October Brought Creativity and Fashion to SMMA

October Brought Creativity and Fashion to SMMA

October proved to be a very busy month for SMMAers, who vibrantly participated in notable events outside of the firm. After spending a summer’s worth of planning and coordinating, volunteers first participated in Canstruction’s 23rd annual design competition which raises hunger awareness through asking design teams to build creative masterpieces from nonperishable food items. This year’s theme, Heroes vs. Villains, provided a fun challenge for SMMA. Utilizing a fun twist on the theme, the firm’s Canstruction group decided to construct a “hero” sandwich.

“We always like to look for the alternative interpretation of the theme,” says SMMA Canstruction Captain Alyssa Tompkins. “When Sarah [Sopelak] suggested that we make a hero sandwich, we all fell in love with the concept. It was funny. It was playful. It was a food. It was all over great.”

The completed hero sandwich, which originates from a quirky tale from the New York Herald Tribune in 1936 exclaiming that sandwiches were so large “you had to be a hero to eat it,” was 8-feet long and incorporated just over 1,700 cans. It remained on display in the Boston Canstruction exhibit space all month long, from October 7th to October 26th.

“There’s so much teamwork that goes into Canstruction,” Tompkins fondly recalls. “It's not just one person's idea, or one person's design. It's really meeting after meeting, with whoever can make it taking their own time to figure out what the design wants to be, and to make sure that it's fitting within a budget we're given. We even had some of our interns contribute; our team this year made it really easy and enjoyable. I want to give a huge shout out to Nick [Perry] for getting this all started, who is no longer with SMMA.”

The team is already switching gears to focus on next year’s Canstruction theme, All Around the World.

SMMA’s interior designers also saw months of work come to light in October, as they created their own masterpieces awaiting the 20th Anniversary IIDA Fashion Show, coined ReflectionXX. Inspired by Interior Designer Genevieve Messina’s previous participation in the event, SMMA gathered an interdisciplinary team of volunteers in a mass effort of collaboration, ranging from interior designers, to architects, to even the firm’s interns.

“I just want to express how much of a true team effort this whole experience was,” Messina exclaims. “In the beginning, Ben [Abbett] and I took on the titles of Team Captains so that there was someone to default to for design direction, but everyone involved pulled more than their own weight. Depending on the day, the leadership would shift; it was really amazing working with a team that was able to help steer. My colleague Jen Lyle and intern Maeve Kelly particularly stepped up to help reach our goals and overcome road blocks.”

SMMA’s team initially had several different interpretations of this year’s theme, but finally embraced a single, impactful word: consume. “We wanted to explore this idea of how elements reflect their will on each other within the environment,” says Interior Designer and Co-Captain Benjamin Abbett. “We wanted to show how natural elements and man-made elements interact; there is often this battle of asserting dominance, consuming one over the other.”

The result: two unique looks, each focusing on a different relationship between man and nature. The first piece, entitled Brick and Ivy, portrayed human construction through a brick-like pattern. The brick was interrupted by natural elements, or “ivy,” representing a tension with nature to reclaim its space irrespective of man-made structures. The second look, called Oil and Water, focused on extracting oil from water, which is not necessarily a clean process and often leaves its mark on the natural world.

“Our aesthetics were also driven by the materials we had at hand,” the Captains explain. “The halcyon and the leather really lent well to this dark, moody, oil and water look. The carpet tile and the carpet fiber and some other upholsteries really helped us create Brick and Ivy. It worked out really well.”

The team enjoyed seeing their creations come to life at the show on October 18th, many months after the entire process began. The two identities were animated by models and SMMAers Jennifer Lyle (Brick and Ivy) and Timothy Pelletier (Oil and Water). “We were just in such good spirits,” Abbett recalls. “We even got compliments from the judges on our cape aesthetic. Every meeting, every late night and weekend with our dedicated team, really made such a huge difference.”