A group of students from Bradford School of Arts & Media’s BA (Hons) Contemporary Surface Design & Textiles programme enjoyed an intensive and inspirational five day research visit to New York this spring. The visit was arranged by Course Tutor, Andrea Wilde, who explained, “I normally arrange an overseas study trip to coincide with an international trade show for professional development as well as cultural inspirations, so in previous years we have been to Paris, Venice or Frankfurt. However this year I wanted to try something different.”
Andrea remembered the benefit she had derived a decade before when she had spent a summer and fall on placement in New York before commencing her professional design career in London, so she knew how much her students would gain.
She continued, “We visited two major surface design studios for fashion print and embroidery. Tom Cody Design situated on the West Side of Manhattan, has been established for twenty-five years. It is very commercial studio with clients in USA and Europe. Name any fashion brand and they have sold to them.
Our second professional visit was to Eye Dazzler Textile Design Studio in Brooklyn which has only been in existence for a few years. This had a very different feel with a distinctive style which was more painterly and creative with the use of application colour design. They sell exclusive and original print artwork for fashion and home markets worldwide.
At both studios we were given a tour and a presentation, plus a question and answer sessions from the designers, who showed us their ranges and explained their inspirations. In turn we showed them the small portfolio of student work we had taken with us to get their feedback, and in each case they were very receptive and complimentary. Both studios were open to receiving applications from our students, either in New York or at their London studios.We went to some fantastic exhibitions including one commemorating the centenary of the Triangle shirtwaist factory fire in 1911 where almost one hundred and fifty workers died. This was very emotional as well as providing important contextual detail about ethical fashion. We also saw other two exhibitions at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology): Japanese Fashion Now and a retrospective, Vivienne Westwood 1980- 89, and went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum.
We also explored the Fashion District where hundreds of fashion companies are based in skyscrapers within two or three square miles. Some of the haberdashery stores were to die for. We went to the flea market and Time Square. New York is such a resource for design. There is inspiration everywhere you look, from shop windows to graffiti and every movement in architecture is represented."
Andrea and fellow tutor Hannah Lamb tried to capture some of the style references on every corner. You can see a selection of their photographs here: