From Visionaries to Vanguard: Unveiling Key Insights from SCADstyle 2024

From Today’s Leaders to Tomorrow’s Innovators:
the takeaways from SCAD’s exemplary Talk Series

By Mackenzie Richard

SCADstyle 2024 unfolded as a spectacular showcase of design innovation, where participants delved into the depths of artistic brilliance and flair. Attendees experienced dynamic conversations and immersive experiences that inspired them to transcend conventional boundaries of self-expression and craft flourishing careers in the arts. This was not just an event; it was a gateway to the future of style, providing unparalleled opportunities to connect and learn from the visionaries shaping our world’s aesthetic landscapes. 

The event presented a captivating exploration of aesthetic innovation and industry-leading trends across diverse fields including fashion, interior design, and beauty. The speaker lineup was truly exceptional, featuring a collection of luminaries such as Wes Gordon, Creative Director of Carolina Herrera and SCAD Étoile award recipient; Danial Aitouganov and Imruh Asha, co-founders of Zomer; acclaimed photographer Michael Bailey-Gates; Luca Missoni, Artistic Director of the Missoni Archive; Francesco Risso, Creative Director at Marni; Brigette Romanek, founder of Romanek Design Studio; Ludovic de Saint Sernin, creative mind behind his own label; Hillary Taymour, founder and creative director of Collina Strada; Marie Suter, Chief Creative Officer at Glossier; and the visionary duo George Yabu and Jonathan Sotto of Yabu Pushelberg.

In this article we will delve into the key insights and transformative ideas presented by these esteemed speakers, capturing the essential takeaways that are defining the future of design and creativity.


  1. Anticipate new possibilities with Marni creative director Francesco Risso and writer Charlie Porter
  2. Encapsulate iconic moments in time with archivists Giacomo Golinelli and Luca Missoni
  3. Revamp the lifestyle brand with Glossier’s Marie Suter and amika’s Matthew Stetson
  4. Rip up the rulebook with zomer founders and Joshua Glass of Family Style
  5. Upend gender with Ludovic de Saint Sernin, Michael Bailey-Gates, Stefano Tonchi, & Marta Franceschini
  6. Heighten the human experience with Yabu Pushelberg
  7. Recalibrate design for good with Collina Strada’s Hillary Taymour and journalist Rachel Tashjian
  8. Honor your vision with designer, creative director, and SCAD Étoile recipient Wes Gordon

Anticipate new possibilities with Marni Creative Director
Francesco Risso and writer Charlie Porter

One of the standout sessions at SCADstyle this year was ‘The Language of Style: Fluent in Fashion,’ featuring Marni’s creative director Francesco Risso and renowned journalist Charlie Porter. This engaging discussion explored the critical role of personal narrative and distinct perspectives in shaping creative careers. Drawing on his diverse experiences and nomadic background, Risso shared how the uniqueness he observed in others inspired his own approach to design. Before taking the helm at the prestigious Italian house Marni, he refined his artistic vision at major fashion houses, including Anna Molinari, Malo, and Prada. Porter, a seasoned fashion journalist with contributions to top publications and a front-row regular at global fashion weeks, brought insights from his new book, Bring No Clothes, examining the transformative power of fashion in reflecting our lifestyle choices and personal philosophies.

Together, Risso and Porter delved into how fashion not only dresses individuals but also profoundly shapes societal attitudes and actions, celebrating the joy and complexity of appealing to a diverse audience. Their conversation provided an illuminating look at fashion’s ability to influence and reflect cultural and personal identities. Risso, as the creative director of Marni, emphasized an instinct-driven design process, advocating for more organic and innovative design outcomes by not relying on mood boards or explicit influences. This approach underscores a movement in fashion towards more authentic and personal creativity rather than derivative work.

Both speakers highlighted the importance of experimentation, play, and joy in their work, a perspective crucial for anyone in the fashion industry, from students to seasoned designers. Risso’s journey through various fashion schools and experiences, including a significant tenure at Prada, showcases the diverse paths one can take in fashion education and illustrates that the educational route in fashion can be non-linear and richly varied. He discussed how his experiences, particularly with mentors who pushed boundaries, influenced his philosophy on fashion, advocating for a design process that pulls creativity from unexpected sources. Despite the push towards more abstract design principles, the talk underscored the enduring importance of craftsmanship in fashion, where even highly industrial-looking pieces are imbued with personal touches.

