Texas Design Now at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 2015. Photo by Paul Hester.

Texas Design Now at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 2015. Photo by Paul Hester.

Past Exhibition

Texas Design Now

August 22, 2015 - November 29, 2015
Brown Foundation Gallery


Texas Design Now features fashion, accessory, furniture, and industrial designs by artists and artisans living and working statewide. The participants hail from Austin, Dallas, Houston, Marfa, San Antonio, and Wimberley, and their creations demonstrate the diversity, vitality, and originality of Texas’s creative communities. These 35 participants were chosen by Guest Organizers Chris Goins and Garrett Hunter, who drew on their extensive experience in fashion and interior design.

Texas Design Now features work by: Mary Lou Artz, Esé Azenabor, Amy Blakemore, Rob Bradford, James Brummett, Xavier Castillo, The Community Cloth, Andy Coolquitt, Johnny Dang Diamond Grillz, Chloe Dao, Kate de Para, Kate de Para with Shane Tolbert, Sameera Faridi, Finell, Alyson Fox, Garza Marfa, Peter Glassford, Manoosh with MarilynBiles, Judy Masliyah, Dennis Nance with James Hays, Yasmina Johnston, Angel Oloshove, Oudvark, David Peck, Ryan Reitmeyer, Alyce Santoro, s.t.e.f., Warbach, Claire Webb, Michael Wilson, Michael Yates, Michelle Yue, and Peter Zubiate.

The participants’ works cover a broad range of styles, from exquisitely bejeweled clothing, hats, necklaces, and custom grillz (Artz, Azénabor, Bradford, Castillo, Johnny Dang Diamond Grillz, Faridi), to inspiring handcrafted garments and furniture (Brummett, Glassford, Nance, Hays, Wilson, Zubiate). The mixture of forms on view is similarly broad, ranging from utilitarian and sculptural vessels (Blakemore, Finell, Oloshove), to inventive lighting (Warbach, Oudvark), luxurious personal adornments and accessories (Finell, Johnston, Webb, Yue) and inspired home furnishings (Garza Marfa, Fox, Reitmeyer, Yates) that are available to a wide range of consumers.

“When we put on our clothes in the morning, or put pieces of furniture into our homes, we invite the outside world in. People understand us based on how we make these choices,” says CAMH Director Bill Arning, arguing that fashion and interior design are an accessible form of conceptual art.


Fashion and Accessory Design

As visitors to Texas Design Now will see, some designers have put contemporary twists on classic silhouettes through the inventive use of prints and tailoring (Dao, Masliyah, s.t.e.f., Peck). Other designers use beading, sequins, and embellishment to create bejeweled gowns and accessories. On view is a Fiesta dress from San Antonio. Products of a nearly century-old tradition, Fiesta dresses are highly embellished garments worn during special “coronation” events by young society women in San Antonio. The generous trains of these dresses—covered in rhinestones, sequins, and beading—are sewn by hand and often weigh more than 50 pounds. At CAMH is a dress sewn by Mary Lou Artzaccompanied by a similarly extravagant jeweled crown made by Xavier Castillo.

Offering another point of view is Dallas-based fashion designer Yasmina Johnston who utilizes unique, unexpected materials to produce garments with a sculptural sensibility. Her jet black folded-paper dress on view in Texas Design Now is an architecture-for-the-body that cuts an elegant and dynamic silhouette. Her I’m Caged In skirt is similarly edgy: its shiny grid simultaneously conceals and reveals its wearer’s body, acting as a blueprint for a garment, and a daring work of wearable art.

Johnny Dang Diamond Grillz have definitely changed the face of fashion. Produced by Johnny Dang with C. Stone and Paul Wall, these custom-produced jewelry designs that are worn atop the teeth have been rocked by Beyoncé, Paris Hilton, Katy Perry, Lil Wayne, and Kanye West, among many others. Combining gold, diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and other precious stones, these flashy accessories were introduced to mainstream America in rapper Nelly’s 2005 music video Grillz, which featured more than 70 close-up grill shots.

Dallas-based Rob Bradford, also known as “Rhinestone Rob”, encrusts both garments and accessories with over-the-top embellishment to produce memorable, one-of-a-kind objects. Included in this exhibition are a helmet for a dazzling Trojan warrior and a gown featuring a chest-plate of taxidermy duck wings. Like Dang, Bradford designs for wearers who definitely want to stand out in a crowd.

