Material Institute is a free community and arts education space for the design and manufacture of garments, textiles and fashion in New Orleans. The Institute’s programme is designed to encourage learning through hands on experimentation in both traditional craft and high fashion.
The fashion school is part of an experimental arts school founded and initiated by Mona, including the Embassy Recording Studios and 24 Carrot Garden. The school, which Assemble have been involved with since 2016, was created with the aim to support young people in the area to experiment, improvise and develop individual artistic practice.
In 2018 Assemble proposed to help set up the new department for fashion – now called the Material Institute. Collaborating with local and global fashion and textile designers, the institute opened with a pilot residency October–December 2018.
The goal of the Institute is to provide free or affordable space, tools and professional guidance to those who would not have access to these opportunities otherwise.
Assemble converted the existing light industrial building to include new theatrical walls, reflective surfaces, dramatic openings and large steel structural beams. The large windows were created by removing sections of existing cinder blocks, exposing the block edges behind slick panes of glass. The colour palette features tropical pastel peaches and mints, set against the textured plaster render walls and concrete floors. The workshop furniture was designed by Assemble and welded on site, with chandelier prototypes dip dyed in indigo. Assemble also specified professional equipment, such as sewing machines, a large dye sublimation printer and heat press, weaving loom and natural dye lab tools.
Assemble designed and managed the pilot phase of the educational programme in partnership with local stakeholders and experts in the fashion industry. The founding curriculum included pattern cutting, draping, design, textile experimentation, embellishment and textile printing, culminating in a fashion show at Material Institute.
Material Institute is currently open and operating a one year curriculum programme - Fashion & Textiles foundation.
Material Institute's Fashion & Textiles department is run by local, national and global artists, designers, community organisers and students.
Pilot Show - Student pieces