United Excel Design Wins Best in Show at IIDA Unravel Raw Simplicity Fashion Show

United Excel Design recently won “Best in Show” at the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Unravel Raw Simplicity Fashion Show. The biennial competition pairs local design firms and schools with building finish manufacturers (e.g., carpet, upholstery, tile, office furniture) to create unique garments that toe the line between fashionable and architectural. The thirty design teams that participated were challenged to produce garments conforming to the theme of “Raw Simplicity,” focusing on the beautiful simplicity of the materials used in our everyday spaces.

This year, United Excel partnered with AIS, an office systems furniture provider from Kansas City. United Excel Design Team members included April Schafer, Interior Designer; Corey Davis, Architect; Sarah Green, Interior Designer; Allison Bleser, Designer; Matt Huettenmeyer, Designer; Tracy Donohue, Office Manager; and Ashley Mensinger, Project Coordinator (now with KAI Design & Build).

allison-on-runway-front-1Early in the process, the team was required to provide a design sketch and a written description of their dress, explaining how it fit within the theme and the manner in which it would be constructed.

“We knew we wanted the dress to be simple and elegant, yet made with the most raw materials possible,” said designer Matt Huettenmeyer. “The idea was to use pieces of hardware that make all of the connections, hold everything together, and without, the desk and/or chair wouldn’t function properly. “

allison-on-runway-backAs the process progressed, the team further developed the concept to utilize metal washers connected with copper wire from the electric power whips, essentially creating a dress made from elements that are typically hidden.

A significant amount of time was spent designing the form of the dress, with the understanding that it was going to be extremely heavy and wouldn’t allow much movement.
After many iterations, the team agreed on a form fitting dress with a plunging neckline and deep V-shaped back, with a high-low cut at the legs above the knee. The small train on the base of the dress added to the elegance and provided excitement through its flowing movement when walking. The ensemble was finished off with a necklace and head piece made from various sizes and types of washers, strung together with copper wire.

In the end, the dress weighed about 25 pounds. Through a process that took more than 20 minutes, the dress was meticulously fitted to the team’s model, designer Allison Bleser, via an inconspicuous piece of cord laced up the side.

More than 1000 people attended IIDA’s fashion show. Proceeds from the event benefitted HomeFirst STL, a local charity dedicated to providing resources to end homelessness.