Go Out and Experience the World

Even in the age of having everything at our fingertips, there are certain experiences you can’t get online. I went to an unbelievably amazing glass art gallery with a friend tonight (hi Brian!) and was blown away (lol) by the talent. There had to be hundreds of pieces throughout the several buildings we walked aimlessly through. I was continuously shocked by the textures and colors in the art. I took over 30 photos tonight, zooming into the intricate details of things I thought were extraordinary.

My CMF teacher had told us earlier in the semester that if we were to come across really interesting materials in person, to take a photo of it. She had told us how difficult it was to find these kinds of images online. And quite honestly I think I’m going to make an extra effort to start making my own archive of stuff like this. I was geeking out about it all tonight, and I hope the depth of the artwork is translated in the photos for you to see it properly. Enjoy the start to my new archive!

My Color Project is Complete!

One of my projects for this semester has been completed as of today! I won’t officially present everything for another week or so, but I wanted to share the results. These posters will be hung up in an art gallery setting for our class with Ford. I will be inserting the poster’s text below after a few close up shots of the photographs. Enjoy!

Color Project Update

In the remaining few weeks of school, I have a lot of photos to take. I have over 200 pictures edited and placed in my catalog. My goal is to have more than 400 by the time the semester is almost over. I haven’t quite figured out my approach for the final presentation.

Color picking from photos is fascinating to me. Above, I’ve placed the photo catalog document (showing a few yellow ranges), and the corresponding swatches directly next to it. As you can see, the swatches sometimes don’t even seem to match the photo. But when you pick certain pixels – let’s look at the bottommost left picture of the doorway – the overall color you might see as a muted buttercup in the picture, ends up being on the peachier side of yellow (creamsicle maybe?) in the swatch.

I have quite a few color ranges – dark reds (mostly of varying bricks), teals (a lot of old window panes and trim), whites (mural and sign lettering), etc. – that will be showcased in the final catalog. Because I will have such a large swathe of swatches (that’s a tongue twister) I’m curious if having the corresponding swatch for each photo will be excessive.

My professor let me borrow a device that can scan a surface and tell you the exact color. It’s called a Cube. Here’s a quick video to show it in action:

My plan is to create the full catalog, see what colors are most prominent or common, and then go around to physically scan a few buildings and materials with the Cube for those hues. As for now, I’m still gathering photos and will check back in when everything is more complete!

Color Trends: Real or Fake News?

Have you ever heard of the color “First Lady Pink”? I personally had never known about it until a few days ago. I was taking a workshop with a Color and Materials Designer from Kohler during class on Wednesday. She was discussing the basic progressions of color trends in kitchen/bathroom plumbing throughout the past few decades.

More often than not, people tend to think trend forecasting – an integral part of CMF design – doesn’t mean a whole lot. Or that it’s totally fake. Well, I’m here to tell you I’ve found the best example yet.

Mamie Eisenhower, during her time as the First Lady, had renovated her bathroom in the White House all pink. She had done an interview with the news after it was completed, sharing her one-hue palette. Needless to say, all of the women in the States heard this interview, and within the next few years, bathrooms everywhere – and I mean everywhere – turned a Pepto-Bismol shade of pink.

Now, I’ve been in several of these period-correct bathrooms that have stood the test of time – their shade of bubblegum still bright as ever. You see, I had personally noticed this shade in bathrooms, but chalked it up to being the fashion at the time. I never thought more of it. Until this Kohler designer pointed it out. She said through the company’s research, they found that fixtures, tiling, etc. in the very specific shade of blush during the 1950s skyrocketed directly after this interview of Mrs. Eisenhower (just look at the advertisement I found above!).

The shade became officially known as First Lady Pink after that. I think it’s absolutely fascinating to finally make this connection (even if I learned it from someone else). It’s the connecting of dots like this that show you how trends in pop-cuture effect a vast majority of products and people. Forecasting in the art and design world is an extremely difficult thing to do. Now whenever the next person asks me to describe part of my work, I’ll be able to give a concrete example to help visualize something that quite often sounds like nonsense.

Who Owns a Mural?

Arguably one of Detroit’s most famous works of art, The Illuminated Mural (the “dripping rainbow wall” is the street-known name) has been contested in lawsuits for years now. Katherine Craig is the creator and originally painted this piece back in 2009. The wall has been the backdrop to thousands of photos, including the ones of my friends and I above, taken back when I had started college in 2014.

It has brought joy to the city since its creation, and when the building’s owner started to talk about proposed renovations a few years ago, the difficulties ensued (no pun intended). See, the remodels for the apartments were scheduled to punch holes through the mural for new windows along the side of the building. Craig pushed back, saying that it violated the art she had made. Several campaigns around the city were held to show support – #SavetheRainbow being one of the most influential.

Now, legally there were a lot of discussions surrounding all of this. You can read an older article from Detroit Free Press here. It outlines what was current a couple of years ago during the melee. The reason I am talking about it today, is because driving past it earlier this week, I noticed brand new windows had just been installed. Don’t panic – the windows now occupy the strip of brick on the left side of the facade that doesn’t have any paint. You can see the space in the photo below:

@playground.detroit

My mom actually knows Craig’s mother believe it or not. So this wall has been something we’ve personally talked about for years now. I haven’t heard much in the local press lately, so I’ve been out of the loop on the developments. I was definitely happy to see that some sort of compromise has been made. After driving past a few days ago, I knew I had to research the updates. I haven’t been able to find anything published recently regarding the situation.

