Ottavio Missoni, star athelete, 1940s. Image from thefrontrowview.com.
Image from businessinsider.com. Photo originally by Giuseppe Pino, 1990.
The man who made the chevron a status symbol has died. Ottavio Missoni, known as Tai to friends and family, founded the fashion house of Missoni in the 1950’s. He built an empire that helped put Italy on the map of haute couture where it has remained ever since.
Missoni was a most unlikely fashion icon. Hardly from humble beginnings, he was born in Dubrovnik, now Croatia, the son of an Italian sea captain and an Austrian countess. Missoni first rose to fame as a track and field champion, the youngest ever to win an Italian national title at just 16. His path was interrupted, however, by four years as a British prisoner of war during World War II. Released in 1946, he went on to join the Italians in the 1948 Olympics, where he placed sixth in hurdles. But his other contribution to the team was the that he designed their uniforms.
Misooni's fate as a designer was sealed when he met Rosita Jelmini at those London games. Five years later, they married and went into business together. The bride’s family was in the textile business, producing shawls and embroidery. They combined that knowledge with his burgeoning design skills to produce athletic knitwear together. The couple eventually adapted the Raschel knitting machine to make sensational sweaters and dresses instead of shawls, and thus was born their signature chevrons and streaky, space-dyed looks.
Mr. Missoni and his wife, Rosita, in 1968. Image from newyorktimes.com.
Missoni knitwear from the 1960s. Image from woodstockwardrobe.files.wordpress.com.
Missoni had a passion for combining clashing colors to spectacular effect. He once wrote that he created a chromatic harmony by adding a third color to two clashing hues. Earth tones went up against primary colors. He plotted his designs on graph paper, finding inspiration in the ancient textiles of Central America, as well as Abstract, Impressionist and Art Deco paintings. He introduced his kaleidoscopic patterns just at the time when the bohemian style was starting to catch fire. His designs soon caught the eye of every major fashion magazine from Vogue to Women’s Wear Daily. In 1967 the Missoni line achieved international recognition at a Paris showcase and was instantly embraced by fashion’s elite.
Kew fabric by Missoni Home. Image from amara.com.
Passiflora fabric by Missoni Home. Image from amara.com.
Missonii for Target. Image from abullseyeview.com.
There was no stopping the Missoni dynasty from then on. The company is still going strong sixty years after its founding. You may recall when Target introduced its own line of Missoni fashions in 2011, the onslaught of fans caused the website to crash. Today, Missoni also sells accessories, fragrances, and goods for the home in markets internationally. His work has been on display in art museums around the world, where has been hailed as a “genius of color”.
Missoni’s legacy is carried on by his family. Sadly, his CEO and eldest child, Vittorio, disappeared while in flight over Venezuela just last January. But his wife, and two younger generations continue to uphold the Missoni brand to its relentless success.
Find out more here.
| |We want to extend a big thank you to Rex Davis, Elaine Dai, and Sarah Schwartz for participating in our panel discussion about how to get a creative business started. We learned a lot and appreciate you sharing your time and expertise with us at our meeting last Thursday.
SPDG MEMBERS: meeting notes are now available for you in our Google archive.
| |DON'T FORGET: MEETING TOMORROW!Please join us tomorrow night for a follow up to the webinar at our May meeting. Here are the details.
How to Start Your Own Creative BusinessThursday, May 16, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM At The Berkeley Finnish Hall, (Lower level), Berkeley, CA Featuring:
Accountant – Rex Davis
Attorney – Elaine Dai
Entrepreneur – Sarah Schwartz
We hope to see you there!
| || |
Thanks to all those who joined us for Michelle Fifis's webinar Launching Your Surface Pattern Design Business yesterday! It was an informative hour and the perfect introduction to tomorrow night's meeting topic How to Start Your Own Creative Business.
For those who could not attend the webinar, we will be posting the recording soon. You will be sent a link via Google Groups, so stay tuned!
| |SPDG members: don't forget our webinar Launching Your Surface Pattern Design Business tomorrow at noon Pacific Time. This is a free event that we are hosting with Michelle Fifis of Pattern Observer, and it will tie directly into our How to Start Your Own Creative Business meeting on Thursday
.If you plan on joining in, please register by following the instructions in the email that we sent out yesterday. For those members who cannot attend, we will be recording the event and posting it for you afterwards.We are excited about the webinar and hope you are too!
