8/19: Inspirational Designs By Dorothy Liebes

From Katherine Shozawa’s latest visit to the Design Center:

Here are a few notes and images considering Dorothy Liebes whose work is archived at the Design Center. Sarah Moore, curator at the Design Center introduced Liebes’ work to me in further detail when it caught my eye during a visit earlier this month. She told me that Liebes had studied under Anni Albers (one of the mothers of modernity whose work I also admire) at some point in her career and worked for Dupont.”

Liebes (1899-1972) began as a painter and then found her way into textile design, creating really interesting upholsteries, window treatments, wall coverings, and modular wall dividers and screens (using rigid materials such as bamboo, lucite dowels, aluminum for warp). She first opened Liebes Studio in San Francisco in 1939, first on Powell St and then Sutter St. In 1946 one of her employees and close friends Louisa Fong named her daughter after Liebes – Dorothy Liebes Fong. (from a lecture by historian Alexa Griffith Winton, whose monograph on Liebes work is forthcoming) Liebes was also “one of the first American craftspeople to adapt her hand woven techniques for mass production.” (Museum of Arts and Design) She later opened a studio in New York City in 1949 where she continued to design and consult for companies such as Bigelow Carpets, Dow and Dupont.”

What captured my interest in Liebes in addition to her wonderful, visually interesting and unexpected use of materials is a statement she once made: “Design is an interpretation of your life experience.” The historian Alexa Griffith Winton also describes her work as “interdisciplinary, multi-cultural, highly personal, inherently collaborative and above all colorful.” This interest in personal experience (like storytelling) along with details of her collecting unusual, modest and cheaper materials during World War II, like ribbon and foil strip from San Francisco’s Chinatown (where, incidentally, I grew up after my family moved from Vancouver, BC) are what compel me to keep following her story and work. Additionally, the mid-century, World War II period is a prominent part of my work since I became an artist.”

Here are some additional links of Dorothy Liebes’s design work for the loom:

http://vimeo.com/29504134 (lecture on Liebes by Griffith Winton)

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