I do understand the legality of the building owner having the right to the wall, but if windows really had been scattered throughout it, I know how distraught the community would be. Art – murals especially – is a major component of Detroit’s culture and people. More often than not, you hear the arts are the first to be cut from struggling schools. Art and design are extremely important in the establishment of not only ideas, but society in general. It seems like not many artists win these days, so I wanted to share a small victory I encountered this week. If you’re in the area I highly recommend you take a trip to see it in person!

Color has the Ability to Inspire

@sydney.hembree

I am currently working with Ford in a studio of mine this semester. I had posted about the overview of the class in January, and in that post, I mentioned I would update with progress reports if something interesting occurred. Well, I’m here today, sharing a snippet of my process and some good news!

My goal for the semester is to create a color palette to inspire Ford for the renovations that will occur over the next few years at their new Corktown, Detroit campus. One of the ideas that has permeated the conversations over the last few months, has been Ford’s desire to fully integrate within the existing community. More often than not, when a large company is creating a new campus, the plans are structured around a self-sufficient and free-standing area that is almost completely separate from its surroundings – whether that be residential or industrial.

Ford’s extensive and progressive goals are to create a campus – one of those buildings being the famous Michigan Central Station – that fit homogeneously within the Corktown landscape. One of the most inspiring things I’ve personally observed throughout this landscape, is the unique color palette. It is so unique, lively, and the colors permeate almost every inch of the community. My personal project and goal is to create a comprehensive Color Catalog throughout Corktown by compiling photographs from the area. All photos will be taken by myself – within the train station, and the neighboring streets. I’ve inserted a few from today’s shoot above and below. As you can see, the rusty oranges and warm tans, complemented by the minty greens and hazy blues, are already starting to pattern themselves out.

A color palette proposal will be created by color sampling from this catalog I’m compiling. My goal is to help give inspiration to Ford for upcoming projects so that the renovations directly assimilate colors from the community into the campus. Here is a piece of inspiration I found from a fellow student of mine. He directly sought out green in the Detroit area and created swatches that could then be used for the project’s final:

@vikas.sethi

My goal is slightly different – I want to see what comes out of the cataloged photos. Instead of directly seeking out a specific hue, my mission is to shoot as many photos of color in the area as possible, and see what trends form by themselves. Especially in the light of these new renovations, the last thing I want to do is force my own voice, perspective, or motive onto the catalog. The colors will speak for themselves.

As Ford tries to integrate their campus within Corktown, incorporating the existing neighborhood colors into new buildings will help establish a more seamless and culture-appropriate approach. I received great feedback for my proposal during our pitch meetings today, and I hope my project fulfills a gap I think is currently missing in this new age of the Corktown landscape. Color is such a driving force within cities and communities and I am extremely excited about the prospects. Will update as more surfaces!

Shoes are Changing the Long Term Fashion Game

Womens Footwear Preview: Summer 2019 4
@nike

I’ve had my favorite pair of Chucks for almost 9 years now. So you could say I’m pretty loyal. But, I’ve recently started buying other sneakers. And I won’t say it doesn’t pain me to cheat on my worn-in classics, but man, there’s some cool stuff out there in the sneaker world that’s hard to resist.

Adidas had announced a few months ago, their goal to reach 100% recycled material usage for all of their shoes and clothes by 2024. This was a huge undertaking not only for a company that large, but by a brand that is so iconic and well-loved. When someone says recycled or sustainable, there is a small part in each of us that doubts a product’s ability to perform the same as a non-green one.

The green initiatives by large companies might not have to be as ambitious as Adidas’ however. Take Nike’s upcoming summer launch: The Plant Color Collection.

Womens Footwear Preview: Summer 2019 6

All dyes for these shoes will be completely plant-based. Sounds stupidly simple – and it is. But sometimes the simplest ideas can be the most stunning. Not only do the preview photos show a particular craft-like feel to the designs, but I think it is starting to transform the way we even consume shoes.

There has always been an animus towards the fashion world for its fast-paced trends and this undying need to have the next best thing, right away. More often that not, these fads fade quickly, leaving consumers with piles of usually unused and out-of-fashion pieces. So how do these shoe launches change that?

To me, it signifies that the long-term vision we see fashion companies often disregard, is being reversed. I haven’t heard a lot of people talking about this, and quite honestly, I’m glad it isn’t blowing up. When something goes viral, the integrity and oftentimes the real soul of a product or movement disappears. It’s the cool thing to do, so everybody hop on the popular train.

Adidas and Nike show us that these sustainability goals are meant to provoke long-term conversations. Yes, some could argue that as money-making businesses, if they don’t keep churning out new designs and pushing their products on consumers, they’ll stop making money. But it gives me hope, knowing certain creative people are thinking of big ideas, and making something meaningful because of it.