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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Milk & cookies & toy design-in-progress beckons future students

They came for the milk and cookies, they stayed to inquire about the School of Art & Design’s celebrated Toy Design program. Prospective students also got to see toy design-in-the-making.  The department’s recent open house, in a toy-plush environment, was some serious fun!

Here are some captures from the event:

Toy Design Chair Judy Ellis with perspective students at the Milk & Cookie Social

Above, Toy Design Chair Judy Ellis shows alumni work to prospective students. “We seek to recruit imaginative, strong illustrators,” she says.

Bielio Feliz

Bielio Feliz works on his walrus catapult popper toy. Feed the ball into its mouth and it pops up through the tail.

At the Milk & Cookie Social, Feliz and other students, at work on projects in their Hard Toy Seminar class, answered questions from prospective students. Topics included portfolio requirements, program assignments, program hours, and long-range job prospects in the toy field.

Matthew Velardo

“I love vehicles and machines,” says Toy Design major Matthew Velardo, who received his AS in Visual Arts from Dutchess Community College.  Velardo is creating a planetary explorer space-themed vehicle to have a launching action feature.

“I wanted to make the coolest thing I could imagine,” says Velardo.

Reese Gamness

Reese Chamness shows off the shark pull toy that he is developing. “He’ll chomp and his tail will wiggle,” he says.

“Before toys I did hair,” said Chamness, who has worked at upscale Manhattan salons. “I needed a change. I had a BFA in sculpture. The making-stuff-that-moves-and-works — that part was new!” 

Rachel Hyojoo Seo
“Mine is an infant’s toy,” said Rachel Hyojoo Seo with her whale spinning ball toy in progress.  
Portfolio viewing
Prospective students also inquired about different types drawing and sketching abilities needed for the program.
Sara Shores

Sara Shores working on her “hatching” shape sorter! “An owl chick with pop up and hatch,” she says.  Shores has a background in fine arts.

To learn more about the School of the Toy Design program visit: Toy Design FIT

Photos: Rachel Ellner

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New Images in Old Contexts: Brian Emery at Gettysburg

Ironically, our view of historic photographs usually differs substantially from the view of the photographer who originally took the pictures. Think about the battlefield pictures taken at Gettysburg just after the battle ended in 1863. They are different not only because we were in a very bloody war then, and not only because the physical scene has changed.

“The Hope of a Union,” Video still from Unfinished Work, by Brian Emery

Photography Professor Brian Emery thinks of it this way: “The idea of ‘place’ is built up with layers of history folded on top of each other, the very top fold of which is the now. That very top layer is the lens through which we see all other layers of history in that place.”

In mid-May Emery began a month-long artist-in-residency at Gettysburg National Military Park, a program of the National Parks Arts Foundation. He resided at a 19th century farmhouse on the battlefield.  There he recorded audio and video media to create an experimental documentary film.  His goal, he says, was to “act like a sponge and record everything in my surroundings to create a documentary about what it means to be a “place,” and [to explore] What does the place of Gettysburg mean?”

“The Tear of a Nation,” Video still from Unfinished Work, by Brian Emery

To tell this story, Emery built a hybrid camera using a 19th century stereo view camera, and a 21st century digital SLR to record video from the ground-glass of the view camera.

“It was very important for me to view this place through this antique, stereo camera, which is very similar to the ones used by the Civil War photographers like Matthew Brady and Alexander Gardner.”

Custom camera rig on the battlefield at Gettysburg

The camera produces two pictures side by side, with each lens simulating an eye. It has two lenses, and makes a stereo plate that was intended to be put into a 3D viewer. One side of the plates could also be sold as a more conventional 2D image. Yes, they had 3D devices then!

Camera rig showing upside-down image on the ground-glass of antique camera

When he’s using this camera in the field, Emery sees the image that he’s about to photograph in the same way photographers of that era saw it — upside-down on a frosted glass plate.

“Little Round Top,” Video still from Unfinished Work, by Brian Emery 

Emery was also moved by Gettysburg’s bucolic landscape and its rich history of inhabitation.