Designer Emily Isabella has been dreaming of and drawing bright, fanciful worlds since childhood. As an adult, she taps into to her lighthearted inner child to create work with a joie de vivre that's contagious. Her art makes me smile and I find it inspiring, so I decided to learn more about her process and the lovely lady behind it. She generously agreed to spend some time answering my questions and I'm delighted to be able to share what she had to say with you. Thanks Emily!
| | SPDG: What is your background as an artist? How were you drawn in to surface pattern design?
EI: My grandfather was an illustrator and graphic designer, my dad is an illustrator and graphic designer and my mom is a painter. I grew up having “gallery openings” in the hallways of our house — selling paintings for a dime or maybe a quarter. My parents were always exposing me to art — through museums or projects or books.
I started experimenting with batik in high school because my art teachers ran out of classes for me to take. I loved drawing on the fabric with wax and even had the idea to draw with the sewing machine. (I didn’t know at the time that there was such thing as free motion embroidery.)
My love of fabric and tactile processes was evident so I went to Savannah College of Art and Design and majored in Fibers. I bounced around with different processes in college but one thing always remained — I couldn’t stop drawing. Print design came very naturally to me and I discovered it to be commercially viable out of school. So here I am!
Illustrations for mypublisher.com's baby photo book templates.
SPDG: Describe your style and how you arrived at it.
EI:I would describe my style as folky, yet clean and lighthearted with a bit a quirk. I am inspired by modern Japanese design, as well as folk art from South America and Scandinavia. I collect antiquated children’s books that are full of content that is a little off kilter. I have very specific taste so I am confident that as my work evolves and changes, it will always be recognizable.
SPDG: Who are some of your favorite artists and designers, past and present?
EI: Past – Mary Blair, Edouard Vuillard, Alexander Calder (his circus work), James Castle, Virginia Lee Burton
Present - Celia Birtwell, Jen Corace, Beci Orphin
SPDG: What is the mission behind the Emily Isabella brand?
EI: The mission behind my brand is to bridge the gap between childhood and adulthood. Life is not always cheerful but if we work to remember how we felt as children, we can approach each obstacle with a lighter heart. The hope is that Emily Isabella products serve as reminders of this theory.
SPDG: Give us a verbal snapshot of your studio. What do you love about it the most?
EI: We have an open floor plan in our home so my studio is sort of in the middle of the house. My husband and I are always creating so it makes sense that the studio is the center of our home. It is partitioned by an open bookshelf of art books and children’s books that I often reference.
The thing I love most about my studio is that houses all my inspirational belongings. My studio walls are filled with samples of my work, inspirational objects and odd little photos or treasures that I have found, made, or have been given. It is a happy mess!
SPDG: Do you generally work alone? If so, what do you do to combat loneliness (assuming you get lonely)?
EI: I work alone, yes, but my husband is always nearby in his workshop where he runs his furniture business. Also our cat has quite the presence. I really don’t get lonely, my ideas keep me busy and I suppose I have the personality for working solo.
Daisies wallpaper for Hygge & West.
Emily's Yay Day line for Birch Fabrics.
i-phone cases designed for the Case-Mate.
| |SPDG: What was your first job doing surface pattern design and how did you get it?
EI: My first surface pattern design job was a children’s collection of wallpaper for Hygge & West. Since then I have done four new designs for them. I am trying to remember how I got the job…I think I just emailed them!
SPDG: How did you get started working with the agency Colette and Blue? Tell us a little about your experience working with an agent.
EI: A friend told me about Colette and Blue and I just emailed them as well! They are a great agency, the work I do for them is minimal but it pays off. They have a good grip on mainstream print and color trends and it helps broaden my spectrum of work since I have such specific personal taste.
SPDG: Describe what your dream surface pattern design project would be.
EI: I would love to design candy! The colors, the molds, the printed packaging, the boxes. I would also love to design playful wool area rugs and whimsical floral prints for fancy silk gowns.
Until those dream projects become realized, you can shop my line here and see my quilting fabric here!
SPDG: What advice would give someone who wants to become a surface pattern designer?
