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book review: picture this, how pictures work

Last month I finished Picture This: How Pictures Work. Written by Molly Bang, it’s a brief book about composition in design that describes our reactions to various design elements. I liked it very much because it’s clear and easy to read. I gained many insights from the author’s experience, including how color, shape, and placement on a page impact our perception of images.

One principle that I found interesting was this: “space implies time.” To demonstrate this, Bang shows the following two images.

From the first image, she observes that the closeness between the two figures (victim and attacker) could imply that they’re merely having a chat.

When in the second image, there is more space between the two figures, one has “more time to be scared. . . To put it in purely formal terms, there is more tension in the picture because the objects are ‘on edge’ at the two poles of the page, separated from each other by the vast, diagonal empty space cutting through the center, but associated and drawn together by color.”


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happy nowruz!

Happy Nowruz!  Today many people are celebrating Persian New Year which occurs on the first day of spring. It is a festive time of the year filled with many wonderful rituals such as seeing family, friends and neighbors; setting up a traditional table setting called the “haftseen”; and jumping over fire, which isn’t as dangerous as it sounds. 😉 Since many of the traditions celebrate our connection to nature, I thought I’d write about a design object that derives its beauty from the natural world. This pretty wooden pendant I found the other day on Supermarket is handmade in the Bay Area of reclaimed wood by Tinkering Monkey. I loved the perfectly imperfect stripe pattern of the wood grain so much that I bought one for myself.

Speaking of wabi sabi style, I can’t help but think of Japan and this artwork from illustrator Tatsuro Kiuchi.

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a pattern for valentine’s day

Inspired by some Valentine’s Day cards on print & pattern, I came up with this pattern. The design shows the word “love” in English, French, Spanish, and Persian, er, Finglish. (That’s Farsi written in English.) 😉

by Schauleh Sahba

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Shop for Peace

Recently I came across the Donald J. Pliner website. The homepage resembles that of many fashion-forward brands with plenty of beautiful imagery of their wide and varied shoe collection. At the top of the page there are links to footwear, handbags, sale, and — interestingly enough — shop for peace. Since, it was the first time I had seen a promotion like this, I had to learn more.

It turns out that the Pliners have a foundation called Peace for the Children Foundation, which “channel[s] funds to deserving projects and initiatives that advance peace, care, and welfare to children in need.” Their current projects include building playgrounds in Miami and Houston. When a customer buys an item that has a peace symbol on it, the company donates a percentage to its foundation. Kudos to Donald J. Pliner for advancing a worthy social cause in addition to filling a market need for stylish accessories!

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Things I Learned in the Book “Sustainable Fashion and Textiles Design Journeys”

I finally finished reading the book Sustainable Fashion and Textiles Design Journeys by Kate Fletcher. What an eye-opening view it gave on so many topics, from ethical production and recycling to how we use clothing and the sociology of fashion. Here are some excerpts:

“Yet even though the typical garment is only washed and dried around 20 times in its life, most of its environmental impact comes from laundering and not from growing, processing and producing the fabric or disposing of it at the end of its life. The washing and drying of a polyester blouse, for example uses around six times as much energy as that needed to make it in the first place.”

Source: Franklin Associates (1993), Resource and Environmental Profile Analysis of a Manufactured Apparel Product: Woman’s knit polyester blouse, Washington DC: American Fiber Manufacturers Association, pp3-4.

“Reuse of textile products ‘as is’ brings significant environmental savings. In the case of clothing for example, the energy used to collect, sort and resell second-hand garments is between 10 and 20 times less than that needed to make a new item.”

Source: Laursen, S. E., Alwood, J. M., De Brito, M. P. and Malvido De Rodriguez, C. (2005), Sustainable Recovery of Products and Materials – Scenario Analysis of the UK Clothing and Textile Sector, Design and Manufacture for Sustainable Development, 4th International Conference, Newcastle, 12-13 July.

“The total amount of clothing and textile waste arising per year in the UK is approximately 2.35 million tonnes,” which translates into 30 kg (66 lbs) per person per year going to landfill.”

Source: Allwood, J. M., Laursen, S. E., Malvido de Rodrigues, C. and Bocken, N. M. P. (2006), Well Dressed? Cambridge: University of Cambridge Institute of Manufacturing, p16.

