Nom de Guerre is a New York based research and design organization founded by Holly Harnsongkram, Wil Whitney, Devon Turnbull, and Isa Saalabi. This collaboration of the members is driven by the theory that collective consciousness and collective reasoning is superior to that of the individual ego. The operating precept is to combine basic and diverse influences from art, fashion, and various New York City subcultures to create a composite culture and by-product.
The members assumed the name, Nom de Guerre, for the term’s significance as a wartime alias. Historically a nom de guerre had two functions, first, to identify the group thereby giving the members solidarity; and additionally, safeguarding the personal identity of each member during operations. These ideas of fraternity and sublimating one’s identity to operate within a group are the foundation and reference point of each collection.
The first undertaking of the organization, was to create a headquarters for research, experimentation, and dissemination of the social science project, Nom de Guerre. With this vision, the group obtained a multi-level basement in downtown Manhattan and opened the space to the public on October 2003. Invisible to the average passer-by, the design of this subterranean outlet was inspired by other underground sites such as bunkers, tunnels and archaeological digs.
The following year, the group launched a clothing line that was based on intensive research of utilitarian design; the result was practical clothing with the look of military surplus and other functional garments. This study of uniforms, in particular, derives from an ongoing examination of what it is that cross culturally informs the design choices of non-civilian clothing.
Since the group’s inception and the opening of the downtown headquarters, Nom de Guerre has been a destination for the young New Yorkers who comprise the burgeoning art and music scene. As a result, Nom de Guerre has come to be a defining aspect of New York culture.