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Fashion Professor Receives Fulbright Scholarship to Create New Collection in Vienna

Posted March 4, 2013 | Shannen Laur
enter photo description
Assistant Professor Margarita Benitez,
from Kent State University’s School of
Fashion Design and Merchandising, has
been granted a Fulbright Scholarship to
travel to Vienna, Austria, to work on a new
fashion collection.

Margarita Benitez, assistant professor from Kent State University’s School of Fashion Design and Merchandising, has been granted a Fulbright Scholarship to travel to Vienna, Austria, to work on a new fashion collection, “open thread :: wein.”

The objective of Benitez’s trip is to use data and technology to create textile prints. She will create software during her stay in Vienna that will generate prints and patterns. A website allows access to the prints and patterns online. Benitez says the prints and patterns will be part of a fashion collection of seven garments.

Benitez’s collection is inspired by Wiener Werkstätte, an artist and designer collective in Vienna during the 1910s -1930s, which brought together architects, artists and designers. The point of the Wiener Werkstätte was to make good design accessible to anyone. Benitez says she will work to research and create a linkage between her future collection and the Werkstätte collection.

Benitez will make her designs and textile patterns open-source and available for free downloads online.

“I will make it available so anyone can print it from wherever they are,” says Benitez. “This way, someone can use the original print, alter it or mash-it-up however they want and make their own creation.”

Benitez says she chose to make her design and artwork open-source because it will act as a catalyst for faster design, making movements happen quicker.

“I find it very intriguing that someone can go online, download something and make it their own,” says Benitez. “It opens the idea of not just being a consumer but also becoming a producer. This really pushes the idea of co-creation, so if someone downloads this, they can take my design as inspiration and co-create a new design of their own.”

Benitez says the theme of “open thread :: wein” will be inspired by the original Werkstätte designs from Vienna, but she will interpret the original collection in her own way, making hers more digital and modernly aesthetic.

The Fulbright Scholarship will pay for a partial amount of Benitez’s flight, as well as house her in an artist studio in Vienna’s MuseumsQuartier.

Benitez says she personally chose to study in Vienna because it offered an artist-in-residence program and because of its rich history in open culture. Benitez says “Vienna has always been a place where things happen.”

Benitez has taught at Kent State since August 2010. She currently teaches Introduction to Fashion Technology and Fashion Technology: Computer Integrated Textile Design.

For more information about Kent State’s School of Fashion Design and Merchandising, visit www.kent.edu/artscollege/fashion.