From Jacquard to Pointcarre: Back to the Looming Future

There’s a great story behind the groupings of textile samples now on display in the Feldman Center fifth floor hallway. The swatches, with their 3D texture, have themes, style and color suitable for upholstery or apparel. Woven samples like these are used for student portfolios and as selling tools by the industry.

Textile Surface Design students use computer-aided hand looms to develop the weaving and software skills used in industry production.  “Developing the technical and creative skills that are in keeping with the inherent limitations of the looms and software,” says Professor Nomi Kleinman, “requires critical thinking as well as artistic sense.”

Textile designs by: Mia Nazzaro

The collections were created in Complex Dobby Wovens (TD 334) class, which focuses on industry practices for designing woven fabrics using the computer-aided design program Pointcarre.  Part of the assignment, says Prof. Kleinman, was to develop collections coordinated through color and one of three trend options.

Prof. Kleinman pointed to various student work that stretches the limits of design using the technology.

“Mia’s work [above] is successful because of the stylized shapes and minimalist look. She responded creatively to a trend that was assigned, by drawing her own shapes and then adapting those using the software,” said Prof. Kleinman.

Fabric designs by: Stephanie Stickle

“Stephanie [above] did a beautiful job interpreting her sketches from idea to fabric. The software allowed for highly detailed adaptation of original sketches,” said Prof. Kleinman.

“The use of Pointcarre has allowed students access to industry-wide textile software to produce real world fabrics. Their knowledge of weaving, coupled with Pointcarre’s advanced tools and functions, enables students to design within the constraints and rules they would apply when going to production. We can easily see from the examples the students have woven that understanding those parameters has  enabled them to be ready for anything that is asked of them.” – Steve Greenberg, President, Pointcarre USA. 

Fabric designs by: Alexa West

The students used a construction technique called Pique, which means “to prick” in French. The name comes from the quilted quality of the construction, which can be seen in all the student work.

“Alexa accomplished beautiful dimension in her fabrics [above]. They have an almost carved out quality. She’s walking this line between organic and geometric shapes,” says Prof. Kleinman.

Fabric Design by: Donna Schneiderman

Donna Schneiderman’s work, above, is a unique theme, says Prof. Kleinman. “She did alternative camouflage. She developed this brightly sun-kissed colored look. The shapes are reinterpretations of standard camouflage. She worked within the parameters of the loom to develop sophisticated patterns.”

Fabric designs by: Miriam Ortega

Says Prof. Kleinman “Miriam Ortega drew on her family’s Central American heritage as inspiration and redrew traditional motifs.  The yarns she chose give it a water-color-painted effect and bring something very unexpected to the surface.”

Fabric Designs by: Keira Wiggins

“One of the fabulous things about these fabrics [of Keira Wiggin’s above] is the scale,” said Prof. Kleinman. “In weaving we’re limited by width, but not height. She used that to her advantage to develop designs that appear very large scale. She reinterpreted the diamond in several different ways to bring something new to the familiar motif.”

If you’re thinking you can buy a yard of fabric from a student you may be out of luck. These take up to an hour an inch to weave.

“Industry employers would be motivated to hire students based on seeing structure like these,” says Kleinman “It shows how they understand the building blocks of woven designs, their color abilities and sense of style.”


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“She sits beside me like a silhouette”

As told to by fourth semester photography student Haleigh Foray: 

It’s my job as a photographer to make my subject feel comfortable and real in front of the camera. Yet I wasn’t able to feel that way myself as a subject. So how could I ask someone to do that for me? During a six-week project I became more myself and free.

Haleigh Foray

At the start of the winter break, Professor Curtis Willocks gave an assignment to our Traditional Photography (PH253) class that would be due at the start of the semester. We were to assume the role of a LIFE magazine photographer of the 1950s. Any topic was fair game, even if it had a contemporary relevance. In deciding what to capture, I kept coming back to self-portraiture.