“Union Reenactor,” Video still from Unfinished Work, by Brian Emery

“Apparently various Native Americans used to spend time in the battlefield area, or hunt  there, and possibly had a major fight, the ‘Battle of the Crows’ in the Devil’s Den area of the battlefield,” says Emery.

“There’s something special about the place that has spanned all time.”

“Confederate Reenactor,”  Gettysburg, by Brian Emery

“Mother and Son at the 100 year anniversary of the Virginia Monument,” Video still from Unfinished Work, by Brian Emery

For more of Professor Emery’s work:

A discussion of Emery’s residency with Katy Giebenhain“The Top Layer of the Fold of History is Now”

Emery’s work is part of “Americana” exhibit at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center from September 22 to November 4

A solo exhibit of Emery’s work will be held at: Romano Gallery in Blairstown, NJ from October 30 to November 25

To see more of Brian Emery’s work visit his website at: Placescapetheatre

Photos used with permission

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Dedios Sportswear: You saw it here first

Last semester when fashion design student Natalia Dedios was researching racing jackets she caught wind of the DuPont logo. “I was taken with the clean, graphic nature of the logo and decided to play with it. I replaced ‘DuPont’ with my last name ‘Dedios’ and mimicked the style of the lettering.”

Dedios’ emerging study of logos and newspaper typography as applied to fashion design has helped define the senior thesis project she is developing in her Sportswear Incubator class.

Natalia Dedios at work on her senior thesis project

“Iconic logos are relatable, familiar and eye-catching. To me, putting a non-fashion-related item, like a newspaper logo, on a silk dress is playful and amusing.”

Dedios’ examination of logo-types extended to classic video game titles, shopping bags, and vintage horror movie posters.  That led her eye to New York newspaper and magazine logos. “I’m playing on the logos of the New York Times, New York PostNew York Observer and New Yorker magazine.”

In the development of her “Dedios” jacket, Natalia cut out the letters in leather and top stitched them onto a leather jacket. “That was the first time I put my name on clothing I had made. I got positive reactions on it so I continued to use “Dedios” as part of my designs.”

Natalia Dedios designs using logos and typography

By the end of Incubator class Natalia will have one look using the techniques experimented with in class. “So far we’ve worked with wool, delicates and sheer fabrics.”  Velvet, pile fabrics, plastics and unconventional materials come next.

“Natalia’s work reminds me of Andy Warhol’s work but with a delightful personal twist,” says C.J. Yeh, Professor of Communication Design and founder of award-winning Cynda Media Lab.

Natalia plans to carry over her logo and typography-inspired work to her senior thesis collection. “It’s all about the graphic element. The pops of bold colors,” she says.

Designs she’s contemplating for her collection include puffer and denim jackets, as well as closet staples and layering pieces like T-shirts, crop tops, and silk tops.

Natalia Dedios designs using logos and typography

“The most interesting thing about her approach is that she didn’t just recreate the logos like works from the POP Art era.  She went further and adopted these iconic typographic styles then apply to her own name,” says Professor Yeh.

“Conceptually, it feels like a statement on how the media environment that we live in eventually become an inseparable part of us.” 

Typography inspiration

For now, Natalia is continuing with the technique of top stitching leather letters on fabric. “I also want to explore painting on fabric, screen printing, using markers, sustainable dyeing and machine embroidery. I pull my inspiration from what I see in the real world every single day.”

Photos: Rachel Ellner & Natalia Dedios

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Emily Nieland’s Patchwork for Kids

Fashion Design student Emily Nieland was contemplating her specialization. Would it be childrenswear or knitwear? In the two weeks prior to declaring her specialization, the fifth-semester student was fully emerged in her Childrenswear Niche Market class. A patchwork design she was developing appeared to be ideal for a toddler’s first foray into denimwear.

Fashion design student Emily Nieland

While Nieland’s talent might be applied to either specialization, it is with Professor Barbara Seggio that she is able to explore advanced methods of childrenswear patternmaking and construction while she makes her decision.

For the first time fashion design students have the option of taking major-area electives, such as FD467 as selectives. “We’re providing choices for students in our new curriculum that was launched in Fall 2016,” says Fashion Design Chair Eileen Karp. “Students can craft their educational journey and take classes that augment their interests.”

