Vans and Modernica’s California cool collaboration

Vans and Modernica’s California cool collaboration

It might seem an unlikely pairing, a shoe-meets-furniture collection, but then Californian-born creativity has never played by the rules. The new Vault x Modernica limited edition collection is the result of a collaboration between two Southern Californian brands – the cult skate brand Vans and West Coast modern furniture-maker Modernica. The collection, which launches globally this February, was conceived with key design and craftsmanship experts from both brands.

Artist Taka Hayashi is the creative force behind the collection, he also worked with Vans to extend the design onto the downtown Los Angeles  store. The burnt-orange and black building that stands out like a beacon in an industrial area, is now framed by black-and-white checkerboard arches.

The capsule collection encompasses three shoe styles from the Vault Collection and three corresponding fibreglass shell chairs. The Style 36 LX and OG Slip-On LX trainers in brown leather feature three archival Vans patterns including a vibrant orange Hawaiian print, a light blue repeat palm leaf, and a classic black and white checkerboard. 

‘Vans Vault is our most aspirational tier,’ says Mark Haskins, vice president of footwear design at Vans, who has been with the brand for 21 years. ‘We always mine our archive for these things and all three of those prints are icons that go way back into our manufacturing history. There is some romance to that, but those kinds of prints also chime well with the modern design aesthetic that Modernica represents.’

“vansembed”

Vans has unveiled a collaboration with Modernica

This is not a new approach for Vans, ‘We have a long tradition of collaboration and have always looked to outside partners in the past, such as Marc Jacobs,’ explains Haskins. ‘These are great partnerships from a design perspective, it’s interesting to see what someone else brings to our shoes and our icons. It’s about the spirit of collaboration and learning something from someone who brings another perspective.’ 

‘We have huge respect for Vans, there is a parallel history as we both embody the culture of Southern California,’ says Modernica co-founder Jay Novak of the symbiotic process involved in the creating the shell chairs for the collection. Modernica has been on the forefront of revitalising the almost-lost art of high-pressure fibreglass molding for decades. ‘This ground-breaking chair construction process was unique in 1949 and a keystone piece of the modern furniture movement’, says Novak. 

The magic takes place in three massive warehouse structures at the back of Modernica’s main headquarters. The snow-white hay substance of fibreglass is molded and pressed into a chair seat and then cooked for five-to-seven minutes, before the resin colour is hand painted on and in some cases a print motif is added. The legs are added from a variety of wood or metal options. For this labour of love, the original machine and materials from the 1950s are used and some of these employees have worked at the company for 29 years, including fathers who have passed the craft down to their sons.

Only 35 of the high-quality fiberglass shell chairs are produced per day in a rainbow of Pantone colours from magenta to mahogany, but classic white is the most popular, followed by a variety of greens and blues. Modernica has also launched a 52/52 campaign, introducing a different colour every week of the year. Bespoke commissions are possible too, the chairs can be manufactured emblazoned with any imagery you wish, such as a Keith Haring chalk-outline motif or a Hollywood Hills sign with extra padding for the seats.

The Vault x Modernica collection highlights the beauty of the locally-made, a design representation of history and craftsmanship that’s as close to vintage as you will encounter. ‘We want to be associated with that world,’ says Haskins of the Vans brand. ‘We are not truly a modern design. We are a little outside of that timeframe, but we like to associate ourselves with that. It’s part of California’s design tradition. When we talk about what Vans can be and what they represent we’d like to make those ties stronger. It’s part of Californian living and so are the shell chairs. They talk about how we really live in California and I think that’s pretty cool.’ §

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