Gowns designed with recycled sign parts and steel cable; belts constructed of tile and linoleum. This is couture at its most creative.

Couture garments made out of commercial construction materials — two worlds you wouldn’t expect to collide in such beautiful ways — paraded down the catwalk at the biennial International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Couture event in March at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. The event is the largest fundraiser for the Southwest chapter of IIDA and attracted more than 500 guests to “ooh” and “ahh” over the collaborative creations realized by the participating teams.

Each interior design team was paired with a vendor, given a color forecast and left to its own imagination to construct an outfit. This year’s color forecast was based on that of Sherwin Williams Paint’s 2014 color categories, which were inspired, as the paint company described it, by “the world around us.”


Many design firms spent months putting together works of wearable art, and the effort was clearly seen in the finished products. The personal favorite of Board Member Jill Gibney was a flowing cream hi-lo dress by Creative Interiors, Inc. that won Best Haute Couture.

“You would never have known it was done out of commercial carpet products – I could imagine it being on display in a high-end wedding dress boutique,” said Gibney.
Yuki Nakai, chair of this year’s event, found herself in awe of creativity of the designers as well.

“There’s always a wow factor when I see a material utilized in a unique way,” she said. Nakai participated in the event as a design team member in 2012 and saw first-hand how the event “fosters an opportunity to let the local designers’ creativity shine and an opportunity for the vendors to highlight its products.”

IIDA Southwest has expanded its efforts to benefit people outside of the interior design and vendor industries. The majority of the funds raised by the Couture 2014 event will go to IIDA Southwest’s new philanthropic event, Connect4. Every other year, opposite the couture event, the chapter’s City Centers (Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas and Albuquerque) redesigns a local nonprofit organization’s space.

Last year, for the Phoenix chapter’s first Connect4, IIDA renovated community areas in the U.S. VETS Grand Veterans Village, a facility that provides affordable apartments to local homeless and at-risk veterans. With the conclusion of the 2014 Couture event, IIDA Southwest will begin narrowing down candidates for its 2015 Connect4 recipient.

The introduction of Connect4 into the picture came after IIDA Southwest decided to host the couture event biennially. Designers and board members found themselves wrapping up an event just in time to start the next one and the lack of recovery time became too much. Additionally, board members found that the community anticipation of a biennial event is much greater and allows people time to really get fired up about couture. An event that sends models down a runway wearing the seat of a Bertoia chair as an elegant hat is sure to draw a crowd.