The skills: There's every chance that someone reading this has been inside one or two high-design high-tech offices—perhaps a certain locally based online retailer?—in Seattle or beyond; if that's you, you might have already experienced IA's prowess. As intermediate designer Julie Mathews put it to me, her firm partners with other architects who handle the "envelope" of buildings, and they take care of the insides.
Teknion makes workstations, chairs, and the like for such spaces, and OM Workspace is where you'd go to shop for it all. Oh. The "OM" stands for Office Max, so with this entity in the mix the team had all manner of office supplies at their disposal as well.
Inspiration evolution: As Kate Moss is more or less retired, each Product Runway team must select one of their own to wear the design on the runway. The IA team was initially inspired by team member/model Hana Porobic's (pictured here) Twiggy-like look, but things got surreal (fitting; that's the show theme) from there. Their current direction is inspired by outre couture fashion that ends up being, as Mathews says, wonderfully "not quite right" at a certain point.
Secret weapons: One of the OM Workspace team members put herself through college by sewing costumes and clothing for drag queens; IA graphics guru and all around intelligent surveyor of art and culture Robinick Fernandez is simultaneously working on Product Runway and art ensemble Saint Genet's wardrobe for an upcoming European performance. That's some good cross-pollination.
When I dropped in on the team's after-hours workshop, the in-progress work that I saw had a sort of sci-fi Tron vibe. There's been more melting, screwing, and gluing than traditional need-and-threading, and while it's a visually pleasing conflux of materials, Mathews says their design ethos is in line with the firm's: "Our clients are all really smart; they're looking for innovation, not beauty."
Sub in "audience" for "clients" and she might be talking about you at the May 3 runway show.