ON FLEEK / Met ‘Fashion in an Age of Technology’ Design Remix

This home décor junkie can’t help but look at a museum exhibit without thinking how featured artifacts translate to home decor. I guess it’s just the boho in my soul. Architectural Digest ran an interesting photo feature about this year’s costume institute exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York—“Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology”—that got my wheels turning once again.

The exhibit explores how designers reconcile the handmade versus the machine-made in the creation of haute couture and still preserve its bespoke nature. The AD feature caught my eye because it pairs up some of the creations on exhibit with counterparts in building architecture. I immediately started puzzling over how to connect the design features of each with interiors, and here’s what I came up with—seven trends that span the larger design spectrum.

1. Layers of bright color

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Nicholas Alan Cope via The Met/Victoria Murillo via Getty

The pleated folds of Issey Miyake’s “Flying Saucer Dress” look at home next to Canadian architect Frank Gehry’s boho-colored Biomuseo in Panama City. After an effusive fall focus on pastels, dominated by Pantone colors of the year selections for 2016, the fashion runways earlier this year started showing more bright colors again. Boho babe that I am, my home’s décor never made the leap to pastels. I just gotta have color—lots of it, saturated and bright.

Like in this space…

A good match, yes?
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2. Nature-inspired bursts

George Pimentel via Getty/Getty

Maiko Takeda’s shimmering, fringed headpiece is constructed of acetate, while the spiny façade of Thomas Heatherwick’s UK Pavilion for the Shanghai World Expo is composed of 60,000 clear acrylic rods. Both echo the trend in home décor toward dandelion seedheads (booms), sunbursts, starbursts, and spiny sea urchins, which reprise midcentury modern designs. (See On Fleek: It’s da boom!, Sept.3, 2015.)

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Source unknow/Harry Bertoia/Lauren Santo Domingo via Vogue

The shape has found its way into sculpture and lighting for homes and commercial spaces. I have three of these in silver myself, hanging above a painting in my living room, plus a smaller one as part of a grouping in my dining area. They never fail to catch the attention and admiration of visitors…

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…and dust. They catch a lot of dust too.

3. Organic matrix or web

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George Pimentel via Getty/Dan Mullan via Getty

A 3D printer produced the web-like flourishes on these dresses by Noa Raviv, yet  they share a matrix—or webbed—structure with the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku, Azerbaijan, designed by Zaha Hadid.

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Contemporary Tiles/Miguel de Guzman via Imagen Subliminal

This trend is perhaps most apparent in tile design, where geometrics are all the rage, but also in the angled, undulating interior walls shown at right. See On FLEEK—“The Shape of Design to Come,” March 8, 2016—for variations in furniture design and finish and a plethora of home accessories that build on the popularity of this trend. The tile pictured—interestingly called “Dandelion” for its web-like patterning within each hexagonal piece—is by Swedish maker Contemporary Tiles, while the room at right was designed by PYO Arquitectos.

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These three look in perfect harmony to me, and that pooch looks especially happy! ;->

4. Fish scales

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The Met/Romana Lilic via Getty

Nature has always been a big influencer of design, as this 1983 dress by Yves Saint Laurent, attests. It bears a striking resemblance to the iridescent fish-scale exterior of the Museo Soumaya in Mexico City, designed by Fernando Romero, nearly 30 years later. The dress was hand-embroidered with sequins and beads to achieve the fish-scale effect, while the Museo Soumaya gets its gleam from 16,000 hexagonal pieces of mirrored steel, which makes this trend a bit of a crossover with #3.


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Mercury Mosaics
 Like the matrix trend in #3, the fish-scale look in home décor perhaps finds its best expression in tile. The “undersea” look is big in bathrooms, but I like the singularity of its use in this kitchen. With clean-lined modern cabinets, matching window molding and no window coverings, the tile becomes the focal point without detracting from the view out the windows. Fussier cabinets and windows and the tile would only look busy.
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Très copacetic, oui?

5. Laser lace

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Slaven Vlasic via Getty/Fush + Partners Architects

Lasers cut the leather lace for this dress created by Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton. The designs on the façade of El Blok, a hotel in Vieques, an island east of Puerto Rico, were molded in concrete, but the look is similar. Although the effect is much more subtle on the dress, lacy cutouts play with shadow and light. In the dress they add dimension, while in the building they make interesting viewing within as the angle of the sun changes throughout the day.