A number of works on view are the result of collaborations whose motivations are artistic, socially minded, and the result of long-term friendships (de Para/Tolbert, Manoosh/Biles, The Community Cloth, Fox/Yates). The Community Cloth is a micro-enterprise initiative empowering refugee women in Houston that supports the production and sales of handmade, indigenous arts and crafts by artisans from Afghanistan, Burma, Myanmar, Sudan, and other countries. The production of The Community Cloth’s bags, scarves, and household items empower the women who produce them and sustain cultural heritage and craft traditions that are often in danger of being lost.

Anna Wilson designs Manoosh’s scarves in collaboration with painter Marilyn Biles, bringing together the vision of two Houston-based artists in the process. Manoosh’s luxurious cashmere and silk scarves are adorned with digitally printed details taken from Biles’s color-strong abstract paintings. The fact that Biles is Wilson’s future grandmother-in-law gives their work together an endearing narrative edge.

Furniture and Industrial Design

In addition to wearable fashions, Texas Design Now features cutting edge furniture and industrial designs that adorn contemporary living spaces. Garza Marfa’s interior furnishings combine the clean, crisp lines and simplicity ofmidcentury designs with colors, textures, and materials influenced by Jamey Garza and Constance Holt-Garza’s western environments. Their inviting objects mix leather, wood, and canvas with powder-coated steel in bright industrial colors like orange, citrus yellow, and turquoise. Seen on a ranch or in a Modernist interior, Garza Marfa’sdesigns would look equally at home.

Benches, desks, and chairs by Michael Wilson (Wimberley, TX) achieve a striking balance between crafted control and organic growth. As a sculptor, he intuitively understands when he’s carved away enough material to reveal the essence of the wood he’s shaping. His unique vision and sensibility is evident in sensual curves, unexpected bumps, and undulating surfaces that invite caresses and reclining.

Warbach is a design build studio based in Austin whose bespoke lighting graces private homes and public venues across Texas and beyond. From initial concepts to precision execution, Warbach’s team produces scintillating, exciting results. Viewers to Texas Design Now will be greeted by an undulating lighting solution for CAMH’s entrance that offers sculptural illumination. Warbach’s design will continue to grace the museum’s entryway following the close of the exhibition.

Austin-based Finell design and manufacture neo luxe housewares and fashion accessories. The unique sculptural form of their handbags, clutches, and totes are inspired by origami shapes, and these supple leather accessories can all be folded flat. Full of progressive aesthetics and innovative features, their items are as refined and unique as the customers who appreciate them.

Texas Design Now builds on a legacy of early CAMH exhibitions such as This Is Contemporary Art (1948) and The Common Denominator: Modern Design 3500 B.C.-1958 A.D. (1958), which presented design and artworks side-by-side, and suggested that “the contemporary” was not simply an artistic proposition, but a matter of personal and aesthetic choice. With communities of adventurous supporters who find inspiration in the vision provided by these local talents, we imagine that Texas will continue to produce innovators and leaders in the field of design.

Texas Design Now is Guest Organized by Chris Goins and Garrett Hunter, with support from CAMH Curator Dean Daderko and Curatorial Associate and Business Manager Patricia Restrepo.


Texas Design Now is organized by guest organizers Chris Goins and Garrett Hunter.


This exhibition has been made possible by the patrons, benefactors and donors to the Museum’s Friends of Steel Exhibitions: Director’s Circle: Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, Fayez Sarofim, Ms. Louisa Stude Sarofim, Curator’s Circle: Dillon Kyle Architecture, Inc., Mr. and Mrs. I. H. Kempner III. Major Exhibition Circle: A Fare Extraordinaire,Bergner and Johnson Design, Jereann Chaney, Sara Paschall Dodd, Marita and J.B. Fairbanks, Greg Fourticq, Barbara and Michael Gamson, Brenda and William Goldberg, Blakely and Trey Griggs, George and Mary JosephineHamman Foundation, Leslie and Mark Hull, Jackson and Company, Louise D. Jamail, Anne and David Kirkland, KPMG, LLP, Beverly and Howard Robinson, Lauren Rottet, Robin and Andrew Schirrmeister, Yellow Cab Houston, Mr. Wallace Wilson, Michael Zilkha. Perspectives Exhibition Circle: Bright Star Productions Inc., Elizabeth HowardCrowell, Dillon Kyle Architecture, Inc., King & Spalding L.L.P., Leigh and Reggie Smith and Susan Vaughan Foundation, Inc.

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