Located on Henry Avenue across from the Jefferson East Fall’s main campus sits a mid-century, ranch style home with a white floral chain-link fence, home to the university’s Design Center. Housed within its four walls are over 150,000 pieces of textile and costume treasures with historical importance from around the world. As you are searching for inspiration this semester, be sure to check out the many ways the Design Center is available to you as a student.
Beginning this fall, keep an eye out for Design Center pieces around campus. Right now in Hayward Hall, be sure to check out “Behind the Seams”, a three piece display of historical garments juxtaposed to exemplify the importance of back detailing. Included in this display are a 1960s cocktail dress; a bustled dress circa 1880; and a traditional Japanese kimono. This display invites the viewer to examine these garments from a different focal point, and to consider the figure in the round to create impact at any angle. To read more about how these garments, their history, and a behind-the-scenes look at how this exhibit was constructed, check out the Follow the Thread blog created in connection with the Design Center.
Other online resources are available as well. If you are preparing to write a paper or need some more image-based research for your latest project, the Design Center’s online archive might be exactly what you need. Collection curator, Jade Papa, is making efforts to categorize and digitize non-Western pieces in the collection. With collections from all over the world, some as early as Coptic textiles from the 4th century, Jefferson is able to preserve and continue important textile legacy and education. While some pieces in the collection may be too delicate to be viewed by large groups in person, JSTOR’s online image archive allows students to view high-resolution images of each piece from multiple angles. This archive also serves as a great resource to see the types of garments and textiles housed at this facility.
If photo archives and informational blog posts are not enough for you, then how about scheduling an in-person visit to the Design Center. Assistant Professor Jade Paper serves as curator for the costume & textile collection, and would love to show you more of what the university has in their possession. Pieces from the collection have also been lent to other institutions, including a jumper from streetwear fashion icon Willi Smith, which is on display now at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum through October 24th.Students from all majors and backgrounds are welcome to visit and gain a deeper understanding of design throughout history and the world. The Design Center is open by appointment only, and students and faculty should contact Jade Papa to schedule a visit. You can also read more about the Design Center, its collection, and curator here.