At a recent Spirit & Place Event hosted at Indianapolis Museum of Art, local artists, architects, curators, journalists, creative hipsters, and fashionistas joined in a discussion that teased out one question:
What can urban design learn from fashion?
To answer the question, w/purpose framed their argument around the body and how a population prepares and dresses itself with layers (fashion) that reinforces our navigation of the city and interactions with its thorns and its petals.
Our distinctive self-style, slick footwear, or taste for the avant garde directly contributes to a city’s fashion culture and ethos- which in turn influences and redirects our attention with our environment & its architecture. It becomes the difference between populations that navigate their sidewalks with heads up versus heads down. It is at the scale of fashion where one’s style can either trigger curiosity, spectacle, or confidence. At its worst you or your environment trigger no emotion at all. Places which leave little to the imagination or let alone generate any sort of pulse.
“What makes great cities great is to observe the movement of the body at all times”, explained w/purpose principal, Wil Marquez. His talk reminded an audience of New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham, whose lens has captured the abstract and functional movement of fashion in Manhattan for readers every Sunday. Even Apple’s “iPod People” occupied our consciousness as their silhouettes danced and grooved across screens leaving only a digital trail of light behind them – a generational symbol of a freedom – movements around technology, music, and scale all which involved the body. Today, it’s hard to imagine any occupation of the city without some digital device connected to our dance, run, bike, or walk across surface parking.
In the spirit of this movement – w/purpose introduced their latest architectural installation at the Indy Bike Hub – YMCA. Their commission was to deliver an interior solution (7’x 35’) that connected ideas of biking and wellness to the body. Marquez explained:
“We needed to toss aside all icons of biking/running and detach them entirely from the physical images that immediately come to our minds. Our criteria, while needing to speak to multiple actors, insisted on becoming of something that wasn’t just a screen – but the antithesis of that.”
Taking this task seriously w/purpose teamed with local fabrication company !wowhuh?, who worked closely with Marquez to manufacture the light and abstracted “movement” made of steel rods and birch panels. The six individual screens are scheduled to be installed just in time for the holidays. “Movement” will join a series of architectural installations located at the Tomlinson Tap Room, Blu Lounge, Nikki Blaine Couture, Indiana Convention and Visitors Association, and various local residences.