2014 Recipient | AIA Small Project Awards

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Fashion[ING] Objects | Notes of Interest

FASHION[ING] OBJECTS is an instrument for space, light, and threshold that creates maximal impact with minimal means by arranging and reconfiguring everyday objects in an unexpected and extraordinary way. It is an original backdrop installation piece designed and fabricated for an the annual premier fashion event in Austin, Texas held in September 2012. Beginning with the simple idea of an Erwin Hauer inspired screen, the intention for the backdrop was to veil the models as they emerged from backstage, to dapple light as well as to convey a sense of depth and movement beyond. Approaching the topic of "context" from an atypical angle, the design process was spawned by the wire clothes hanger. This object, although simple, is truly extraordinary when arrayed by the thousands. It also plays off of themes in the fashion industry, in its direct association with clothing and thus the human body, especially as a surrogate for the rigid structure of the human shoulder. When arrayed, the hanger itself falls away in favor of an ethereal collective whole. Upon closer inspection, however, there remains the mundane everyday structural component of the fashion industry: the wire hanger.

The backdrop was built for a $3-per-square-foot in two sections in order to allow an 8’-0” opening for the runway models, and is suspended from a scaffolding structure behind. The dimensions are 11’ x 2’ x 9’ for the left portion, and 23’ x 2’ x 9’ on the right for a total of 306 square feet of backdrop surface. It weighs approximately 15 pounds per linear foot, and comprises of approximately 5,000 paper-covered clothes hangers. The design of the runway backdrop incorporates both rigid and fluid layers, establishing a tension between a grid system and an amorphous organic form. These two systems are known as “feathers” and “diamonds,” respectively, and at times, the diamonds erode to reveal the organic feathery beast beyond. The wall as a whole is then backlit to yield a confounding yet intriguing organism, utterly removed from any association with its simple modular unit, yet impossible without it. With this in mind, even the plainest of objects can be celebrated; the quotidian coat hanger transcends to create a powerful, theatrical, and meaningful public spatial experience.

Fashion[ING] Objects

  • Architect: Matt Fajkus, AIA
  • Firm: Matt Fajkus Architecture, LLC
  • Location: Austin, Texas

Jury Comments

Really making something out of nothing. Poetic and memorable. Clever, resourceful and fitting for its purpose. A design that tranforms an inexpensive ordinary object into the extraordinary, while directly referencing its integral functional role, i.e. the hanging of garments.

2014 AIA Small Project Awards Jury

  • Linda Reeder, AIA, Chair
  • Linda Reeder Architecture
  • New Haven, Connecticut
  • Deb Silber
  • Fine Homebuilding Magazine
  • Newtown, Connecticut
  • Rene Gonzalez, AIA
  • Rene Gonzalez Architect
  • Miami, Florida
  • Lisa Tilder, AIA
  • Ohio State University
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Craig Scott, AIA
  • IwamotoScott Architecture
  • San Francisco, California

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