I borrowed two books on design from Carlisle library and found the following designers’/companies’ work of interest.
Droog Design is a Dutch designers’ collective, founded in 1993. Their work focuses on the process of design, as well as the outcome. They sell all sorts of household objects, from furniture to kitchen ware, lighting and decorative objects.
Tejo Remy for Droog, Rag Chair
The chair is made of layers of discarded ‘rags’ held together by packaging binding. The owner can customise the seating, by adding their own clothing to the design.
I feel that I ought to like this, because it contains recycled textiles used in an interesting way. As an art work I could admire the layers of clothing equated with layers of memories, and the fact that it points out how much waste we generate in our society. But as a chair, I am rather repelled by it. It doesn’t look very comfortable and I feel that it would smell musty, and it would remind me of a pile of laundry waiting to be dealt with. (I should say that I buy lots of textiles including clothing from charity shops, but they always get a good laundering before I use them, and that may also be the case with this chair!).
Tejo Remy and Rene VeenHuizen, Accidental Carpet (Rug Made From Recycled Blankets)
From the same designer with his design partner. This is much more to my taste and reminds me very much of the standing wool rugs that I have experimented with, except that it is made from strips of blanket glued to a base, rather than sewn together, as is traditional. Gluing is certainly a faster construction method. It reminds me of a slice of agate.
Lucienne Day designed textiles, wallpaper, carpets and tableware. She and her husband, Robin Day (a furniture designer) had their own design company. She also wrote books, presumably on the topic of design, which I will look out for. Her work was inspired by Modern Art (such as work by Jean Miro, Wassily Kandinsky, and Paul Klee). Her Calyx textile was featured at the Festival of Britain and was sold through Heals department stores. It is an abstracted version of plant anatomy with lines and cup shapes.
Lucienne Day, Heal’s Wholesale and Export, Calyx Textile (Grey) 1951
Lucienne Day, Heal Fabrics, Dandelion Clocks, 1953
I love these designs, very much representing the ‘atomic’ era in which they were designed. The mixture of observed and abstract plant anatomy mixed with lines and strange forms is wonderful.
Takuya Niimi and Yuki Niimi are Japanese designers. They won a Gold Award from Muji in 2007 for their “Towel With Further Options”.
Takuya Niimi and Yuki Niimi, Towel With Further Options, 2007
This clever design has the potential for various uses throughout its life cycle built in, by adding densely-woven strips that can be cut into without causing fraying. The bath towel can be used until worn, then cut down to make a smaller hand towel, bath mat, face cloth or cleaning cloth. The designers were inspired by the re-use of Japanese yukata kimonos as nappies/floor cloths, etc.
I find this simple, but thoughtful concept very appealing. Thinking about how a textile is manufactured, used, and recycled is a topic I will return to. Rebecca Fairley’s blog post on sustainability will be a good starting point for this future research. I see that the term “Design for Disassembly” applies to this product.
An unusual, ‘Sonic Fabric’ was invented by Alyce Stantoro in 2000. It is a textile woven from discarded audio tapes, and is playable using a cassette recorder head run over the fabric. (These heads have been set into the fingertips of gloves for performances using the textile). In 2006 production of the Sonic Fabric was also taken up by US textile company, Designtex. The textile is reputed to be practical to wear, soft and durable, made from a tape and cotton mix.
Alyce Stantoro, Dress made from Sonic Fabric
The musician/conceptual artist mentions that the idea came to her through an association with Buddhist Tibetan prayer flags, that contain mantras that when intoned are supposed to affect thoughts and physical matter. She connected this with a childhood use of audio tape on toy boats to show the wind direction. She had imagined being able to hear the taped sounds on the wind. Alyce records her own choice of significant music and specially collected everyday sounds onto the tape before it is woven, making this a piece of conceptual art as well as a unique textile.
The combination of sound and textile and being able to add ‘memories’ or ‘messages’ to the textile is an interesting one. Another possible layer of meaning is added to the narrative of the fabric, perhaps autobiographical?, or celebratory?, or simply refering to the time and place in which the textile was made.
What lessons can I learn from these designers?
- Think about the sustainability and recycling aspect of a project. Perhaps work from a waste product, such as old blankets, and find new ways of using and recycling them.
- Mix abstracted forms of real objects with abstract lines and shapes. Reflect the age in which you are designing.
- Think about the ‘cradle-to-cradle’ approach when designing a product. How can its life be extended? How can it be disassembled for recycling?
- Consider mixtures of traditional and non-traditional materials. The five senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste) could be brought into play to make a memorable art work.
Düchting, H., Hellman, C., Kozel, N. and Duchting, H. (2012) 50 designers you should know. Munich: Prestel.
Fairs, M. and Dixon, T. (2009) Green design: Creative, sustainable designs for the twenty-first century. London: Carlton Books.
http://www.alycesantoro.com/ Accessed 24/10/16
http://www.droog.com/ Accessed 23/10/16
http://www.remyveenhuizen.nl/ Accessed 24/10/16
http://www.robinandluciennedayfoundation.org/lives-and-designs/1950s Accessed 24/10/16