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How do you find your ideal balance between designing a utilitarian object and formal exploration or discovery?
My approach to garment making is very similar to a paper-collaging process. I organize my materials by color, like a painting palette, and I use my sewing machine as a drawing tool. By choosing to work within the framework of the wearable, I’m able to treat commonplace and familiar fabric (such as the cotton T-shirt) similarly to how a fine painter treats canvas.
How do you concern yourself with commercial issues related to market research and retail placement?
It takes me multiple months to make a body of work, so my cycle of making naturally aligns with releasing products once a season. It’s important to me to offer garments that are affordable and can act as an entry point for my work for lower-paying customers. Those basic pieces also provide a platform and a frame of reference for my more intricate garments.
Is there something else about your practice?
As an abstract painter, it has been really interesting to witness the shift in dialogue surrounding my work ever since I started making wearables. Making fiber collages out of cotton T-shirts (one of the most accessible garments) has opened up communication about my work because more people can relate to it. Everyone has a T-shirt and knows how to talk about one. Not only do people view my work as an art object, but they see themselves in it.
Designed Objects feature page design by Anna Mort at Thirst
Designed Objects editor Rick Valicenti at Thirst
Rick Valicenti has led the Thirst design studio since its founding in 1989 and has established himself as one of the most visionary designers in the country, winning the 2011 National Design Award from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.