Monday, May 17, 2010

Material Girl

Felt Bag designed for the ICFF booth

Congratulations to Inna Alesina, industrial designer and teacher at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and her students for taking the editor's pick at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair this weekend. Inna and her students were selected as one of just four colleges and universities to have a booth at ICFF and of those four, they were selected as the favorite. This year's ICFF Editors Awards Committee was quite distinguished: Arlene Hirst, Anniina Koivu of Abitare, Jessica Johnson of Azure, Stefano Casciani of Domus, Sam Grawe of Dwell, Gilda Bojardi of Interni, Chantal Hamaide of Intramuros, Susan S. Szenasy of Metropolis, Benjamin Kempton of Wallpaper*.

Alesina, who is the co-author with Ellen Lupton of the new book Exploring Materials: Creative Design for Everyday Objects, worked with students to make basic materials from scratch. It was a low-tech approach to understanding the true nature of material. For the bag pictured above, student Sunny Chong made her own felt. Here's how she explains the process:

The felting process requires pressure, water, and friction to transform wool fibers into a compact nonwoven textile. According to the legend of Saint Clement and Saint Christopher, the men packed their sandals with wool to prevent blisters. At the end of their journey, the movement and sweat had turned the wool into felt socks. We packed wool with water and soap in large zipped bags and attached it to the car seat. After several days of driving while sitting on this bag, the wool got felted. This process can create any flat object. We chose to show a bag as an example. This project is about journey-made objects: the two saints travelled by foot, we travel while sitting on our butts. The result can be very similar.
Click here to read what writer Michael Silverberg of Metropolis had to say about the exhibition.