Laser-cut metal and wood installations are also finding their ways onto the outsides of residential buildings. Check out this home in Long Island, NY, designed by aamodt/plumb architects for a spectacular example of laser lace in home décor that connects outside and inside…

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aamodt/plumb architects via Houzz

This house is blessed with water views on both the north and south sides, but east and west sides face neighbors. The architect used laser-cut screens to provide privacy for the house’s glass walls:

  • (A) You barely see the screen from this view, but it’s installed perpendicular to the front door.
  • (B) This is a close-up of the screen near the entryway. The floral-like pattern adds an art nouveau flourish to the home’s modern, minimalist exterior.
  • (C) When the sun is in the east, patterns saturate the entry space.
  • (D) The most dramatic effect is created inside the home when the sunlight hits the screens and paints the same floral patterns in light on interior wood surfaces.
  • (E) The house’s floor plan is basically a square with a narrow rectangular light well cut into the center. Screens also cover the ends of the light well, allowing the dappled light to refract through the glass walls and, in this view, the stair’s glass guardrails.
  • (F) This final view looks into the light well from in front of a screen. With their location on east and west facades, the screens act like a sundial, tracking the sun in its arc across the sky.
Take a closer look at this home on Houzz.
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LEFT: Scandinavian Birch Plywood Fly Chandelier, handmade in the Ukraine, sold on Etsy, $120. CENTER: Parametric Laser-Cut Large Coral Clock, Asymmetree.com, $167. RIGHT: Silver Tangle Light by Tord Boontie, sold on Fab.com, $105.

Laser-cut home décor accessories are popular for the same reasons, although on a scale smaller still. The two laser-cut chandeliers shown here cast interesting patterns when illuminated, while other home accessories, like the clock, play with shadow and reflected light from other light sources in a room. Items like these are fabricated from materials such as wood, metal, and plastics.

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6. Origami folds

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George Pimentel/Aedas

One could say Pierre Cardin was prescient when he fabricated these dresses in 1968, which were heat-molded to resemble the crisp folds of origami paper art. Only much later—2015—did the Al Bahr Towers in Abu Dhabi, UAE, appear, designed by Junya Watanabe and built by Aedas. The twin glass-and-steel towers have Teflon-coated window coverings that react to the sun, opening and closing throughout the day to reduce energy use.

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Aljoud Lootah

Geometry is everywhere in home décor accessories these days, so it was a little tricky to pick out something from the legions that captured the look of origami. This origami-inspired furniture by Aljoud Lootah, a Dubai-based product designer, debuted at Design Days Dubai earlier this year. The Oru Series, as it’s called, takes its name from the Japanese for “to fold.” Each piece of furniture is fabricated from a flat sheet of material, which is then folded into a three-dimensional product. Striking, don’t you think? You can take a closer look at each piece at Feel Desain Online Magazine. You can also follow Aljoud Lootah Design Studio on Instagram.

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The dresses and the towers are softer somehow than the furniture—rounded overall in spite of the angular parts. But I also love the sleek, minimalist silhouettes of the Lootah pieces. They would make incredible accents in any modern-minded home.

7. Skeletons

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The Met/Getty
Iris van Herpen’s first 3D-printed garment, with its accordion layered top, resembles the striated white sides of the Soho Complex in Beijing, designed by Zaha Hadid. Both suggest a skeletal structure, rib cages to be precise. And I can also see in the top of the dress a human skull—or maybe it’s one of the aliens captured near Roswell. I can’t tell which. ANYWAY, bones and body parts are big in home décor these days, too.
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Via Porch.com

From the human skulls that aren’t just for Halloween anymore—I defy you to find a chic Manhattan loft without at least one in white or gold ceramic—to…

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Restoration Hardware

…animal skulls and antlers. It’s the “curiosity shop” trend in home décor that has seen a resurgence in the sale of wooden artist models and vintage glove forms. The latter are reproduced more cheaply in ceramics and resins, as are the animal skulls. I think the glove forms and wooden artist models look quite striking in a vignette, and antlers also are very cool. But I draw the line at skulls. Not my cup of bones.

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I don’t mind other people examining my home décor vignettes with interest. I just don’t want the vignettes staring back.

More about the exhibit that inspired this post…

Manus x Machina is scheduled to close Aug. 14, so if you’re going to be in the NYC area this summer, you won’t want to miss it. Follow the link for more information, including videos that bring portions of the exhibit to life for those who can’t attend.
Follow this link to purchase the limited edition catalog of the exhibit for $295, this link to browse exhibit-related products, and this one to follow my blog with Bloglovin.
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