M.R.K.T. celebrates the architectural and industrial milestones of New York through its latest collection, inspired by the streets and concrete jungles of the New York. From the patch worked cobblestone streets of SoHo, to the bustling centerfold of Entertainment, Fashion, and Commerce in Midtown Manhattan, New York City symbolizes the thriving feat of urban society and epitomizes the American dream of being self‐made.
This Artistic Project is aimed to highlight historical streets and landmarks of our days’ past, contrasted with the modern marvels and urbanizations of present-day New York. Whether the changes are welcomed or inevitable, the skyline stands tall with ever-changing architectural achievements shaping the cityscape of tomorrow.
A corresponding photo series was shot by award-winning photojournalist Stephen Yang, a New York native whose contributions include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Post. Yang captures the streets and landmarks of the City That Never Sleeps, paying homage to rare, historic images from the New York Times archives portraying the bustling energy and modern changes in present time.
To illuminate the past with the present, we have designed a collection rooted in our conceptual ethos of bridging fashion with architecturally inspired designs of geometric pure forms, contrasting palettes drawn from the environment. Each bag is designed with renewable synthetic fibers woven together with the main function of having water resistance, structural integrity, and design. The contrasting cool palettes celebrate the colors found in the surroundings of the streets and neighborhoods of New York. As the future pushes us to identify sustainable lasting resources for our environment, our lifestyles can also adapt to the same ideals.
This snapshot was taken in Williamsburg at the site of what used to be the Rheingold Brewery (originally named S. Liebmann’s Sons Brewery), historically stretching about 27 acres during the early 19th century. The Brewery belonged to a Jewish-German family, the Liebmann’s, who emigrated to the Williamsburg village in Brooklyn in 1854 from Wurttemberg, Germany. The brewery was known to be the first of many in the earlier days for being technologically progressive, adopting much of the new methods of brewing lager in their time. By 1877, they were reportedly one of the largest brewers in Brooklyn. Later in the 1940s, business tension developed as their partnership with PepsiCo unraveled, stemming from a profitability issue in their operations, in which immensely affected the workers’ livelihood. As a result, the board met to finalize the closing of the brewery on January 4, 1974.
In the present time, remnants of the once flourishing brewery still linger in the passing streets of Williamsburg – some maintaining the same names since the 1800s and some new. One can see modern residential buildings, homes, and local businesses erected around the area within the streets of Bushwick and Williamsburg in place of what used to be an industrial hub for lager production, with respect to a few breweries that are still there. Over time, professions and lifestyles have modernized along with the developing city. The Williamsburg Messenger's classic silhouette is also modernized designed with changes in lifestyle in mind. The new sleek yet understated messenger with present day functionality and lasting structure for the daily commute is detailed with usable exterior newspaper straps, as another homage to the classic functionalities of the past.
Location: Brooklyn Bridge, The New York Times Archive 1908
The Brooklyn Bridge of New York City is one of the most recognizable and one of the oldest National Historic Landmarks of its kind in the United States. It was designed by a German-born American civil engineer named John Augustus Roebling, known for his work with river navigation and canal building in other parts of the United States in the 1840s through the 1860s. The Brooklyn Bridge, formally known as the East River Bridge, began construction in 1869 and was completed by 1883, costing an estimated 15.5 million USD. Stretching 1,595 feet 6 inches in steel-wire suspension, the bridge connected Manhattan and Brooklyn over the East River. Its architectural design of upward pointing arches and towers signified a Neo-Gothic aesthetic. Interestingly, the diagonally running cables connecting parts of the bridge to the towers were later deemed as unnecessary. However, the city decided to keep the cables intact for their distinctive look.
In the present day, the Brooklyn Bridge still stands tall with the modern times. An average of 120,000 vehicles, 4,000 pedestrians, 3,000 cyclists cross the bridge daily. It is a destination point for both international and domestic tourists alike. In the last century, the bridge was primarily used by horse-drawn carriages and railway traffic. Over the past few decades, the architects engineered vehicles lanes and an elevated pedestrian friendly walkway combined with a cyclist lane. Even more recently, the city conducted a surveying project of the bridge, hoping to conceptualize a heavier second upper deck as an expansion project to accommodate more pedestrians and cyclists.
The Brooklyn Backpack is designed with commuting and functionality in mind for the urban explorers of New York. The textural cool tones of the backpack were inspired from the cityscape itself. Geometrically rectangular with clean lines for a sleek look. This unique style offers the classic look of a backpack from a familiar time but innovations of contemporary design, fusing both the past and present together in a clean and minimal style.
