MADICH: Intelligent Design and Alien Combat Gear

Incongruous amongst the cripplingly expensive fashion outlets of La Dehesa mall in Las Condes was the MADICH design exhibition. The first installment of an annual competition for young designers, the exhibition included 36 works vying for the CP$400,000 prize with their original textile, graphic and industrial designs.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Kendal Montgomery

MADICH has been advertised as "design with intention, conscience and a theme," and the theme of the competition this year, eco-design, dictated that designers use recycled or eco-friendly materials in their entries.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Kendal Montgomery

One of the first designs in the exhibition was a delightful cardboard playhouse, Casagrande by Adriana and Camila Moraga and Paula Soto. The playhouse was foldable and received an Honorable Mention in the competition, judged by professional architects, designers and academics.

Another Honorable Mention entry was a fun and relevant display of colorful lampshades named ADNpet. The work was made out of the bases of soft-drink bottles riveted together by designer Sofía Montero M.

Running down the center of the space was a platform exhibiting fashion entries lined up on mannequins. To the right of the catwalk was a series of swagged and draped neutral-toned clothes, in an uninspiring representation of what "eco-friendly" conjured up to these young designers — dull, futuristic clothes with too many pockets, resembling something akin to alien combat gear.

The first prize winner, Protección by Sebastian Rios, was among these designs — a jacket made out of recycled pale denim with American footballer-style silicon-reinforced shoulders, teamed with a pair of exaggerated harem pants (the bloomeresque leggings so beloved of Chilean youths) in the same fabric and sporting enormous poufs on the thigh. The description accompanying the design explained that it was inspired by “the shell of an armadillo, representing how humans in the urban jungle have become anonymous and solitary.”

Santiago Chile
Photo by Kendal Montgomery

Some of the fashion was a tad more lively though. Reutilizaciòn Pin-UP, by Arnaldo Vargas Pino, is a 50's-style dress made out of woven dark and pale-blue recycled denim strips with a pink tulle underskirt, and on the same wavelength, Nostalgia by Carolina Perez L — a padded polyester 70's-style blue and yellow mini-dress and housecoat combo, which was inspired by memories of her Grandmother’s dancing and the perfumes and outfits of her aunts at family Sunday lunches. Sounds like more fun than lunch with a solitary armadillo.

The last Honorable Mention went to DD by Javiera Quesney, whose designs included a woven and knotted red fleece shoulder bag with an over-sized wooden button. Her neon printed t-shirts also featured in the exhibition, with simple designs reminiscent of kindergarten collages.

Other entries included a considerable, and nearly indistinguishable, number of wicker creations, including some attractive giant plant-like lamps, entitled Garden/Flamme, by Paola Silvestre. My particular favorite in the exhibition was a sinister ring containing a hairy caterpillar, included in a selection of beautiful jewelry created from insects trapped in resin in copper settings, by Daniela Jatz — although it exhibited a contradictory interpretation of the eco-friendly theme.

Held in an open white space divided with curtains of white muslin, this is one of the best-presented exhibitions I have seen in Santiago and a fantastic way to enjoy Las Condes fashion without having to spend your rent money on designer shoes.

Sala Cultural — Portal La Dehesa
Metro Escuela Militar, then bus no. 426
Av. la Dehesa 1445, corner of Comandante Malbec
Hours: 11:00–21:00
Date: 13–30 August 2009
Free entry

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