EI: Draw, carry a sketchbook and always keep your eyes open. Inspiration is everywhere.
| |A death knell could be heard around the Adobe Max conference in Los Angeles today as it was announced that Creative Suite is to be no more. There will be no CS7 because CS6 is now officially the final release of the series. In its stead, Adobe will offer all of its design software exclusively through the Creative Cloud (CC). Starting in June, the "next generation" of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and all other CS programs will be available on a subscription basis through the Cloud. Adobe will continue to offer CS6 to consumers for the foreseeable future, but they will no longer be updating it.
Word in the tech world has it that Adobe is making the switch to CC to ensure a more constant source of income. Instead of making lots of money once every other year when a new version of CS is launched, they can now rely on a more steady flow of income from subscriptions through CC. It is also thought that software piracy has weighed heavily in this decision. With a subscription based service, it will be more difficult for users to share programs illegally, thus relieving Adobe of what had been an enormous scourge to their business.
No doubt there will be blow back from customers as a result of this announcement. At first glance, it's easy to assume that a subscription will be more expensive and less desirable than owning off-the-shelf software. Numbers have been crunched by many in the industry, however, (refer to Sarah Schwartz's cost analysis of CC vs. CS from July 2012) and the general consensus is that users will save money as long as they subscribe to multiple applications. And, we still get to keep the software on our desktops. If that's not enough to move you forward in the CC direction, Adobe is promising lots of new features and perks to those who subscribe.
It seems like this is the way software use is heading, so like it or not, resistance is futile!-Kiera
Talavera tiles. Image from lafuente.com.
Cinco de Mayo is a day celebrating Mexican culture and heritage and is commonly honored across parts of North America. Contrary to popular belief, it is not Mexico's Independence Day, which is on Septemer 16th. Cinco de Mayo was established during the early part of the American Civil War (1860s) by Mexican-Americans in the Western United States. It was intended as a day to reflect on the values of freedom and democracy, in spite of ongoing conflicts across the continent at the time. The holiday was also created to commemorate the remarkable victory on May 5, 1862 of Mexico's smaller, lesser-armed military over French invaders in the state of Puebla, where the day is called El Día de la Batalla de Puebla (Battle of Puebla Day).In honor of Cinco de Mayo, and the state of Puebla, Mexico, I thought it would be fun to discuss the wonderfully decorated Talavera Pottery which hails from that region. Talavera is a white-glazed earthenware that evolved from Islamic-influenced majolica ceramic designs that originated in 12th century Spain. Typical patterns on Talavera work include the abstract symmetrical patterns found in Islamic art, as well as motifs from nature such as flowers, fruit, and birds.
Talavera plate. Image from mexicanconnexion.com.
It is believed that Spanish monks introduced majollica pottery to Mexico around the 1500s when they brought over artisans from Spain to create tile and decorative items for adorning monasteries. As Spanish colonialism and Catholicism spread, the demand for workers to make ceramics increased. Spanish potters began to arrive in Mexico to fill the need and to train the indigenous people (who also had a long, rich tradition of pottery) in the majollica technique. Many of the Spanish artisans came from the city of Talavera de la Reina, a city renowned for its tradition of pottery. Thus, it became the namesake of what was then a new style of ceramics in Mexico. More specifically, the name Talavera Poblana was created to indicate the pottery's newer Mexican origins.
Because it was located near an abundance of quality clay and well positioned on a trade route, the state of Puebla soon took over as a hub for the creation of Talavera pottery within the Spanish colonies. Guilds were created, rules were enacted, and annual tests were administered to craftspeople to ensure the highest standards for work that was created in the region.
Talavera fruit bowl. Image from lacatrinacollections.com.
The colors used on Talavera pottery were strictly limited to mauve, orange, yellow, green, blue, and black, and they were only to be derived from natural pigments. Blue was the most expensive of the colors and therefore the most coveted by wealthy buyers. Craftspeople were also required to use a glaze that crazed, (a process in which very thin cracks cover the surface of a piece) and which resulted in a whitish tint. The bottom of all Talavera pottery was to be unglazed and imprinted with the mark of the artist, manufacturer, and location of production within Puebla.
Casa de los Azulejos (House of Tiles). Image from dwell.com.
Talavera ceramics rose rapidly in popularity and came to be used throughout everyday life in Mexico and across the territories of New Spain. A Golden Age of Talavera emerged during 1650 to 1750 when its dishware, pitchers, pots, tiles, and religious objects became pervasive. Puebla was particularly distinguished for its use of Talavera tile, especially in kitchens and outdoors on patios and buildings. Its most famous use of tile can still be seen today on the House of Tiles (Casa de los Azulejos), a palace from the 1700s with three sides of its exterior covered in incredibly expensive (at the time) blue and white tiles.
