We have loved hosting Tachi Tachi as our Work in Progress residents for the months of September and October. The brainchild of AIR cycle 6 alums, Anne-Marie Lavigne and Hannah Schultz, Tachi Tachi creates bold, color-changing textiles for home and fashion. Tachi Tachi textiles change color in response to the sun, rain, and heat, working to dynamically connect the wearer to the present moment. The interactive design prompts a playful, thoughtful interaction with the world and encourages anyone who comes in contact with these dynamic patterns to pay attention to the everyday moments they may have otherwise taken for granted. I recently had the opportunity to ask Anne-Marie and Hannah some questions about all things Tachi Tachi.
On how Tachi Tachi came into being:
Anne-Marie: "Hannah and I were studio neighbors during our Air Cycle 6 residency. I had started working with dynamic pigments for my thesis project at ITP and first thought I would continue to explore them during my residency at TAC, but I ended up working on a completely different project. During the residency, Hannah worked on the idea of transforming clothes and textiles into games, which I thought was (and still is!) the best idea ever. Her project, Game Cloth, completely transforms the relationship we have with what we wear by making it a ready-to-play game board. This really spoke to me as my thesis was also an attempt to challenge our assumptions about textiles. I could see that even though we had really different backgrounds, we both shared this desire to create unexpected experiences with textiles. Towards the end of the residency, I asked Hannah if she would want to work on something with me using pigments. She was stoked."
Hannah: "Yes yes yes."
Anne-Marie: "We started working right after the final AIR exhibition, and soon started to conspire on creating a two-headed beast. Hannah brought her deep expertise in printing with dyes and I shared my hands-on knowledge of dynamic inks. After months of research and tests, Tachi Tachi started taking shape. As soon as we got a first batch of textiles ready for production, we asked Hae Jung Shin of Practical Jokes to work with us on a first garments collection."
On their collaborative process:
Anne-Marie: "Hannah has been working as a textile designer for more than 7 years now. She is so talented and knowledgeable. She understands how every gesture and process can have an impact on the design, and vice versa. She has progressively created her own instinctive approach, which she now shares, and I am really lucky to work with her, as I learn so much. I come from a different background of interactive design, documentary, and new media art, which informs my design eye. The company we are launching is a perfect mix of our expertise and personalities, which are both reflected in our designs."
On dynamic design:
Anne-Marie: "From the start, we both knew we would have to come up with a completely new design approach for the pigments we use. As they hold two states, we needed to come up with patterns that change and are dynamic - which is really fun. We rapidly identified key visual elements we wanted to work with and have been building on those, modifying and transforming them progressively. As the main characteristic of Tachi Tachi textiles is that they are dynamic, we decided to work with simple geometric shapes, so as to not to overcharge the visual experiences. We have to make sure the design works for a manual screen printing process. We are excited about exploring new mediums available to screen printing and are thrilled to work further on a quest to find the ultimate conversational."
On finding the 'ultimate conversational':
Hannah: "A conversational is one of three families of design, the other two being florals and geometrics. Conversationals allow the wearer to inform the viewer a little about themselves and what they like, which can spark a conversation, hence the title. Before I knew what textile design was, I learned to screen-print and naturally began printing conversationals like partying octopi and pictorial ad-libs to 'Rocky Horror Picture Show.' After studying all three design families at FIT, I continued to favor conversationals and decided to seek out designing the ultimate conversational during my AIR cycle 6 residency at TAC. While we are currently designing very geometric designs, the fact that they change color based on the wearer or viewer’s physical interaction with the textile ignites a giddiness that can not help but be talked or yelled about. We are making things that force a double take or encourage person-to-person interactions and play dates to be remembered."
On a recent 'double take' moment:
Anne-Marie: "I was sitting on a bench at Transmitter Park in Greenpoint. The Sun made a beautiful appearance through the clouds. I realized we never really think about where light comes from. In daytime it obviously comes from the Sun and it takes 8 minutes for a ray of light to travel from the Sun to Earth. So I sat there and set a timer for 8 minutes, traveling with the fresh rays on their way to me."
On their most memorable experiences with textiles:
Anne-Marie: "During my first stay in France when I was 14-years-old, our family visited the Tapisserie de Bayeux museum. Nearly 70 meters long, the tapestry depicts the events leading to the Norman invasion of England around 1066.. It was the first time I realized that for most of human history, textiles were the main carrier of cultures and social customs. They were the screens, films, and books of pre-industrial humanity. The Tapestry was created at a time when textile making was one of the most valued crafts, and one of the most complex. Today, mass-production has created a distance between us and textiles. We can buy cheap jacquard-woven skirts made in countries we have never been to by people we do not know. Most of the time, the main cultural meaning the textiles of our era carry is a connection to the present, to a short lived fashion trend. Therefore textiles have become, to a certain extent, disposable. They have lost their value. Standing in front of this one-of-a-kind, intricate, and precious textile from 1000 years ago completely changed my relationship to fibers and the crafts they generated."
"Most of the time, the main cultural meaning the textiles of our era carry is a connection to the present, to a short lived fashion trend. Therefore textiles have become, to a certain extent, disposable. They have lost their value."
Hannah: "I have so many. Most involve the physical making of objects and garments. I remember learning so much during my first attempt at making a personal garment. It took place at my father’s "new" office. A pink and blue building set on the Indian River called 'the power boat club'. Soon after setting up shop it still had many objects left behind by it's previous owners. In the back-back room I found a roll of brittle plaid fabric. I immediately set to making a prairie dress based on the fashions from my favorite TV movie 'Sarah, Plain and Tall' and TV mini-series 'Anne of Green Gables'. I rolled out the fabric and doubled it up into two layers. I laid myself down on-top of the two layers and proceeded to trace around my entire body creating a dress form with slightly puffed sleeves (I thought it was genius). I was so proud of myself. I wiggled my way into the too tightly stitched dress and found I couldn't put my arms down without ripping the seams. Quickly accepting this fact, I she-hulked the dress to a loose fit by excessively ripping every tight spot and patching it up with bits of brittle plaid fabric. I loved that dress. I remember it viscerally and learned so much from all my mistakes. I will always design in this way--instinctually at first."
On the future of Tachi Tachi:
Anne-Maire: "Now that the technical aspects of our process are more defined, we are ready to scale the production up. We are working on finding ways to adapt our process to bigger quantities. We are also developing our branding and website content with the very talented director Cole Hannan of ilovemonsters --basically whatever starting a business entails. We are also working on our first garment collection with Practical Jokes, with the BFDA. We have so many ideas on the roster. Stay tuned!…"