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Mar 03, 2021 By Perspective
High 5: March
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5 things generating buzz in the design world: Prada’s fashion statement, a haveli turned hotel draws on local artisans, Norway’s new passport, Lego’s biophilic blocks, and biotech textiles.
By Perspective Mar 03, 2021
Published in Perspective
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Prada Fall Winter 2021 Collection
Photo by Courtesy of AMO
Prada Fall Winter 2021 Collection
Photo by Courtesy of AMO
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Prada Fall Winter 2021 Collection
Photo by Courtesy of AMO
Prada Fall Winter 2021 Collection
Photo by Courtesy of AMO

1. Prada’s Hyper-Tactile Event

As fashion capitals around the world vacillate between physical and digital seasonal runway presentations, one thing remains certain: The show must go on—and it must go on with great panache. So when Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons debuted Prada’s first-ever co-designed menswear collection for the brand’s Fall Winter 2021 Collection, they were out to create a full-on tactile experience. Designed by architect Rem Koolhaas and his research studio AMO, the show featured a quartet of abstract rooms, with the collection’s pieces set against textured backdrops of walls and floors draped in faux fur, dripping in resin, and clad in marble and plaster.

Fashion and design cognoscente could experience the event in 3D and all the materials used in the set will be upcycled, finding new life in product installations and pop-ups around the world, and then donated to Meta, a circular economy project based in Milan.

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The Johri hotel, photo by Bharat Aggarwal
Photo by Photo by Bharat Aggarwal
The Johri hotel, photo by Bharat Aggarwal
Photo by Photo by Bharat Aggarwal
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The Johri hotel, photo by Bharat Aggarwal
Photo by Photo by Bharat Aggarwal
The Johri hotel, photo by Bharat Aggarwal
Photo by Photo by Bharat Aggarwal

2. A Gem-Inspired Hotel

Jeweler Siddharth Kasliwal has transformed his family’s private haveli into a boutique hotel in Jaipur, India. Called The Johri, which means “the jeweler” in Hindi, the hotel pays homage to the nearby jewelry bazaar and Rajasthania’s opulent culture.

Naina Shah, owner of Aditiany, oversaw design of the luxe hotel, which offers five unique suites modeled after different gemstones. Throughout, she mixes vintage with new pieces commissioned from Rajasthani artisans, including a mural of a jungle scene in the hotel’s lounge. “The work that is done in India is so amazing, and sadly much of it is underappreciated and now qualifies as a dying art,” Shah told The New York Times.

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Redesigned Norwegian Passport
Photo by Courtesy of Neue Design Studio
Redesigned Norwegian Passport
Photo by Courtesy of Neue Design Studio
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Redesigned Norwegian Passport
Photo by Courtesy of Neue Design Studio
Redesigned Norwegian Passport
Photo by Courtesy of Neue Design Studio

3. Passports With Style—and Security

Neue Design Studio didn’t just give Norway the world’s best-looking passports—it also made them into a statement of identity and inclusion, “providing a sense of belonging and connection across age, gender, and regions in Norway.”

“By using illustrations of single parts of a wide Norwegian panorama, from north to south, we want to show the contrasts in landscapes and climates that have shaped us, offered opportunities and resources, places for recreation, and the scenes of important historical events,” the Oslo studio explained.

But the Neue team didn’t sacrifice security: Those sweeping landscapes come to life under UV light, offering another layer of protection against forgery.

4. The Hot New Collab Partner? Microbes

Designer and creative researcher Jen Keane may have found a way to grow objects—no assembly necessary. Driven by a “frustration with plastics,” Keane’s graduation thesis project combines biotech and mass-production textile practices for a new solution that could allow entire patterns and products to be designed and grown to shape with little or no wastage. Case in point: She conjured up a shoe upper entirely as a whole piece, without sewing and using a continuous yarn held into place by the cellulose produced by the bacteria.

And that’s just the start. “The really interesting part will come when we employ synthetic biology to control what the microbes produce and how and where they grow them. But as we begin to exercise our new knowledge of nature to try and solve our material problems we have to question what is natural really, and accept that we may not actually be collaborating with nature anymore but controlling it,” says Keane says on her site.

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Shoe upper constructed from bacteria produced cellulose
Photo by Image courtesy of Jen Keane
Shoe upper constructed from bacteria produced cellulose
Photo by Image courtesy of Jen Keane

5. Botanical Building Blocks

LEGO is putting a biophilic spin on its iconic toy blocks with a new Botanical Collection featuring elements made from a plant-based plastic produced by sustainably sourced sugarcane. There’s a 756-piece flower kit that lets users position the petals and “cut” the stems. And a 878-piece bonsai tree kit celebrates the ancient art—and even features pink cherry blossoms.

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LEGO's Botanical Collection
Photo by Image courtesy of LEGO
LEGO's Botanical Collection
Photo by Image courtesy of LEGO
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