I came across a project “Self-Untitled” by photographer Samantha Geballe. Her work explores body image through self portraits, which she states “envisions the feeling that false interpretation provokes.” She put herself forward for everyone to see, with nothing to hide — something I’ve struggled with doing.  The focus of my project proposal was to be comfortable and confident in front of the camera, whether I or another photographer was taking the photographs.

Haleigh Foray

“Haleigh’s work is just beautiful. Her composition, her use of light, her style. She’s very sensitive to people, always helping and assisting others, and now she’s applying that sensitivity to herself. This project gave her the chance to express herself–who she is as a young woman” – Professor Curtis Willocks

There was a musical component that set the tone of the project: “She sits beside me like a silhouette sings Harry Styles in a song from a recent solo album. Those words took on a special meaning for me–Silhouettes show your body.

Women are still expected to act and look a certain way in projecting their confidence and beauty that’s limiting in scope. I wanted to show that you just need to own your body for what it is now, in the present.

 Photos provided by Haleigh Foray

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“Another level of reality” in Andrew Williams-Leazer’s thesis work

The whole world is an assemblage when you think about it. Things drop off, get picked up and reused.  In Andrew Williams-Leazer’s Fine Arts thesis work, you can often tell where he’s been, and what he’s picked up and contemplated along the way.

Williams-Leazer’s assembleges, as he calls them, go beyond the borders of his canvases to portray cartoon figures gone psycho, pop culture figures gone awry, and the punishment of a prize-fighter’s power punch.

“Death’s Birthday,” by Andrew Williams-Leazer

“It got to where if I didn’t add anything to the canvas’ surface I wasn’t impressed with my work,” says Williams-Leazer who is entering his eighth semester. His work includes a hybrid of painting, 3D elements and collage techniques.

Materials he uses are often hyper local: notes he took in Spanish and biology classes, found Monopoly money, reassembled magazine lettering, and wooden limbs and numbers made from scrap wood.

Detail of “Death’s Birthday,” by Andrew Williams-Leazer

The streets, the curbs, landing areas, recycling bins, all serve as Williams-Leazer’s art supply store. He browses, lingers, considers the shapes and materials of each item.

“I wasn’t doing great financially in my Abstraction class,” he says. “For my last project I asked Professor Jeff Way if  I could build something instead of using a traditional canvas. I built it entirely with scraps of wood from the sculpture room and elsewhere. I was very particular; I only chose interesting shapes.”

Detail of “Death’s Birthday,” by Andrew Williams-Leazer

“Andrew’s work is raucous, colorful and layered with multiple meanings. With connections to recent art grappling with race and identity it is clear that Andrew is very self-aware and committed to a serious project. I look forward to following his work and career.” – Troy Richards, Dean, School of Art and Design

Says the young artist who grew up on Long Island, “When I stick to an idea, but listen to feedback, the work improves. There’s nothing better than critical critique,” he says. “The feedback from professors is great. I’ve been able to produce my vision. The best professors are great guides,” he says.

Detail, “Death’s Birthday,” by Andrew Williams-Leazer

“The next semester, in Abstract and Figuration, we were to use a technique from the previous semester. I started applying wood to canvas.” By his last semester, in Painting and Development of Thesis class, Williams-Leazer says “I kinda owned it in terms of a technique for developing a body of work. I would stretch the boundaries of the guidelines but meet the requirements.”

“Andrew’s work deals with the modern, crowded, urban world we live in. It’s full of engaging imagery, both serious and humorous. He’s using materials in a way that gives his work another level of reality.” – Fine Arts Professor Susan Daykin

Andrew Williams-Leazer with his work

His work “Death’s Birthday,” has “painterly aspects like the Playboy figure, and more gestured ones like Marilyn Monroe.” he says “While the Batman is sketched loosely as a figure drawing. It was an interesting relationship when I applied class notes and sketches juxtaposed with the largely drawn figures,” he says.

“Forgetful Father Fight!,” by Andrew Williams-Leazer

Wood pieces used to create a gun, knife, pipe, fist and little dog are used in his “Forgetful Father Fight!” The “ahhhh” and “woof” in this “comic book rumble,” as he calls it, are borrowed from cartoons. The piece represents a dispute between a father and son.