The patchwork shorts Nieland is designing draws on her summer internship experience in trend forecasting.

Matching up a patchwork design to children’s form

“I worked for The Doneger Group and saw a lot of mixed-matched and two-toned denim and mixed-matched flannels online and in windows around the city. I have a skirt that’s lighter denim on the inside and darker on the outside along the sides. I liked the contrast. Denim is such a classic.”

Nieland collected denim swatches from different fabric stories and arranged them into a patchwork pattern. Most of her samples came from Elegant Fabric on West 40 Street.

A close-up of Emily Nieland’s patchwork denim

“I sewed the seams the opposite way than they would normally go and fringed them, then put the piece in the wash. Next I’m going to finish making my pattern for the shorts. I’ve worn jeans my whole life.  It defies the trends,” she says.

Says Professor Seggio, “I love how she used the swatched patchwork. It’s strong now and there’s a trend with frayed edges. She combined the two ideas to come up with an interesting concept, and at the same time saved a lot of money! It’s a twist on sustainability of reusing.”

Emily Nieland with Prof. Barbara Seggio

Nieland first became attuned to the versatility of jeans from her own wardrobe. “Dressing them with belts, rolling up the hems can change the look, and makes them fancier. Small details can make a big difference. That’s something I think about a lot in my design process,” she says.

“I always wanted to work with manipulating fabrics. I thought childrenswear was a good place to start because it’s on a smaller scale.”

Photos by Rachel Ellner


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Nicole Conti’s hands add environmental messages to fabric

Turbulent events in the public arena were the catalyst for Nicole Conti’s final thesis concept. “I started with a political concept related to the anger that followed the election,” said the 7th semester fashion design major. “Things people were doing to make themselves heard — were they protesting to express anger or to make a change? I started with this personal idea that I could explore.”

Nicole Conti in the development stage of her senior thesis project

Over the summer, Conti took a close look at climate issues strongly related to Standing Rock and the G20 protests in Europe. She came well prepared to the table, with a solid academic background on environmental issues. She began her undergraduate studies in environmental science at SUNY Potsdam. At Putnam Valley High School she took environmental science classes and started a Go-Green club.

“I thought of the anger directed at the fashion industry, and of how people are often not willing to implement changes in their own lives to affect change.” Her concept would be to juxtapose the expression of angry and the fashion industry.

Nicole with book of hand expressions, and her armband

“I began noticing peoples’ hands, how they show love, anger, brutality. I collected images of hands in various states, old, young, worn.

“I started seeing the aggression, the fight, the split knuckles and then ended up at the environmental point of oil spills, of people dipping their hands into the water to show how polluted the water was.”

Nicole Conti’s images and fabric samples

Then Conti looked at animals saturated from the spills and began experimenting with different textiles to represent the oil coatings.

“I began experimenting with pulling fabric through other fabric (below) to show a spilling effect. I wanted to work with vegan leather, fake fur, organic cellulous fiber. The spikes are a representation of anger.”

Says her professor, the fashion designer Charles Youssef, “Nicole has found a great way to take (the concept of) oil spills and translate that into beautiful textiles that can be worn as garments.”

Nicole Conti with sample of pulled fabric

Conti’s Sportswear Incubator class proved ideal for her exploration. It is described as a research and development course where students “stretch the possibilities of shaping, seaming, handling, and manipulating select fabrics to create innovative, wearable designer sportswear silhouettes and details.”

Professor Charles Youssef, has held senior design positions at Calvin Klein, Gareth Pugh, Cerruti, and Ralph Lauren.

7th semester Sportwear Incubator class FD462 601 with Prof. Youssef

“This is a hands-on class where you manipulate the fabric draping patterning, even the textile development,” says Conti. “We came prepared the first day to state what our projects were about. I was able to get started right away.”

7th semester Sportwear Incubator class FD462 601 with Prof. Youssef

For her next step: “I’m going to keep my hands coated in fabric paint as I develop garments so that fabric becomes saturated with paint everywhere I touch it to represent your carbon footprint – what you leave behind without even thinking.”

