The misconception of textiles, especially within the woven industry, is often hard to comprehend for today’s society. Without its use the form of our world would be a very different place. Can you imagine life without textiles? It aids us in all ways through life and in many ways it acts as our protection.Biomedical sciences, techno textiles and archi-textiles are all examples of woven textiles in use. It is actually almost impossible to not be in contact with a piece of material at all times. It is used to cover us up, act as shelter, add colour to our lives and most importantly, hold memories.
In Cloth and human experience, Annette Weiner and Jane Schneider portray the sentimental value of cloth by saying, “Because cloth is subject to physical disintegration, keeping an old cloth despite all the ravages of time and the pressures to give it to others adds immeasurably to its value. Old clothes carry the histories of the past, making cloth itself into a material archive that brings the authority of the past into present.1” Fabric portrays all aspects of our changing world; its aesthetics, pattern and density inform its end-use but also have the potential to represent current design trends, which in time will represent the styles of our past.
Personally its woven textiles that plays a significant role in my views of the textile industry. Woven textiles signifies to most an old fashioned craft usually associated with an older generation, nevertheless a current surge in traditional crafts is transforming the ways in which woven textiles is perceived, plus allows an innovative edge to be incorporated into this traditional art form. Its sheer versatility opens up many different avenues of exploration for a weave designer.
One aspect to modern day hand-weaving that is so poignant to weavers is that the craft has not changed much in terms of techniques since the industrial revolution. To practice such an old craft creates a stronger connection and deeper appreciation to a weaver and their loom. An aspect of weaving that is of particular interest is how it sources back to times when people wove plants together to create sheets of woven materials. The poem below came from the book The art of Maori weaving which struck a cord with the connection between the viewer, weaving and its sources from nature.
“Welcome o daughter
to the sacred basket of knowledge here, delicately woven before you.
The first thread is the assemble of scraped harakeke leaves
A human bond that connects us from the homeland
through the passages of time.
The second thread
Is the Harakeke provided here
from which cloaks were woven that now keep us warm
The third thread
Is the Kiekie plant that faces the great oceans-
all seeing- providing a pathway carefully entwined to the distant haze,
Here then is the fouth strand
The spirit of the harakeke
Which connects us all”2
inspiration for design and architecture. My current work signifies a bond between the beauty that nature has already given us, and how this beauty can be developed into practical woven designs for interiors/architectural spaces that not only serve a purpose but also hold deeper meanings. It is vital to communicate through my work my passion for nature’s creations and demonstrate to an audience it importance.
The term “BI-O-MIM-IC-RY= From the Greek Bios, life, and mimesis, imitation3” Is “Nature as model.”Biomimicry is a new science that studies nature’s models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to solve human problems4” Nature is our guidance, there would be no life without natures input. It is by exploring nature’s inner qualities that admiration and inspiration can then be derived.
During this current process one quote from the book Capital by Karl Marx signified the meanings behind the inspiration for my latest designs by saying
“The spider carries out operations reminiscent of a weaver and the boxes which bees built in the sky could disgrace the work of many architects. But even the worst architects differs from the most able bee from the very outset in that before he builds a box out of boards he has already constructed it in his head. At the end of the work process he obtains a result, which already existed in his mind before he began to build. The architect not only changes the form given to him by nature, within the constraints imposed by nature, he also carries out a purpose of his own which defies the means and the character of the activity of which he must subordinate his will5”
The latest collection of work takes the topic of ‘Biomimicry’ by exploring the habitats of four naturally made structures that inspire contemporary design and architecture.
1) The honeycomb – The design of bees/wasp to create their hives. One of the most widely used shapes in all forms of design.
2) The termite’s nest – The purposely build structure for all functions, which influences the ventilation of architecture.
3) The bird’s nest – The carefully chosen mix of materials to create such a versatile yet functional structure.
4) The spider’s web – The intricacy web of survival, that also aids current design phenomenon.
The fact that these four structures have been made from Insects and mammals shows the intellectual imagination they have to create designs that we then re-create to fit our needs, which also indicates a perfect example of natural and man-made working in unison. By choosing four varying structures to focus on will determine the type of fabrics created, to explore the patterns, colours, shapes, textures and the 3D qualities of these structures allows for an innovative approach to be introduced the woven creations.
The discovery of such a vast research base such as ‘Biomimicry’ has completely transformed my approach to woven textiles. Through this process it has become apparent that design is not all about aesthetics but is often about purpose, for without purpose there is no need for design. To explore beyond the normal everyday textiles opens up whole new areas of discoveries that in time will determine a future career path.
1. Weiner, A, B. 1995. Cloth and Human Experience. Smithsonian Inst. Press.
2. Miriama Evans, R N. (2005). The art of Māori weaving: The eternal thread. Wellington, New Zealand: Huia publishers.
3. Haviland, W. et al (2010). Cultural Anthropology; The human challenge. Cengage Learning.
4. Marx, K. & McLellan, D (ed) (1999) Captial. Oxford: Publisher Oxford University Press.
5. Benyus, J. M. (1997) Biomimicry . New york, USA: William Morrow and Company, inc.