Talavera sink. Image from lafuente.com.
Unfortunately, despite its massive success, the Puebla pottery industry came to a halt when the Mexican War of Independence hit during the early 1800s. The chaos of the war thwarted trade and undermined previously upheld production standards. Poorly made imitations of the pottery emerged and cheaper English ceramics gained popularity as skilled craftspeople left the industry. Overall production fell significantly, leaving only a few of the dozens of original workshops open.Over the past 200 years there have been attempts to bring back the craft to its old standards in Mexico. Currently there are over a dozen studios making this special pottery, faithfully following the traditional methods. Mexico has even created a regulatory board to ensure that ceramics bearing the Talavera name live up to the original techniques and quality. For more information about Talavera pottery and its fascinating past, visit some of the references in my list of sources below.
Pottery at the Uriarte Talavera workshop in Puebla. Image from wikipedia.com.
| |We recently noted the death of iconic American designer Lilly Pulitzer on our blog. She can be credited with popularizing the pink and green combination, and the New York Times called her “a major force in prep resort wear”. Others have called her a "designer by accident." Lilly was a socialite who was just as famous for her fashions as she was for entertaining. How did she get there?
Photo: Slim Aarons/Hulton Archive/Getty Images. From elle.com. Lilly Pulitzer on right.
Capitalizing on her bright idea, Lilly closed the stand and started her clothing business a year after she sold her first dress. When an old classmate of hers by the name of Jackie Kennedy was photographed by LIFE magazine wearing one of her dresses (or the “Lillies”) her company took off. Soon she was also designing clothing for men and children and dressing the entire horsey set for their warm weather vacations.
Eventually Lilly employed her own design studio to produce her signature fabrics. They were literally signature designs, as she would creatively hide her name among the motifs. Most of her textiles were produced by Key West Hand Print Fabrics. The three artists mainly responsible for the Lilly Pulitzer look are Susie Zuzek dePoo, her daughter Martha, and Leigh Martin Hooten. Susie and Leigh were trained textile designers. “We focus on the best, fun and happy things, and people want that. Being happy never goes out of style,” Lilly said.
Here you see the name "lilly" in the motif fashionsfinest.fuzzylizzie.com
Lilly Pulitzer fashions are now available through specialty shops, select department stores and through their website. The new products retain all the fun, whimsy and sunny disposition of the original designs, because as Lilly famously said, “It’s always summer somewhere!”
What’s your favorite Lilly Pulitzer print? Go to our Google group to share!
Lillian McKim was born in New York to a wealthy family in 1931. In 1952, she eloped with Herbert “Peter” Pulitzer of the Pulitzer Prize family. They moved to Palm Beach, Florida where she embraced the tropical lifestyle, typically spurning shoes and underwear.
But even carefree, wealthy socialites among waving palms can suffer from depression. Lilly ended up undergoing inpatient treatment while in her twenties. When she emerged in 1959, she was looking for a new hobby and decided to open a juice stand in Palm Beach using the fruits of her husband’s citrus groves.
It turned out to be a messy business and Lilly's clothes were often stained with juice. She recruited her friend, Laura Robbins (a former editor at Harper’s Bazaar), to help design a simple shift dress and, using bold, tropical prints, Lilly fashioned a wardrobe that effectively hid the stains. Her dresses ended up drawing more interest from her customers than her juices!
Photo: Cecil Stoughton. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.
When the 1980s arrived, interest in her kitschy designs waned so Lilly filed for bankruptcy and retired. Then in 1993, her brand was sold and revived to introduce her bright, optimistic fashions to the children and grandchildren of her original customers. The tropical preppy wardrobe was back. Lilly returned to work as a consultant for the new company which has thrived ever since.
Photo: Slim Aarons/Hulton. Lilly and her fabric!
| |Meet Wendy Arbeit, one of the creative forces behind Lulet, a surface pattern design studio. Wendy creates her whimsical, colorful, and fresh designs with the sole purpose of making you smile! Learn more about Wendy by clicking on over to our featured member page.Do you want to be the Guild's next Featured Member? Watch for the next call-out for participants on our blog in June. | |