalene Thomas; Interior: Zebra Chairs; Color photograph, paper, and funky fur collage on archival board; 8.25 x 10 inches, 21 x 25.4 cm; 2011. Courtesy of Mickalene Thomas, Lehmann Maupin and Artists Rights (ARS), New York.
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From â€œtechno-textilesâ€? to sexy soles, Pratt designers are on the cutting edge of innovation. By Nick Friedman
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Imagine being able to change the color of your business suit using a smartphone app. Heading out for drinks after work? Go from corporate blue to jet black right in the elevator.
It sounds like science fiction. But it’s within the realm of possibility with the rise of smart textiles. These futuristic fabrics embody the convergence of technology and textiles, and they are already transforming apparel and product design—as well as the expectations of consumers. An expert on designing with smart textiles, Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman (B.F.A. ’95, M.I.D. ’04) calls this metamorphosis nothing less than a “technotextile revolution.” Pailes-Friedman, an adjunct associate professor who teaches in both the Fashion and Industrial Design Departments at Pratt, is one of dozens of Institute faculty and alumni harnessing technology to push the boundaries of fashion. By experimenting with alternative materials, utilizing open-source software, and identifying nontraditional manufacturing methods, they are developing new products faster and more efficiently than ever before. At the same time, Pratt’s investment in cutting-edge tools and research is preparing the next generation of fashionforward visionaries to join the ranks. “Technology is going to be more and more pervasive in everything we do,” says Pailes-Friedman, who brings more than 25 years of experience as a designer in activewear and hard goods to the classroom. She adds, “What makes smart fabrics revolutionary is that they have the ability to do many things traditional fabrics cannot, including communicate, transform, conduct energy, and grow.” With such expertise, it’s no surprise that Pailes-Friedman launched Pratt’s first wearable technology design class last fall. The class, which was formed in collaboration with the engineering department at the University of New Hampshire Previous spread: Bristle Dress from the “New Skins” workshop run by Francis Bitonti. Photo by Chris Vongsawat. Opposite, top: Men’s Long Sleeve Close-fit E-SEWT with Iconography and Plug-in Components by Pratt students Eleni Skourtis-Cabrera, Peter Noh, and Yun Jin Kim. Photo by Kyung-in Noh. Opposite, bottom: Components from Men’s E-SEWT with Storage and 3d Printed Swatches by Pratt students Kalene Lee, Kai Lin, Jen Luciano, and Cody Michael Miller. Photo by Cody Michael Miller.
and in conjunction with an existing NASA program, gave students a mission: prototype a garment that might be worn aboard the International Space Station. NASA calls the program the Electronic-Textile System for the Evaluation of Wearable Technology (E-SEWT). Pratt is the first art and design school to join the program. Working in small groups, the students designed fabric swatches with working electronics sewn in that could be attached to, and detached from, the garments. Though the swatches performed only simple operations such as buzzing and blinking, in theory, they would act as control interfaces for space station electronics or monitoring an astronaut’s vital signs. The overall goal was to explore the most efficient combination of swatch placement with garment functionality, fit, and mobility. “The reception to the class was incredibly strong,” reports Pailes-Friedman, who notes she has been asked to develop the course further. “It was especially engaging for students to work with direction from NASA and to partner with engineers.” While technology is commonly thought of as a tool, in the hands of some designers it can be an artistic medium in itself. Such is the case with multidisciplinary designer Francis Bitonti (M. Arch. ’08). A year ago last March, Bitonti and co-designer Michael Schmidt debuted Dita’s Gown, a long, form-fitting black dress consisting of 17 mesh parts produced on a 3-D printer. Free flowing and completely computer-fitted for model Dita Van Teese by Bitonti, the gown generated major buzz not only for its style but also for its design process and production method. “It was all figured out in 3-D before it went into production,” Bitonti says. “That’s very different than how most fashion designers work with the process of cutting a two-dimensional shape, draping it on the body, going back and forth. We used 3-D simulated draping.” The reaction to Dita’s Gown was so enthusiastic that Bitonti decided to expand on the experience four months later in a workshop he called “New Skins.” Bringing students from Pratt
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“What makes smart fabrics revolutionary is that they have the ability to do many things traditional fabrics cannot, including communicate, transform, conduct energy, and grow.” and other colleges around the world together in the Institute’s Digital Arts and Humanities Research Center, the group set out to “grow” a garment entirely in a digital environment. Eschewing traditional fashion software, Bitonti and students explored 3-D design using other software, including Maya, which is used by animators. They created textile-like shapes or forms, on-screen, and prototyped them on a MakerBot 3-D printer loaded with a new flexible filament not yet on the market. Above: SOLS inserts by Kegan Schouwenburg. Photo courtesy SOLS. Opposite: Dita’s Gown was designed and completely computer-fitted by Francis Bitonti for model Dita Van Teese. Photo by Albert Sanchez.
