The Next Big Thing in Design Inspiration Is Museum Collections

iPhone case by Kendall Conrad.
LACMA
Bag by Kendall Conrad.
LACMA
iPhone case by Kendall Conrad.
LACMA
Necklace by Kendall Conrad.
LACMA
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Handled Weight, Northern Afghanistan, Bactria, late 3rd–early 2nd century BCE, chlorite, Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
© Museum Associates/LACMA
Rings by Lena Wald.
LACMA
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Two Nudes in a Room, 1914.
© Museum Associates/LACMA
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Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1919–23, woodcut printed in blue and fuchsia on paper, The Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies.
© Museum Associates/LACMA
Pants by Outerknown.
LACMA
Shirt by Outerknown.
LACMA
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Shirt by Outerknown.
LACMA
Shirt by Outerknown.
LACMA
Untitled, circa 1885, albumen and salt print, Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
©Museum Associates/LACMA
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Barkcloth (Kapa moe), Hawaiian Islands, late 19th century, inner bark of paper mulberry plant.
© Museum Associates/LACMA
Tile, Syria, Damascus, about 1600, Fritware, underglaze-painted, Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
LACMA

Artists and designers are always looking for inspiration, and what better place to find it than an art museum’s encyclopedic collections of great treasures. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art realized this in 2012, and established an initiative to collaborate with local designers on a series of exclusive products inspired by its world renowned collection of art.

Wear LACMA has worked with such notable as Jennifer Meyer, Anito Ko, Irene Neuwirth, Monique Lhuiller and Rodarte to create a range of art-inspired products, from T-shirts and fragrances to jewelry and bags. And starting June 7, LACMA’s Spring 2017 Collection will feature products by accessories brand Kendall Conrad, jewelry designer Lena Wald and world champion surfer Kelly Slater and menswear designer John Moore’s clothing line Outerknown.

“The way these designers have been inspired by the museum’s collection allows us to look closer at these works and appreciate them in a different way,” said Wear LACMA founder Katherine Ross in a statement from the museum.

Kendall Conrad‘s organic gold and brass jewelry designs and carefully crafter leather goods have been a perfect fit for this season. For the collaboration, Conrad looked to a chlorite handled weight from the 3rd century Northern Afghanistan, or Bactria, for inspiration. “This artwork first caught my eye because it was in the shape of a bag, but the carved image is what I fell in love with,” said Conrad. “The natural scene in 300 BCE Bactria…evokes an ancient time, when the scorpion was the symbol of Ishkhara, the Goddess of Love.”

The scorpion motif in mirrored in Conrad’s pendant necklace, and echoed the organic forms on the weight in delicate embroidery on a new series of leather bags and iPhone cases.

Meanwhile, Lena Wald is best known for her delicate and minimal charms, rings and necklaces. Two works by Ludwig Kirchner, a founder of German Expressionism known for his printmaking, inspired Wald for her Spring 2017 series: Two Nudes in a Room (2014) and a woodblock print from 1919-23. The pieces both feature prominent pink hues. “I love the idea of painting/enameling the jewelry for this Wear LACMA collection in the rich colors reminiscent of these works,” Wald said of the works.

And lastly, Outerknown turned to three objects to create a new series of T-shirts and pants: a bright blue painted Syrian tile from 1600, an early photograph from 1885 of a leafy branch and a printed textile made from the Hawaiian Islands dyed using mulberry. The company is known for its eco-conscious business model, and makes an effort to craft items using recycled materials.

“We at Outerknown jumped at the opportunity to reference LACMA’s permanent collection to bring style and art together, and quickly found connections between ancient Hawaiian barkcloth textiles and botanical images and our surfing and environmental roots,” said Outerknown co-founder and creative director John Moore.

The Spring 2017 Wear LACMA collection are available in the LACMA store and online at the newly redesigned website thelacmastore.org beginning June 7. 

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