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Allison W

- Research Program Mentor

MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art, Detroit


Architectural models making and Placemaking, Experimental Drawing, Textile and Fashion Design


My academic passion and focus is Art, Design and Architecture. I enjoy working with students in technique, concept and process for creating a strong portfolio in these areas and additionally, in helping students connect their creative work with business. I believe that artists and designers have a great entrepreneurial opportunity to positively influence culture and people through their creativity. I personally express this through my business, Modernplum Textiles for Living, a design studio making products for the home. Modernplum makes extraordinary home linens through small batch and sustainable manufacturing. We are zero waste and our local sewers are paid a fair wage. Making beautiful things and positively influencing people and planet is my creative sweet spot.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Textile Product Design Prototype

In this project, I would help students create a new textile product prototype. This would mean researching many topics, including history, fibers and raw materials, supply chain, design processes (hand, digital, dye, recycle, etc.), technical considerations, and color application and palette of a particular product direction. Then, we would create a series of physical iterations of this product in muslin and small scale, and critique each. Finally, a full scale model with actual materials and manufacturing techniques would be made. This could apply to fashion or home goods.

Upcycled Product Prototype

This project would explore sustainable manufacturing and production methods as it applies to fashion, accessories, or home goods. To start, we will discuss ideas of recycling and up-cycling as strategies for making sustainable products. Then, we will look at all the components of product design and development -- materials, supply chain, production, and construction through these sustainable lenses. Then we could formulate a method for making a new, scalable and sustainably made object/product. We will then make the product.

Architectural Model + Drawings

In this project, we will study the basics of 3-D design and use these to engineer a small architectural construct/model. The project will start with research into works of similar scale and program, and a discussion of design features employed. We discuss model making strategies and materials, and work on several small scale models using balsa wood and styrofoam. Once these have been discussed, students will make a final small scale model. Perspective drawings and elevations will be part of the final package.

Teaching experience

I have worked with students in higher education for 23 years in Art, Design, and Architecture fields. At the University of Illinois, I wrote and delivered curriculum for first year architectural foundations, and more recently been working at SAIC in textiles, fashion, and color theory. My own creative practice is engaged in product design and drawing. I enjoy working with students to find their academic and career goals, and to help them produce projects that supports these.


Work experience

School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2016 - Current)
Adjunct Faculty
University of Illinois (2006 - 2014)
Adjunct Faculty
Modernplum Textiles for Living (2014 - Current)
Founder, Owner and Creative Director


University of California Berkeley (UC Berkeley)
BA Bachelor of Arts (1990)
Cranbrook Academy of Art, Detroit
MFA Master of Fine Arts (2001)
Painting and Drawing / Textiles / Architectural Installation

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