Location: Flatiron District Manhattan, The New York Times Archives 1917
Undisputedly one of the world’s most recognizable metropolitans, Manhattan is the symbolism of the American Dream. Through history, Manhattan represents America as the cultural and financial capital of the world. Home to the likes of the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ, the big apple has been coined one of the most economically thriving cities. One of the most iconic buildings in Manhattan is the Flatiron building, a 22-story triangular steel framed architectural feat that is considered groundbreaking of its time. It was built by Daniel Burnham, a Chicago native whose intentions were to have the building be a vertical “Renaissance Palazzo”, with thematic inspiration drawn from Beaux-Arts style of neoclassicism refined through history by the French. It was not always well received by New Yorkers, with many critics calling it awkward and unpractical for business.
In present day New York, the flatiron remains an iconic point of interest for any tourist visiting Manhattan. It is one of the world’s most photographed building as no surprise. The area surrounding the building is also named the Flatiron District, situated near 5th Avenue and Madison Square, a luxurious and bustling shopping district. In current times, the building now houses entrepreneurial tech startups, as well as fashion businesses and art exhibition spaces such as the Flatiron Prow Art Space. Even more recently, a significant part of the building was bought out by an Italian real estate investment firm, converting much of the space they owned to luxurious hotel suites.
With the clout and substantial influence both in fashion and business of the Flatiron District and the greater metropolitan, the Manhattan briefcase is the convergence of functionality and fashion. Inspired and spun from the classic briefcases used in the past by businessmen, the briefcase is stylistically the same in silhouette. With outer hidden compartments and a collapsible design, the briefcase is meant for the commuting professional, who wants to undertake the city in sophistication. The lightweight textural body combined with minimalistic design makes the Manhattan briefcase a functional present day glimpse of the fashion from past.
Location: SoHo of Manhattan, The New York Times Archives 1974
This snapshot was taken on West Broadway in 1974 at the location of the Vorpal Gallery, a prestigious and widely received art exhibition gallery. The original gallery was designed and founded by Muldoon Elder (Michael Muldoon Elder) in 1961 in San Francisco, CA. Muldoon Elder was an exceptional artist with many pieces spanning from paintings to sculpture that received awards for its contemporary commentary of society as well as abstract cerebral pieces, with ‘Azulao’ and ‘The Garrotted Ballerina’ paintings popularly exhibited at other prestigious Art Museums and galleries. Elder was truly an artist for the arts. The Vorpal Gallery’s main purpose was to showcase and represent incredible artists whose work were not well known to the public. Through its masterful curations, Elder represented Yozo Yamaguchi and M.C. Escher, whom at the time were both unknown to the art world. Now dubbed one of the greatest print masters, the two have Elder and the Vorpal Gallery in SoHo to thank for their mark in art history.
In the present time, the Vorpal Gallery still exists on West Broadway of SoHo (South of Houston Street) of lower Manhattan. The trendy and historic neighborhood still houses some of the nation’s best art galleries in addition to the high-end boutiques showcasing anything from contemporary fashion to lavish art pieces and decor. It is the quintessential hub for fashion and art. Uniquely, SoHo is also known as the Cast Iron Historic District and was dubbed as so in 1973 as preservations efforts from the city. Many of original cast-iron buildings still stand erect showcasing the historic architectural design and craftsmanship of its era drawing back to the1850s.
The SoHo Folio was designed to be a sophisticated small accessory for the commuting artists and professionals in this bustling neighborhood. The folio is designed with an outer hidden compartment as well as interior compartments to hold small essentials for the commute. It is the perfect accessory for the in between meetings and lunches, converting with ease into a laptop sleeve.
This snapshot was taken in 1974 at the Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village located in Lower Manhattan. The Washington Square Arch is the most recognizable structure at the park, positioned at the northern gateway entrance point. It was built in 1892 to celebrate the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration as the monument was modeled by Stanford White, who drew its inspiration from the Arc de Triomphe located on the Champs-Élysées boulevard in Paris. The aesthetic details of the arch include imagery of war, victory, and peace. Historically, the area was intertwined with many American narratives, many of which were rooted in the progressive social and civil activism occurring at the time. It was a lively enclave for artists, musicians, and performers to showcase their love for the arts.
In present day New York, Washington Square Park remains a center for performance arts as well as a recreational site for families. It has undergone several renovation efforts to preserve the historic architecture of the area but also to accommodate the modernizing populace.
In the present time, one can see a mix of New York University students, tourists, and professionals lounging leisurely at the park or cutting through during their commute. It is still a lively site for art, music, and activism. The compact style Greenwich briefcase is a classic and familiar style modernized to fit the lifestyle of the city dweller. Meant for the casual daily commuter and minimalist, the Greenwich Briefcase is the perfect understated yet sophisticated accessory to carry through the bustling city.