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Posts Tagged ‘Indigenous design’

Everyday Design by Maleneb

The debut article of my first By Design column featured in International Review of African American Art, Fall 2011 issue spotlights the fabulous Malene Barnett, carpeting and rug designer.

The Art of Everyday Use
MALENE BARNETT CLIENTS ARE FLOORED BY HER RUGS
Not all carpeting rolls off assembly lines in factories or is imported from exotic places in the Middle East, China or India. Hand-made floor coverings that rise to the level of art are created by Malene Barnett, principal and owner of Maleneb in Brooklyn. She has built a brand specializing in hand-woven carpeting and rugs of original design and high-quality fibers for commercial sites and homes.

At the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, Barnett initially majored in fashion illustration but  really longed to paint. Her decision to change majors was clinched when she happened to see a display of  projects by students in the textile surface design department.  As a textile design major, she was inspired by the early textile renderings of Lois Mailou Jones, a young, African American designer who went on to become a major 20th century American artist.

While taking a carpet design course, Barnett won first prize for a Stark Carpets-sponsored, carpet design competition, and committed to this specialized field in textile design.

Barnett graduated in 1996 and worked for a succession of companies, including Afritext where she modernized their line of African prints; and Nourison, an industry leader, developing products for major household brands.

After four years at Nourison, Barnett had an urge to explore the world. She quit her job and, carrying just a backpack with seven outfits, traveled to India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and Hong Kong.  Each environment piqued her curiosity about the indigenous spiritual symbols, patterns and architecture of the cultures that she visited. She sketched this iconography in a small sketchbook as ideas for new designs.

Back in the States, Barnett worked freelanced for her previous employer, Nourison, designing handmade accent rugs and carpeting for some well-established consumer brands such as Bed, Bath and Beyond, Nicole Miller, Liz Claiborne and Macy’s. With her guidance, Nourison profits grew from $1 million to $15 million. Then Barnett was offered an opportunity to start a carpeting line with JLA Homes, a home furnisings company; once again profits increased.

When the economy started to tank in 2008, Barnett decided to launch Maleneb.  “Why would you even think of starting up a studio in such a dismal economy?” I wondered. “The timing was right,” she replied.  In leaving Nourison, she again was following a calling. She defines herself as a visual artist, with a propensity for hand drawing and painting, who loves to design carpeting and rugs. And besides, she explained, “most of my previous projects offered little exploration of my own ethnic sensibility.”

The luxurious residential rugs and carpeting in the Maleneb collection are hand woven designs based on the icons, patterns and colors that Barnett observed during her travels and as she continues to look to  artifacts from various ethnic cultures and the natural environment for inspiration, her work is informed by food rituals, ancient architectural structures, traditional garments, unusual  textile patterns and paintings are a part of the mix.

The collection consists of three distinctive themes: Signature reflects the diversity of everyday life, for example, the Mehndi-inspired rugs of rich burgundy and red wool yarn with linear designs based on a palm decorated with henna tattooing for a wedding. Classical— traditional motifs and icons such as the Adinkra writing system of Ghana. And texture which explores the multiplicity of organic forms in nature. In order to achieve the characteristics of flowing water, mountainous landscapes and tree trunk textures for the Texture theme, Barnett mastered a distinctive technique of creating varying pile heights.

As a member of the Good Weave organization working to end child labor in South Asia, all Maleneb pieces carry the “Good Weave” brand to distinguish them from those made under exploitative circumstances.

Besides designing the collection, Barnett gets numerous requests for commissioned projects. For example, Ken Staves, an architect based in Calgary, Canada, called to request rugs for his new home, based on photography he had shot of magnificent, New York City architectural skylines.  From this imagery, Barnett crafted a series of tapestries that now hang on the walls in Staves’ home. The Carl Ross Design Croup hired Barnett to create special rug tapestries for the lobby walls of the Hyatt Vacation Club Hacienda del Mar in Mexico. Her design for this commission was inspired by the 15th century rock art of the Taino Indians of Mexico.

A spunky seven-year-old girl passion for drawing and painting has become one of the top designers of carpeting and rugs in New York City.

Limited Edition Tap Tap rug, abstract angular colorful shapes, with varying piles based on the colorful, hand-painted local tap tap buses in Haiti, this rug design was featured in the Global African Project exhibition catalog, 2010.

For more information on Maleneb click: maleneb.com 

 

 




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Media Review of GLIDE’10: Global Interaction in Design


GLIDE’12  rev’s up planning for the next symposium promises to surely be loaded with stellar presenters and topics. If you are interested in receiving information just leave me a comment, I’ll add you to our contact database. For now you’ll just have to settle for reading advisory board member Gloria Gomez’s review on GLIDE’10. The compelling and exciting work that was presented at GLIDE’10 can make designers feel proud of the powerful design contributions we can make to society on a global scale. The presentations mainly represented work on the facilitation, consequences, and challenges of cross-cultural collaboration in indigenous and underserved communities, and the effect of such on human/user experience. This review summarizes the conference facts, the conference schedule as well as discusses the presentationsblogging comments, and the virtual conference format. The review ends with concluding remarks and a summary of each presentation, photographs, and a hyperlink to the video recording published on YouTube –http://www.youtube.com/user/glideconference.

GLIDE'10: Presenters and Topic DescriptionsTable 1: Presenters and Topic Descriptions of GLIDE’10

CONFERENCE FACTS
GLIDE biennial virtual conferences disseminate cutting-edge research on global interaction in design. The virtual format bridges cultural and geographic divides in an eco-friendly manner. Truly interdisciplinary, GLIDE’s review committee invite submissions from design and design-related disciplines including: art, architecture, human-computer interaction, communication, information technology, computer science, and STEM disciplines. The first GLIDE’08 conference was held on October 22, 2008 and details can be found at http://www.glide08.org/.

