Material Institute


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. 


Photography ©Kewon Hunter

Photography ©Esther Choi

Photography ©Kewon Hunter

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.

Dye sublimation printer. Photography ©Kewon Hunter

Photography ©Kewon Hunter

Big Chief Demond Melancon Mardi Gras Indian suit detail. Photography ©Kewon Hunter

Indigo dyeing 

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. 

Embroidery by student Craddock Reuben. Photography ©Kewon Hunter

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.

Photography ©Kelly Colley

Photography ©Kelly Colley

Open day poster

Pilot fashion show poster

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.

Opening. Photography ©Kewon Hunter

Pilot Show - Student pieces

Chez Augustin. Photography ©Esther Choi

Jalisa Riels. Photography ©Esther Choi

Kenitra Harding. Photography ©Esther Choi

Logan Jackson. Photography ©Esther Choi

Cherise Lockett. Photography ©Esther Choi

JD Williams. Photography ©Esther Choi

Daquine Herbert. Photography ©Esther Choi

Jonathan Faulkner. Photography ©Esther Choi

Trevor Bryant. Photography ©Esther Choi

Anita Nuñez Pilar. Photography ©Esther Choi

Al Beauti. Photography ©Esther Choi

Mohneeq. Photography ©Esther Choi

Paige McRae. Photography ©Esther Choi

Reuben Craddock. Photography ©Esther Choi

Sarah Hernandez. Photography ©Esther Choi

Tyrone Shoemaker. Photography ©Esther Choi

Tahj Pierre. Photography ©Esther Choi

Kai Bussant. Photography ©Esther Choi