A Modern Makeover for Classical Musicians

This past semester, 16 Parsons students completing an interdisciplinary course in the Design & Technology program collaborated with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to update the traditional garb that musicians have donned for centuries.  Marin Alsop, music director of the BSO, originally approached Parsons with the idea in 2009.  Realizing a need to modernize their attire (white tie and tails for men, long black gowns for women), her intent was to not only update the aesthetic, but also the functionality of their garments.

BFA student Isabella Scott models her prototype during a presentation for Aslop and Parsons faculty

Under the direction of Dr. Sabine Seymour and MFA Design & Technology alumnus Scott Peterman, the students explored the intersection of fashion design and technology.  In September, the class took a field trip to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to see them in action.  The students studied observed the musicians and studied their movements, gaining insights into the improvements and adjustments they could make to their garments.  Just like the latest technology-driven sportswear, prototypes combining both form and function were produced by these young designers over the course of the semester.  Students experimented with innovative fabrics including breathable mesh and absorbent fibers to facilitate the ease of motion and maximum comfort.  Ergonomic designs focused on the functional aspect of the garments, including a unisex jacket designed by BFA candidates Isabella Scott and Yumi Chon that omitted the tailcoats.  Other designs took a more conceptual approach, focusing on the experience of the music.  Students Alexandra Zulkoski and Carla Marin imagined sensors worn by the orchestra members that would trigger the movement of animated birds that could be projected on a wall during a performance.  Work will continue in the School of Design Strategies this semester, and Alsop hopes that a usable design will emerge in time for the orchestra’s centenary in 2016.

Happy New Year everybody!  Much luck and happiness to you all in 2013 🙂

About Syd

Sup! I'm Syd. I just recently graduated from the Strategic Design & Management program this past fall, but I'm still kickin' it on iheartparsons.com to offer some words of wisdom! I love Sriracha sauce, quoting Spongebob Squarepants, solving Rubik's Cubes, and electronic dance music. Go Parsons!

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