fete for the senses
Rhiannon Silver Gilmore is a visual researcher and maker, creator of the inspiration blog Intelligent Clashing and writer on all things found beautiful and inspiring. She collects images and ideas and connects them to each other.
“Fete for the Senses” was a three day event that took place earlier last december in the Manhattan apartment of fibre artist Abigail Doan. With roots in Doan’s own upbringing on a farm, where objects tended to have multiple functions and deep connections to each other, this celebration of organic goods, fibre art, fashion and collected objects sought to connect people via multi-sensory and tactile experiences. All of the work included in Fete for the Senses was either handmade, artisan-produced, textile rich, or completely organic in nature. For several years now Doan has been traveling between the U.S and Eastern Europe, and so for her holiday fete, she wanted to create a bridge between objects produced in NYC as well as in Bulgaria. She reached out to perfumer Parfum Lalun, who makes connections with unique ingredients indigenous to the landscapes of Eastern Europe, and selected works by Bazaar Bayar in Istanbul, Bulgar USA, Balmaseda, Eko-Lab, Marion + Willson and Sassa Bjorg in Sofia.
The Fete opened on a Sunday afternoon with organic treats and refreshments, invited guests included close friends, lovers of the handmade, gardeners, fiber experts, educators, a textile conservator, designers, a concert pianist and long-lost school acquaintances. All came to experience organic perfumes, savour locally made truffles and possibly try on a ‘moss formation’ dress by Balmaseda with no real agenda besides identifying what might be pleasurable and restorative for them. Botanicals and scents permeated the space and guests were invited to freely explore and discover objects from Doan’s own home collection that were offset by the designs of featured participants.
Each maker was given their own room in the apartment and encouraged to immerse themselves in their specific zone. In this way sensual connections were made between object and space, the inner sanctuary of the bedroom became the setting for Eko-Lab’s Dark Blossom collection and the aromas of organic scents created by Parfum Lalun were presented like an exotic recipe alongside Doan’s own fibre forms and found botanic illustrations on the dining table.
The idea itself came from Dali’s Les Diners de Gala, a 1971 publication with extravagant fete recipes and surrealistic visuals that explore the pleasures of taste and unbridled artistic passion. Inspired, Doan wanted to apply this spirit to the organic realm, one ‘where fibre and slow craft methodologies might be at play and seem rich’ connecting people with their senses and so providing them with vital information for meaningful decision making and more balanced consumption choices. In this way Fete for the Senses was meant to be more than a party, an exhibit, or a showcase but ultimately a way to sensitise each person to experiences that better inform them about what their true passions might be and in turn what they are hungry for and attracted to. In Doan’s own words ‘Desire is something that needs to be examined both as a way for creating deeper relations but also for gaging how sustainable strategies are ultimately implemented and shared.’
Rhiannon Silver Gilmore