In what is shaping up to be a citywide, multi-institution effort, the first New York Textile Month is being fine-tuned for September.
The brainchild of Li Edelkoort, The New School’s Dean of Hybrid Design Studies, the event will be mapped out Monday morning at a press conference. As the partner for NYTM, the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum will be leading the charge, debuting “Scraps: Fashion, Textiles and Creative Reuse,” an exhibition featuring the work of designers that rely on recycled textiles for their respective design processes.
An assortment of other museums are also expected to be involved including the Museum of Modern Art, which will showcase “How Should We Live? Propositions for the Modernist Interior.” Bowing Oct. 1, the show will zero in on textiles from the Twenties through the Fifties. In addition to exhibitions and workshops in museums, select retailers will play up textiles in their store windows. Opening Ceremony, Tomorrowland, Eileen Fisher and Saks Fifth Avenue are among the companies cooking up plans, according to Edelkoort’s assistant Willem Schenk. Eighty of the 100 companies that were invited to an introductory meeting about NYTM showed up, he said.
Having joined The New School in a part-time role last fall, Edelkoort continues to run her Trend Union and Edelkoort Inc. businesses. From her perspective, textiles are “an endangered species,” as more companies outsource to other countries to lower labor costs, Schenk said. To that end, Parsons is considering a new MFA in textiles to try to help drum up textiles production in areas where that seems to be improving such as the U.S., Europe and Japan.
In regards to NYTM, the American Folk Art Museum will host quilters from the Quilt Alliance to give visitors a closer look at their craft. And the Neue Galerie, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum at FIT, the Guggenheim and the Brooklyn Museums are all being approached about pitching in this fall, Schenk said.
There is also talk of open houses hosted by Knoll, Stoll America, TUMI, Bolon, Sunbury Textile Mills and Maharam among others. To try to give the project more of an all-are-welcome spin, NYTM aims to have a presence in public spaces and gardens with the Public Art Fund being invited to install free textiles exhibitions. Restaurants will also be asked to give greater thought to the use of textiles in food preparation and serving diners.
In her adjunct professorship at The New School, Edelkoort is also ironing out the First Year Experience, a hybrid learning program that will include students from different disciplines all in the same class who will learn from a different teacher each week. The program will be divided into three subjects — body, space and time. Edelkoort is trying to get first-year students to adopt hybrid thinking about design from the start of their studies. “This idea of having one career, one house, one city, one idea and one partner is old-fashioned. We want to educate people who have broader ideas about what’s going on and who want to do multiple things,” Schenk said.