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Poetry of a Prototype – Editor’s Letter

It could be chronicle or literature – prototype stands for positive, resilient, operative people – as we are. Prototype is about challenging ourselves with experimental assets, it’s about turning the other cheek – we have cried enough – and face a brave new world. Prototype – any item being researched for the launch of new production. A prototype is where creative ideas meet — or clash — with industrial feasibility. The item must lead to replicable solutions. A prototype can (or must) adapt the creative idea to ensure that its reproducibility meets a factory’s cost restrictions. The references here are those of design, manufacturing, and textile.

A prototype might be feasible but only for limited, numbered editions and not for large-scale productions. That is the case with high fashion. A prototype might not be suitable for an assembly line, it becomes an artisanal endeavor, or it might not be replicable at all – becoming a piece of art with its own inherent message. These are all definitions, and we all know how little weight they carry. Their usefulness burnt out in an introduction.

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A dozen battery eggs, Franprix, Paris 2020. Katerina Jebb

Garments from a fashion runway can be seen as prototypes. After being presented, decisions will be made as to which to select for production, with assessment considering budgets and sales orders. The creative director may ask his team to make headgear, accessories, metal crowns, wisteria flowers in leather —accessories that will not go into production. These accessories are too elaborate and are only destined for the show and for the wow effect in editorials; merely complements to other commercial items. They are prototypes requested from suppliers who would prefer to refuse on these as they earn on industrial orders. Suppliers cannot afford any dissent, fashion houses such as Chanel, Hermès, and Gucci can just head to another source searching for the quality of their reality. Suppliers and manufacturers represent Italy’s wealth, for fashion and for design, and their importance lies in their prototyping ability, a costly factor. This ability is so proactive that at times it inverts the process, becoming not the execution but the inspiration and source of the creative project — and these are often the best.

A Swedish industrial design student with a certain amount of ambition wants to come to Italy and see his ideas become items with a carpenter in Brianza. No carpenters are available; their business, be it micro, medium, or large, is busy supplying international houses who almost have their production in Italy. It’s quite given that creative talents come with no cost-related problems (even the ambitious student at hand already has funding) but they have to face the priority of industrial orders, where a delay compromises the entire chain with repercussions on employee salaries and the purchase of prime materials.

In other words, universities teach that prototyping goes under R&D in a corporate business plan. When the company is healthy, this line carries high value. Research and constant prototyping efforts guarantee manufacturing ability. If this collapses, it leads to delocalization. A factory in Vietnam or in Romania brings with it much lower production costs and better delivery times, achieving Italian capability – if in Italy we are not proceeding with the strongest experimental and creative ideas. In conclusion to a prologue for an edition dedicated to this very subject, prototyping has appeal for a generation that, far from young or immature, is adult and lively. For these committed, curious, skilled people, Lampoon undertakes to publish with maximum effort, courage, and dedication. It’s a matter of love.

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