At the end of the three-week workshop, the group combined two of the printed forms to create the final product: a dress that referenced the muscle fibers, veins, and arteries of a body seemingly turned inside out. They dubbed the creation Verlan’s Dress, after the French slang word for reversing syllables. “I want to teach people to learn to think through the design and production process like it’s a medium. Like it’s paint or clay,” Bitonti says. For entrepreneur Kegan Schouwenburg (B.I.D. ’07), technology is a vehicle to expand our thinking about what society considers fashionable. Schouwenburg is the co-owner of SOLS Systems, a company launched this spring that creates customized orthotics and insoles. To purchase a pair of SOLS, customers visit select podiatrists and have their feet scanned with a proprietary smartphone app that creates an uploadable 3-D model. The final product is 3-D printed using a custom-blended antimicrobial nylon powder and then shipped to the customer. This streamlined process of scan, print, and ship—potentially the first of its kind in the consumer-facing marketplace— cuts the cost of producing orthotics compared with current practices. But price is not necessarily the major selling point for Schouwenburg. Rather, it’s the opportunity to add flair to a humble market. “Why do medical products have to be ugly?” she says. “By allowing customers to personalize orthotics with color or patterns of their choice, or even with their name inscribed, we remove a stigma. If it’s designed just for you, it becomes a fashion accessory.” Though Pailes-Friedman, Bitonti, and Schouwenburg work independently of one another, it’s clear that they share a common vision. At first glance, it’s easy to define that vision as technology-centric, but it’s much more—it’s Prattcentric. Each of them cites the emphasis the school places on open-ended thinking as a key to their success. As Schouwenburg says, “Pratt gave us a solid foundation to process questions and thoughts. That led us to take very creative and unusual paths to get to surprising, but often unique, answers.” One day soon, we’ll be wearing those answers from head to toe.
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Pratt’s Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator Jump-starts Entrepreneurs By Nick Friedman
“We want to create a space where you can stand in the middle and see the story of fashion innovation, from idea to prototype, production, and marketing.” That’s how Debera Johnson, executive director of Pratt’s Center for Sustainable Design Strategies, describes her vision for Pratt’s new Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator (BF+DA). Launched last fall and housed in a 20,000-square-foot space in Williamsburg, the Accelerator provides a full range of resources and support services to 30 design-centric start-ups to help them grow and thrive. With more than $2 million in funding by New York State, the borough of Brooklyn, and Pratt Institute, designers are immersed in a one-stop shop and think tank. They have access to the latest technology, including 3-D printers, laser cutters, a textile and tech lab, a knitting machine, and a micro-run production facility where they can produce up to 50 units. A community space called the “plaza” serves as a hangout by day and a lecture hall, performance space, and fashion runway by night. “It’s the kind of place where all the lines will blur,” says Johnson, who founded the Accelerator and also started Pratt’s Design Incubator for Sustainable Innovation in 2002, which has helped launch more than 35 start-ups. “We’re deliberately creating an ecosystem for design commerce by putting together all sorts of people—fashion designers, product designers, photographers, and media artists. It’s the mixture of multiple perspectives that I think is required for the success of young companies.”
Member companies are selected by a review committee and do not have to be associated with Pratt. They do, however, have to practice environmentally sustainable production methods in line with the Accelerator’s focus on green-thinking principles. That appeals to Nina Zilka (B.F.A. ’10), co-founder of Alder New York, an eco-friendly menswear/accessory line that was one of the first to move into the Accelerator. “We’re excited to be surrounded by other creative entrepreneurs who we can share problems and goals with and learn from,” she says. “We’re also very glad to have access to various machines and equipment we haven’t had thus far.” Given the global appeal of the “Brooklyn brand” in recent years, the timing of the Accelerator could hardly be better. Not only is it attracting design entrepreneurs but it is also drawing more attention to the borough as a destination for manufacturing jobs in fashion. “It’s going to have a big impact on the industry,” says Jonathan Bowles, executive director of the Center for an Urban Future, a New York research institute on economic policy. “We already have the design talent in New York, and the Accelerator is going to fill a need in getting more of our great designers to be great design businesses.” For Johnson, the opportunity to watch young entrepreneurs in action is a thrill in itself; “People come to Pratt to work with and learn with the best and the brightest. This is an extension of that community.”
Opposite top: BF+DA provides an interdisciplinary work space that encourages designers to invent, collaborate, and innovate new enterprises. Opposite bottom: BF+DA includes flexible public space for lectures, performances, conferences, and runway shows. Renderings by Vicky Chan/Avoid Obvious.
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F A IC( ION
By Charlotte Savidge and David Sokol
between fashion, structure, and story
Pratt faculty and alumni on the synergy
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Last year’s 114th annual Pratt Institute Fashion Show was a thrill ride, mixing visual delight with fine construction and deep thinking.
In one highlight from the awardwinning formal-wear collection by Madeline Gruen (B.F.A. ’13), a colonial toile bodice was wedded to a skirt resembling a large Elizabethan collar—a bold pairing that conjured images of England’s fabled Golden Age. Meanwhile, drawing inspiration from a quest to Iceland, Sam O’Brien (B.F.A. ’13) created architectural silhouettes portraying that country’s tumultuous landscape and huldufólk mythology. The runway show was a celebration of individual students’ accomplishments and a tribute to the inspirational leadership of Department of Fashion Chair Jennifer Minniti. The curiosity and experimentation of graduating seniors’ work also embodied the synergies between fashion and other creative industries that are spurring innovation throughout the contemporary art and design world. These synergies allow Pratt artists and designers to explore the subtexts of their creations—whether through how they are produced or the narratives that develop once their products are out in the world.
