Portland, OR: Andrea Aranow Textile Collection

Visit: We met with Caleb Sayan, son of Andrea Aranow.

Caleb’s mother worked in New York as a “design inspiration” consultant. She collected textiles from around the world and provided services to the fashion and interiors industry. Once a piece of textile was acquired by a client, it was retired from the collection.

She and her son decided to document the collection a couple years ago, and they have photographed and cataloged 26,000 pieces. They used terms to describe the aesthetics (pattern, hand, color, etc) and well as the object (technique, material, where from, when, etc.). It is an amazing collection, all in a studio in Portland called Blue Rider Design. To quote:

"This textile library began in New York in 1987 and was skillfully assembled by Andrea Aranow and edited for surface designers of the most exacting standards. Its unique perspective helped them garner inspiration from unique cultural and historical sources worldwide with textile designs representing 6 continents and countless countries. . ..The breadth and depth of the textile designs in the collection are exceptional, showcasing aesthetic styles such as mid-century modern, art-deco, toile de Jouy, and tropicals. . .Combining the extraordinary physical design archive with its innovative digital counterpart we strive to inspire the next generation of designers."

Formats - So far they have used Adobe Light room as their Content Managment System, because it allowed for hierarchical tagging. Each piece has a barcode and a locator number. They are currently in the final stage of their project (scheduled to be completed in June 2012), building a software application/interface to interact with the collection and tap into the rich metadata they have added.

Their primary goal is to have the collection (both digital and physical) acquired by an appropriate institution (academic or museum) so that it can serve a wider audience and continue to be  both a source of inspiration and a learning tool for decades to come. To quote Caleb: "We are extremely excited, after nearly three years, to be able to showcase our work as we believe it represents innovative possibilities on how physical archives can thrive and be utilized in  an increasingly digital world."

Discoveries: First, the fact that there are "design inspiration" professionals (though we bet there are not very many).

Caleb showed us an article in Selvedge which lists textile archives from around the world. He sent a scanned copy to us.

We recently learned that someone made a short film about Andrea Aranow.