Fashion Design Prof. Youssef reviewing Nicole Conti’s thesis concept

“I can tell it’s going to work,” says Professor Youssef.  “The challenge is to get it to where we visualize it to be.”

Photos by Rachel Ellner


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Supremely Supima: Alyssa Wardrop!

Recent graduate Alyssa Wardrop has won the 10th annual Supima Design Competition. Her womenswear capstone collection was seen on the runway during Fashion Week yesterday. Art and Design Dean Troy Richards and Fashion Design Chair Eileen Karp were there and captured the moment.

“I really got to do what I love doing and put everything into it,” said Wardrop upon receiving her award.  Wardrop said earlier that her collection was inspired “by the way screens in a movie are cropped, capturing beautiful moments.”

One of the designs from Alyssa Wardrop’s winning capsule collection. Photo courtesy of Supima

“I was impressed with the way her designs were specific to the material,” says Dean Richards. “As an artist it’s important that the idea and the medium work together. She accomplished that beautifully.”

Supima, the trade association of American pima cotton growers, awards a $10,000 cash prize to the winner of the competition.

Currently a design intern at Calvin Klein, Wardrop graduated last year as a top fashion design major with a minor in art history. Along the way she studied a year in Milan and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

“We are so proud of Alyssa,” said Karp. “Her garments are edgy and fresh and show new ways to work with Supima cotton. She really discovered her voice and aesthetic in the last year and a half. I was thrilled to be in the audience cheering her on.”

Design of Supima winner Alyssa Wardrop. Photo: Dean Troy Richards

Wardrop, who completed her BFA last year, was mentored in the development of her collection by fashion designer and FIT professor and alumuns Daniel Silverstain.

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New season of Faces & Places lecture series focuses on impact of gender identity on fashion

Each semester speakers from the fashion industry, and beyond, discuss creativity and entrepreneurship in the Faces & Places in Fashion lecture series.  This year the emphasis is on gender and how it relates to design creativity from both cultural and functional perspectives.

This season’s lecture series has a focus on gender and fashion

Faces & Places in Fashion is a credit course offered through the School of Art and Design. The guest lectures are open to the public.

“It’s an opportunity to hear from thought leaders about how current issues–in this case gender–intersect with fashion,” says Professor Joshua Williams, who leads the series.

Professor Joshua Williams, host of Faces & Places in Fashion lecture series

“For instance, Zara, the clothing and accessories retailer, has launched an ‘ungendered’ clothing line in hopes of attracting millennial consumers. There’s a perception that it’s PR-driven. It’s something to discuss. As with sustainable fashion, we’re becoming more perceptive to when it’s PR-driven (‘green washing’), versus when it comes from a real concern for the environment and human rights.”

Dapper Dan of Harlem on the cover of Don Diva magazine

Professor Williams looks to “delve deeper into the PR and nuts and bolts of creating clothes that are “gender queer.”

“How does creating a men’s suit change when you’re creating it for a woman? How do you communicate to this market in a way that isn’t sensationalized, but authentic?” he asks.

An open invitation to Faces & Places in Fashion Fall 2017

“We are so excited to have some key pioneers of gender-diverse fashion design coming to talk,” he says. These trailblazers include Daniel Friedman of Bindle & Keep (October 2); Kelly Moffat of Kirrin Finch (October 30); and Joshua Katcher of Brave Gentlemen (November 13).

Faces & Places will also be hosting the esteemed Harlem couturier Daniel Day (November 20).  Day, also known as  Dapper Dan of Harlem, was the go-to designer of 80s hip hop. Some of his fascinating background was captured in a recent front page New York Times Style section article subtitled: “Twenty-five years after luxury labels sued his Harlem boutique out of existence, Gucci looks to him for inspiration.”

For a complete schedule of speaker dates go to: Faces & Places in Fashion. For more information about this credit-course go to: CL-112.



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Waiting in the wings for Robert Verdi

 Ozwald Boateng’s comeback via Skype

Sarah Campbell the print lady

Ruthie Davis – from Reeboks to Beverly Hill pumps

At ELLE.com the experience makes the magazine

Designing like an “anthropologist”–Frank Zambrelli

Jason Jobson Returns!
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