Making Meaning “Personal expression is one way in which clothing creates meaning,” says Visiting Assistant Professor of Fashion Emily Spivack, whose work explores the way that clothing functions from a variety of
cultural, historical, and psychological perspectives. Since 2007, Spivack has examined the relationship between clothing and meaning in Sentimental Value, a web-based art project featuring stories about clothing posted for sale on eBay and the memories the sellers have about what they did while wearing the pieces they’re selling. “The project offers insight into people’s relationship with the clothing they wear and with the clothing they discard. I love the contrast between the everyday garment and the great narrative,” says Spivack, who also purchases the items and, last summer, exhibited them at the Philadelphia Art Alliance alongside text on the sellers’ memories. But clothes aren’t the only items that take on meaning through wearing. Couture jewelry designer Anthony Tammaro, who teaches in Pratt’s Department of Fine Arts, says, “Jewelry is perceived largely as an object, and it gains meaning largely through wearing— whether it was worn in a movie or by a family member.” For artist and designer Liz Collins, the act of producing a piece holds as much meaning as the finished product. Recognized internationally for her use of machine knitting to create ground-breaking clothing, textiles,
performances, and installations, Collins, who also teaches in Pratt’s Department of Fashion, focuses on the fabric she makes, manipulates, and embellishes. Motivated by the act of knitting, the history of which she believes is intricately connected to both gender and labor, she has produced a series of 12 performance and site-specific installation projects in which artists work on knitting machines in a shared space. Launched in 2005 and collectively titled Knitting Nation, the project reconfigures textile fabrication and apparel manufacturing in relation to the human labor behind it, with performance and collectivity as mediating forces. “I sometimes call Knitting Nation a celebration or illumination of a process. I want people to see how a fabric is made, and how a human body engages with a machine to make a fabric or garment. I also want a Knitting Nation performance to be an evolving installation of color and mass that materializes space,” says Collins. As such, Knitting Nation also illustrates the relationship between fashion design and architecture.
Opposite top: Work from Emily Spivack’s Sentimental Value exhibition at the Philadelphia Art Alliance. Photo by Matt Suib and Greenhouse Media for the Philadelphia Art Alliance. Opposite bottom: Knitting Nation Phase 7: Darkness Descends by Liz Collins. Photo by Arthi Sundaresh.
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“The structural nature of a fold, a crease, an edge—how a piece of material sometimes wraps and reveals, and sometimes projects and separates from the body—these are very much architectural notions. ”
Structure and Story Architects and installation artists take the connection between narrative, apparel, and the material and processes by which it is made one step further. Installation artist Beverly Semmes, who also teaches sculpture at Pratt, explores the metaphor of power in Buried Treasure, which she recently reinstalled at the Shoshana Wayne Gallery in Santa Monica, California, as part of the exhibition Beverly Semmes 1992–1994. The piece features a black velvet dress with one long sleeve that wanders around the room. While the sleeve imposes itself on the entire room, taking up all of the space, “at the same time it’s a very vulnerable thing,” Semmes says, “because you could walk on the velvet or push it aside.” For Pratt alumna Sarah Bonnemaison (B.Arch. ’83), the connection between story and structure prompted her to study architecture. “I was fascinated by theater, and during my time at Pratt most directors were exploring alternatives to the traditional stage. So a lot of work focused on set designs that were more like installations—they had to make their own place within a place. Using fabric was the practical solution, and my career ever since has explored connecting
textile heritage with contemporary built environments that are affordable, lightweight, and technological.” Bonnemaison, who teaches at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, is founder and principal of Filum, Ltd., a design firm that concentrates on festival architecture, installations, and lightweight structures. In her work on tensile structures, Bonnemaison has drawn on time-motion studies of moving bodies to create new structural forms—reflecting the way fashion designers consider body movement when creating apparel. Back in Brooklyn, the synergy between fashion and architecture is blossoming on the Pratt campus. Mark Parsons, director of production and technology for the Pratt School of Architecture, says, “Fashion students have begun taking courses in which only architecture students were enrolled previously. Of course this makes perfect sense, as the disciplines share territories around the corporeal body and scales of enclosure. The structural nature of a fold, a crease, an edge—how a piece of material sometimes wraps and reveals, and sometimes projects and separates from the body—these are very much architectural notions. The body, like a
building, also holds regional values and interpretations.” In Parsons’s Frame and Membrane seminar, held last fall, his students used needles and thread to stitch together a structure in the Department of Architecture building’s foyer. Called Ethereal Threshold, it “dressed” an existing threshold to make occupants more aware of the structure—in much the way clothing draws attention to the body and its relationship to the world around it. Parsons says, “The project operated very much like a garment: making oneself more conscious of entering, turning, and descending through space.” In much the same way, by exploring synergies and working on the threshold between two disciplines, Pratt artists and designers have raised awareness of complex creative possibilities—for themselves and all of us.
Previous spread left (top to bottom): Buried Treasure by Beverly Semmes. Photo by Gene Orgami. Courtesy of Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica; Space Brooch by Anthony Tammaro. Courtesy of Anthony Tammaro. Previous spread right: Knitting Nation Phase 12: H2O by Liz Collins. Photo by Marc Campos. Opposite: Responsive transportable stage set by @Lab, Sarah Bonnemaison and Robin Muller. Photo by Greg Richardson.
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NEW AND NOTEWORTHY Items in the marketplace created by Pratt alumni, faculty, and students
Stone Fruit: Pineapple
Chen Chen (B.I.D. ’07) and Kai Williams (B.I.D. ’06) $46
Emily Elsen (B.F.A. Sculpture ’03) and Melissa Elsen $30
Chen and Williams, who founded their eponymous design studio in 2011, collaborated on a series of flowerpots in the shapes of pineapples, avocados, cantaloupes, grapefruits, and horned melons. Their Brooklyn-based company has been featured in The New York Times and W magazine. Available at creaturesofcomfort.us.
Meteorite Cuff Links
The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book
Sisters Emily and Melissa Elsen teamed up to create this book featuring recipes for the unique seasonal pies they dish out at their two Brooklyn-based locations, which include a new café in the Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Branch located on Grand Army Plaza. Available at Amazon.com.