A recurring theme was the importance of community and collaboration in the fashion process, stressing that fashion is not created in isolation but through rich, collaborative processes. Risso also shared insights on how the pandemic influenced Marni’s approach, shifting towards more decentralized and inclusive show formats, reflecting a broader need within the fashion industry to be responsive and flexible in the face of global challenges. Additionally, the discussion touched on the need for fashion to engage with sustainability and ethics more deeply, highlighting an industry-wide shift towards more responsible fashion practices, such as using recycled ocean plastics.

Illuminate the future through the past with archivists
Giacomo Golinelli and Luca Missoni

One of the highlights was ‘More than Memory: Vaulting Design Histories,’ where Giacomo Golinelli, COO of Promemoria Group, and Luca Missoni, artistic director of the Missoni Archive, delved into the enduring impact of historical archives on contemporary design. Their conversation underscored the dynamic interplay between past influences and future possibilities.

Revamp the lifestyle brand with Glossier’s Marie Suter and amika’s Matthew Stetson

One of the notable presentations at SCADstyle was ‘Beauty Ritual: The New Chemistry of Branding,’ led by Marie Suter, Chief Creative Officer of Glossier, and Matthew Stetson, Creative Director of amika. This session delved into how brands transform products into lifestyles, defining success on their own terms. Marie Suter, guiding Glossier’s all-encompassing ‘skin-first’ approach, shared how her strategies have revolutionized beauty branding since 2018, encompassing everything from product design to store experiences. Matthew Stetson, steering amika’s commitment to clean ingredients and personalized hair care, illustrated how the brand celebrates individual beauty through customization, turning daily grooming into a joyous, personal expression. Together, Suter and Stetson explored the dynamic intersection of product innovation and brand philosophy, illustrating the profound impact of visionary branding on the beauty industry

Rip up the rulebook with zomer founders and Joshua Glass of Family Style

A focal point of SCADstyle was the engaging panel featuring zomer co-founders Danial Aitouganov and Imruh Asha, alongside Joshua Glass, the veteran editor and creative director of the new arts and culture publication, Family Style. This session delved into how their latest projects are stoking the flames of imaginative rebellion in fashion and lifestyle. zomer, hailed as fashion’s new playground, is celebrated for infusing its designs with youthful mischief, humor, and joy, thus redefining contemporary style. Meanwhile, Family Style captivates audiences with its unique blend of elevated aesthetics applied to home and everyday life. Together, Aitouganov, Asha, and Glass explored innovative ways to express oneself through a fantastical blend of design, cuisine, and community engagement, crafting vibrant new avenues for self-expression. Their discussion highlighted the importance of close creative collaboration and finding the right partners, while also touching on the sustainability practices at Zomer, such as using deadstock fabrics and considering mental health as part of sustainability. This conversation not only illuminated their personal journeys and milestones, like having designs worn by influential figures such as Björk, but also underscored their collective vision for creating a community around their brands.

The three key takeaways from the talk include the power of playful creativity, the importance of sustainable practices, and the role of collaboration and community. Aitouganov and Asha emphasize a playful, childlike approach to their design process, infusing their creations with joy and freedom, thus challenging traditional norms and encouraging a more imaginative approach to fashion design. Sustainability is a core element of their strategy, with a focus on using deadstock materials to address environmental concerns, highlighting the fashion industry’s shift towards more ethical production practices. This commitment also extends to considerations of mental health and well-being within the industry, advocating for a holistic approach to sustainability. Furthermore, the significance of collaboration and community is evident in their operations, with their partnership based on shared values and mutual respect, leading to innovative outcomes. They also emphasize the importance of engaging with their community through interactive fashion shows and fostering a sense of belonging among their clientele and the broader fashion community. These insights showcase a dynamic shift towards integrating creativity, sustainability, and community-oriented practices in the fashion industry, spearheaded by emerging brands like zomer.

Upend gender with Ludovic de Saint Sernin, Michael Bailey-Gates, Stefano Tonchi, Marta Franceschini

An inspiring session at SCADstyle featured designer Ludovic de Saint Sernin and photographer Michael Bailey-Gates, who were joined by famed fashion journalist Stefano Tonchi and curator Marta Franceschini. This panel explored the theme of sartorial rebellion against conformity, showcasing how fashion can serve as a powerful medium for cultural commentary and personal liberation. Saint Sernin, known for his boundary-pushing designs that challenge traditional gender norms, and Bailey-Gates, whose photography vividly captures the fluidity of identity, provided deep insights into the intersections of fashion, identity, and resistance. Together with Tonchi and Franceschini, they navigated a discussion on how clothing and visual art can transform societal perceptions and encourage a more expansive understanding of self-expression.

