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IMPACT Pro: Design Release Notes

IMPACT Pro: Design Release Notes

By Gil Lavi

In performance apparel and fashion in general, brands often try to distance their designs from their apparent sources of inspiration. The artists and makers who inspired me throughout my life are part of who I am. They live in my head every day.

The original RUBBER N’ ROAD square was conceived in relation to the camera’s viewfinder. It frames. I often recall John Baldessari’s work titled Hands Framing New York Harbor from 1971. This notion of ‘framing’ has always been challenging to translate graphically. However, the challenge is part of creating something fresh within the histories of abstraction.

Our new Impact Pro Collection calls for a new formal language - where the graphic concept and the unique qualities of the fabric’s weave intersect to become a singular and coherent performance piece.

In 2014, I visited the home of Mexican architect Luis Barragán in Mexico City. I immediately noticed a strange piece of artwork that looked a lot like a work made by Joseph Albers. It is known that Albers made many trips to Mexico in his lifetime and that he and Barragán developed a fruitful friendship. In addition to revealing a clear influence of pre-Colombian art, the painting that appeared to be a work by Albers shed light on Barragán’s relationship to abstraction and color.

Later, through the work and research of the American artist Jill Magid, I learned that Albers himself did not make the paintings at Casa Luis Barragán. They were silkscreen prints that Barragán commissioned in his friend’s style. These are not replicas of any existing Albers paintings but rather adaptations of the seminal forms that served as works of admiration and appreciation. This was a bold statement about authorship, appreciation, and daring to be inspired.

In 2017, the Guggenheim Museum released the book Joseph Albers In Mexico. The catalog traces Albers’ trips to Mexico and their profound influence on his work. Specifically, the book focuses on the geometric shapes found in the archaeological sites of Mitla and Monte Albán. The discoveries in the Mexican sites inspired Albers to say, “All real art is or was modern in its time.”

In 2023, I traveled to Monte Albán and Mitla. On this trip, I had meaningful interactions with local textile weavers whose use of geometry fascinated Joseph Albers and Anni Albers. Samples of these local textiles, using patterns specific to the region and contemporary blends, now live in the RUBBER N’ ROAD atelier.

While designing the upcoming Impact Pro Collection, I decided to appropriate Albers’ best-known work, Homage to The Square. I prioritized his studies into the manipulation of luminosity values, which is also key in the history of photography and extremely useful to consider in performance garment design. In the design process, many of Albers’ projects surfaced as significant points of reference.

The boldness of the Albers-inspired silkscreen prints at the Casa Luis Barragán has been a thrilling inspiration for me. They convinced me to take the works of artists I like—formally and conceptually—and put them directly onto the surface of this release. This is an opportunity to shed light on some of my sources of inspiration through our viewfinder.

Special thanks to two people who both pushed me to explore Albers more and in the process of creating the intellectual and artistic framework for the upcoming Impact Pro Collection, Kyle Thurman & Geoff Kaplan.

The IMPACT PRO Collection launches March 27th, 9:00 AM EST.