| ‘Beauty As Duty’ Exhibition Product Family
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‘Beauty As Duty’ Exhibition Product Family

About This Project

Product family developed in 2011-2012 for the MFA exhibition ‘Beauty as Duty: Textiles and the Home Front in WWII Britain’.
On Britain’s Home Front in the 1940s, mass-produced “utility” clothes had to conform to strict government regulations and limited materials yet still managed to be fashionable. Colorful scarves printed with motifs–including aircraft–relating to British life during and after the War were a practical way to spruce up a look as well as maintain morale.
Highlighting the creation of this group was an effort to inject the product with a true sense of the exhibition’s history, as well as the amount of accurate vectorization involved in order to identically replicate the textile designs on a variety of substrates dissimilar in size and shape (additionally, recreating the designs afforded the sale of textiles that appeared clean and newly manufactured, whereas photographic reproductions would reflect decades of imperfections on the native fabrics).
A photo of the original French-produced scarf Defense Passive, the recreated digital drawing, and the completed new scarf are shown above left. To achieve the finished product, a high resolution photograph of the original was used as the guideline for an Illustrator rendering of the textile at full-scale (36×36″), in which each point and curve was individually plotted and drawn, until a finished contour was completed which was then colored and branded. The finished file was sent to a contemporary French textile manufacturer who produced the scarf on 100% silk. Later, the design was deconstructed then rebuilt into a variety of other shapes for different products, such as the mug, tea towel and bags. This method was used for multiple patterns in the exhibition, including Vegetables (bottom left).
The fighter plane motif silhouetted on the ties (top right) was chosen as an homage to the collaborative forces of the USAAF and RAF, seemingly appropriate for a British textile exhibition in the United States. The North American P51 Mustang was built by North American Aviation in response to a specification issued by the British Purchasing Commission, which procured US aircraft for the UK war effort. Mustang prototypes were originally flown by RAF pilots; later they played a key role in destroying the German Luftwaffe and securing Allied air superiority. The stylized fighters on the ties are grouped in authentic flight formations; the badges on the wings, called roundels, are specifically designed to contain elements of those found on the aircraft of the USAAF, RAF and Russian AF; the colors of the ties were chosen based on these roundel colors, as well as the dyes available to British textile manufacturers during the war.


Museum of Fine Arts, Boston




Concept, layout, illustration, copy & design


Design / Product & Package, Design I