Engrain Tactile Keys
Albert Zuger (B.F.A. Sculpture ’05) $260
Michael Roopenian (M.I.D. ’10) $98–$118
Zuger created these eye-catching cufflinks from iron meteorite and sterling-silver bullet backs. His passion for jewelry making began when Zuger decided to channel his sculpture background into designing his own wedding bands. Each piece is hand hammered in his home studio in Toronto. Available at AlbertZuger.com.
Roopenian raised funds on Kickstarter to manufacture these clever sticker sets, which can be affixed to Apple wireless keyboards to class-up humdrum plastic keys. Each set has a one-of-a-kind wood grain and is manufactured in Brooklyn. They are also available in layouts for international keyboards, including Arabic and Russian. Available at MichaelRoopenian.com.
All photos courtesy of the artists unless otherwise noted
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The Windows of Buck House: Fabulous Fictional Females
Winston Trestle Table Edward Hale (M.I.D. ’12) $1,300 Frame + Panel is a furniture line that began as part of Hale’s Pratt graduate thesis. Easy-to-assemble pieces like the Winston Trestle Table are made from sustainably harvested wood from Massachusetts. The hardware components, manufactured in the Midwest, are available in red and blue. Available at frameandpanel.com.
Pack Up Picnic Bag Sallyann Corn (B.I.D. ’08) and Joe Kent (B.I.D. ’08) $78
Deborah Buck, Pratt Trustee $36 The Windows of Buck House: Fabulous Fictional Females documents the window installations of Buck House, the author’s Madison Avenue retail store that sold eclectic furniture, art, and decorative objects from 2001–12. Buck, in collaboration with a team of artists, transformed the store’s window space into whimsical settings portraying the lives of invented heroines like London detective Sheelock Holmes, Genevan investment banker Goldy Banks, and German chemist Maddy Tscientist. Available at Amazon.com.
Ditch the wicker basket and grab the Pack Up Picnic Bag when you’re in the mood for an impromptu lunch in the park. This insulated, water-repellent bag features pockets and a shoulder strap for your convenience. The design comes courtesy of fruitsuper design, a Seattle-based industrial design and product development consultancy. Available at fruitsuper.com.
Totem Candles Chelsea Minola (B.F.A. Interior Design ’02) $22–$38 These hand-sculpted, beeswax candles fill the room with the aroma of honey when lit. Available in a variety of sizes and styles, they’re even more striking when collectively arranged on top of a mantel or as a dining room centerpiece. Committed to sustainable and ethical production, designer Minola makes the candles in her company’s shop on Bainbridge Island, outside of Seattle. Available at graindesign.com.
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Featuring photographs spanning 15 years, Seelie’s Bright Nights: Photographs of Another New York offers a glimpse into underground music scenes, grungy house parties, and utter chaos. Short essays by artists, writers, and Seelie’s friends—including Japanther bandmember Ian Vanek (B.A. Communications Design ’02)—provide context for the photographs. Available at Amazon.com.
These rings combine timeless organic forms like pores, thorns, and heart anatomy with the cutting-edge technology of 3-D printing. Produced in an assortment of colors and materials, each ring is hand finished for a polished, super-glossy look. GROWN3D is a passion project of Professor John Heida, who plans on using the revenue from ring sales to fund his upcoming wedding. Available at etsy.com/shop/grown3d.
Women’s Artist Demi Boot 12
Samantha Pleet (B.F.A. Fashion ’06) $295 Pleet collaborated with American heritage brand Wolverine to create her own shoe collection. The line includes several styles of women’s sandals, oxfords, and boots made from leather and sheepskin. Pleet also designs her own line of ready-to-wear apparel. Available at Wolverine.com.
GROWN3D Rings Visiting Assistant Professor of Interior Design John Heida $25–$55
Tod Seelie (B.F.A. Photography ’02) $32
Plug Table Scott Savage (M.Arch. ’10) $750–$1,000 This elegant side table has a nylon handle and is available in maple, white, and blue for a minimalist pop of color. Savage seeks simplicity and a sense of play in his designs. Available at Savage-Works.com.
Submissions Alumni, Faculty, and Students We invite submissions to New and Noteworthy. Send information and images of your latest creation for sale in the marketplace to email@example.com with the subject “New and Noteworthy.”
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RYERSON WALK Recent Campus News and Activities
Students in Pratt’s undergraduate architecture program working in the studio. Photo by Alex Weber.
DesignIntelligence Gives Top Marks to Institute Programs Pratt Institute’s Interior Design, Industrial Design, and Architecture programs are ranked among the best in the country, according to a recently released annual survey of industry professionals coordinated by monthly architecture and design journal DesignIntelligence (DI). Pratt’s graduate and undergraduate Interior Design programs rank No. 2 in the country. The Institute’s graduate program in Industrial Design was ranked No. 3 in the country, and its undergraduate program was ranked No. 8. The Institute’s undergraduate Architecture program ranked No. 11 in the nation. The rankings are part of DI’s 2014 America’s Best Architecture and Design Schools issue. “Rankings play a very important role in where students decide to apply and attend, particularly strong academic students and international students. The rankings are the first step for them in narrowing down their lists of top 15 schools,” says Judy Aaron, vice president for enrollment.
