by Bianca Dyke, Interior Designer II

IIDA Northern California’s annual design event, MERGE, was hosted on June 22nd. With the theme, “Fit for Future,” 13 local firms set out to create award-winning designs. We created a Pinterest board (see here) to collectively explore how we interpreted the theme, and set to sketching. Through our discussions and sketches, we made our decision: drawing contrast between the tech-centric, monochromatic idea of the future, and the future we want to create – one of inclusion, positivity, and health. Our concept statement captures it as such:

“We usually imagine a stark, cold future detached from society and dominated by technology, but let’s re-imagine a future we want – one inspired by diversity, color, inclusivity, love, health, and freedom of expression. To celebrate the liberating qualities of the materials, we fashioned this piece from painted Dunn Edwards dropcloth, MDC textured wallcovering, and Shaw Contract carpeting. The addition of the J&J Flooring and Mannington vinyl tiles accentuate the layered design of the piece, allowing for the flexibility of creating a new look on the fly.”

After looking through many pinterest photos, RuPaul’s Drag Race videos, and Disney Princess costumes, we decided to create a look that transformed from a pants/top combo, to a full gown. This required meticulously cutting “shards” of silver, glittery LVT from Mannington, slivers of J&J Flooring Group LVT, stripping Shaw Contract carpet backing and cutting the carpet into bands. Our “fabric” was dropcloth provided by paint manufacturer Dunn-Edwards, which was quite a trial-and-error process. We later learned that once you paint dropcloth, it becomes stiff, so we had to be very careful how we painted the skirt to ensure it flowed just right. We used a really cool “fractal-esque” wallpaper by MDC for the front of the pants and the back of the bodice…but since this is also a stiff material, Erin and I had to go through a couple iterations before we figured how to contour the pieces to his body. We used zippers, buttons, and a LOT of hot glue in the end, and it all came together amazingly! It was an enlightening experience, putting this outfit together, and definitely a group effort.

The event was glamorous and after Casey was done up by hair and makeup, we entered the grand ballroom. Each team was introduced and walked (or sashayed, in Casey’s instance) down the runway to music of the team’s choice. Associated Lighting Reps, Inc (ALR, Inc) set up a custom lighting display that illuminated the stage and highlighted the models beautifully. Although all of the other teams had incredible outfits, none of them had the diamond we did – in the end, Casey’s incredible runway walk won the team the “Best Model Attitude” award and Casey’s photo and quote were featured in the Sacramento Bee.

Congratulations team MERGE 2019! In addition to myself, others who contributed to the final design included Erin Graham, Casey Wong, Pa Vang, Elena Nansen, Patrick Sasan, Cheryl Padlan, Katie Auxier, Carol Hang, Jamie Hang and Annalise Baird. Have a look at the full range of fantastic professional photos of the event by DL Cunningham Photography