Was It 40 Years Since Tie Dye Was Big?

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Published March 12, 2010

MAYA ROMANOF AT BEGDORF GOODMAN. PHOTO BY KRIS TAMBURELLO

 

Maya Romanoff, the Chicago-based designer of tie-dyed wallpapers, glass-beaded overlays and other fantastical surfaces—celebrated 40 years of design with a preview of a new collection at New York’s Museum of Arts and Design this week. The “anniversary collection” of tie-dyed wallpapers, in mineral colorways that recall tree barks, was created in collaboration with interior designer Amy Lau. Currently featured in an installation at Bergdorf Goodman, the new patterns were presented at MAD with a small exhibition of Romanoff’s work over the years.

Curated by architect David Rockwell, Romanoff’s friend and longtime collaborator, the collection includes clothing from Romanoff’s origins as a hippie fashion designer; after what his daughter and vice president of sales Laura calls “an epiphany at Woodstock,” he began creating tie-dyed caftans and leather vests, which he sold to the likes of Cheryl Tiegs and Roger Daltry. Over the next few decades, he became textile artist and materials designer who translated a love of hand-dying to leather upholstery, wall coverings and art installations like Bess’ Sunrise (1988), a burst of loud citrus panels that rippled down the side of the old Chicago Sun-Times building. More recently, the Maya Romanoff design company has become known for its work with natural materials like gold leaf and dyed mica, and for the flexible sheaths of glass beading, usually arrayed over an image or pattern, that the company calls “Beadazzled.” (Created in 2003, the product—which you’ve likely seen used for countless café and museum walls—is now part of the permanent collection at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.)

At the beginning of the evening, Lau spoke briefly about the anniversary collection. After being introduced to the Maya Romanoff company’s work at a design conference two years ago, she visited the company’s studio in Chicago. “I ran around like a kid in candy store,” she said of combing through design archives. The collaboration allows for a new interpretation of now-decades-old design ideas by a company that “to be honest,” Laura said, “get[s] knocked off a lot. So we have to keep looking for new innovations.” Other recent developments include digital printing for some patterns, a departure from the hand-dye, water-based process Maya Romanoff generally uses. LEFT: MAYA AND JOYCE ROMANOFF

While the outsize personality of the man who, in the 1960s, renamed himself “Multifarious Maya” (née Richard) has quieted after almost two decades with Parkinson’s disease, Maya Romanoff is still bold when it comes to fashion. Yesterday, with a dark, subtly striped suit, Romanoff accessorized with candy pink socks with black stripes and a crushed velvet necktie that was, of course, tie-dyed.