Martha McQuade was trained as an architect and currently works independently on small architectural projects and teach architecture at the University of Minnesota College of Design. However (if that wasn’t already enough!) she designs clothing and textiles under her own name. Currently, her clothing can be found under the name UNIFORM natural and her scarves can be purchased at SCARFSHOP. I am an owner of two of her scarves and I don’t plan to stop collecting them any time soon, so I asked Martha to create a custom limited edition scarf for the September Design Milk Lost Crate subscription. I don’t think anyone should be without one of her creations – they are the perfect bridge between Fall and Winter. Not too warm, not too lightweight, but just perfect enough to keep you nice and cozy. Your neck will thank you. Here’s a sneak peek of the limited edition scarf and a nice little interview I did with Martha about her inspiration and process:
Sneak peek of the scarf Martha created for us!
The inspiration photo
Tell me about this photo.
I took this photo several years ago – I think it was in a parking garage at night. I intentionally took the photo out of focus to make it blurry. I like the way that colors bleed and blend together in a blurry image and they way light is enhanced. I also like how the blur takes the focus of the image away from the subject and emphasizes phenomena. This was taken as part of an ongoing project I have called color studies. I’ve been capturing photos like this to study different color patterns I observe.
When making the scarf based on this image for the Design Milk Lost Crate I was thinking about how to blur colors together in the dyeing process. Last year I visited Yellowstone National Park and went to an area called the Fountain Paint Pots. These are thermal pools with amazingly bright colors of rock that you see through the shallow water. Because you are seeing them through water the colors appear to blend together at the edges like on a paint palette. It was then that I started thinking about using dye and water together to get a blended effect on my textiles.
Yellowstone National Park Fountain Paint Pot
How long have you been making clothing and scarves?
I’ve been making clothing, textiles and scarves for years. I started selling clothing and accessories under the name UNIFORM natural about 8 years ago and the scarves I made were always the most popular item. About two years ago, I started SCARFSHOP as a place to showcase and sell just the scarves. I wanted a simple site where people could see all of the colors, sizes and patterns that are available all in one spot. I still design clothing and soon will have a new main website that will showcase all of my work.
What’s the best seller from SCARFSHOP?
The original cotton scarf in the regular size. Charcoal and teal are two of the best selling colors.
Do you have a favorite scarf style or color from SCARFSHOP?
My favorite scarf is the COLORBLOCK in the wisteria/rust colorway. I like big scarves and the cotton/silk fabric is light, soft and drapy – perfect for any season.
COLORBLOCK scarf in the wisteria/rust colorway
Who is your currently favorite designer? Artist?
Recently I’ve started incorporating weaving and knitting into my work and so right now I’m obsessed with the work of Sheila Hicks. If I had to name a favorite artist of all time it would probably be Ann Hamilton. She has an emphasis on material, making and process that resonates with me as well as a deep conceptual basis behind all of her work that makes it especially rich and meaningful.
What’s the last book you read and what did you think about it?
The last book I read is Massimo Vignelli’s The Vignelli Canon. I actually re-read it in preparation for one of my upcoming classes that I’ll be teaching at the U of M. The Canon is available as a free PDF on his website and I recommend it for anyone interested in design. It outlines some basic principals of graphic design (with a focus on typography) in a really clear and concise way.
What is one thing on your desk right now?
A rock I picked up along the north shore of Lake Superior last week. It’s an agate and the colors are swirled together like one of my scarves.
What song have you been listening to the most this past summer?
I can’t say I’ve been listening to one song in particular all that much. I’ve been listening to a lot of M83 and I like the song “Midnight City” a lot.
I really dislike plastic or plastic covered keys. Seems wrong – keys should be metal!
A pink/orange randomly dyed scarf – these are one of a kind creations in her shop