While U.S. News & World Report is the most prominent ranking source for universities overall, it only ranks some arts and design graduate programs and no undergraduate programs. “For us, DesignIntelligence is really the only ranking source in many cases, and so that’s what students pay attention to,” says Aaron. The Institute’s programs have received consistent high marks in DI’s 2014 rankings, which are based exclusively on companies’ perceptions of how well colleges prepare their graduates for professional experience. DI also spotlighted Gina Caspi, a visiting professor in Industrial Design and an alumna, who was named to the “30 Most Admired Educators for 2014” list, as selected by DI staff with extensive input from thousands of design professionals, academic department heads, and students.
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Ralph Pucci. Photo by Alex Weber.
President Thomas F. Schutte thanking the Pratt community upon learning of the endowed scholarship in his and his wife’s names. Photo by Timothy Mulcare.
Ralph Pucci Elected to Pratt’s Board of Trustees
Thomas F. and Tess L. Schutte Endowed Scholarship Established at Legends 2013
Famous for his expressive mannequins and exquisite furniture showrooms, Ralph Pucci understands Pratt’s values and will now help lead the Institute as the newest member of the Board of Trustees. His appointment was effective on October 11, 2013.
Pratt alumni, faculty, and friends celebrated the 20th anniversary of Thomas F. Schutte’s presidency of the Institute at the 2013 Legends Gala following the surprise announcement of a new student scholarship fund in his and his wife’s names. The Thomas F. and Tess L. Schutte Endowed Scholarship Fund was launched with the proceeds from the event, which totaled nearly $800,000.
Pucci is president of Ralph Pucci International, a high-end mannequin, lighting, furniture, and sculpture company based in New York City and founded by his parents in the 1950s. The company’s New York showroom houses art, sculptures, photography, lighting, and furnishings by international artists and designers including Herve Van der Straeten, Patrick Naggar, Chris Lehrecke, Vladimir Kagan, Jens Risom, and Eric Schmit. The company has been involved with two Pratt exhibitions. In Pratt + Paper & Ralph Pucci, held in 2010, students designed avant-garde paper dresses—with a wide variety of cutouts and textures—donned by Pucci mannequins. In Organic Matter: Woven Artwear by Pratt Fashion, exhibited in Pucci’s Gallery Nine and in the windows of Macy’s Herald Square during the winter of 2014, students created original, high-concept knitted outfits.
The tribute to Schutte included a slideshow highlighting some of his most notable achievements over the past two decades, and culminated with the announcement of the scholarship via a videotaped message from Pratt alumnus and Trustee Emeritus Bruce Newman (B.F.A. Interior Design ’53). Schutte was invited on stage with a standing ovation. Surrounded by Pratt scholarship recipients and participants in the Institute’s youth programs, he was presented with a special award recognizing his 20 years of visionary leadership of Pratt Institute and a commitment to the creative successes of its students. Legends 2013 also celebrated Pratt alumnus and renowned interior designer David Easton, journalist and The New York Times best-selling author Pete Hamill, Architectural Digest editor-inchief Margaret Russell, and groundbreaking contemporary artist James Turrell. The event’s co-chairs were Sondra and David S. Mack, Bruce M. Newman (B.F.A. Interior Design ’53) and Judith Newman, Susan and Mark D. Stumer (B. Arch. ’74), and Jane and David Walentas.
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Visiting Assistant Professor of Industrial Design Tanya Van Cott (B.Arch. ’93, M.I.D. Interior Design ’98) and Professor Bruce Hannah (B.I.D. ’63) in the Faculty and Staff Dining Room.
President Thomas F. Schutte and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Photo by Samuel Stuart.
Refurbished Faculty and Staff Dining Room Showcases Alumni Design
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and President Schutte Kick Off Urbanism Conference Event
Pratt’s alums may be far flung, but recently a plethora of their creations came together under one roof. North Hall is home to the newly refurbished Faculty and Staff Dining Room, a smart space completely designed, furnished, and decorated with the work of Pratt alumni—from light fixtures, window treatments, and floor tiles to furniture and artwork. The dining room contains pieces from 30 alumni designers. Many of the works were created for companies such as Knoll, West Elm, and Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Professor Bruce Hannah (B.I.D. ’63) conceived and curated the project and Visiting Assistant Professor of Industrial Design Tanya Van Cott, AIA (B.Arch. ’93, M.I.D. ’98), designed the space. Director of Food Services Ron Jones served as the project manager.
U.S. News & World Report Ranks Pratt One of the Region’s Top Schools For the second year in a row, Pratt Institute ranked 20th in U.S. News & World Report’s “Regional Universities North” category, which includes institutions that provide a full range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Pratt was the only independent college of art and design to place in this category. According to U.S. News & World Report, the “Best Colleges 2014” rankings allow comparisons of the relative quality of institutions based on such widely accepted indicators of excellence such as strength of faculty, freshman retention, and graduation rates.
At Pratt, you don’t need to be a planning student to understand urban development: the Institute’s Brooklyn neighborhood, Clinton Hill, is a perfect example of how coordinated efforts can elevate the local economy. With this makeover in mind, Pratt was selected to host a plenary session, featuring former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, for the International Downtown Association’s (IDA) World Congress and 59th Annual Conference. The four-day event brought together diverse practitioners from around the world who focus on urban planning issues and improving city life and governance. The event featured local city and nonprofit leaders as well as introductory remarks by President Thomas F. Schutte. Schutte discussed his long, ongoing affiliation with the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership—an organization dedicated to economic revitalization in Clinton Hill and Fort Greene—which he has chaired since its establishment in 1999. “Pratt has reaped the benefits of our foresight in strengthening and partnering with the local business community,” Schutte told the crowd. “We continue to hold the surrounding business improvement districts in high esteem as vital partners in Pratt’s mission to educate creative professionals to be responsible contributors to society.”
