Monday, April 22, 2013

The Design Process: Creative Economy and Aesthetic Energy

As with any design profession knowing the medium is essential in order to align the final product with the intended concept. In rug design it comes down to concept, materials, and production. Knowing where the materials such as silk, wool, viscose, and other natural or synthetic fibers originate is the first step in the physical process of production. Knowing how those materials respond during the production process helps eliminate some of the guess work in what the final product will look like and provides a level of consistency. Knowing how the fiber is treated and/or spun, the types of dyes and dying processes, how the design will be translated to the weavers, weaving techniques, knots per square inch, and finishing techniques. What is rarely discussed and somewhat undervalued because of its ephemeral and intuitive nature is the design or creative aspect. The initial catalyst for the development of the rug is just as vital.

Traditional line drawing based on Italian lace.
During the conceptual and designing phase there are many factors at play. As in any art related field creative economy is an important consideration. This means expressing or communicating an idea in the most efficient and effect means without superfluous meandering through failed or weaker ideas. All art begins with an idea and is conceptual based. The ability to quickly locate the one that works best intuitively hinges on knowledge and years of experience thus separating professionals from beginners. The ability to observe, listen, and communicate with clients coalesces the design process thus helping direct creative economy.

Once a design is conceptualized it immediately leads to establishing parameters important in focusing the designer’s aesthetic energy. Creativity comes from levels of confinement or constraints. In many instances budget is a factor and dictates the materials, size, and quality of what can be done. Existing décor and location are other common constraints. These considerations initially shape the outcome of the rug. For my self functionality is an important issue. Putting a light colored rug near an exterior entry way or even designing a white rug is questionable. If a white rug were in a clean room it would still show traffic residue after a week. This is my personal observation but silk and viscose fibers located on the outside edge of a rug have a tendency to unattractively fray in a short period of time. These are just a couple of design problems that other rug manufacturers and textile designers disregard to meet the required trend, style and fashion of the moment. I want my rugs to last beyond the photo shoot and I want people to live on and with these rugs. There is a balance between style and function and that is what great design achieves. I love problem solving and always look at constraints as an opportunity to achieve something more remarkable than what the client and I set out to accomplish. 

On the flip side, having no budget is financially great for everyone involved but parameters must come from somewhere. Pre-existing elements such as furniture, wall coverings, artwork, and architecture are key. If this is not available a thorough understanding of your client is obtained through simple observation and conversation. Building this relationship may take longer but the results are lasting and help clients lay a foundation for how they want to live. This may be interior design 101 but it is fascinating how often simple ideas and approaches go south when product starts being looked at before that relationship between designer and client is established.
Line drawing based on Tibetan motifs. 
Not everything can translate into a rug pattern, at least not as it may appear. Most images require some major adjusting and tweaking to arrive at a usable pattern that can be woven. Personally, in order to suspend reality, I try to avoid a representational or literal translation of an image and try to find the abstract qualities that best convey the feeling that I or the client are trying to communicate. This adds a more complex and esoteric level to the design.

Custom means personalizing. Since all of my projects are custom this give me the unique ability to adjust the rug in a variety of ways that reflect the client’s personal taste. The simplest adjustment is through color but designing a rug from concept is more intriguing and guarantees something incredibly unique and personal. The outcome is always worth the time and effort. As a textile designer I love to explore and invent new patterns and motifs and have them sculpted in fibers. Clients are always blown away and the rugs are works of art. All rugs in the Apeiron Collections have a background story about how the design was inspired and achieved. Many originate from personal travels and experiences coupled with historical research. By investing an emotional and personal connection every rug radiates its own unique level of modernism, elegance, and complexity.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Variations at Pirate: Contemporary Art

Catalyst III (left) with wood printing blocks leaning on the far wall. Infinite Drawing Series (right) on the wall. 

Here are a few images from my latest exhibition Variations at Pirate: Contemporary Art in Denver. I had the opportunity to show next to Tsogo Mijid, a Mongolian painter who now lives with his family in Denver. His work was in the front room and since I am a new associate member I was in the back space, a very unique and challenging space.
2200 Feet Squared (left) resin sculpture and tissue paper sculpture on a Plexiglass stand. A light box work from 2005 (right) called Accumulations and Variations displaying 23 transparent and stacked prints.
Envisioning and designing a show is an extremely important part of curating. In this instance co-op gallery artists are free to do pretty much whatever they want and with this freedom comes the ability to contextualize, direct, and inform the viewer without the filter of a second or third party agenda, namely a commercial gallery or museum space. On a larger scale the hanging and presentation of the exhibition by the artist becomes a work in and of itself. Even if artists worked two dimensionally, in this format we are forced to create in a three dimensionally. I find the idea and execution of exhibiting just as fascinating as making the work. A great philosophical question arises, is it art if only the maker has seen it or does it become art once it is seen and judged by another? I believe in the latter. Making the work public transforms its meaning and in this instance it becomes or is declared based on the space and proclamation by myself and/or someone else whom recognized it as being art. Of course it can always become much more than that, more than the sum total of its parts if put in a different context, possibly another culture.
Tsogo Mijid's paintings and drawings in the front room of Pirate.
 There was some skepticism as to how the overall show would look with Tsogo and I have such different types of work and backgrounds. For myself it was never an issue. Art is a universal language and people are adaptable and tend to find similarities and ways of transitioning that seem unfathomable. Contemporary curating at museums and galleries throughout the world are proving that a percentage of curatorial direction comes from the viewers, not a prescribed and proven way of doing things. Adam Lerner, the MC at the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art is constantly doing this. His programing of the museum is rooted in paradoxical values and the unfathomable. The traditional sterile museum vultures of a staunchy dust collecting bins whom like to classify and group art according to dates, periods and styles would gasp and choke at the mention of how Adam has revolutionized the perception of the art museum.

Tsogo and I had a great time and the show was very successful. If you have the opportunity please check out your local co-op galleries. It is a beginning for most artists and it is in spaces like this that you can find some of the more interesting and cutting edge work being done in your community. Pirate: Contemporary is open Fridays 6-10 with an opening reception every 1st Friday of the month. Saturdays and Sundays 12-5. For more info visit