NOT SPONGEWORTHY: Sponges might have a squeaky clean image —even SpongeBob — but they can hide dirty little secrets, as designer Cynthia Rowley unwittingly exposed last week.
This story first appeared in the August 4, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
As part of a scholarship program sponsored by 3M’s O-Cel-O Sponge Scrubbers with Fun Designs, Rowley had mentored a group of 12 New York City high school juniors and seniors during a summer design course at Parsons School of Design. On Thursday, Rowley was reunited with the students to judge their final projects — a design for a kitchen sponge — and to select a winning image that will be embossed on an O-Cel-O product and sold commercially later this year.
One sponge in particular caught Rowley’s eye, and those of her fellow judges, Charles Nix, chair of the communications design department at Parsons, and Robert Rabinowitz, a professor of product design. It was the stylized image of Tupak Shakur, the rapper who was murdered in 1996, now memorialized in a household cleaning product designed by student Christopher Austin.
“This is really original,” Rowley said. “It’s cool and artistic.”
But apparently not cool enough for O-Cel-O, which markets its sponges to middle America. A publicist for the brand from DeVries Public Relations at first gently reminded the judges to consider a criteria of the contest: that the design should be true to the image of the brand.
“Isn’t that part of the brand, to say that it is creative?” Rowley asked, but the publicist insisted that the company would not be making a sponge in Shakur’s image. After a rousing debate, the panel selected a more cheerful design of colorful pies and cakes by Filana Turner, while Tupac was relegated to “runner-up.” Cockroaches, featured in a witty design by Leddy Rosario, were also acknowledged by the judges, given their prevalence in unclean kitchens.
THE SILVANOS: Not a regular at Da Silvano? Now you can fake it. Silvano Marchetto’s loyal customers have been snapping up the new T-shirts and tanks designed by preferred regular — and Marchetto’s girlfriend — cartoonist Marisa Acocella. “It shows the whole la dolce vita-ocity of Da Silvano,” says Acocella, whose illustration features a woman with Cyd Charisse’s legs dancing on a table dressed in a Zac Posen dress and Cesare Paciotti heels. “Where else, on any given night, can you find Ralph Fiennes dancing to ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ with some lucky blonde?” she asks. The men’s and women’s limited-edition shirts are available at Da Silvano and the C. Ronson boutique. Other recognizable faces in the illustration enjoying the restaurant’s outdoor patio along Sixth Avenue include Marchetto, Acocella, and waiter Enrico. And no, regular Graydon Carter is not featured.
MARK THE DATE: Donna Hanover’s newly minted husband, Edwin Oster, has one more reason not to forget his wedding anniversary — it’s spelled out on the soles of Hanover’s Stuart Weitzman shoes. In Swarovski crystals, no less. Weitzman designed the shoes for their wedding Sunday, and customized them with several hundred hand-applied crystals and pearls. Putting a new spin on the old adage, he borrowed the lace pattern from her gown for the design and studded the soles in blue stones with the pair’s initials and the date. How did she express her thanks to the New York shoe designer? Says Weitzman, “She promised she would kick up her heels all night.”