ASU X FABRIC – The State Press

The moment Angela Johnson and Sherri Barry opened the doors to the vacant Tempe Performing Arts building, they saw the perfect place to build their fashion empire.

Looking past the cobwebs and dust accumulated in the corners, Johnson and Barry envisioned a creative space where designers can work and come together. Almost a year and a half later, the Fashion and Business Resource Innovation Center, also known as FABRIC, is one of Phoenix’s premier fashion creative spaces, hosting catwalks. FABRIC offers courses and gives designers a place to hone their craft.

Now the building is coming to life, as students in Arizona State University’s architectural design program submit proposals for renovations and improvements to the multi-story building.

“The beauty of having architecture students here is that they have ideas that we could never have imagined on our own,” Barry says. “They came up with ideas for many pieces in the space that will really help the designers.”

Explore the FABRIC

The large red brick building stands on the corner of Forest Avenue and Sixth Street in downtown Tempe. Visitors enter a small enclosed courtyard before opening the glass doors. From there they entered the fashionable labyrinth that is FABRIC.

In the lobby, an arrangement of chic white furniture welcomes them, with a furry white rug. Directly in front of them is the entrance to a large warehouse-style room. Here, a long worktable is covered with yards of multi-colored fabric, spools of thread, and various other fashion-related tools. Behind this workstation is a row of sewing machines, ready to go.

Upstairs and in the basement, the classrooms and the different classrooms intertwine and coexist and transform the fashion incubator into a winding maze.

However, this design is subject to change, thanks to architecture students at ASU.

The partnership

The founders of the fashion incubator are working with President Professor Max Underwood and ASU instructor Brie Smith to review new construction proposals submitted by students.

“We don’t design in a vacuum,” says Smith. “It’s nice to have that energy. Sherri and Angela have persevered in this craft and are excellent cheerleaders for our students, bringing with them their knowledge of the fashion world.

Smith says she and Underwood have similar teaching philosophies and that it is their job as instructors to support the students, without taking back their ideas. Ultimately, it’s about the real-world experience its students can gain through the school’s partnership with FABRIC.

FABRIC has always embraced its location on the ASU campus, fostering an open dialogue with the university and encouraging students to come visit or apply for an internship.

“I love that we are on the ASU campus. The collaborations are endless, ”Johnson wrote on his Facebook page.


The founders of FABRIC noticed many common themes among the designs, including the desire to open up parts of the building for better circulation. Many architecture students also stress the need to bring more natural light into the workspace and to integrate plans to promote the visibility of the building from the street in their proposals.

“It was really about knocking down the walls and making it bigger to create a unified collaborative workspace for collaboration,” says Rachel Frail, first year interior design graduate student of her presentation. . “The aim is to stimulate continuous learning and skill development among different designers. “

Frail’s plans for the building include removing the main event space from the ground floor to the basement and creating a mezzanine on the second level connected by a grand staircase.

“I created a three-story entrance, so when you walk into the ground floor, you’re just in the VIP area,” says Frail. “I dropped the main room in the basement, so the two-story section actually starts in the basement and goes up to the second floor.”

Meanwhile, graduate designer Meghan Draper-Hiller took inspiration from her love of fashion when drafting her proposal.

“I have a background in fashion design,” says Draper-Hiller, an interior designer. “Getting in here was super exciting, and I wanted to go into every room and find out what machine they had, and it wasn’t the experience that everyone had. I wanted to bring some of that joy – there is value to be done. “

His goal was to design a space that could better serve the community built by the founders of FABRIC. Its design included many levels of layered dormers to connect the different spaces with each other.

“I was really happy with the skylights I created because they make it look like they were sewn together, just like the community that is built here and sewn together is so cool and interesting,” Draper-Hiller says. .

When asked what she is most proud of, Draper-Hiller explained how her design for the office space made it look like a giant spool of thread. In order to promote visibility, she designed the coil to be easily seen from the street.

“I was really happy with my gigantic rotating thread desks just because anyone who sews or is involved in them will see a spool of thread and be interested. You want to know what’s going on in there, ”says Draper-Hiller.

Stephen Davis, a graduate student in architectural design, was inspired by Johnson and Barry’s dedication to their craft and wanted to honor their dedication to the fashion industry in his design proposal.

“Fashion people bring so much enthusiasm, passion and dedication that I think they need to get some of that back from the building,” Davis said. “It’s about making this building an exciting place.

Real world experience

Barry and Johnson are happy to share their knowledge of the fashion industry with the students. Coming from vast backgrounds in fashion, each has worked to develop their own personal lines, Johnson in the design of repurposed prom dresses and Barry working on the executive and marketing side of the industry. Now they are excited to offer students the opportunity to present design ideas that have the potential to inspire change within their business.

“As good as the education programs are, it is very difficult to provide a real-life experience in the classroom,” Barry says. “At FABRIC, students have the chance to see a project from A to Z. It’s not theoretical. It’s true.”

Although developing a detailed proposal can be difficult, students face the project head-on. First-year graduate designer David Shirk is thrilled to be able to incorporate fashion elements, like fabrics, into his designs.

“This is our first project, but it is an interesting and stimulating project,” says Shirk. “You can use soft materials, like fabric, rather than a permanent material in the design. I’m glad we were able to integrate things like this.

Graduate students like Jazmine Salley have grown up immersed in the professional work environment. The major architect was able to showcase the opportunities that his designs help foster for FABRIC.

“The highlights of the presentation were talking about the reach of FABRIC and the ability to step out of the community and actually teach, if needed, as well as showing the flexibility they already have,” said Salley.

Salley is grateful for the collaborative nature of the architectural design program, particularly their efforts to promote interaction between students and people in the workforce.

“It gave me an opportunity,” says Salley. “I would never be able to do that in any other type of program. It gives me the opportunity to do professional work while learning, so if I fail it’s a safe place to fail.

While the program can be a safe space for students, Johnson and Barry say the group of architectural students exceeded expectations with their designs. Students like Draper-Hiller credit her instructors for the success of the proposals, which prompted her to push her ideas further and think outside the box.

“This is a very rigorous design program,” says Draper-Hiller. “You can be creative every day and the teachers really encourage you to think things differently. They push you to expand your ideas and keep pushing the boundaries. “

Next steps

In Johnson and Barry’s eyes, the desire to continue to innovate and improve designs sets these students apart from others. The founders of FABRIC are now looking to bring the designs to life and plan to submit student proposals for grant approval.

“We’re hoping we can use one of these proposals to get a grant or something to actually make these changes to the building someday,” Johnson wrote on his Facebook page.

When asked by Johnson and Barry if they would continue to support the project in its next steps, the team of student architects all responded enthusiastically, nodding and shouting approval. Already, the team was thinking about how to combine their designs into one cohesive proposal.

“The next step is to take the common themes of each project, along with the unique and innovative ideas of the individual proposals, and pull them together into a plan that we can submit for grant qualification,” Johnson said.

With their eyes on the future, the architecture students, teachers and founders of FABRIC are all helping transform FABRIC by bringing new life to the building.

“Having a fresh look and a collaborative discussion to see the investment that FABRIC makes in the community is invaluable,” says Smith.

Follow all of FABRIC’s projects by liking Fabric on Facebook or following them on Twitter @FabricTempe.

Contact the reporter at [email protected] or follow @madisonmstaten on Twitter.

Like State Press Magazine on Facebook and follow @statepressmag on Twitter.

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