written by:
May 10, 2011

Blurred disciplinary lines are visible throughout the design world. Architects moonlight as furniture designers, artists as product designers, and it seems almost everyone has had a stint as a jewelry designer. One of my favorite overlaps is architecture and fashion: garments and structures offer protection from the elements, provide an expressive face to the world, and, well, just look damn fine while doing so. You can only imagine my delight when the work of Airi Isoda and her architecturally influenced fashions crossed my desk.

Isoda's favorite design is this camel coat dipped in concrete. Photo by Jordan Duvall.
Isoda's favorite design is this camel coat dipped in concrete. Photo by Jordan Duvall.
2 / 6
Up close, the concrete takes on the look of weathered leather. Photo by Jordan Duvall.
Up close, the concrete takes on the look of weathered leather. Photo by Jordan Duvall.
3 / 6
A shirt and floor-length skirt by Isoda. Photo by Jordan Duvall.
A shirt and floor-length skirt by Isoda. Photo by Jordan Duvall.
4 / 6
Concrete left over from the dipping process is reused to make jewelry. Photo by Jordan Duvall.
Concrete left over from the dipping process is reused to make jewelry. Photo by Jordan Duvall.
5 / 6
A thin piece of wood is fashioned into a collar. Photo by Jordan Duvall.
A thin piece of wood is fashioned into a collar. Photo by Jordan Duvall.
6 / 6
wrk shp runway show

I was excited to see materials typically found in buildings—concrete, wood, metal, latex paint, and Tyvek—used alongside natural wool, silk and cotton. Plus, unlike a lot of architecturally influenced fashion, these designs are very wearable. The clothes feature minimal silhouettes; materials are used innovatively and their inherent textures celebrated; the pieces are functional—marks of good, modern architecure. "The introduction of unique materials in wearable garments is my attempt to connect the wearer to their surrounding built environments," writes Isoda on her website. Isoda answered a few questions about her work, her influences, and the industrial material she thinks has the most character. Here's what she has to say.

Isoda's favorite design is this camel coat dipped in concrete. Photo by Jordan Duvall.
Isoda's favorite design is this camel coat dipped in concrete. Photo by Jordan Duvall.
How did you become interested in the intersection of architecture and fashion?
Back in 2006, when I was working as an architectural designer, I went to the opening of "Skin & Bones: Parallel Practices in Fashion & Architecture" at MOCA. It was a life-changing experience for me; it opened my eyes to the similarities in clothing and building design. Since then, I have been looking for ways to bring fashion and architecture together.
A shirt and floor-length skirt by Isoda. Photo by Jordan Duvall.
A shirt and floor-length skirt by Isoda. Photo by Jordan Duvall.
You've lived in different countries and cities all around the world. How has that influenced your creative vision?

I believe it's a subconcious influence, but I tend to design things that can translate all over the world, whoever you are and wherever you might live.
What was the most inspirational place?
Tokyo is probably most inspirational since my family's cultural background is Japanese. I visit there as often as I can. It's a city of change that respects the historic and the traditional. The city is so complex with many simple solutions—a creative heaven for designers.
Concrete left over from the dipping process is reused to make jewelry. Photo by Jordan Duvall.
Concrete left over from the dipping process is reused to make jewelry. Photo by Jordan Duvall.
Your designs feature many industrial building materials—how did the idea to use them in fashion come about?

When I started designing this debut collection, I couldn't separate myself from the materials I was familiar with as an architect. Using building materials in fashion was a fundamental attempt to link the wearer to their built environment. It's quite a literal interpretation of linking fashion and architecture.
What are your favorite materials to work with? The most challenging?
My favorite materials are industrial-grade felted wool and concrete. Felted wool is soft but it also has structure and body—it's easy to work with and is a very versatile material whether you are making a bag or a winter coat. Concrete has so much life and character, which makes it my favorite material, but it's also the most challenging to work with. It's sensitive and needs a lot of TLC. But in the end, after all the experimenting, you can create a beautiful product.
Up close, the concrete takes on the look of weathered leather. Photo by Jordan Duvall.
Up close, the concrete takes on the look of weathered leather. Photo by Jordan Duvall.
Can you talk a little bit about your favorite pieces?

My favorite pieces are the concrete-dipped coat and dress. It's a very simple idea and design execution, but a lot of effort went into the actual dipping of the garment, from making the right concrete mix to experimenting the drying process, and, most fundamentally, making the concrete-dipped coat/dress wearable. Also, I just love seeing people's reaction when they realize it's made of concrete!
A thin piece of wood is fashioned into a collar. Photo by Jordan Duvall.
A thin piece of wood is fashioned into a collar. Photo by Jordan Duvall.
What other projects do you and Workshop have in the pipeline?

wrk-shp is a multi-disciplinary design collective, so we take on projects with various creative outlets. Fashion and architectural design are our forte, but with the leftover concrete from the dipping, we make various concrete housewares and jewelry. While we prepare for another fashion collection for spring/summer 2012, we are also developing concepts for architecture projects that incorporate fashion ideas. "Architecture meets fashion" works both ways!
In the meantime, where can people find your designs?
At the moment, the pieces can be seen and ordered on our website: wrk-shp.com.

 

 

Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016
amaroso40040
When a garage damaged by termites had to go, a studio emerges.
June 19, 2016
the blue lagoon iceland geothermal spa hotel water visitors
The famed geothermal spa outside Reykjavík, Iceland, is entering a major new phase—paving the way for the area’s first five-star hotel.
June 19, 2016
heaven on earth maya lin topography what is missing california academy sciences wood video
A new monograph by Rizzoli explores the memorial project by the renowned artist.
June 19, 2016