Outfits from Product Runway's 2014 show

Let's be honest: Michael Kors snarky one-liners aside, we all know that Project Runway would be even better if it was nothing but the challenges in which designers create high-fashion looks from flowers, grocieries, spare car parts and the like. 

Product Runway
April 17, 8-10 p.m.
$40-$50
Bayou Music Center
520 Texas St.
iidaproductrunway.com

That's the idea behind Product Runway, an unorthodox runway show produced by the local chapter of the International Interior Design Association. Now in its seventh year, the design-oriented event features 20 teams of interior designers, architects and students who that each turn a pair of materials used in interior design—tile, vinyl flooring, carpet, etc.— into an over-the-top outfit. Then each outfit is strutted down a 160-foot, cross-shaped runway.

"A lot of the garments transform into different things, like a long skirt becomes a short skirt—it's a performance," says Heather Rogers of McCoy Workplace Solutions, IIDA's community service chair. "It's a friendly competition and a totally different type of design and creativity than what [the contestants] do every day."

An outfit from 2014's Product Runway

This year's Product Runway takes place Friday night at the Bayou Music Center, with a VIP dinner beforehand at the Hard Rock Café. The teams competing range from specialists in residential interiors (Marie Flanigan Interiors) to hospitality projects (Curve Hospitality) as well as commercial architects and designers like Morris Architects, PDR and PBK, the returning two-time winner.

The event represents the culmination of weeks of hard work for the particpants. Most don't have any formal training in designing clothes, so many of them get a crash course in construction called "Fashion 101" from students in Houston Community College's fashion design program. Instead of prize money, winners compete for bragging rights, with all proceeds from the event going to support the Houston Furniture Bank, which provides donated furniture to individuals in need from over 75 local social service agencies.

"It's a fun event for our industry, and the garments are very high level," says Rogers. "Even if you're not in interior design or architecture, if you appreciate design it's a cool event and supports a good cause." 

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