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Drawing Democracies participants sketching on campus. Photo by Nika De Carlo.
Drawing Democracies Event Offers a Day of Drawing Across Campus What activity unifies all visual artists and designers? They draw. On October 19, Pratt’s Brooklyn campus hosted a daylong event, Drawing Democracies, dedicated to this key activity. Current students and members of the local community, including children, were invited to join in and celebrate drawing through interactive lectures, figure-drawing sessions, and more. Drawing Democracies was coordinated by Pratt Institute’s Fine Arts, Foundation, and Art and Design Education Departments and The Drawing Club. The event appeared in the highly coveted “Spare Times” section of The New York Times as one of their top event picks for the weekend.
Main Building Re-Occupancy on Schedule for 2014 Reconstruction of Main Building’s basement and lower four floors is completed, and faculty, staff, and students are expected to relocate to the modernized building this spring. Damage caused by last year’s four-alarm electrical fire has been repaired, and the building’s infrastructure has been significantly updated. Main Building will now include a green roof, energy-efficient lighting and upgraded electrical infrastructure, enhanced IT and improved heating systems, and a new main staircase and refurbished elevator, among other updated features. The fifth and sixth floors are scheduled to be completed by late April 2014—ending the construction project—though the floors will not be reoccupied until after commencement.
Prattfolio on an iPad
Free Prattfolio App Is Released on iTunes Now there is a new way to access Pratt’s premier alumni magazine, Prattfolio—the iPad app is available for free download on iTunes. Released on January 10, the Prattfolio app includes all of the content contained in Prattfolio’s print and online editions. It also offers additional material and interactive features, from animated titles to slideshows to embedded video. The result is an enhanced experience that brings Prattfolio to life in an innovative way. Pratt’s award-winning Creative Services team in the Office of Communications and Marketing designed and created the new interactive version.
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Work by Younghae Grace Shin (B.F.A. Interior Design ’15).
Interior Design Student Wins $25,000 Charles Pratt Memorial Scholarship
Behance Gallery Showcases Pratt Talent for Potential Employers
Younghae Grace Shin (B.F.A. Interior Design, Class of ’15) is the latest winner of the Charles Pratt Memorial Scholarship, a $25,000 biannual award presented to a third-year undergraduate in a given department. For each scholarship, a new department is chosen, with Industrial Design, Fashion Design, and Digital Arts represented during the last few years. Eligible students present recent projects to a group including Pratt administration, faculty members, and several members of the Twining and Pratt families who are descendants of Charles Pratt II, president of Pratt Institute from 1937–53, for whom this scholarship is named. The most recent scholarship opportunity was for Interior Design students, who presented plans for a public library in the Clinton Hill/Bedford-Stuyvesant area, and a headquarters for nonprofit Housing Works, including space for one of their thrift shops. Ultimately, Shin was honored for her bold, eclectic visions, one of which was her sliding, movable retail designs for the Housing Works project.
Pratt students and alumni can now market their creativity and skills directly to recruiters and hiring managers through an online gallery powered by Behance. Dubbed “Cupid for creatives” by Wired magazine, Behance pools portfolios from visual artists and designers and connects them with companies seeking job candidates. Launched more than a year ago, the Pratt page now includes nearly 900 individual artists: roughly 30 percent are alumni, and 66 percent are graduate and undergraduate students. The site also has a strong social media aspect. Viewers can comment on pieces—those that draw the most remarks land on a “Most Discussed” page. Likewise, viewers can “appreciate” work, directing pieces to a “Most Appreciated” page.
A TREE STILL GROWS IN BROOKLYN, BUT MONEY DOESN’T GROW ON TREES.
The Fund for Pratt provides essential resources to support every aspect of the Pratt educational experience. Student scholarships. Faculty development. Maintaining the 25-acre landscaped Brooklyn campus—and all those trees. Make your gift today.
Visit www.pratt.edu/give or call 718.399.4295 to learn more about leadership giving to The Fund for Pratt.
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BEYOND THE GATES Pratt’s Presence in the Public Realm
L-R: 2014 Pratt Institute Alumni Achievement Award recipients Albert Konetzni Jr. (accepting on behalf of his father, Albert Konetzni), Adam Selman, Jennifer Wen Ma, Laura Bohn, Goulda Downer, Bruce M. Newman. Photo by Margarita Corporan.
Esteemed Pratt Graduates Honored at 2014 Alumni Achievement Awards The Pratt Institute 2014 Alumni Achievement Awards, which recognize graduates who have distinguished themselves in their fields, were presented to six accomplished alumni at the University Club on March 20. This year’s recipients were Laura Bohn (B.F.A. Interior Design ’77), Goulda Downer (B.S. Nutrition & Dietetics ’84), Albert Konetzni (Certified Illustrator ’35), Bruce M. Newman (B.F.A. Interior Design ’53), Adam Selman (B.F.A. Fashion Design ’04), and Jennifer Wen Ma (M.F.A. Fine Arts ’99). In their acceptance speeches, the award recipients emphasized the impact that Pratt has had on their careers. Adam Selman—a designer, stylist for Rihanna, and recipient of the Early Career Award—said that Pratt taught him to value his vision and strive to be a fashion leader.
Jennifer Wen Ma, a multimedia artist who received the International Career Award, and whose works include visual effects for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, added “Pratt is a place to dream, to nurture and be nurtured, to experiment and explore.” In addition to Ma and Selman, Trustee Emeritus Bruce Newman, whose numerous gifts to Pratt have supported campus beautification, received the Distinguished Service Award; Dr. Goulda Downer received the Community Commitment Award for her contributions to society, particularly through her work in HIV/AIDS care; Albert Konetzni received the Lifetime Achievement Award in honor of his long career as an art director at Disney; and Laura Bohn received the Distinguished Career Award for her award-winning work as an interior designer.
