Our Spring Designer Collections Shoot: Nordstrom x Snarkitecture

“They’re perfect for what’s happening in fashion and art and architecture—this great kind of melting of all things,” Jeffrey Kalinsky told me this past November on a crazily warm New York day.

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All photos by Laura Cassidy

He was talking about Snarkitecture,  the of-the-moment, in-the-mix design practice headed by artist Daniel Arsham and architect Alex Mustonen. Harnessing the trend for mixing the chicest ready-to-wear with the best built environments, our VP Fashion Director set out to collaborate with the best and commissioned the Brooklyn-based crew to create a backdrop (only part of it is seen here) on which to shoot his favorite looks from Valentino, Gucci, Simone Rocha and more on China-born model Fei Fei Sun for our new season Designer Collections lookbook.

We were there at New York’s Pier 59 Studios, and we’d love to take you behind the scenes.

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Remember how late fall in New York City was referred to as Junevember all over social media? It was just so warm that November, and the studios’ outdoor deck couldn’t have been a better place to enjoy it. (In between looks of course.)

snark soundtrack

You can tell a lot about how a day’s going to roll by the playlist that gets called up to soundtrack it. With a mix that flexed from dark pop hits like these to ’90s hip-hop, the mood was serious but playful, and the vibe had a street-level style.

snark laptop

Likewise, you can tell a lot about a person from how they personalize their laptop. This one belongs to one of Snarkitecture’s brainiacs; we were won over by the handmade Nirvana sticker.

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But honestly, the Snarkitecture guys didn’t have a lot of time to log on to Facebook or anything else. Their on-set duties involved keeping the 5,000 pound abstract wooden structure pristinely white, and then turning it so that the photography team could alternate between what we called the “cave side” and the “mountain side.”


The Snarkitecture piece, in brief:

+It’s composed of 150 layers of painted wood that notch into a 12′ x 10′ slotted cart

+It took 100 hours to complete by a crew of 10

+The wood was cut using a three-axis CNC milling machine; each layer of the set is actually several
pieces of wood which were stapled together with a pneumatic stapler. The seams were then patched with
spackle and sanded to create a seamless appearance.

+To minimize install time on site, the set was built in pieces in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and
assembled on set. The limiting factor for what could be built off-site and what had to be assembled
at the studio was the size of the truck gate.

+“We have a language that exists in the studio that filters through different things, and there is a range of
concepts that we come back to,” Snarkitecture’s Daniel Arsham told us. “When we’re starting a project we often sit around and talk about what
possibilities we might engage, and oftentimes there are things that we’ve had tucked away that we’ve wanted to do.
The scale of this piece and the language of it are things we’ve experimented with on a smaller scale but we’ve
never brought it to this size.”

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This is manicurist Marisa Carmichael; she swears by Chanel polish.

stylists back

And these were the on-set stylists: Megan Bush and Keara Matthiesen. And this is some of what they had to work with:

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Ruffles from Alexander McQueen (top) and J.W.Anderson (bottom), and killer shoes to boot.

snark shoes



For more on this collaboration, check out the exclusive video on Nordstrom’s YouTube page.

Read the whole story and check out our Designer Collections lookbook.

Access our catalog app.

Shop: Designer Collections

—Laura Cassidy