“THE BIG DISPUTE,” by Andrew Williams-Leazer

“All of my works came about from overall ideas I had,” says Williams-Leazer. “For ‘THE BIG DISPUTE,’ a large ominous arm comes from outside the canvas to connect with the main figure. It’s a dispute, a boxing match. I wanted the main figure to look disoriented, so that’s a central part, a collage-like element. The figure is the starving artist. I put him in several pieces. It’s a hidden figure, a character. Maybe I’m referencing myself.”

Andrew Williams-Leazer with his works that combine assemblage, collage and painting techniques.

Photos provided by Andrew Williams-Leazer, Sue Willis & Rachel Ellner

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Ron Amato Captures Artist Portraits in Provincetown

Great images are captured in an instant, but providing history and context is the product of years of research and observation. Professor Ron Amato combines a sense of Provincetown history along with an understanding of newly destabilizing demographic trends there. He used the latest in photographic lighting technology to, well, make more history.

“Anne Packard,” by Ron Amato

Amato’s work reached near completion during his recent sabbatical, two years after his initial efforts to capture Provincetown artists in their work spaces. He has been photographing in crowded, often creatively chaotic artists’ studios since 2015 and now has assembled enough for an upcoming exhibit at Provincetown Art Association and Museum.

“With this body of work Ron Amato demonstrates his abilities as a photographer to truly capture a place and its people.” -Troy Richards, Dean, School of Art and Design

“I began the project because I was intrigued by Provincetown’s robust artists’ community,” says Amato. “There is a bustling but insular art economy that drives part of the town. It seemed closed to outsiders. I had a deep desire to break that surface and find what it was all about.”

“Robert Henry,” by Ron Amato

The photos highlight the salient issue in Provincetown’s current debacle — the artist population is aging. New young talent is mostly frozen out of permanent residence by high real estate costs. They are the victims of Provincetown’s cachet.

“I had numerous conversations with the artists about the difficulties faced by younger artists living and working here the way they have done,” says Amato. “Three artists I photographed are part of a group that secured an old community center to create Provincetown Commons, a space for supporting young talent. This is artists rising up to help other artists. It’s greatly inspiring.”

“Pasquale Natale,” by Ron Amato

Amato was originally drawn to Provincetown by the fellowship of the artist community. But the history began to intrigue him: the Pilgrim landing in 1620, the rich traditions of the Portuguese fishing community, the response to the AIDS crisis, and now the changing demographics. “It’s what makes for a delicate balance that keeps drawing people back,” says Amato.

“Jo Hay,” by Ron Amato

Longtime residents are quick to point out (400 years later) that the Pilgrims landed in Provincetown before they sailed across the bay to a beach they called Plymouth Plantation.  Since at least 1899, when Charles Hawthorne opened the Cape Cod School of Art, artists have been prominent in Provincetown. But the artist colony was in decline by midcentury. It wasn’t until long after World War II that a new and diverse generation of artists saved Provincetown from kitsch and economic decline.

“The unique artist community that has developed around Provincetown is beautifully and humanely brought to life and the work represents a remarkable achievement for Prof. Amato,” says Dean Richards

“Mira Schor,” by Ron Amato

The technology Amato used for this project helped. “In recent years there have been advances in battery-operated studio strobes that allowed portability and nimbleness while shooting.  This was key to capturing the images I have,” he says.

Amato often worked in tight, cluttered spaces or outdoors. The lightweight, portable but powerful units, allowed him to work without a wall plug or an assistant.

“Pete Hocking,” by Ron Amato

The units are controlled by an attachment to Amato’s camera. “I never had to put down my camera to change the lighting ratios. I could do it all from the controller. I could create multiple outcomes from the same setup and choose the one I liked the best in post production.” says Amato.