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L-R: André De Castro (M.F.A. Graphic Design ’13), Stephen Mondics (B.F.A. Film/Video ’13), and Mike Finkelstein (B.F.A. Photography ’14). Photo Courtesy of Hennessy V.S.
Work created by Shaelyn Zhu (foreground) and Katya Reily for Noguchi-Pratt: What Inspires. Photo by Katie Abbott, Courtesy of the Noguchi Museum © 2014.
Hennessy V.S Partnership Allows Three Pratt Students to Exhibit Work During Art Basel Miami
Noguchi Museum Displays Ensembles by Pratt Fashion Students
The top three finishers in the Pratt/Hennessy V.S art challenge displayed their work in a special Art Basel exhibition held December 2 through 8 at Kimpton’s EPIC, a luxury waterfront hotel in downtown Miami. The three artists were winner André De Castro (M.F.A. Graphic Design ’13), first runner-up Mike Finkelstein (B.F.A. Photography ’14), and second runner-up Stephen Mondics (B.F.A. Film/Video ’13). A reception for alumni and friends followed on EPIC’s 16th-floor wraparound pool deck, offering breathtaking views of the Miami River and Biscayne Bay. Nine Pratt students from the Photography, Jewelry, Film/ Video, and Communications Design Departments were invited to participate in the challenge, which asked students to bring to life Hennessey’s mantra: “Never Stop. Never Settle.” The partnership between Pratt and Hennessey aimed to identify top talent in the art and design fields and to challenge students to push the limits of their potential. The competition builds on a relationship between Pratt and Hennessy begun in 2012.
This past fall, Pratt partnered with the Noguchi Museum, inviting juniors in the Institute’s Department of Fashion to create looks inspired by the work of Isamu Noguchi, a Japanese-American artist who was one of the 20th century’s most acclaimed sculptors. The top 11 student-designed ensembles were on display in Noguchi-Pratt: What Inspires, an exhibition in the museum’s Education and Public Programs space.
Pratt Center Report Supports Bus Rapid Transit in New York City A Pratt Center for Community Development report issued in December and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation highlights demographic and economic changes that have deepened disparities in transit access within New York City and identifies eight routes where Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) would provide a cost-effective solution to the mobility needs of some of New York’s transit-starved neighborhoods. During his 2013 campaign, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged his support to build a BRT network of more than 20 lines citywide. More robust than other forms of express bus service, BRT uses dedicated, physically protected bus lanes located along center medians—rather than next to the curb—and features station platforms where riders pay fares before the bus arrives and multiple doors to make boarding easier. This model has already been successfully implemented in Mexico City, Barcelona, and Cleveland, among other cities.
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An installation shot of Organic Matter, as exhibited at Ralph Pucci’s Gallery Nine in early 2014. Photo by Samuel Stuart.
Macy’s Herald Square Displays Innovative Pratt Student Knitwear Designs Fashion students at Pratt Institute were challenged to rethink the form, function, and design of knitwear as fine art for an innovative exhibition on view at Ralph Pucci’s Gallery Nine in Manhattan this past January. The exhibition, titled Organic Matter: Woven Artwear by Pratt Fashion, was front and center in Macy’s Herald Square store windows on Broadway during New York Fashion Week. It later traveled to the Dallas Neiman Marcus flagship store during the Dallas Art Fair. Pratt Institute Trustee Ralph Pucci, renowned for his high-end mannequins, lighting, furniture, and sculptures, partnered with Pratt and worked closely with Fashion Chair Jennifer Minniti and Assistant Professor Susan Cianciolo to select top projects. The students worked exclusively with neutral-colored yarns donated by Lion Brand Yarn and decided to complement Ralph Pucci’s classic MANNEQUIN collection in matte gray. Of the more than 90 projects considered for the exhibition, 27 works were on view in Organic Matter. At the opening of the Gallery Nine exhibition, a distinguished panel of judges awarded miniature gold, silver, and bronze Pucci mannequins to the three top pieces: a loopy and felted dress with an open back by Margaret Burton (B.F.A. Class of ’15), a large-scale shrug and drop-stitch skirt by Sam Smith and Megan Sullivan (B.F.A. Class of ’15), and a chunky coat knit of strips of surplus cotton fabrics by Chantal Galipeau (B.F.A. Class of ’15), respectively.
Brooklyn Academy of Music Showcases Work by Pratt Art and Design Education Students This spring, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) hosts three exhibitions of work produced by local middle- and high-school students in collaboration with Pratt Institute. On view through June 30 in BAM’s Peter Jay Sharpe Lower Lobby at 321 Ashland Place, Reclaim Works presents the results of a community-based art and design collaboration between Pratt, local middle-school students attending a Citizen Schools Program at the Urban Assembly Unison School, and the Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project LDC (MARP). The collaboration was supported by the Pratt Center for Community Development’s Taconic Fellowship Program and MARP. A second exhibition showcased student art created as part of the Pratt Department of Art and Design Education’s Design Initiative for Community Empowerment (DICE), which introduces Brooklyn high-school students to design through studio classes and portfolio development. DICE is supported by the Hearst Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, and Pratt Institute. Abstraction and Metrics, the first of the three exhibitions, featured work resulting from a collaboration between Pratt’s Departments of Art and Design Education and Interior Design, and Unity Prep, a new middle school in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.
