The most common textiles in public places in Rome are perhaps the white tents outside bars and restaurants, especially during the summer: everybody enjoys sipping a cool beverage in a beautiful piazza while sitting in the shadow and observing people walking by. On the left Piazza Navona, on the right Piazza in Lucina.
Another common sight in Rome are textiles covering maintenance works on palace fronts.
Both uses are merely functional and utilitarian – to offer a protection from the sun and create a secluded area in the first case, or to prevent that any objects can fall on people and hurt them in the case of working sites – and often the aesthetics is unfortunately sacrificed.
Other times a compromise between function and aesthetics is the target, like in this temporary textile structure put up to host a gala dinner at the American Academy in Rome last June. The aim was mainly to protect guests in case of rain and to create an elegant setting. The solution found was a light, unobtrusive tent on slim poles that floated above the tables and was easily to assemble and disassemble.
Another important use for textiles is for architectural purposes. A magnificent example of this type is La Nuvola (The Cloud) designed for the new Convention Centre in the Roman quarter Eur by the Italian architecture practice Studio Fuksas. It is a cloud-like structure in steel covered by 15,000 square metres of flame-retardant fibre glass and silicone membrane.
At: http://www.fuksas.it/en/Projects/New-Rome-Eur-Convention-Centre-and-Hotel-Rom (Accessed 1/08/2017)
Textiles have been often used also for decorative and artistic purposes. A classic, superb example in Rome are the Flemish tapestries in the Galleria degli Arazzi (Tapestry Hall) leading to the Sistine Chapel.
Image from: http://www.romewise.com/vatican-museum-must-sees.html (Accessed 1/08/2017)
But textiles feature also in contemporary artworks, even in tradition-steeped Rome. A recent example was the textile performance and installation ‘Alba’ (Dawn) at Ara Pacis Museum – the mausoleum of emperor Augustus – by textile sculptor Thomas de Falco which took place in 2016. The artist ‘wrapped’ parts of human bodies with textile fibres creating a sculptural performance which emotionally connected past and present.
Another example of textiles in contemporary art was the playful site-specific installation ‘Harmonic Motion’ by Japanese artist Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam at the Macro Museum in Rome in 2013. It consisted of a colourful crochet-like suspended interactive playground which people could freely access and enjoy.