China Fashion Weekly
Combining Tradition and Modernity
The purpose of Ms. Elaine Polvinen visiting China this time was to attend the opening ceremony of Digital Textile Pattern Design Exhibition, Inspiration and Transcendency. Besides that, she hoped to acquire more knowledge of Chinese culture and art in limited time. As one of the exhibitors, the associate professor is from the Fashion Textile Technology Program, SUNY College at Buffalo. Her works are an interpretation of Eastern culture from a Western view.
As a designer and an educator, how does Ms. Polvinen think about Eastern and Western culture, tradition and modern?† Following is the Q and A between reporter Wang Tonghui (R) and Professor Elaine Polvinen (P).
R: How many times have you been to China?
P: This is my second time to China. The first time was two years ago. Chinese people are very friendly. The development in China is progressing very fast. This time I went to Xiían to see the terra cotta warriors and horses and the ancient art. They are exquisite and very astonishing. It took me a long time to understand and digest the Chinese art that I knew during my first time to China.
R: How do you understand Chinese traditional and contemporary art?
P: I visited the exhibition of Han Meilinís works in Beijing this time. It is an example of the combination of traditional Chinese art and modern form.† Different from Mr. Hanís hanging form, my works are the designing of the silk scarf pattern. The latter usually uses abstract concepts, but the former is more concrete.
R: Which means have you adopted during the designing?
P: Iíve applied a variety of computer technologies, such as the use of filters and cut and paste in photo-shop, in the designing of the patterns. The integrated application of those technologies makes the traditional design of China turn into modernistic works.
R: I noticed that there is a mark on any one of your works exhibited. Is it a trademark? Do you know the designers in China?
P: The mark on one hand indicates my design works, and on the other hand it is a mark of the copyright. This is my second time to China. I hope I have opportunities to learn about the designers in China.
R: Do you have any plan to create with the Chinese subject matter in the future?
P: We are preparing for the second exhibition. It will be held in U.S.A., and maybe also in Taiwan. The exhibition works will include Chinese subject matter.
R: Are the people in the U.S.A. interested in the design of Chinese traditional art themes?
P: In past few years there have been Chinese and Asian patterns applied to textile designing, such as the carpet and tapestry, and dress designing, many of which are direct application of Chinese traditional patterns. I think Chinese art application will progressively move towards a climax during these years from now to 2008, when the Olympic Games are held in China. The forms designed will become modern and abstract from traditional and realistic.
R: You are an expert at CAD. How do you think about the role that the computer plays in the area of design?
P: It is indispensable now. When the textile industry recruits new designers, the requirement is not only being capable of carrying on hand painting, but also being capable of designing on the computer. Moreover, the communication of design drafts must be fulfilled through the network.
R: Are all of the fabric patterns designed by computers now?
P: This is just a part of it. The individualized design can be conceived and created on the computer or with traditional materials then the company and enterprise buy the original design and uses the computer to maybe modify the original and develop coordinates. If a handpainted or computer created design will be produced in large scale yardages, a computer would be needed to set the design up for production, such as changing color and cutting apart and dealing with different effects on the computer.
R: How about the degree to the combination of the designers and the market?
P: The more widespread the application of computer designing is, the less hand painting becomes. The combination of designer and market is very close. Some of the textile enterprises own their own CAD studios. Some of these giant design companies not merely own the studios but put out the trade-mark of their own brands also. Some of the designers create for those enterprises through working in the studios. Freelance designers sell their works to giant companies directly.
R: Could you please introduce the situation about American education of textile clothing in University?
P: American education of textile clothing in Universitys is similar to that of Europe and South Korea, where I have been. In general, the curriculums are academic and not close to practice. University education lays particular emphasis either on the texhnical or on the artistic aspectbut rarely integrates both. Of course, some professors also integrate industry requirements into their teaching. Generally, academic education in textile design seldom equally integrates the curriculum with industry needs for aesthetic, technical and technlogy skills, and the contents taught are purely theoretic.
The industry requirements for students are diversified, they must not only be capable of designing, but also participating in developing products for a specialized target market. Personally, I like to create more industry opportunities for students, to let them participate in producing, and make their works commercialized.
R: What are the requirements of industry for designers?
P: The first equirement of industry to the designer, is creativity; secondly, the understanding of the technical requirements of textile production, also a knowledge of technology, and an understanding of popular styles and color. Their creativity should be combined with technical ability. Such a talent is needed in the industry.
I hope to learn and understand more about the current situation of the textile design industry in China.
(Reporter: Wang Tonghui)
(Translator: Tang Liucheng)