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Forbes Highlights Pratt Alumni in “30 Under 30” Feature Two recent Pratt graduates were named to Forbes magazine’s third annual “30 Under 30” feature, which tallies the brightest stars in 15 different fields under the age of 30. Ian Collings (B.I.D. ’08) was included in the elite group’s Art and Style list and Rich Greco (B.F.A. Communications Design ’07) was named on the Marketing and Advertising list. Collings, age 28, co-founded industrial design firm Fort Standard with Gregory Buntain (B.I.D. ’08). Greco, age 28, is head of design at Droga5, a cutting- edge ad agency in New York’s East Village. He was also cited as one of Business Insider’s 30 Most Creative People in Advertising Under 30. L-R: Ian Collings (B.I.D. ’08) and Rich Greco (B.F.A. ’07). Ian Collings photo by Nathaniel Wood; Rich Greco photo courtesy of Rich Greco.
Collaboration with Prominent Museum Puts Pratt Students in Spotlight Work by four students from Pratt Industrial Design Professor Katrin Mueller-Russo’s senior design studio was showcased at the Philadelphia Museum of Art as part of Table It, a student design competition organized by Collab, an initiative to support the museum’s modern and contemporary design collections. Woojin Chung (B.I.D. ’14), Inhae Lee (B.I.D. ’14), Kathryn Moy (B.I.D. ’14), and Young Song (B.I.D. ’14) were among 30 students chosen from a total of 181 to exhibit, and Moy received an Honorable Mention for her pieces. The student design competition provides a unique opportunity for students from 10 design schools to experience competition outside the classroom and receive valuable feedback from nationally recognized industry leaders. Table It challenged students to design a table inspired by science, technology, nature, or the arts.
Kathryn Moy’s Amplified Play table was inspired by steel instruments; users are encouraged to play on the surface to receive musical feedback. Image courtesy Kathryn Moy.
Pratt Writing Program Student Essay Published in New York City Daily It’s a quintessential moment for every young writer—seeing your work published for the first time—and Devin Adams (B.F.A. Writing, Class of ’15) experienced it earlier than most. On December 19, 2013, Adams published an opinion piece in amNewYork, the free weekday daily distributed to some 325,000 New Yorkers. His article, “Life in the camera’s eye might be worth the risk,” is a meditation on technology and self-observation. Adams drafted the article in “Writing the Think Piece,” a class taught by Steven Doloff, a distinguished professor of Humanities and Media Studies in Pratt’s School of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Devin Adams (B.F.A. Writing, Class of ’15).
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FINAL THOUGHTS Creating Time for Creativity
By Dean Sidaway, Assistant Professor of Fashion Design
With artisanal and slow food movements now in the mainstream and farmers’ markets popping up all over urban centers, the fashion world is looking more and more like the industry equivalent of Costco. Designers are expected to create four to five commercially successful collections a year including Pre-Fall, Fall, Resort, Spring, and Summer collections. When Menswear and Haute-Couture are added to this already crammed fashion calendar, the schedule and pace are not only exhausting for fashion writers and consumers, they do creativity an even greater disservice. Is it any wonder that headlines tell us of renowned fashion designers’ stints in rehab, drink- and drug-fueled rants, and even untimely deaths? Is fashion putting too great a pressure on its shining stars? Is the conglomerates’ need for money, growth, and expansion usurping the value of creativity and art?
It seems clear that the answer is yes. Yet, many independent designers—myself included—have chosen to buck the fashion calendar. Instead, they create collections by adhering to their own personal calendars, thereby allowing the design to fully develop when the time feels right and presenting the collections outside of industry-dictated schedules. Employed this way, a fashion show or presentation allows designers to fully convey their vision for a collection before brand and department store buyers translate it for retail. For example, designer Azzedine Alaia creates incredible collections and shows them when he senses they are ready; Rue Du Mail designer Martine Sitbon has taken a hiatus from presenting collections for two seasons; and Dries Van Noten showcases two seasons of menswear and womenswear, forsaking Resort and Pre-Fall in order to continue to create wonderfully developed and beautifully crafted collections. Despite the smaller output, these businesses and the creativity on which they rely are thriving. As Anne Valerie Hash told WWD, which reported that the designer is opting out of presenting during Paris Fashion Week, “Part of the creative process involves taking a step
back. I am in a moment where I need to observe what’s around me.” With the focus on handcrafted originals in many areas of fashion and accessories, couture and “demi-couture” are making a comeback. Appointments, such as Hussein Chalayan for Vionnet and Marco Zanini for Schiaparelli, are allowing established houses bearing the identifiable signatures of now-deceased designers to revive themselves for the contemporary market. Eschewing traditional ideas of couture and fully embracing street and sportswear references, Raf Simons’s recent presentations for Dior and Karl Lagerfeld’s for Chanel show that both houses are considering the younger markets interested in couture and are closing the gap between ready-to-wear and high-street copies that reach consumers before the designers’ originals reach the stores. Mass production has removed the personality from the “fashionable” wardrobe. If we continue the endless cycle of producing for the sake of the fashion calendar and the corporations behind the designers, creativity will be sacrificed, and more mediocre fashion will be added to the already vast landfills. It’s time to create time in the fashion calendar for creativity.
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Saturday, September 20, 2014 | Pratt Institute Brooklyn Campus Alumni Day: All alumni welcome
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Celebrating the 10th, 25th, 35th, 40th, and 50th+ classes (graduating years include 2004, 1989, 1979, 1974, and 1964)