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Old 07-23-2009, 06:16 AM   #1
hobo
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Default Geoffrey B. Small

I would like to kick of a discussion on a designer who has been quietly working away, doing his own thing, in a very cool way, since the 80’s. He was one of, if not the first to do recycled, and although Margiela also did it very well, I believe that Geoffrey did it in a more honest way. He has been making environmentally concessions clothing since way before it was fashionable and when designers like Yohji and Comme were expanding their production he was shrinking his, so that he had more control over it. He is not just a designer, but a tailor, a pattern cutter and machinist, so he really does understand and have control over the every detail of his clothing. He even works with a local fabric weaver to produce just what he needs for each piece. I understand that the there are many who do this now, but in combination with the fact that he personally oversees and works on pretty much every garment which he produces, I think that this makes him pretty special.

You may not be into Geoffrey B. Smalls design because, like Poell and Harnden, he designs from his own special place which is not really influenced by the fashion world. He is far more interested in history and socio-political issues, and how they affect the way we cloth ourselves. When I first saw his work, it scared the shit out of me! But after speaking to him in great depth, I began to understand his attention to rapidly disappearing values and to the details which are becoming less and less important in modern clothing, and the journey which had brought him to this place from where he produces his art. To me this involvement is very important.

Although seen in a very different light he has a lot in common with Altieri and did indeed showed with him in Paris in the very early days of Carpe Diem. Although he never exploded onto the scene, creating the impact that Altieri did, he has been working in a similar way for much longer and has probably, in a far more indirect way, had an equal impact on the way that the likes of Grandma, Luca, and this whole wave of new-school craftspeople who have emerged in the wake of Carpe Diem.

Ps. when I can post images I will let you see some of my collection of his work.
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Old 07-23-2009, 08:04 AM   #2
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Thanks for the thread Hobo
was also looking at somw more of his work lately, also saw a T-shirt by him on Yoox that I am considering to buy.
think somone already started a thread on him here, maybe both threads could be merged
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Old 07-23-2009, 12:42 PM   #3
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Old 07-23-2009, 05:24 PM   #4
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Just had a read through his website.
Rather amazing to say the least! I really appreciate his use of fabric and keeping his work in house so he can overlook everything.
When i was at university this is how i had imagined for me to work also.
I found this list of his innovations incredibly interesting
1. the use of inserts,
2. the 2-piece recycle twinset
3. themed recycle collections based upon a particular concept or garment type
4. inside out,
5. metamorphosisizing garment types (changing the original use of the garment into a different type or use)
6. half&half
7. tape bands
8. mesh
9. camouflage
10. plastic
11. metal
12. electronic components (applying solid state computer components into recycled clothing designs)
13. graffiti tagging
14. painted leather
15. painted jeans
16. zippers
17. the pinch seam
18. inside pinch seam
19. inside exposed overlock seam
20. laser and silkscreen prints on pants, jackets, button-down shirts, leather and knitwear
21. chiffon over jersey
22. holes
23. label outside
24. intarsia stitching
25. convertibles (2-in-1 or 3-in-1 garments that can be changed into bags, backpacks or alternative garments)
26. slashed knitwear
27. antique patches
28. ergonomic cutting and stitching
29. overdying
30. denim and khaki
31. refitting menswear into womenswear
32. customizing repairs
33. developing the world's most comprehensive standards and methods for production of recycled clothing.
For other members here is his website with images of previous collections and much more.
Well worth spending some time looking and reading everything within it. Incredibly inspiring.
Cheers Hobo for bringing him back to my attention!

http://www.geoffreybsmall.net/
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Old 07-23-2009, 06:01 PM   #5
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aaak, second topic in a few days about GBS with no pictures!

like discussed in some other thread (shit is so mixed up right now), Geoffrey is a very cool guy and does some very nice stuff. His work really can't be compared to anything else, he has such a different approach to making garments and his style, while utilizing some rather classic styles, is quite a unique combination of different elements. Also, he is probably one of the nicest people I've met.

There will some more up to date content on him in the near future, which is why I was holding back with the thread start but perhaps I will make a third one soon
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Old 07-23-2009, 06:27 PM   #6
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There are many pics on his sight, i try and upload a few in the next few days so we have some visuals at hand!

I sense you are cooking something up mr.lowrey!!!! hmmmm
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Old 07-24-2009, 06:10 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wire.artist View Post
it seems he shares several innovations with other sacred cows

the question is... who was first?

Convertible garments > junya
painted denim > MMM or helmut?
ergonomic cutting > altieri
menswear into womenswear> yohji
inside out> rei

....
My money's on the Small guy! Innovation is his middle name (or maybe it's Boris!).

Seriously though, I don't know about these particular ones but Geoffrey has come up with so many interesting innovations, for which he is not generally credited!
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Old 07-24-2009, 06:38 AM   #8
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I don't think the innovations should be taken too literally, he didn't obviously invent denim or use it for the first time in the world, I think some of the concepts are just elements which weren't that commonly used at the time and have since become more popular.

always thought the website was quite funny, its a bit out there with all the manifestos, randomly sized images, slightly messy lay outs and all but then again I'd imagine him to be the type that doesn't find it necessary to have the most elaborate online presence, the site has probably been close to the same for a decade.
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Old 07-24-2009, 02:35 PM   #9
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Originality is undetected plagiarism
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Old 07-24-2009, 04:21 PM   #10
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Love his "principles":

1. respect for the individual
2. service to others
3. strive for excellence
4. strive to have fun
5. loyalty & trust

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Old 07-26-2009, 09:09 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SunshineSometime View Post
Originality is undetected plagiarism
I have to disagree. That's quite a negative statement.