Delving deeper in a meaningful discussion titled ‘Gender-quake,’ the panel examined the intricate relationship between fashion, gender, and identity. The exhibit discussed was divided into three thematic sections—liberation, appropriation, and rejection—each showcasing how clothing has historically challenged and reshaped traditional gender norms. The dialogue illuminated the designers’ personal journeys with gender expression, highlighting their use of nudity and vulnerability to confront the binary divisions within the fashion industry. Key points emphasized the critical roles of self-expression, community support, and the rejection of restrictive labels in cultivating authentic identities. The discussion not only provided insight into the motivations behind the exhibit but also stressed the importance of continuing to challenge gender norms through thoughtful design and curation, advocating for a more inclusive and expressive fashion landscape.

Heighten the human experience with Yabu Pushelberg

One of the dynamic highlights at SCADstyle 2024 was the showcase by global design studio Yabu Pushelberg, co-founded by George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg in 1980. In their conversation, Yabu and Jonathan Sotto (Director, Brands + Growth) shared their road to success, which was not an easy one, showcasing their resilience and trust in their creativity along the way. This studio has revolutionized interior design by architecting immersive environments, compelling destinations, and timeless products that transcend traditional boundaries. With a profound focus on how design interacts with the human experience, their work incorporates a rich tapestry of architecture, interiors, landscapes, lighting, furniture, objects, and graphics. Operating from offices in New York and Toronto with a team of over 100 creative professionals, Yabu Pushelberg has cultivated a philosophy that balances aesthetic beauty with emotional depth. The firm’s approach—imaginative, thoughtful, and honest—reflects a unique blend of rational and intuitive design processes. Serving a globally diverse clientele, including prestigious names like Aman, EDITION Hotels, and LVMH, their projects continuously redefine how design shapes our feelings and experiences in shared spaces.

Recalibrate design for good with Collina Strada’s Hillary Taymour and journalist Rachel Tashjian

One of the compelling highlights at SCADstyle 2024 was ‘Radical Independence: The Collina Strada Story’ featuring Hillary Taymour, the creative force behind Collina Strada. This session delved into rethinking responsibility within the fashion industry, exploring themes from eco-economics to freedom of expression. Taymour, who designs for both her inner child and as an eco-activist, founded Collina Strada on the principles of minimal use for maximal happiness. The brand is known for its innovative use of recycled textiles and deadstock, creating bold pairings of pattern and texture that stand out in the fashion landscape. In a deep conversation with Rachel Tashjian of the Washington Post, who brings a rich background in fashion journalism, Taymour shared personal insights that shape her creative approach and discussed the empowerment that comes from designing with an eye toward both present needs and future possibilities.

Honor your vision with designer, creative director, and SCAD Étoile recipient Wes Gordon

One of the distinguished highlights at SCADstyle 2024 was ‘The Designer’s Designer,’ featuring Wes Gordon, the esteemed creative director of Carolina Herrera and a SCAD Étoile recipient. This session celebrated Gordon’s profound commitment to fashion, highlighting his role in shaping the future legacy of style. Personally appointed by Carolina Herrera, Gordon has been instrumental in steering the global strategy of the iconic luxury house. His illustrious career, marked by accolades such as the Fashion Group International’s Rising Star Award and the Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion, underscores his status as one of the industry’s most versatile talents. Attendees were captivated as Gordon shared his rich journey in high fashion, offering advice to aspiring designers through his extensive experience and memorable anecdotes.

The conversation with Wes Gordon, led by Stefano Tonchi, delved deep into Gordon’s path from growing up in Atlanta to becoming the creative director at Carolina Herrera, where he discussed his personal design philosophy and the importance of embracing creativity and finding one’s unique voice. He emphasized the role of making beautiful things as a counter to darkness, highlighting how beauty can be a powerful tool against adversity. Gordon also shared the challenges he has faced, including periods of self-doubt and anxiety, and the support he received from family and colleagues which was pivotal in his development. Importantly, he discussed his stewardship of the Carolina Herrera brand, respecting its rich heritage while also injecting his vibrant and playful style to appeal to modern audiences. Throughout the talk, Gordon provided invaluable insights into the creative process, the fashion industry, and the importance of perseverance and passion, inspiring students and professionals alike to pursue their creative visions with integrity and joy.

Photos Curtesy of SCAD