Fashion Directions: Curve Stitch - A collaborative art installation by MRA Architecture and Southampton Solent University MRA is proud of its longstanding association with Southampton Solent University. This relationship forms part of MRA’s ongoing commitment to education and training within our chosen specialism. Wendy Marshall, Director at MRA, is a guest lecturer on the ‘Retail Space Analysis and Design’ module of the MA in Fashion and Merchandise Management. Directed by Lisa Mann, Fashion Programme Leader, this course attracts students with backgrounds in marketing, fashion and design and equips them with an in-depth understanding of design and marketing processes within the fashion retail sector. Wendy is an interior designer and responsible for key MRA client accounts, including Hermes, Marc Jacobs and Tiffany & Co. As such, Wendy is able to draw on her commercial experience to guide students through the process of analysing a client brief and designing interiors which reflect and reinforce brand values, marketing strategies and merchandising concepts. The Project This year, to strengthen MRA’s links with Southampton Solent and to give the students an experience of the design process, we are mentoring them to create an art installation. MRA set a project brief to investigate the current trend regarding the use of art installations in retail design to create impact, narrative and merchandising opportunities. The students were required to research the precedent and the connection between retail and art practice and then develop their own installations, with curve stitch as the base technique. We selected curve stitch as a point of departure because it connects with both materials and space. As designers, we find the fabric, structure, cut and colour of clothes fascinating. Curve stitch speaks of making clothes but can also create architectural objects and space. The Installation The students pitched ideas to develop as a 3D installation, and selected the Kano model as their source of inspiration. This theory of product development and customer satisfaction, developed by Professor Noriaki Kano in the 1980s, classifies customer preferences into five categories. The graphic, linear qualities inherent in this model lend themselves to expression through curve stitch. Using colour as an emotive element and curve stitch to represent the flow from dissatisfaction to satisfaction, the aim is to create an artwork that captures the sculptural qualities of curve stitch, and through this medium seek to express Kano’s theoretical model. We expect the piece to be beautifully crafted and thought provoking Exhibition and Conference Fashion Retail: Fashion directions Bianca Jutaru was selected from the student group to lead the team and is using the installation as her main MA project. Bianca’s experience is in Retail Fashion Merchandise and she is the 2012 winner of a window design competition organised by FarFetch.com for the Wolf and Badger store in Dover Street, Mayfair London. The execution of the of the piece remains very much a collaborative project and all students will receive a mark for the work. MRA is supporting the students to take the project from concept through to installation, supervising the programme, costs and supervision of the build. The installation will be the highlight of a postgraduate conference and exhibition entitled ‘Fashion Retail: Fashion directions’ in Southampton on January 18th 2013. The proposed location of the installation is a wonderful room in a Grade II listed Georgian building in central Southampton. Anshu Srivastava, Managing Director, MRA will present the keynote lecture and the conference will focus on the installation project and themes such as ‘Fashion as Therapy’. Following the conference, the next step will be to bring the art installation to London for London Fashion Week, February 2013.