During the 2014-15 academic year, fourth-year Textile/Surface Design students were challenged in a contest sponsored by Kornit Digital, a company that makes sustainable textile printing technology, to create digital designs that were then printed onto fabric by Kornit. The stakes were then heightened with an interdisciplinary twist, as Fashion Design students got involved.
In the first phase of the contest, Textile/Surface Design students translated the theme of “wearable water” into a variety of motifs, including fish scales, melting glaciers, and coral reefs. They also mocked up images of runway garments featuring their designs.
The judges were a mix of industry veterans: Tom Cody of Tom Cody Design; Joe Castaldo, president of The Style Council; Nancy Fire, creative director of Design Works International; and Marco Paul, strategic accounts manager of Kornit Digital North America. Judging was based on interpretation of the theme, marketability, use of digital technology, and overall design aesthetic.
The winners of this part of the competition were Jihee Che (first place), Janisha Biyanwila (second place), Rachel McGuire (third place), and Paige Leonard (honorable mention). All of the students who competed were invited to watch samples of their designs be printed on the Kornit Allegro machine at Papilio Prints in Lincoln Park, NJ. The Allegro prints with water-soluble, biodegradable pigments, and the fabrics do not require pre-treating or washing, which conserves both water and energy.
Next, over the summer, Fashion Design students going into their second year chose up to three of the water-themed textile designs from which to create a fashion-forward garment. Kornit printed 5 yards for each student on a choice of fabrics.
The judges for the Fashion Design component were Zahir Babvani, vice president of design for FullBeauty Brands; Leslie Baker, designer at Bon-Ton; Nicki Gondell, principal of Trend House; Debbye Strickler, creative director of Trend House; and Erin Doty, art director of Kornit Digital.
Allison Clausius won the competition, Anchal Kansra came in second, and Aarohi Shah took third place.
Babvani admired the ambition and craftsmanship of these students, who are still early in their design education. One student created a reversible mini-dress; another created a baseball jacket and skirt; and a third did a raincoat with a plastic shell.
“We’re in a long-aged industry, and it’s hard to come up with something new,” he said. “When I see something that’s good, I get excited.”
The Textile/Surface Design phase of the competition was supervised by Adjunct Assistant Professor Ellen Oster, and Adjunct Assistant Professor Gerard Dellova provided guidance for the Fashion Design phase.