“John Dowd,” by Ron Amato

Amato’s first visit to Provincetown was in the summer of 1999. “The town cast a spell on me,” he says. “It was the first time I felt free, of judgment, commitment, of my own limitations.” He brought with him rolls of expired film as an afterthought.  “I ended up shooting every roll I brought with me. In a way this project started that summer 18 years ago.”

All photos used with permission


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NYC: Drawing on First Impressions

The magic of digital design isn’t all on the screen. It’s also what students learn roaming the Manhattan street grid and the even more colorful places like Coney Island and the Highline.

Mary Perrone’s Mood Board

Students in Professor Lauren Zodel’s Digital Design Studio class learn Photoshop and Illustrator techniques specific to fashion design. Course assignments emphasize sketching, color, line planning, silhouette, and fabric design.

Three of her students this fall chose iconic images from New York City for their projects. “The common thread for first-year students is being new to New York, and their expectations versus the city’s reality. With so much going on here, they miss a lot…the small things within the big picture.”

Says Mary Perrone “I was most nervous about this class; I’m not one to spend spare time on the computer.” But it turned out to be one of her favorites she said. “Prof. Zodel played off our individual styles very well. She understands your vision and instructs you to that end.”

Mary Perrone found inspiration on Wall Street

Mary Perrone:

“I was watching the Business Channel – at the bottom of the CNN screen in the FIT dining hall,” said Perrone. “I took a financial course in high school and we developed our own stock portfolios. It was considered a life skill. It fascinates me that I can be a part shareholder of something so big.”

For her project, Perrone, who is from Flower Mound, Texas, explored Wall Street and took photos of the bull across from the New York Stock Exchange. In stocks the highest share price of the year is called the 52-week high, she said. “It gave me my project title.”

She posterized everything using the Photoshop filter. “The bull looked 3D at first, she said. “The squiggles are the stock prices. I took a picture of a scatterplot representing Bank of America’s current stock price and superimposed it on the images.

Students in this exercise first make a “mood board” to set the tone for the image collection. Then they explore a “color story, ” the colors that will be featured in the garments and fabrics.  The yellow in Perrone’s project is chipped paint coming up from the subway.

“The colors I wanted were very commercial,” she said. “I borrowed from Facebook, Shell Oil, and Pepsi – companies that produce on a very wide scale. A lot of details in the clothes are taken from menswear, such as the collars and structure of the garments.  All the garments are easy to wear and to produce, which are important to a public company.”

Anabelle Hernandez:

By Anabelle Hernandez’s Mood Board

Anabelle Hernandez wanted to represent the components of one’s personality. “The overall instruction was not to do the cliché thing, to go beyond. I took that seriously. I couldn’t find that within Manhattan,” she said.

“I wasn’t that inspired by things I see everywhere in Manhattan and the business attire people wear. So I went to Coney Island looking for something more colorful. I’m from Miami and am used to Florida colors. I saw prints, colors, many people dressed for fun!”

She used Photoshop to superimpose murals with snake scale patterns from a picture she took of a floor, and added a photo of a snake in a zoo to mirror the snakeskin and emphasize the idea.

For her mood board, she imposed the people of Coney Island where the sky should be, and used a photo of Zeus holding a lightning bolt, also from Coney Island.

Anabelle Hernandez

In Manhattan, Hernandez took photos of a neon sign in a bar window, which shows the playful side of people, and titled it Cyclone. “I’m showing both a serious and a more playful side of people,” she said. “I used a photo that I wasn’t initially keen about but became interesting when I added color, which surprised me. Keep your originals; you never know!”

The last image is a photo she took in Times Square facing upward. “The background was sky, which I changed to yellow, which is my main color for the collection.”

Amanda Hoffman:

Amanda Hoffman’s Mood Board

“The first thing I considered was the contrast between nature and the city,” said Amanda Hoffman. “I tried to portray this by combining elements from both. I took pictures of buildings and streets to capture what everyone thinks is New York.”

The next part was to find some nature. She found it at the Highline.

