America’s No. 1 denim-maker is working with the Rhode Island School of Design to teach the next generation of designers to incorporate both style and sustainability. Nada Grkinich, senior director of Levi’s global footwear and accessories, and Paul Dillinger, senior director of Dockers color and concept design, will be conducting the five-week course alongside adjunct faculty members Suzanne Mancini and Jill Theirbault through RISD’s Apparel Design and Textiles departments. The instructors’ goal: to “circumvent the echo-chamber of the same-old design ideas, get feedback on new styles, and incorporate new thinking into real products,” Dillinger says.

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The workshop, the first in a “designer in residence” program with select artists and designers, isn’t for would-be apparel designers only. Students from a broad range of disciplines, including interior design and graphic arts, are invited to participate.

As far as schools for recruitment go, RISD has long been on top of Levi’s list. “The design process that they teach and their institutional values are very much aligned with ours,” Dillinger tells Ecouterre. “The school is a leading college of art and design and is known for its talented faculty of artists and designers, the breadth of its specialized facilities, and its hands-on approach to learning.”

The key message Dillinger hopes to impart is that style and sustainability can coexist harmoniously.

The key message Dillinger hopes to impart is that style and sustainability can coexist harmoniously. That and the fact that innovation is the heart of good design. The students, he explains, will learn about the development of ideas, color, texture, and pattern in relation to the human form while exploring techniques such as fabric manipulation, stitching, and cutting.

“The most important tools for sustainable design are simplicity and knowledge,” Dillinger says. “Though this class is focused on material exploration, the design students will discover the intrinsic characteristics of their fabrics. This understanding will generate intuitive design solutions that align with the natural properties of the material and a simpler, more sustainable design process will evolve.”

Dillinger expects he’ll have much to learn from his students, as well. “It’s always good to get a fresh set of eyes on any challenge,” he tells us. “The creativity and excitement that the students bring with them into the classroom is inspiring; the curiosity and courage with which they engage their assignments is an example of how designers should approach their work every day ”

+ Rhode Island School of Design

+ Levi Strauss

[Via Triple Pundit]