For more click:  Indigo Design Network

 




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STEM Education from Life

 

Article from IRAAA Special Issue on Science, Technology and Art
By Michele Y. Washington

A dynamic husband-and-wife team is creating innovative, technology-based projects that merge design, art, computing, and social justice. Both work at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Ron Eglash is a professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies, and Audrey Bennett is an associate professor in the Department of Language, Literature and Communication.

Audrey Bennett’s efforts span scholarly research (in communication design theory); social activism (in participatory design that involves users in the design process); professional design for clients; and creative, graphic arts that reflects her Dartmouth College studio art background. She has an M.F.A. in graphic design from Yale University. Her work in participatory design led to a book, Design Studies: Theory and Research in Graphic Design (Princeton Architectural Press), and the development of GLIDE: Global Interaction in Design, a biennial, virtual forum and research hub on our ever-changing world of design and technology.

The October 2010 virtual conference brought together a distinguished group of design educators, graduate students and researchers from across the globe in real time communication. Covering a broad range, the topics included the use of design solutions to help the indigenous, marginalized people of southern Mexico build business capacity; green design concepts in Asia; and the use of digital technologies in teaching and research in Pacific communities.

During the GLIDE 10, keynote presentation, Ron Eglash discussed his research on the vernacular knowledge systems of global, indigenous cultures and the need to dispel myths about these groups as being backwards, “primitive,” illiterate. He also discussed his world with African American, Puerto Rican and Native American cultures in the United States. In applying these systems for use in design and education. Eglash cautioned that sensitivity is required to make sure that these users are beneficial to the people who created them.
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GLIDE10: Ron Eglash Bridges The Gap Between Vernacular and Indigenous Cultures


Ron Eglash computations

by Michele Y. Washington
Click to hear Ron Eglash’s presentation.
Our final keynote speaker brilliantly closed out GLIDE10 on his continuous investigation on Culture and Science in the sphere of indigenous and vernacular cultures existing within the United States ethnic communities such as Asian, Latin American and African American. Ron gives an in-depth explanation of global indigenous cultures to dispel numerous myths that exist of such groups as being backwards, primitive and illiterate.  This raises several fundamental issues of cultural sensitivity, and he provides specific examples from one project featured on his website on the process of mapping out Native American asymmetrical and symmetrical beading systems. For another project you can sample an example of African Architectural typology replicated through the application of African Fractals, an organic branching structure referencing nature.

This African Fractals project offers clear cut examples of his teaching methods applied in the cultural significance of the ancestral origins of cornrows for Black American students in high schools. His goal was to challenge the students to investigate the issues that surrounded the Black Transatlantic Slave Trade to the Americas and Caribbean, students were able to identify hygiene, resistance, retaining ones culture identity linking their own cornrow hairstyles to its origins. Other examples of paring the musicality of Hip-hop provide a broader sensibility of the connection as to why they wear this hairstyle. He’s developed a computation where he feeds in various iterations of how many plaits are in one braid. According to Ron, such concepts can be applied to other ethnic groups to gain a better understanding of the ancestral heritage. The Cultural expression opens the door to engage students to consider the various modalities of the design patterns replicated by cornrow hairstyles, which blurs the line between indigenous and vernacular design. He also looks at graffiti as a form of vernacular stereotyping. Ends his talk on Puerto Rican youth rooted to challenge the students through mathematical computation of Spanish music through rhythms and beats of the music. Summary of what limits racial intelligence, he states, while no one wants to talk about it, the thoughts loom in the back of many educators and peoples mind.

What part of collective memory fuels some of this iconic bead work, rug design, totems that are also evident in other global cultures such as Africans, Aboriginal, India, Middle Eastern, and Asian countries?

Defeating myths of cultural determinism
Using mathematics to bridge cultural gaps
Making cultural capital more available to its owners (individuals) Educational capital
Looking at new forms of hybridity for learning Peace and social justice efforts
Environmental sustainability

Making contributions to mathematics, and inspirations Challenges:

Not all modeling of culture involves translation of indigenous or vernacular knowledge. Ethnomath: provide more evidences of application of knowledge Interesting concept over cultural ownership of whose holds on to authentic cultural heritage for example, Shawnee Native Americans. Alternative methods for kids to go from consumers to producers, makers by apply the discovery as a learning method.

Take a look at Ron presentation at TED.COM


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GLIDE10: Maria Rogal/Indigenous Design in Maya

Send your questions to GLIDE10 proceeding page

In the US we take a lot for-granted when in comes to access to technology that’s not universally available. For example my friends that teach at University of Federal in  Bahia use PCs over Macs due to cost of hardware.

Discusses her project of working the Mayan indigenous culture to expand there communities to be self-sustaining. This was a collaborative project Maria shares her experiences. Check out  www.design4development.org &www.mariarogal.com.

Technology: (referring to people in rural areas): Mobile phones usage is cheaply available; Families with teenagers own computers, however Internet access is rare due to cost some in rural area use satellite. Text messages are much cheaper; Age distinction with use of computers viewed as a tool for younger people.

Online banking transactions: Online bill paying is not totally embraced by all the people; Trust is a big factor in dealing with banks, ATMS etc.

Open Source resources: People have computers but no money for software; Identify access to free shareware such as google sketch-up.

Design Activist: deeply socially oreientated, involoving a variety of actors in the chain of events.

Working together Maria feels it’s important to use the term partners.

AK Kuxtal Workshop: Access to information is key to expanding knowledge in making products.

Ability to get students to work using unfamiliar technology and new ways of thinking about how to develop their products.

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