“Among my images, I found a wall closeup. I used it to overlay with pictures of wildlife and structures. I turned down their opacities, making them visible without taking all of the viewer’s attention. Lastly I chose a title to reflect the different perspectives, nature in the city, and buildings. I warped the text to give it a different perspective.”

Amanda Hoffman mixed tall buildings, walls, and the Highline’s plantings

She picked three warmer green tones from the plants, two basic cooler tones from the buildings, and one accent color, the purple from the flowers. “I used the same background to keep the pages cohesive. I created three prints. For two of them, I went into the original background in my mood board and created repeats out of sections of buildings. For the other I used a section of a building that had lots of windows. I took this and turned it into a repeat. This gave more of the linear feel of the buildings, creating almost a stripe.

“I then created three outfits that went well together but also worked on their own. The angular and soft silhouettes emphasize this contrast. Shading them made them look more three-dimensional. Learning different tools in Photoshop helped me improve my work, especially my figures in the project.”

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A memorable dinner party at the Flatiron

There’s a memorable dinner party in the window at the northern wedge of the Flatiron building, where Broadway angles across Fifth Avenue. The “hosts” who put it all together are three Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design (VPED) seniors taking the  Advanced Store Window Presentation course led by Professor Anne Kong.

A mannequin wearing place settings amid a gallery of icicles

Riffing on postmodern installation artist Judy Chicago’s “Dinner Party,” a female mannequin wears the place settings, amid a gallery of icicles. The feast is at her feet.

“We were challenged to create a holiday window about tradition and celebration to rival the flash and dash of Bergdorf Goodman’s window displays,” says Prof. Kong. “The students, Alexandra D’Alleva, Joseph Klaus and Yoo Jung Lee, were inspired by the traditions and cultural celebrations that take place  around holiday times. They wanted to capture the spirit of New York and how we are all connected.”

A side view of the table setting. Icicles create a cool stellar winter environment encompassing the figure.

The feast includes fruit cake, gingerbread, cider, and all types of cups, glasses and goblets. There is wooden driftwood with candles and holly for Yule in St. Lucia, unity cup with fruit for Kwanzaa, latkes and dreidels for Hanukkah.

Rather than taking a traditional approach to setting the table, the students chose to outfit a mannequin to represent the table itself, donning plates as the skirt, table napkins as the bodice, and a table cloth as a train.

Her necklace is constructed of flatware: knives, forks and spoons attached to a chain. On the tip of a fork there’s a mouthful of caviar diamonds.

Silverware necklace.

“The scene abounds with elements that are reminders of the different celebrations that represent the people of New York,” says Prof. Kong. “I go home at night and I can tell whether it’s Ramadan or a Hindu celebration by the lights or the projections of the stars on their homes. But food closely ties to the specific celebrations that touch us at holiday time.”

The Holiday Table

Does Bergdorf tell Goodman? “The display’s secret weapons are the eye candy that attracts the shopper or viewer and makes them linger. The students used Icy iridescent lucite stalagtites dropping from the ceiling. They’ve been in storage, donated by a faculty member,” says Prof. Kong.

Icy iridescent lucite stalactites

The illuminated fiber optics threading through the mannequin’s hair creates another dramatic visual. The students deconstructed a lamp to create it.

“We were using every tool in the shop!” says Prof. Kong. Students used a saw, a grinder, and a drill press to convert the flatware into a jewelry piece.

Evening view of the Flatiron building, where Broadway angles across Fifth Ave

The project, a collaboration between Sprint, Cheryl McGinnis Gallery and FIT, will be on view through mid-January.

The FIT community is also encouraged to visit the Harlem Holiday Window 2017 project, window displays of local businesses that span the corridor of Lenox Avenue/Malcolm X Boulevard between 117th and 127th streets.


Photos provided by Anne Kong

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Making the holidays equal for everyone

Friday evening brought together over 100 student gingerbread-house builders and decorators. Before the end of the evening their sweet, tasty homes got packaged up to be delivered to Partnership for the Homeless.

“Today is about making the holiday equal for everyone,” said Volunteer Event Coordinator Deborah Payton-Jones.

Volunteer Coordinator Deborah Payton-Jones, center, surrounded by students with the gingerbread houses
“Seeing and hearing table after table of all of our FIT students, from all the Schools, working, decorating and laughing together, was the best present of this season for me,” said School of Art and Design Associate Dean Melanie Reim.

“It’s fun seeing how many students want to help others,” said Marty Sullivan, Director of Student Organizations.

Tiahna English, Zhudiang Yao and Jessica Jakobsson

“I grew up in Sweden but this is my first time making a gingerbread house as a volunteer project. It’s nice to give back,” said Jessica Jakobsson, a Home Products Development major.

Noah Plofker and Welmis Gutierrez

“It’s a two in one, having fun and helping making gingerbread houses for charity,” says Advertising and Marketing student Noah Plofker.

Student gingerbread house designers at work

“The event brought a big smile to my face and a bigger sense of pride,” said Associate Dean Reim.

On Saturday a holiday party was held at FIT for gingerbread house recipients.  Families were also treated to holiday gifts and lunch. “It was fun,” says Yon Hee Allen, a student volunteer and Illustration major. “We had music playing. The best part was the kids–they danced and ran around the gym!”

Photos: Rachel Ellner

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Flower power: arranging for PAVE event with skill, intuition and a little Zen

“Just as we know about color affecting mood, floral arrangements done with skill can be uplifting and the focal point at an event,” says Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design (VPED) Professor Robin Drake.” Flowers can be so personal and we had so many beautiful ones from which to choose.”

Students from Prof. Drake’s Overview VPED class were invited to prepare floral centerpieces to be showcased at the upcoming Planning and Visual Education (PAVE) event to be held at Cipriani on Wall Street.  PAVE is a retail trade organization that works to connect design students, educators and professionals.

Angela Giaco creating her arrangement for the PAVE event

Joe Baer, the visual merchandising expert and co-founder and creative director of ZenGenius, hosted the class and supplied the flowers and other materials. “He provided great direction. He has an effusive spirit and clearly knows the magic of the art form,” says Prof. Drake.

“We learned a lot about an important aspect of what can go into a large-scale event,” said Prof. Drake. “The arrangements have the capacity to engage viewers, whether in fine arts, or featured at a high-end restaurant or an important event where you want people to feel welcome.”

Joe Baer, co-founder, CEO and creative director of ZenGenius

Baer taught four different formal approaches to arranging flowers, and one that is free-form, or naturalistic.

“Baer emphasized a Zen-like practice of stepping back and seeing the beauty in the flowers,” said Prof. Drake. For each arrangement Baer instructed students to quickly sketch the “movement” or “gesture” — to capture the way the flowers should flow, to be used as a guide.

Ariel Leder with her flower arrangement

“It’s a mixture of skill and intuition,” says Prof. Drake. “Our students have loads of intuition; combined with the instruction they received they created some intriguing designs.”

Photos of students: Robin Drake


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Karim Rashid, Architect of Style, Receives 2017 Lawrence Israel Prize at FIT

It was a glorious time for students, faculty members, deans, chairs, and alums who revel in the work of the internationally celebrated “architect of style” Karim Rashid. The prolific industrial designer whose work spans architecture, art and fashion was here last week to receive the 2017 Lawrence Israel Prize. Endowed by a former Interior Design faculty member, the prize brings recognition to stellar work in the field of interior design.

Karim Rashid holding the 2017 Lawrence Israel Prize next to Chair Carmita Sanchez-Fong

“The students loved him. He was provocative, mesmerizing, the whole package, his speech, what he wears, his delivery, how he says it,” says Professor Johannes Knoops, Chair of the Lawrence Israel Prize selection committee.

“His work is full of color, joyful, full of patterns. He was captivating. He’s an industrial designer. He does everything, water bottles and juice bottles, interiors, surface design, sneakers. He’s huge.”

After gracefully receiving the award, in the shape of a oversized drafting triangle, Rashid spoke about his outlook and experiences in design.

