Cracking the fashion code: Couple makes Brooklyn-neighborhood scarves • Brooklyn Paper

Cracking the fashion code: Couple makes Brooklyn-neighborhood scarves

Fabric of the neighborhood: Sanksshep Mahendra, co-owner of The Brooklyn Block, prints designs derived from videos of Brooklyn locales onto scarves.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Here is something to get wrapped up in this holiday season.

The Brooklyn Block makes scarves that are supposed to represent various Brooklyn neighborhoods by recording video of an area and converting the footage into a pattern that it prints onto fabric. The owners see the accessories as a way for people to share their love of this fair borough.

“We’re extremely passionate about Brooklyn, and so are our customers,” said Sanksshep Mahendra. “These are great if you want to give a gift to someone that captures your neighborhood.”

The company makes scarves representing eight different locations, with two variations on Dumbo and the old DeKalb Market. The patterns look like horizontal bands of color, but still manage to convey a sense of the neighborhoods, if you look for it. The Coney Island scarf gives an impression of the beach, the crowds, and the amusement rides. The Dumbo night view renders the skyline of a certain distant island in dizzying fragments.

“We wanted to capture the colors and textures of the neighborhoods,” Mahendra said. “To capture neighborhoods through a fashion accessory.”

Mahendra studied architecture and urban design at Pratt Institute, where he met his wife Namrata Vansadia. She was studying interactive design, and the two have put their heads together to make the product.

“The scarves are a sort of combination of architecture, urban design, and fashion,” Mahendra said.

The initial idea for the scarves came from a project Vansadia worked on to create a “visual poem” based on the imagery of Brooklyn neighborhoods.

“She was processing videos through code to generate a pattern,” Mahendra said. “And we really liked the pattern.”

The couple does research before embarking upon a new neighborhood neck-warmer, identifying iconic buildings and important pieces of architecture. Then they film a video of the neighborhood that can clock in between 45 seconds and eight minutes.

“We try to capture every nook and cranny,” Mahendra said.

A Java code processes the video afterwards, breaking apart the frames and rearranging the colors into a pattern, which they then print on silk. After last year’s batch, the couple added new neighborhoods and scaled back the abstraction in the pattern to allow more recognizable scenes to come through.

“We got a great response last year, but we also got some really good feedback,” Mahendra said. “People wanted to see a little bit more of the imagery.”

The couple is fielding requests for future neighborhoods, and hopes to eventually make a scarf for every neighborhood in the borough.

Most of The Brooklyn Block’s sales come directly through its website, but the couple also hawked scarves at holiday markets this year. And seeing the faces of happy customers shows Mahendra that they are doing something right, he said.

“When we see that joy on the faces of customers, it gives us so much joy,” he said.

Techno Files

Playing tag? There’s an app for that. Gowanus design agency Operation CMYK launched a new game app last week that could have grown adults screaming “You’re it!” Phone Tag! is a live-action, multiplayer game of high-tech tag that uses real location information. Players try to set traps for their opponents or to tag them when they are not paying attention. The company is calling it a mix between Battleship and hide-and-seek. We’re reserving judgement.

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The cycling advocacy group Bike New York, which founded the Five Boro Bike Tour, launched a new website last week at www.bike.nyc. The site offers information about upcoming events, tips for riders, and suggested bike routes, among other things.

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Etsy has announced some changes heading into the new year. Chad Dickerson is replacing Caterina Fake as chairman of the board. Fake, who co-founded the image sharing site Flickr, joined Etsy back in 2006 and became chairwoman in 2009. She is leaving to focus on her work at the Rare Cancer Research Foundation, the Sesat School in San Francisco, and on a new app called Findery. Etsy also announced that Michele Burns has joined the board of directors. She currently sits on the board of Cisco Systems and Goldman Sachs Group and has worked as an executive at Mercer and Delta Airlines.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260–8310. E-mail him at mperl‌man@c‌ngloc‌al.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.

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