MCM Tech Luxe Class and Competition

As a faculty I feel that sometimes classes start to blur from semester to semester and it’s only the students and their work that makes them exciting and worth while. This past semester though I was honored to be a part of a class that became thrilling from the very first moment. The collaboration between Parsons The New School for Design and MCM, a world class purveyor of luxury leather goods and accessories, became an innovative partnership which explored new frontiers in fashion and technology.

Everything about this class was unusual and somewhat groundbreaking. To begin with, there was the opportunity to co-teach a class sponsored by a world renown luxury brand, and then there was the idea of faculty and students coming together from three different programs within Parsons to collaborate on this semester long competition. This class was divided into five groups of three students each, with a representative from each of the following programs: BFA Fashion Design, BFA/MFA Communication Design and Technology, and BFA Product design. This equal representation from each program provided each group with diverse cross over experience, varied skill-sets and the possibility to explore advanced design ideas and offer access to varied equipment throughout Parsons. In each group fashion students offered their sketching, pattern-making and sewing skills while product design students offered expert product design knowledge and facilitated access to the coveted 3D printers in the downtown campus and DT students offered the knowledge needed to implement the technology in each accessory. Throughout the semester the students explored design technology and fabric innovation to create brand new objects from MCM textiles and tech products including controllers, solar panels, and LED lighting. All students were given the following materials which they could use in any way possible: MCM logo branded canvas in four different colors, gold plated MCM logo plates and other hardware and handbags which could be used as-is or recycled for their parts and hardware. STudents were also provided with a budgets so they can buy additional materials.

The student teams were formed by the end of the second week of class:

CAMBIO: Heejin Ahn, Behnaz Babazadeh and Joel Harding

PRODIGIES: Fion Chen, Ryan Jordan and Bree Rubin

SOMA: Mary-Beth Bachand, Obinna Izeogu and Katherine Yaksich

THE NEONS: Jovana Mirabile, Catherine Strassman and Mindy Tom

THIS IS LUXE: Justin Blanco, John Paul Rangel and Alvaro Soto

The class was lead by Parsons faculty representative from each program: Katherine Moriwaki Assistant Professor from the School of Art, Media and Technology, Rama Chorpash Associate Professor from the School of Constructed Environments and Director of Product Design, and Aneta Genova, Assistant Professor from the School of Fashion. All faculty were in attendance during all class sessions, offering at times divergent opinions based on each disciplinary expertise, which created lively dialogue in the classroom.
Each team worked on numerous concept ideas and throughout the semester narrowed down their concepts to 3-5 prototypes for the final presentation. Ideas ranged from an illuminating bracelet to accessories which turn into a life savior in an apocalyptic scenario. Here are some of the ideas from various teams:

Team This Is Luxe connected technology and fashion in a critical way to address debate about luxury products for the high end market thorough responding to personal, social or environmental scenarios. They placed their high end customer in apocalyptic scenarios and provided her with a coat that is contained within a bag, but if needed turns into a life vest; a decorative object which houses and locks securely all important documents and can be carried like a bag in case of emergency (see prototype sketches below)
JP Rangel is showing some of Alvaro Soto’s Shelter Bag sketches
And last but not least a handbag which turns into a gas-mask in that critical moment when you might need one. Needless to say this idea went through countless variations and suggested changes.

Team Soma explored the sense of touch and worked on concepts for bags with internal pockets which have different textures to guide the user to their belongings.

The Neons explored reconstruction and transformation to create bags that change in shape and size. They used laser cutting techniques to reinforce the branding image of MCM. Their colorful combinations defended their team name every step of the way.

Jovana Mirabile is showing a swatch of the newly cut MCM canvas.

Various transformation of each bag for team Neons.

Team Cambio created a bag that takes photos at predetermined intervals, a small bag with custom molded travel size containers for convenient traveling through airport security, and a large trunk with touch responsive wheels. Below are photos of their in class presentation of sketches and possible prints.

In this partnership the MCM representatives remained open to any new ideas and were interested in all ideas and possibilities in terms of students interpreting their brand.

The winning team This Is Luxe was selected by a jury which included: Marina Storonkin, US Marketing Manager for MCM, Julie Brown, Mark Silver and Robert Verdi, and received a $5,000 prize to be divided amongst the team members. Two runner up teams received $2,500 each. One was team Cambio

And the other runner up was team Neons

In addition to the competition prizes, MCM donated $20,000 to establish MCM Scholars Fund at The School of Fashion at Parsons.
For more info visit the MCMTechLuxe blog

Photos by AnetaGenova