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Cubed, Glued And Glammed

NBC-LA | Mathematics, computer science and engineering are not the usual topics that we immediately associate with haute couture. However, two architects have redefined such bizarre association by combining geometry with one of the most prestigious luxury labels: the house of Fendi.

The Italian luxury house discovered American architects Benjamin Aranda and Chris Lasch at an annual Venice Biennale Architecture exhibit in Venice, Italy. It was then that Silvia Venturini Fendi, who represents the third generation of this fashion dynasty, decided that she wants to incorporate these engineers' modern techniques with Fendi's rich craftsmanship and create something new. Together they gave birth to "Modern Primitives," a project that creates a fusion of the past and the future by using Fendi's fine handwork and Aranda and Lasch's organic technology.

The architects' newly developed iPad/iPhone app allows the duo to create 3D fractals that are born from just one crystal and can organically grow into infinite shapes.

The crystal is in the shape of a diamond octahedron -- and for all of us mathematically challenged people, an "octahedron" is an eight-sided 3D object with flat surfaces.

A single finger touch creates the first crystal that grows each time a user taps the screen. With consecutive finger pressure, these naturally occurring geometries grow and create shapes that can potentially grow into structures, building parts and furniture.

"There is an organic feel hidden in this screen that makes you think you could create any object in a matter of seconds," said Benjamin Aranda, as he played with shapes on his iPad.

After the architects are done designing the models, replicas are made into a series of foam octahedrons that are then covered with Linex spray. Fendi's delicate touch in making leather goods comes to play, as handmade covers are made to fit these life-size "Modern Primitives."

Who would have ever thought that engineers may one day find a way to help compliment fashion?

Aranda and Lasch have been working together since they graduated from Columbia University in 1999. Besides having made furniture and museum installations by using this modern technique, the architects are currently working on a bridge that connects one side to another, in New York's Central Park.

The math department and the fashionistas visited Fendi's Rodeo Drive and South Coast Plaza boutiques on March 8, 10 and 11 to display the art of the two worlds, fashion and technology.

"It's about sharing and collaborating -- we are learning about their craftsmanship; there is a mutual excitement when you are crossing boundaries and mixing two very different avenues of fashion and technology," said Aranda, as he placed a Calfskin hand-stitched Fendi cover on his finished structure.

"Fendi is all about the love and passion in creating with your hands," said Fendi artisan Ester Di Sorno. "Fendi was always about creating, working with the arts, the cinema, the rich architectures, and getting inspired by the surroundings."

The fusion is reflected in the mathematically grown crystals that would subtly be covered with a color blockade of hand-sown leather sleeves.

Even though these items are traveling installations and are showcased in various boutiques and not yet ready for sale, they represent a sense of timelessness that's well reflected in the heritage of this classic luxury house.

"We want to tell the client that we always have innovation, we want to educate the client about history and art, and give them something truly beautiful that will be timeless," Di Sorno said.

The idea behind these block patches comes from the spring-summer color blocks that are brightening up the house this season. From the various hues of the Peek-a-Boo and the Silavana bags, to the pastel blue and tangerine dresses that scream Lagerfeld's vision for bright color-blocks and geometry, "Modern Primitives" symbolizes the trendy and the modern against a long lasting history of elegance and quality. 

Such hard-sided pieces bring out the beauty and softness in everything presented in the Fendi boutiques; and there is no better match to enhance such vision than the creative minds of Aranda/Lasch studios.

Fendi was found in the late 1920s and since then, stands strongly for quality, craftsmanship and luxury. The boutiques are designed by world-renowned architect Peter Marino and are stoned with Travertine found in the classic architecture of Milan and Rome.

"Our company is evolving and it's important to collaborate with innovative ideas that compliment our rich craftsmanship and luxury," said Fendi's North America President, Stacy Van Praagh.

This coming May, Fendi Las Vegas will host "Modern Primitives" at the City Center boutique.




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