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Memphis

Arras is a tapestry of textile designs throughout the decades since the construction of its soon-to-be home base, Fairview Mall.  Having started with “Flower Power” on the North Wall, we decided to complete that wall by working on the 1980’s-inspired design (nicknamed “Geometric Gradients”) next, as these two patterns share one wall.  Geometric Gradients also wraps around to the East wall as well. 


“Geometric Gradients” mimics the Memphis-style textile designs of the eighties and nineties, that included an almost airbrushed quality of colour transitions in varying shapes across an opaque black background. We love the way that one coloured piece of glass can transition to another. From a mosaic technique perspective, the “andamento” (the flow or movement created by the placement of the tiles) is quite different from our other designs. We frequently use the “opus tessellatum” technique which means that all tiles (or “tesserae”) form either vertical or horizontal rows, but not both; they are placed in a staggered pattern to avoid a grid-like appearance.  In some of our upcoming designs, we also use “opus regulatum” meaning that the tiles or tesserae align both vertically and horizontally into a grid. “Geometric Gradients”, however, uses a mix of opus tessellatum for the black background and “Opus palladianum”, aka “Crazy Paving” for the coloured shapes. The tiles are cut into irregular shapes and placed in a sort of random order, coming together like pieces of a puzzle.  This seemed like the right technique for the design, but a technique with “crazy” in the name also seemed appropriate to represent the 1980’s.


At least for our generation, the 80’s are a time that we look back on with nostalgia. Our society has such fond memories of this decade, that a lot of elements that most represent the 1980’s have made a revival in recent years. Both Elana & Lauren grew up during this time of Cabbage Patch dolls.  Our childhoods were filled with music from Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna, and Whitney Houston. We watched movies like E.T., Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Back to the Future.  We played games like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros.   We crimped our hair.  We had jackets with shoulder pads and wore leg warmers. The 1980’s were a time of bright colours and sharp edges, that the Memphis Group (a collective of Italian designers) made iconic, and we feel that “Geometric Gradients” captures this essence perfectly. 


What a fun journey this has already been of moving through time via our artwork.  And what fun it is to get to work on such vastly different styles within the same project!