Friday, August 17, 2012

Treanndis Hurst - An American Designer Visits Fez

“I like to focus on the more intimate details within the interior environment." - Treanndis Hurst
Photo: Suzanna Clarke

Treanndis Hurst is a young American designer with a passion for bringing the traditional and the contemporary together in a way that breathes new life into design, while still incorporating the "story" - the artisanal history of the work. He first came to Morocco with an urban design studio and immediately fell in love with the country, its culture and its diverse designs.

Originally from Louisiana (Baton Rouge), Treanndis now lives in San Francisco. After pursuing a degree in architecture, he decided to diversify his knowledge and technical skills as an holistic designer while increasing his depth of technical knowledge specifically in architectural and interior design.

"I fell in love with Morocco on that first trip," he says. "It is fascinating how the life here has developed over time and produced an interesting quality of life." From an architectural point of view he admired the Moroccan riads, structured around courtyards. But it was the textiles that he was most impressed with. "I fell in love with the textiles, the colours and motifs. And the feel of the fabrics is something I really love."

"Berber carpets have a modern feel to them"

The focus of his latest trip to Morocco is to study textile design;  how fabric is produced, what materials and different motifs are used. "With the carpets I am interested in the colour palettes, the types of weave and so on." Treanndis says he finds that Moroccan carpets differ in many respects from other places but have integrated influences from the Mediterranean.  "Berber carpets," he says, "have a modern feel to them."

Treanndis is impressed with the use of embroidery in design, something he says was more apparent in the work of the artisans of Fez than in Marrakech. And, while the Fez embroidery was impressive, so too were the examples of kilims in Marrakech."The Marrakech kilims bring together a flat weave with knotting techniques and embroidery on top – producing a rich change of texture in the kilim."

Having spent ten days in Marrakech before coming to Fez, Treanndis says it is interesting to note the "contrasts between the "red city" and the "golden city".  "Marrakech is more of a vacation get away," Treanndis notes, "While Fez is about getting closer to the real life in the Medina and the products in Fez are more genuine. I was also blown away by the setting being so picturesque. The Fez Medina is like an advanced organism that has grown in on itself as it aged."

Treanndis says this trip and future trips will influence him a lot. "My experiences in Morocco encourages me to work with artisans. My decision to go to the California College of the Arts was driven by becoming a desire to become a product designer. Importantly, it is about textiles and furniture not just designing vacuum cleaners or other objects."

He says the artisans are a huge resource that exists in the Moroccan villages.  "I would like to assist them to produce and open them up to new markets. Having been able to see things being made and talking with shop owners inspires me to push forward and attempt to translate the designs into new products. Working with artisans is important and the question I want to answer is what is the role of the artisan and the weaver or crafter in producing a contemporary product that is not just an object, but something with a history or story that the consumer can share."


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