THE DESIGN PRIZE 2021’s golden madonnina in the category ‘distribution’ will go to multidisciplinary artist and founder of new york sunshine, john margaritis, and US apparel company dickies, for the installation ‘SUN DYED IN TEXAS’. balancing between art, design, and fashion, the project features a house-shaped sculptural piece, as well as a billboard that reads ‘just another day in paradise’, set on a private ground in marfa’s desert landscape. both are covered in dickies fabric, whose appearance will change in time due to the sun and weather conditions. designboom spoke with margaritis to find out more his collaboration with dickies, and what will happen to the fabric after the installation is dismantled. read the interview in full below.all images courtesy of new york sunshine and dickies
designboom(DB): how did the project develop?
john margaritis (JM): when dickies first reached out to me, they wanted a project that was outside of the box to lead off their 100 year anniversary. in my life, most of my favorite clothing is stuff I’ve had for years (if it still fits) and they all have character.
when I went to visit the dickies headquarters in fort worth, texas and went through their archives of old vintage pieces that were found in ranches and farmhouses, they all had so much wear and tear but held together so well. it made me think about the concept of speeding up the aging process and testing the durability.
when I get asked to work on projects based in fashion, I think about how I can present the idea so that it is unique, something I haven’t seen before. the concept for the clothes usually comes from my thought process on some sort of physical build.
DB: when can we see it? public access?
JM: I wanted to do it in texas because that’s where dickies home base is. specifically, I wanted to build in marfa because it’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit, and I’m a big fan of donald judd. the installations are on a private piece of property in marfa that will be open to the public on august 13th and 26th between 8 – 11pm, where the light is most interesting.
DB: what materials are used in ‘SUN DYED IN TEXAS’?
JM: dickies blue twill fabric, construction lumber, fasteners, screen spline to stretch the fabric taught and hold in place and a lot of sweat from the install team.
DB: you like to get crafty with your ‘install team’. please explain the challenges and what actually is offering a sense of achievement and satisfaction?
JM: it’s more construction based than craft based. we had to take environmental factors like high desert winds into consideration during the engineering phase. we also pre fabricated and assembled all components here at my studio in new york before they had to be shipped across the country.
working with my hands was instilled in me from a young age by my dad, who worked in construction. I work with him on all the big ideas that come out of new york sunshine. it usually starts with a sketch, then a scaled model, and finally the actual build.
the biggest challenges on this project were first foremost the overall size- large fabric panels act like sails in the wind. second, we had to come up with a modular design for the house so that it could be more easily disassembled, shipped, and reassembled. the remote location made logistics difficult, and the rocky terrain presented issues with anchoring the sculptures. finally, working in the texas heat is no joke.