Of course you can nitpick the argument down until one agrees that we all pull inspiration from somewhere be it nature, a book, an idea etc. but it certainly may not constitute plagiarism in the dictionary-defined form of the word.
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Old 07-26-2009, 10:08 AM   #12
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2nd that Albert. It's important to stay honest with your work and true to your own inspiration. Do this, and I would be challenged to call any work unoriginal. We all take our inspiration from somewhere... it is our perception of these influences that determine our fate as an artist.
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Old 07-28-2009, 04:36 AM   #13
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I think that Geoffrey's principals and manifestos can be seen as comical if you don’t know him or understand how serious he is about them but they are an important part of what he does because it's this intellectual process that leads him to the end product which is so beautiful (and, I admit, sometimes, a little out there!). For some designers, it's a purely visual process, but for Geoffrey, it's the opposite, it starts with ideas and principals! For me that makes is more interesting than something which is just art for art’s sake.

As far plagiarism, I suppose that it depends what you consider to be copying and what you consider to be inspiration. When I was in Venice with Geoffrey he took me to the church on St Marco's square and while everyone-else was looking up at the frescos and ornamentation, he was down on his hands and knees looking at the broken mosaic tiles on the floor and telling me how this was the inspiration for some of his best patchwork pieces. This is inspiration. It's also inspiring! However, he also takes original patterns which are hundreds of years old and incorporates them, in their original form, into his collection. He usually chooses fabrics which would never have been used for that particularly garment. I think that it could be argued that this is plagiarism, but I would disagree. I understand that the history is an important part of his collection and I understand why he doesn't want to tamper with the patterns. He is also very honest about the fact that he uses these patterns as an integral part of the collection; in fact he is very proud of the research that has gone into them and the part that they play.
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Old 07-28-2009, 07:51 AM   #14
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I think in this day and age the whole plagiarism discussion is kinda overwrought. The myth of the purely original is dead. Everyone is inspired by something/one that came before, and mixes things to his own heart's content, and that's fine. Originality in its original sense is nearly impossible. People forget that genius is an incredibly rare phenomenon.
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Old 07-28-2009, 08:04 AM   #15
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Absolutely!

Don't really know how we got on to this one. No one said that Geoffrey was a plagiarist. I think it was more about his innovations, whether they are in fact his and whether he has been credited with the ones that are his.
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Old 07-28-2009, 08:16 AM   #16
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Outside of the context of Geoffrey Small, as I see it, plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of some previous work one is aware of in one's creations. This leads me to three points:

One cannot plagiarize nature.

If someone in Porous, Jamaica, designs a pattern on a dress, and three years later Missoni or DVF puts the exact same pattern on a dress, unaware of Porous (as many people are) or the previous designer, it is not plagiarism. The coincidence simply suggests that the designers drew inspiration from similar sources.

Third, so what if Small was inspired by previous work? Isn't "inspiration" one of the prerequisites of creation? And with millennia of human creation preceding us, is it really reasonable to expect someone not to be influenced by others?
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Old 07-28-2009, 08:27 AM   #17
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I think that we've talked ourselves around in a circle!

The original conversation was not about whether Geoffrey plagiarised, but quite the opposite. It was about whether or not his early experimental work constituted innovation, and if so, whether he should be more widely credited. I simply used the example of his use of authentic patterns as an example of what, in my opinion, is not plagiarism.
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Old 07-28-2009, 08:28 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SombreResplendence View Post
Outside of the context of Geoffrey Small, as I see it, plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of some previous work one is aware of in one's creations. This leads me to three points:

One cannot plagiarize nature.

If someone in Porous, Jamaica, designs a pattern on a dress, and three years later Missoni or DVF puts the exact same pattern on a dress, unaware of Porous (as many people are) or the previous designer, it is not plagiarism. The coincidence simply suggests that the designers drew inspiration from similar sources.

Third, so what if Small was inspired by previous work? Isn't "inspiration" one of the prerequisites of creation? And with millennia of human creation preceding us, is it really reasonable to expect someone not to be influenced by others?
Although I do agree with everything that you have said here.
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Old 07-28-2009, 01:39 PM   #19
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Don’t get me wrong albert, I don’t meant anything negative by what I said. I respect the man and what he is doing.

Faust said it best “Originality in its original sense is nearly impossible.”

Coming where I’m from, I’m a design grad and I’ve seen most of my classmates creating utter replicas of existing designs with a minor tweak in certain areas. Then there are those that genuinely pursue an idea that strikes them to create something in which they believe to be original. I would classify the 1st as bullshit and the latter as being honest.

I’d like the state that originality does not lie with your product do but in your conscience. At the end of the day, if you genuinely create something that you’ve never seen before (but may already be out there). However all these are intangible when the final product is out.

Everyone has their own opinions to this but I’d like to say as a design standpoint it is the integrity to say that you are not original but honest to your ideas.
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Old 07-28-2009, 05:26 PM   #20
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There's a very good good book from 1999 by Mieke Bal
on the subject of influence:

Quoting Caravaggio: Contemporary Art, preposterous History

I'll highly recommend it.
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