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April 10, 2020 lookbook

Inspiration and Reflection — The Albers Collection

As a non-weaver with relatively no technical textile knowledge, one of the things I love most about working at MINNA is getting to learn more about the design process. In these difficult times, things are drastically changing day to day, second by second, and one of the biggest challenges so far has been a loss of connection. One of the ways this has been most felt for me is the loss of idle conversation. It’s those passing comments, the questions that only arise face to face, and the natural flow of ideas present when a group of people are together in the same room. In trying to find some of that closeness, and to inspire some energy while our team is apart, I asked MINNA founder, Sara Berks, and studio associate, Sam Tannenbaum, to answer a few questions about their work together on the Albers pieces from our latest collection.

What is the FIRST step in your design process?
Sara Berks (SB) - Usually determining a color palette. This is the same for my art process too. When it comes to designing products, it goes color and then determining what technique I'm designing for.
Sam Tannenbaum (ST) - I start off by doing some trend forecasting and going through what I have saved on Instagram. The trend forecasting shows me what other people are looking forward to in the coming seasons, while what I have saved shows a pretty curated grouping of things that inspire me. It’s always interesting to see how those two different things combine or how one can feed off of the other.

What does the collaborative design process mean to you?
SB - Collaboration means sharing and iteration to me. For the past few years, collaboration has really only occurred between myself and the artisans we work with. When I wasn't at the workshops, often I felt I was designing in a bubble, other than the times I'd shout around the studio asking for opinions. Creating the process for collaboration with Sam was a little challenging at first for me because I was so used to my own 'weird' process. 
ST - Collaborative design is so special because you get to inspire one another, learn from one another. We get stuck in our own heads a lot when we are just sitting and staring at our computers for hours so it’s nice to have another person to bounce ideas off of. It was nice to have Sara’s input while I was designing, it reminded me of the way I was able to work in design school, always able to ask someone for their two cents (whether you agree or not)!

What is something you learned from/admire about the others' design process? 
SB - I really admire Sam's honesty! I can always count on them to give me their completely, honest opinion on a design or concept. I think when I was a younger designer, it was really hard for me to give constructive feedback or to be frank when discussing design with my creative directors. Sam also knows a lot more about the technical aspects of weaving and that's really valuable knowledge to have in the studio.
ST - I often get too caught up in the technical aspects of things - how long will this take to make?, is this angle too sharp to be woven and still look good? I enjoy Sara’s design perspective and how things are designed graphically first, and then the details are worked out. She has such a good understanding of how to design for each technique and produces such creative outcomes.

What is your favorite piece in this collection? 
SB - The Albers Runner in Meadow.
ST - Same! The color! The stripes! All good.

How do you know when a piece is done?
SB - When I've run out of time. Haha, not really, but honestly sometimes. Usually when I hold it and there are less than two things I'd still want to change.
ST - When it finally just feels right to me? It’s hard to explain, but yes I agree with Sara, when I leave work and don’t stress about how much I want to change, that’s a good sign.