Roman Alonso, Steven Johanknecht, Pamela Shamshiri, and Ramin Shamshiri are Commune—an inter-disciplinary collective of artists that work in the design realm. Commune is a design firm, but they are also much more than that; they invent moods and spaces for residential clients and for public space, design graphics and branding concepts, and create products that are beautiful without being wasteful.
The Commune team is also known for creating unique spaces like the ACE Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs, the ACE Hotel Downtown LA, the Standard, Farmshop, and showrooms for Heath Ceramics.
Commune for Ace DTLA. Los Angeles, California. 2014
Red—the color of extremes.
Difficult for some to see; more difficult to paint.
It’s the color of blood, violence, and revolution—of danger, adventure, and the almost universal sign to stop.
Red is full of energy. It is exciting and awakening.
It denotes power and confidence.
It’s been called the color of temptation and desire.
In some cultures, it is the color of luck; in others districts, the color of lust and seduction.
This week, it is the color of love.
And, of course, the apple.
Apple Red—our newest collection color.
Take a bite.
P.S.: For a limited time, our A. Chanin Long Sleeve Cardigan is now available in our newest color Apple (just in time for Valentine’s Day) as well as Pewter. Eames: Beautiful Details is now available in Studio Books from The School of Making (more on the Eames and inspiration coming soon).
P.S.S.: Barnett Newman here and here.
Paul Rand is considered by many to be one of the most significant visual communicators and commercial artists in history. His first book, Thoughts on Design, is one that invigorated the design world and has become a seminal text for design students and professionals. Rand’s simple, straightforward approach to design eventually helped him create some of the most iconic corporate logos, many of which are still in use today (think IBM, the American Broadcasting Company, Westinghouse, and the United Parcel Service).
Rand was just 33 years-of-age, with much of this notable work still ahead of him, when he published Thoughts on Design in 1947. The book is an idealistic, passionate call to arms for designers to integrate form and function. Rand summarizes this simply, saying that design should reflect “the integration of the beautiful and the useful,” and asserts that one’s work “is not good design if it is irrelevant.” Furthermore, he urges designers to create from their singular point of view: “The system that regards aesthetics as irrelevant, which separates the artist from his product… will, in the long run, diminish not only the product but the maker as well.”
Our On Design conversation in December focused on the practice of stenciling—including examples of designs throughout history and various techniques used over time. Stenciling is at the core of our Alabama Chanin collections; currently it is the sole means by which we transfer decorative patterns onto our fabrics. We have explored DIY stenciling in our Studio Book series, and are even offering a one-day workshop on the topic next year.
The use of stencils dates back over 37 thousand years, as evident in Neanderthal cave art found in Spain. These paintings are outlines of hand prints; it is theorized that Prehistoric man or woman would place their hand against the wall, and then blow finely crushed pigment around it. These stencils were accompanied by shapes from the natural world and daily life: animals, hunting scenes, and ritual all figure prominently.
The photo above, by Stephen Alvarez, can be downloaded to use as wallpaper for you desktop here. Link through to see the color version and see more of his caving photos here.
Today is Tuesday. Today I’m inspired.
Today there are new pieces added to Collection #26 (and more coming next week).
Today I will ______ (fill in your blank).
Today—by Mary Oliver
Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word.
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.
The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.
But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.
Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.
In October of 2014, and as an extension of our Makeshift initiative, we began a new series of events and conversations called On Design. This series explores art, design, makers, relationships, and how those who create can elevate craft in general. Natalie hosted our inaugural event, which was an exploration of the school of Bauhaus and the creative process. While it’s no substitute for being there in person, here are some of Natalie’s thoughts from the presentation. Feel free to share your own thoughts and join the conversation. (And we look forward to seeing you at the next event.)
When making plans to expand The Factory beyond a space used solely for manufacturing, I initially imagined a place for our workshops to be housed along with a kitchen for catering. We now have a beautiful space for working and making, as well as a kitchen that accidentally developed into a weekday, lunch-only café that works in-service to our store and design + manufacturing facility.
