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Löwe: Senior Exhibition 2024

Zachary Scharrer, a senior at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) is designing bespoke, adaptive formalwear for users with disabilities for his senior exhibition project. The Product Design student worked directly with two employees at Independence First to tailor garments for them.

Scharrer chose the name Löwe, German for lion, to embody the feeling of strength and confidence that can come from wearing well-fitted clothes. “Having something that’s made for you and just really fits your needs, where you can go out in the world and show up as who you really are,” he says. View Löwe at MIAD’s Senior Exhibition April 19 – May 11, 2024.

The design process was very collaborative, taking into account his users’ preferences. Scharrer explains, “A lot of the process was super back and forth, sending them sketches and color swatches, just like getting it really tailored to what they like. But also my design tastes as well.”

Designing for Löwe has been one of the most technically challenging projects Scharrer has worked on. “I feel like I spend hours and hours just with the pattern making process,” he says. “But it’s pretty satisfying. It has a little bit of the math side to it, which I enjoy, but it’s a mix of the artistic, mathematic, ergonomics. It’s everything mixed together.”

Scharrer started at MIAD before the college launched its new Fashion and Apparel Design major. However, he was able to combine two of his passions—fashion and product design—into a tailored senior exhibition experience. “It’s been super interesting to marry my product design experience, which is super user-focused, ergonomics and everything, into fashion, which can often be more aesthetic,” he explains.

As a child, Scharrer became interested in product design since his father has a disability. “Growing up, I’ve seen his struggles and just dealing with things that aren’t designed for him,” he explains. “There are so many untapped areas that aren’t helping people with disabilities. Things are almost intentionally designed to not work for people with disabilities. If things were designed in a different way, it could be easier for everyone.”

Reflecting on MIAD’s 50th anniversary, Scharrer appreciates being able to see the history of the school and how it has already evolved in the relatively short space of 50 years. “I’m just excited to see how much it will expand. How many more majors will they add?” Scharrer continues, “I’m excited to still be a part of the MIAD community and see where it goes from here.”

In addition to starting a full-time job as a designer at Kohl’s Corporate after graduation, Scharrer is excited to have more time to continue developing Past Premise, his upcycled business.

Keep up with Scharrer on his website and check out MIAD’s Product Design major!


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December 31, 2023
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