Many fashion designers may describe their work as architectural, citing structural influences in the accessories and garments they create, but few would actually follow their compatriot, Airi Isoda, to the hardware store.
Along with her fiancé, Ryan Upton, Isoda heads up LA-based Wrk-shp, a venture she describes as a "collaborative platform for my architect partner and me to work together and create. Whether the outlet is in the form of graphic, objects, fashion or architecture, Wrk-shp allows us to explore and develop what makes us, 'us'."
The designer, who studied architecture herself, takes her fascination with structures to the micro level with her use of components typically reserved for home-building—plants and Tyvek on a raincoat, for instance, and now, house paint and cement. The latest iteration of her penchant for offbeat construction comes in the form of delightfully minimalist, but still vaguely quirky accessories painted with the industrial materials.
The canvas pouches and handbags mark an extension of Isoda's initial dipping in her Fall 2011 ready-to-wear collection. "I explored how fashion and architecture intersect by mixing fashion fabrics with architectural materials," she says. "We developed a special formula for the concrete to adhere to fabric and stay on! The bags were designed to embody the same concepts as the clothes, but on a smaller, more tangible scale and at a much affordable price point."
Most notably, Isoda tempers her adventurous mash-ups with practicality, and feats like a supremely wearable trench coat with wheatgrass growing out of it in tufts, or a lightweight case coated in cement, speak to the level of her design talent and careful thought process. With the latest batch of accessories, it's a more understated concept with an equally whimsical effect. Next up for Wrk-shp, Isoda tells us, will be lighting and furniture and, of course, the 2012 ready-to-wear collections.