Head To Toe Berlin

Midterms: 7 Days in Berlin


(By Karen Hofmann, Product Design Department Chair) It was a fast and furious visit to Berlin – midterm reviews for our Head To Toe Berlin project, special meetings with Art Center partners and of course reconnecting with the forever family of Art Center Europe Alumni.  It also happened to be a week of record high temperatures with the occasional drama of thunderstorms to keep the energy going.  Every visit back to Berlin reminds me of how critical it is for Art Center to have presence in this vibrant ever-changing city – Europe’s hub of creative culture and innovation.  And of course, it keeps us connected to our Art Center Europe alumni and network.

Midterm Crit with (from left) Justine Parish, Michael Sans, Karen Hofmann – critique of work by Grace Haynes

It was inspiring to see the work of our 10 Head To Toe Berlin students.  For the past month they have immersed themselves in the history, the culture and the lifestyle of Berlin and each of them is interpreting what they are experiencing in very diverse ways.  Our faculty team – Justine Parish, Michael Sans (our Berlin resident professor) and TA India Hillis – have been guiding them in their historical and cultural deep dive and pushing them hard to experience Berlin and soak in as much knowledge as possible and translate into their projects.   Our network in Berlin has also opened the door for the students to witness Berlin’s Fashion Week.   Stay tuned for those posts later this week.



A very brief recap with my personal interpretation of the projects at the moment – they will be sure to evolve and deepen in the weeks ahead:


Grace Haynes: inspired by the Bauhaus’ Triadic Ballet along with today’s contemporary dancers redefining their art form such as Misty Copeland and Berlin’s own Sasha Waltz, Grace has a unique opportunity to design the entire experience on the dance stage with a focus on the dancers costume or perhaps apply her exploration to street dresses.

Elim Pan:  the “urban archeologist” / “untethered vagabond” is serving as the muse for her line of outwear for travelers/nomads who want to “wear their Berlin experience” made with materials that can adapt to multiple environments and transform with time.

Noel Ekker:  taking inspiration from German Expressionism along with the current tension of “peace + beauty” versus “ uncomfortable history” found all over Berlin, Noel is developing an “urban primitive” line of club garments that will reflect the modern day expressionistic music scene found in Berlin’s DJ’s and dance club culture. 

Kristen Stain: “flowing between the opposites” and capturing the juxtapositions that encompass Berlin, Kristin is inspired by the monumental strength and the surfaced patina over time of the Berliner Dom.  She will be developing textiles reflecting those attributes along with themes such as power, femininity and androgyny.

Serena Jorif:  after capturing the various architectural, fashion and graphic styles found throughout Berlin, Serena is seeing Berlin as a city of opposites – new + old, practical + distorted, fantasy + reality.  Inspired too by the 70’s + 80’s punk scene in Berlin she is creating a cast of Berliner characters and their costumes that reflect these opposites. 

Erick Ikeda:  diversity, integrity and honesty – those are the words that Erick finds captures the spirit of Berlin coupled with the day-to-day “flow of Berlin” – using multiple modes of mobility from home to work to play to social events, he will be creating a transitional men’s jacket for the kinetic culture (and weather changes) that is Berlin.

Mia Eum:  by observing the vast amount of women riding bicycles in Berlin, Mia is capturing the radical transformations found in women’s garments while in motion – from a static starting position to a dynamic flow as they peddle through the city. 

Suyu Ren:  What if there was a dress that could transform to different “modes” of visiting a city like Berlin?  Suyu is looking at how women move from a morning at one of the many museums in Berlin, then escaping to the nature at the city’s parks and retuning to the dynamic city and navigating Berlin’s streets at night.

Caitlin Joo:  looking back into Berlin’s vibrant time of the “Golden Twenties” (concurrent with the US “Roaring Twenties”) and combining that style with contemporary cocktail/theatre/music club culture, Caitlin is aiming to develop a dress that identifies a modern Berlin Marlene Dietrich.

Joshua Woo: by immersing himself in the various diverse and distinctive neighborhoods in Berlin, he is creating a series of men’s outerwear that could transform / deconstruct / reconstruct from neighborhood to neighborhood, reflecting the visual language from each of the unique environments.