40,000-piece textile archive

It was an accident really that led me to Andrea Aranow. I was working in the Goldsmith Building in Chinatown when Caleb Sayan poked his head into the studio. He was looking for Jelly Helm. In his stead I followed Caleb up to to the fourth floor and caught my breath when I walked into what is the largest private textile archive in the world.

Caleb mentioned that his mother, Andrea Aranow, was flying in from New York in a few weeks and what started as an act of curiosity ended in a film project.

Andrea Aranow is a New York-based textile  collector and clothing designer. Her design holdings, however, are housed (archived) in Portland, Oregon and consist of over 40,000 pieces in total, meticulously archived in a digital collection.

Andrea’s collection is as vast as it is stunning. Her holdings can be found in museums across the globe and include some 700 Kimono, 26,000 swatches and designs, and decades worth of research done in China, Japan, Peru and the United States. She has a history of sewing, making, and dressing. Her storefront in the lower East Side of Manhattan housed patrons like Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis. Her holdings have been the curiosity of the House of Alexander McQueen, and what’s more is that the majority of her design collection lives now in Portland. It has been meticulously archived in its entirety, piece by piece, photographically categorized by composition, era of origin, and technique.

This is a collection to write home about. So instead of writing a nice note to your mother, watch this video. This couldn’t have happened without the generous support of Caleb Sayan, Blue Rider Design, and Andy Chandler.

Ryan Bush and I worked together as co-directors, editors and producers.
The creative corridor of this town is absolutely magnificent, and it’s very exciting to share with you.

23 Responses to “40,000-piece textile archive”
  1. Ryan says:

    So glad we finished up! Let’s figure out the next project…

  2. My goodness! You and Ryan did an excellent job. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the film! Nice work.

  3. liz atchley says:

    This is absolutely the most amazing story to see and hear. Wonderful job from the filming, editing and subject side! Awesome job, what a diamond in the ruff in find on the 4th floor! Great job guys!!!!

  4. Wow! This is a great piece and I’m in awe of Andrea. Makes me want to hear and learn more.

  5. Seth says:

    What was this shot with?

  6. andrew burke says:

    Great film guys! It makes me wonder just how many other mysteries are out there. Hope to see more.

    Lots of good beats, too. Portland bands?

  7. Aaron says:

    Hey Seth it was shot with a couple of Canon 5D MKII’s, and a 60D.

  8. Aaron says:

    No Portland bands on this one, we hope to use some in the future!

  9. Colleen says:

    Wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing this. xoColleen

  10. Annette OT says:

    What an exquisite synopsis, stunning collection and fastidious archiving, best wishes to Caleb and Andrea.

  11. Jessica says:

    As both an archivist and a lover of textiles, watching this just made my heart happy! What a wonderful collection- thanks for sharing :)

  12. Irwin says:

    I’m awed by both the collection and the effort to digitize and catalog it. What an amazing resource, now captured for posterity. Bravo!

  13. Seth says:

    I really love this style of video, very inspiring. Not to prod, but what lenses did you guys use (Especially on the 60d)?

  14. Jim says:

    I’ve known Andrea for almost forty years now and you did a great job capturing her work and her essence.

  15. Aaron says:

    Jim that’s amazing! Thank you

  16. Ryan says:

    Seth – Considering I had only had the camera about a week, I ended up borrowing some lenses from a friend of mine:

    (MF)Asahi Pentax 85mm F1.8 – Detail shots during interview
    (MF)Asahi Pentax 50mm F1.4 – Detail shots with print archive/ rolling shots.
    Sigma 10-20 F4.0 – 5.6 – Opening shot.

    Other than that, Caleb provided us with a couple (MF) 50mm lenses, a F1.2 and F1.4, which were used on both the 5D2s during the interview.

    Hope that helps!

  17. Jonna Hayden says:

    How is it possible I had no idea this amazing woman was in Portland!?! Thank you so much for this video!

  18. I see a picture of Andrea, but no video . . . Has it been taken down?

  19. Aaron says:

    Hey Joe, looks to be up and running, if it doesn’t load for you on the site here’s the direct link to the video:

  20. Aaron says:

    Joanna, I know right!? She’s actually based in New York, but the actual collection is archived here in Portland.

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  2. […] Andrea Aranow gathered Blue Rider Design’s large collection of unique and original textiles as a resource for designers. In 2011 she opened her extraordinary archive, in Portland Oregon, to filmmakers Aaron Rayburn and Ryan Bush. “They don’t change their mind,” Aranow says of her beloved fabrics. […]

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