22 September 2010

Geek-to-Chic at New York Fashion Week

The following is a guest post by my friend and colleague Mark Johnson, FAIA. Mark attended two events last week I had to miss. In a 24-hour period he went from the granola-loving heights of Google's Boulder, CO campus to the glittering streets of Manhattan where he took in a Fashion Week runway show. Mark has a great sense of humor and amazing stamina. Without further ado, here's Mark:

Last week’s guest post from Google 3D Basecamp was pure “Geek.” Full immersion in the deep woods of virtual camping left me yearning for an experience with more panache, a contrast from the wool caps of Boulder. New York Fashion Week fit the bill, nowhere near the great outdoors and intoxicating for its whiplash dose of “Chic.” I admit Google SketchUp and Kitchen & Bath (K&B) Design are light-years from the fashion runway… how many 20-something runway models cook, anyway? But to my surprise, SketchUp was the toast of the town when placed in the hands of able K&B designers armed with their computers, iPads and Google apps! Here’s my take on “Chic Week” from New York.

Mannequins at New York Fashion Week? They're really Google SketchUp avatars descending on NYC.

The Bath Challenge results from Fashion Week are…“faaaabulous, simply faaaabulous.” So let’s start with some inspiration from the Jason Wu runway show. His first dress is a literal smattering of Geek to Chic. I respectfully call it: “Tribute to hand-drawing with Rapidograph ink pens and ruined shirts in architecture school”...splat! I could have worn a suit like this to design studio every day and never cleaned it. Where were you, Jason, when I needed you? It’s a lovely suit. Practical, and no pocket protector needed!

My favorite suit of the show! Stylish and hides everything I ever spilled. Easy on the cleaning bill.

For the Luxury Bath Challenge, four teams of designers/architects/bloggers were the guests of Brizo Faucets and competed in the Brizo Luxury Bath Challenge, cosponsored by KraftMaid Cabinetry and DeNova Countertops. To pull this off in 2.5 hours and not miss Jason Wu’s runway show was the challenge. It meant finding a quick, easy way of designing, drawing and presenting four luxury bath designs. The choice was multimedia; a combination of hand-drawing and narrative for developing design concepts, followed by team workshops where online images, SketchUp and 3D product models from the sponsors’ collections in Google’s 3D Warehouse were all employed. Not for the faint-hearted… I guess that’s why a few of the architects skipped the Challenge. Since I’m an architect, I can poke them to a point, then they get testy.
Here are pictures of the Design Challenge teams hard at work on their luxury bath designs. Their presentations and the awards ceremony later at the Showtime Show House capped off a wonderful day in NYC . How did we crash a penthouse party during Fashion Week? It’s another win for K&B designers and SketchUp! Check out the descriptions with each picture:

Hard at work on the Luxury Bath Design Challenge - Gloria Graham, Erin Beneker Loechner @erinloechner, Trevor Williams and Eric Schimelpfenig @SketchThis

Corey's team - Linda Merrill @surroundings, Nancy Hugo @nancyhugo, Corey Klassen @coreyklassen, and Michael Tadros @MikeTadros

Kimberly Dowdell, explaining her team's design concept for a luxury bath "Oasis"

Corey Klassen @coreyklassen, takes the judges through his team's bath design. Very architectural in feeling.

Our esteemed panel of judges; Brendan "Cannon", Judd Lord, and Keith Baltimore

Paparazzi and cameras everywhere. They heard about the Luxury Bath Challenge and beat us to the party.

Trevor Williams, Erin Beneker Loechner @erinloechner, Gloria Graha, and Eric Schimelpfenig @SketchThis

Cannon shares the judges' choice for first place; a "Spa" inspired design concept by Veronika Miller @Modenus. Her team members include Bob Borson @bobborson, Maggie Stack King @ecofabulous, and Celine Kwok

I’ll wrap up by sharing another gorgeous Jason Wu’s dress. It captures all the connections between Geek and Chic. If you’re a Google SketchUp geekster, you instantly see how the “sketchy line” tool would make it a breeze to draw this high-fashion dress without crashing your computer. If you’re a K&B designer, the colors may inspire your next project. If you’re a Fashion Week Celeb who found this post on Paul Anater’s blog @Paul_Anater… why of course, it’s a “Jason Wu.”

Jason Wu's tribute to the "Sketchy Line" tool in Google SketchUp? Maybe...


  1. OMG Another 15 minutes of fame on your blog!

  2. Much more than 15 minutes of fame for your part in the Brizo Design Challenge...at least 20 minutes. Thanks for collaborating to make it such an exciting event at NY Fashion Week! Great teamwork by all.

  3. You captured the few moments I got to share with you guys so perfectly! Great post, Mark! What fun, eh? I still think back to January when I had the opportunity to have this amazing experience with Brizo and Jason Wu...

  4. So much fun and a very unique way of combining chic and geek!

  5. I was rooting around your site and was delighted to find this post by Mark. I am amazed by his energy and his many talents. This is a great post!

  6. Thanks for digging around in my archives! Mark's an amazing man and a good friend.


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