This space has further developed into a place for the community to meet over tables and food and design and conversations and (hopefully) more.
I grew up in the community of Central, which is about 10 miles west x northwest of The Factory, as the crow flies. I grew up in a time when there was very little art in the school curriculum, but there was still much making being done in the home. My grandmothers and grandfathers planted gardens, raised cows, put up tomatoes, made bread, tatted lace, and made their environments as beautiful as possible with the resources they had available. This work came to inspire my entire work history and the space known as The Factory today. I always said that I went to the art school of “Pinkie and Blue Boy.” Those were the only paintings that hung in our home as I was growing up. These, along with several other paintings, with names like Tyrolean Hof, and Jesus on the Rock, were always in the background, subtle inspiration for our daily lives.
“Organic buildings are the strength and lightness of the spiders’ spinning, buildings qualified by light, bred by native character to environment, married to the ground.” — Frank Lloyd Wright
When visiting the Shoals area, or anywhere in Alabama for that matter, you should take time to visit the Rosenbaum House in Florence, Alabama. Nestled among otherwise ordinary Southern homes, this gem of craftsmanship and architecture is a perfect example of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian style of design and is the only home he built in Alabama. Constructed nearly 60 years ago, the house was inhabited by the Rosenbaums (the home’s sole occupants) until 1999, when the family donated the property to the city of Florence. The home has been completely restored to look exactly as it did when the Rosenbaums lived there. Walking through it, you can feel the life and love that seeps from it still.
In 1938, Stanley Rosenbaum, a young Harvard College graduate who lived in Florence and worked in his family’s movie theater business, married New York fashion model Mildred Bookholtz and brought her home to Alabama. As a wedding gift, Stanley’s parents gave the newlyweds two acres of land and a small sum of money with which to build a home. The couple optimistically turned to world famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, known for his innovative design approach and affordability. The Rosenbaums asked Wright to build them a home with three bedrooms, two baths, a large kitchen, a study, a living room large enough to accommodate Mildred’s piano, and all for the sum of $7,500. To their surprise, Wright agreed.
When we first opened our Building 14 division in July of 2013, we learned quickly that there was still SO MUCH to learn. So, with the concept of The School of Making firmly in place, we began at the beginning to work on a set of finishing examples for our Building 14 machine-made division. Like our Alabama Chanin Library of hand-embellished fabric swatches, this library documents the capabilities of the machines, folders, and attachments we have available in the factory and the endless variations and combinations that create everything from collars to hems and in between.
In 2015, and as we fold our MAKESHIFT programming into The School of Making, we foresee many more conversations about design, fashion, DIY, and community. And, of course, we will continue sharing the evolution of our manufacturing systems—including this new sort of maker’s library—to explore their part in the larger making process.
Photos from Abraham Rowe, Angie Mosier, and Rinne Allen
Since its inception in 2006, Alabama Chanin has evolved into a multi-fold lifestyle company with guiding principles of thoughtful design, responsible production, good business, and quality that lasts. What began with our handmade collection now includes multiple lines like our Essentials and Basics, and the A. Chanin machine-made line. Alabama Chanin also houses new and ever-expanding divisions within our company: The School of Making, The Factory Store, and also, the Café.
Docendo discimus — “by teaching, we learn”
–Seneca the Younger
As we slide into 2015, we invite you to join us for one (or more) of our Workshops offered through The School of Making. As a company, Alabama Chanin believes strongly in the ideas of sharing, collaborating, exploring, educating, learning by doing, and—in the process—creating a community; our hope is that our work will produce a happy work environment, happy people, happy products, and a happier Mother Nature.
As Alabama Chanin and The School of Making continue to grow, so do our Workshops. Over the coming months we have a variety of Workshops scheduled and more to be added. We will have events lasting a week, a weekend, one-day, one-hour, and two-hours; some events will be held at The Factory, with other events in Tennessee, Texas, Illinois, New York, California, and beyond.
Here is an overview of the events we have planned. Come one, come all; come to one, come to all.