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Fashion[ING] Objects

Winner - Silver

Competition: Spark:Space
Designer: Matt Fajkus, Audrey McKee, Sarah Johnson, Sydney Mainster - Design Team
Design Type: Installation
Website: http://mfarchitecture.com

“Fashion[ing] Objects” is an instrument for space, light, and threshold that creates maximal impact with minimal means by arranging and reconfiguring everyday objects in an unexpected and extraordinary way. It is an original backdrop installation piece designed and fabricated by the Austin, Texas architecture firm MF Architecture. The design team members are Matt Fajkus, Audrey McKee, Sarah Johnson and Sydney Mainster, as well as a gracious team of volunteers that helped to fabricate the installation. The backdrop was commissioned for the 2012 Tribeza Style Week Fashion Show, hosted by Tribeza Magazine and various sponsors, which is the annual premier fashion event in Austin. The initial concept for the backdrop was to create an abstract instrument for pattern, light, and shadow as the focal point of the fashion show. Beginning with the simple idea of an Erwin Hauer inspired screen, the intention for the backdrop was to veil the models as they emerged from backstage, to dapple light as well as to convey a sense of depth and movement beyond. The means to this end were initially unclear, but the desired effect was a vast wall washed in exquisitely filtered light. Moving forward, the question remained of what material would filter the light to achieve such extraordinary dappling. Approaching the topic of "context" from an atypical angle, the design process was spawned by the simple object of the wire clothes hanger. This object, although simple, can be truly extraordinary when arrayed by the thousands. It also plays off of themes in the fashion industry, in its direct association with clothing and thus the human body. The coat hanger, for example, becomes a surrogate for the rigid structure of the human shoulder. The goal was not to create sculptural form for the sake of it, but instead to reappropriate a seemingly quotidian object. The artist Tara Donovan has paved the way for a playful reinterpretation of ‘plain’ objects into extraordinary and unexpected follies, and this backdrop is no exception. When arrayed, the hanger itself falls away in favor of an ethereal collective whole. Upon closer inspection, however, there remains the mundane everyday structural component of the fashion industry: the wire hanger. The backdrop is built in two sections in order to allow an 8’-0” opening for the runway models, and is suspended from a scaffolding structure behind. The dimensions are 11’ x 2’ x 9’ for the left portion, and 23’ x 2’ x 9’ on the right. The full assembly is non-structural, and takes advantage of the structural nature of the wire hanger by hanging entirely from the scaffolding superstructure. The full assembly weighs approximately 15 pounds per linear foot, and comprises of approximately 5,000 paper-covered clothes hangers. The architectural design of the fashion show runway backdrop incorporates both rigid and fluid layers, establishing a tension between a grid system and an amorphous organic form. These two systems are known as “feathers” and “diamonds,” respectively, and it is the interplay between these two seemingly competing systems that strengthens the system as a whole. The feathers are the soft underbelly of the system, which are then skinned by a rigid exterior of diamonds. At times, the diamonds erode to reveal the organic feathery beast beyond, and it is the cooperation between these two systems that achieves the desired depth and dapple. The wall as a whole is then backlit to yield a confounding yet intriguing organism, utterly removed from any association with its simple modular unit, yet impossible without it. With this in mind, even the plainest of objects can be celebrated; the quotidian coat hanger becomes transcendent to create a powerful, theatrical, and meaningful public spatial experience. Please check out ‘the making of’ here : https://dl.dropbox.com/u/7908989/Installation_AM_2012_0923-4.gif https://dl.dropbox.com/u/7908989/Installation_fisheye_2012_0929.gif https://dl.dropbox.com/u/7908989/Installation_SJ_2012_0929.gif