“Eliminating tumble drying (which accounts for 60 per cent of the use phase energy) and ironing, in combination with a lower washing temperature, has been calculated to lead to a around 50 per cent reduction in total energy consumption of the product.”

Source: Allwood, J. M., Laursen, S. E., Malvido de Rodriguez, C. and Bocken, N. M. P. (2006), Well Dressed? Cambridge: University of Cambridge Institute of Manufacturing, p40.

Under the European Union’s Landfill Directive ” . . . all textiles will be banned from landfill by 2015 and will have to be collected separately from other rubbish.”

Source: ENDS Report (2007), MEPs strengthen waste framework directive, No. 386, p53.

“It is claimed that producing . . . recycled nylon uses 80 per cent less energy than producing virgin fibre.”

Source: EcoTextile News (2007), Toray offers recycled nylon, No. 4, p23.

” . . . recycling on its own will never bring big change. It is ultimately a transition strategy; useful while society is transformed into something more socially aware  and less energy intensive.” p107.

“An industry goal of zero waste would transform the textile industrial system at the level of a paradigm.” p108.

“A zero-waste vision for the fashion and textile sector changes the goals and rules of the bigger industrial system and aligns them with sustainability. It requires a bold and innovative set of changes to the way our fibres and fabrics (as a part of society at large) are designed, produced, consumed, and discarded. It requires a reformulation of design priorities based around ideas of cycles where waste is reconceived as a useful, essential, and valuable component of another product’s future life.” p 113.

“While fashion is at the heart of our culture and important to our relationships, our aesthetic desires and identity, the fashion and textile sector’s lack of attention to moral and environmental issues is socially and ecologically undermining.” p118.

“On the one hand we have to celebrate fashion as a significant and magical part of our culture (while divorcing it from rampant material consumption). And on the other we have to produce clothes that are based on values, on skill, on carefully produced fibres; clothes that are conscientious, sustainable and beautiful.” p120.

“We are part of the natural world, not separate from it, and have a shared path with reciprocal actions: while we impact hard on nature, nature also influences us. Giving form to this connectedness and reciprocity us a key part of sustainable fashion.” p126.

“The average T-shirt travels the equivalent distance of once around the globe during its production.”

Source: This figure was mentioned in a recent Ecologist publication to coincide with London Fashion Week: Lee, M. and Sevier, L. (2007), Sacking the Sackcloth Image: Ethical Fashion Special, London: Ecologist, p13.

“A recent report revealed that people are buying one third more garments than four years ago . . .”

Source: Allwod, J. M., S. E., Malvido de Rodriguez, C. and Bocken, N. M. P. (2006), Well Dressed?, Cambridge: University of Cambridge, Institute of Manufacturing, p12.

“The challenge of sustainability is to connect the fashion and textile industry with multiple layers of other human activity.” p164.

“It has been suggested for example that the sector could halve its materials use without economic loss if consumers pay a higher price for a product that lasts twice as long.”

Source: Allwod, J. M., S. E., Malvido de Rodriguez, C. and Bocken, N. M. P. (2006), Well Dressed?, Cambridge: University of Cambridge, Institute of Manufacturing, p4.

“Fashion seems wedded to consumerism. Loosening this tie is at the heart of a shift to a new and more sustainable fashion and textile sector.” p185.


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Organic Romantic

Recently I was inspired by an organic cotton top I saw on ModCloth to create this set on Polyvore.

Organic RomanticFashion Trends & Styles - Polyvore

Whether you’re picnicking in the park, biking down the street, or strolling at the mall, this set lets you express the softer side of this summer’s mood. A pretty, floral top in organic cotton by Right By Nature from ModCloth pairs perfectly with ISDA & Co‘s Micro 26″ pant designed in San Francisco. Frilly and fun sustainable design exists!

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Upcycling Ties Into Neck Pieces

My friend Jasmeet makes beautiful neck pieces using old ties. You can see her architectural training come through in examples like the one below.

Neck Piece by Jasmeet Kahlon

Another piece of hers was actually used in the Uniform Project, worn as a headband rather than a neck piece.

The Uniform Project

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