Karim Rashid spoke after receiving the Lawrence Israel Award

With the arrival of the digital age, said Rashid. “the suppression of humanity” has been broken:

“There hasn’t been the opportunity of a freedom of expression of humanity for 10,000 years until now, the digital age. It’s only now we have been given tools to contribute, to create. You could argue the digital age has empowered individuality and creativity…We are living at the tipping point of analog and digital.”

Karim Rashid

“The obsession for me is to do something original–it’s everything…Why? Because I’m not going to be here very long. I can waste the moment or I can do somthing that might change humanity. Maybe a little, little nuance or effect.”

Says Carmita Sanchez-Fong, Chair of Interior Design: “He was very personal. He gave his point of view on what style is. It’s different than what the faculty would have said. Style is history for us–that’s what we teach–and he said it differently. He sees style as being in the past tense. That you should not try to make a copy of it–it’s not going to be as good.”

Sanchez-Fong went on to say “For us [faculty] the past informs the future. He talks about Baroque and Rembrandt as being in the past. He’s done so much great work. I admire what a tour de force of ideas he is. He’s a rebel!”

“The digital age has afforded many of us, if we have original thought, if we do manifest the idea, we can put the idea out there with very little capital investment with a lot less work.”

For Interior Design Professor Grazyna Pilatowicz: “We chose him because of his influence in the design world. He’s coming from industrial design and through that has influenced interior design. I appreciated that he spoke about design as it relates to the people who will occupy spaces and about design as an experience. That’s what we want students to do.”

Interior Design Chair Carmita Sanchez-Fong with Karim Rashid’s book “Sketch: Karim”

As much as he talks about the digital age, Rashid says he loves to draw and typically begins his designs with sketches.

Afterward in her office, Chair Sanchez-Fong reflected on Rashid’s book of sketches. Watch here:

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David Yurman is a Jewel for FIT

Twenty-eight graduating seniors in Jewelry Design. Twenty-three boxes of gems. One generous and creative donor.  One department that knows how to make its students shine.

What’s more is the department expects to have enough gems to go around for years to come.

Lapis citrine briolette, gold-plated four-strand necklace by Lina Krakue

The creative donor is David Yurman, a great friend of the school and employer of some of its graduates. And of course, he is a famous jewelry designer.

Sterling silver-gold bangle bracelet with lapis and simulated emerald, by Ruowei Chen

“It took a long time to arrange because it was like giving up his children,” says Jewelry Design Professor Michael Coan.

Students, with faculty guidance, got to select and keep semi-precious gem stones donated by Yurman for use in their own designs.

Deer-horn with tiger’s eye knife, by Joseph Waldeck

“The gems will live in the designs. They’re not simply handed out. This is the tribute to Yurman, and the generosity of his gift” says Jewelry Design Chair Wendy Yothers.

The gems are beautiful of course and were once chosen by Yurman for his own designs.

Objet d’art gilded copper with moonstone, by Shanya Amarasuriya

For the students, it is an extra spur to be thinking about using particularly beautiful stones in their own designs — something most would not have a chance to do while still in college. “And not only that,” says Professor Coan, “they represent the aesthetic of a fine jewelry designer.”

14-karat gold multi-stone ring, by Isabelle Meyers

“Our new curriculum promotes the use of these stones,” says Professor Coan. “Prior to this donation we did not have components for setting stones in our jewelry courses.  Our new curriculum from design to fabrication, promotes a donation of this nature.”

Multi-stone (sapphires, emeralds, peridots) brooch, by Khaung Tsai

The jewelry using the stones were first shown in public exhibition at the graduating student show 2017 where designs from all 28 students were on display.

Simulated ruby, fresh water pearls, cubic zirconia sterling silver necklace, by  Hyunjung Park

“It was a very personal donation and very careful records are being kept of the stones’ use,” says Yothers. “He gave the stones, [valued at over $750,000] to see how wonderful, creative students can interpret them. He knew we would be appreciative and respect his wishes.”


Photos used with permission

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