April 30, 2015
Student team competes against professional designers at Cleveland Museum of Art event
By Cindi Deutschman-Ruiz
There’s a kind of world-gone-mad appeal to the idea of a dress made of laminate, like a bed made of water, or a 300-ton object that can fly.
Still, why would someone choose to fabricate an article of clothing out of a material most closely associated with countertops, cupboards and floors? The answer, said Shane Carey, an Interior Architecture major at CIA, is pretty simple:
“We were looking for a challenge.”
Carey is part of a team of four CIA juniors who designed a laminate dress for this year’s Product Runway fashion show. The annual fashion event showcases one-of-a-kind garments made of manufacturer products by professional design teams. The CIA team is the only group made up of students.
Product Runway takes place May 1 at the Cleveland Museum of Art. In its fifth year, the event will raise funds for Providence House of Cleveland, the nation’s oldest crisis nursery that combats child abuse and neglect. This year’s host is Mariel Hemingway.
“When we looked at pictures from past events, we saw a lot of use of fabric, carpet and things you might think of right away for clothing,” said Carey. He and teammates Mike Roth, Laura Back and Dylan Nance knew right away they wanted to go in a different direction.
So, they collaborated with Lamin-Art, a company that supplies laminates to commercial interior design and architectural professionals, and fashioned a chainmail-inspired dress out of hundreds of laminate rectangles in varying sizes. The laminate pieces, which range in hue from gray to black, are connected by thousands of metal links. This is what makes the dress feasible as clothing; it can move and flow around a human body, which is not typically true of laminate.
Still, cutting laminate into six sizes of rectangles was a big challenge. The material was “tough to cut through,” according to Carey—so tough that a 120-watt laser cutter was needed. Students used the one located at think[box], Case Western Reserve University’s maker space, which encourages “collaborative endeavors that push creativity and innovation to their limits,” according to its website.
Carey and Back both said collaboration was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the project. “A lot of our own work is very individualized, so I enjoyed the opportunity to work together,” Back said.
Ahead of Product Runway, the team was honored for their creation, winning in the category of “alternative materials” at CIA’s “ETC. A Runway Show,” organized by Jewelry + Metals majors and held April 21 in Reinberger Galleries. Back volunteered as model (above).
Interior Architecture faculty member Sherri Appleton, who introduced the students to both Product Runway and Lamin-Art, said she couldn’t be more pleased with the result.
“This enterprising team of CIA students has managed this project as professionally as any of the design or architectural firms entering Product Runway,” Appleton said. “They’ve taken on this challenge in addition to their studio work—realizing the benefit of it as a learning experience, the opportunity to network with the design community, and the chance to bring even more exposure to CIA’s Interior Architecture Department.”
For the team, this project was just the beginning. They intend to collaborate and compete again next year.
Cindi Deutschman-Ruiz is a freelance writer/editor and instructor of journalism and mass communication. She lives on the West Side of Cleveland.
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