What does Starkweather have in common with barns?
Going back into documents from the early days of Starkweather, I dug up some great juice that has been absorbed into the DNA of the brand but that I rarely think of anymore. There are certain subjects that I have always been drawn to and that resurface across all areas of my work and projects, my own philosophies of living, and my design preferences as an aesthete and observer. I have collected hundreds of images, dozens of books and life experiences in locations that tie back to these themes. It’s that natural pull that guides our choices, designs our environments, and brings us close to people who share our affinities or who want to learn more about them from us. Some of those for me are space travel and future technologies, Native American culture and binary design, and American barns.
We were told in design school that, if we had our own businesses, designing would become about 10% of our job. And that has turned out to be 100% true. It has been almost six months since I picked up a pencil and paper to lay down a new design, as I have been completely focused on the design of my business.
Remembering where the garment design comes from is not on the top of my mind, because now I am seeing the garments as products and numbers rather than art or creations. This is strange and satisfying in its own way, but I miss the sensation of putting something down on paper and watching it come to life through the prototyping and sampling process. Then the moment of first seeing it in motion, on the body.
I miss digging through image libraries to find that graphic or rural portrait that informs the lines of a design or leads to the cross disciplinary (with biology, in this case) design of the crux. I miss the imagination I have when my brain is full of the visual references that fill up and mix up in my mind to create new compositions and arrangements that I can put down on paper, adding my own images to the world. And the curious dreams that I have after this research is done.
Sometimes it’s not the most fantastical, but the most pragmatic that blows my mind. The North American barn, for example, keeps me constantly in awe. Cross state lines, all over the country, cross generations, new and old, modernized and defunct, they all share one fundamental design principle: every structural decision is made with function in mind. This means that, if you close your eyes and picture a barn, what you'll see in your mind's eye is much like the image of a barn 200 years ago. The function has not changed, so the design has not changed. It is only optimized by scale and, advances in construction methods and building material. For hundreds of years we see it repeating itself in the way of the tried and true.
And while I haven’t looked at my books on American Barns for ages and that phase of my research has long been over, that sentiment still resonates with me fully.
This is what I hope for Starkweather, that the design of the business and the design of the garments will follow the path of the barn. That they will serve their function and be beautiful in their minimalism and enhance the landscape while also representing the hard work that takes place within those walls. That they will adapt to improvements in structural integrity, but outside of the pressures of trend and fad, and that they will stand the test of time.