Texture: visual and tactile surface quality of garments

Texture is a very large subject. Passionate as I am about textile manipulation I have done many samples just to explore some of the possibilities, but just skimmed the surface.

In this context I’m limiting myself to a dictionary search of some types of textured fabric mentioned by Creative Arts Today (page 215): 

TWEED: Tweed is a rough, woolen fabric, of a soft, open, flexible texture, resembling cheviot or homespun, but more closely woven. It is usually woven with a plain weave, twill or herringbone structure. Colour effects in the yarn may be obtained by mixing dyed wool before it is spun.

Tweeds are an icon of traditional Irish and British country clothing, being desirable for informal outerwear, due to the material being moisture-resistant and durable. Tweeds are made to withstand harsh climate and are commonly worn for outdoor activities such as shooting and hunting, in both Ireland and the United Kingdom. “Lovat” is the name given to the green used in traditional Scottish tweed. In Ireland, tweed manufacturing is most associated with County Donegal. (From: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tweed_(cloth)

HONEYCOMB: soft cotton f. with a geometric, relief surface, created by means of a loose honeycomb weavewith convex, deepened places with good suction capacity. Used in hand towels and bath towels, and also for some types of ladies’ fashionwear dresses. The name is given by the honeycomb weave used in its production. (From: http://en.texsite.info/Honeycomb_fabric)

MATELASSE’: Matelassé (French: [matlase]) is a weaving or stitching technique yielding a pattern that appears quilted or padded.[1] Matelassé may be achieved by hand, on a jacquard loom, or a quilting machine. It is meant to mimic the style of hand-stitched quilts made in Marseilles, France. It is a heavy, thick textile that appears to be padded, but actually has no padding within the fabric. (From: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matelassé)

CORD: Corduroy is a textile with a distinct pattern, a “cord” or wale. Modern corduroy is most commonly composed of tufted cords, sometimes exhibiting a channel (bare to the base fabric) between the tufts. Corduroy is, in essence, a ridged form of velvet.

The fabric looks as if it is made from multiple cords laid parallel to each other and then stitched together. The word corduroy is from cord and duroy, a coarse woollen cloth made in England in the 18th century. The interpretation of the word as corde du roi (from French, the cord of the King) is a folk etymology. (From: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corduroy)

VELVET: Velvet is a type of woven tufted fabric in which the cut threads are evenly distributed, with a short dense pile, giving it a distinctive feel. By extension, the word velvety means “smooth like velvet.” Velvet can be made from either synthetic or natural fibers.

Velvet is woven on a special loom that weaves two thicknesses of the material at the same time. The two pieces are then cut apart to create the pile effect, and the two lengths of fabric are wound on separate take-up rolls. This complicated process meant that velvet was expensive to make before industrial power looms became available, and well-made velvet remains a fairly costly fabric. Velvet is difficult to clean because of its pile, but modern dry cleaning methods make cleaning more feasible. Velvet pile is created by warp or vertical yarns and velveteen pile is created by weft or fill yarns. (From: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velvet)

SEERSUCKER: Seersucker is a thin, puckered, all-cotton fabric, commonly striped or chequered, used to make clothing for spring and summer wear. The word came into English from Persian, and originates from the words sheer and shakar, literally meaning “milk and sugar”, probably from the resemblance of its smooth and rough stripes to the smooth texture of milk and the bumpy texture of sugar.[1] Seersucker is woven in such a way that some threads bunch together, giving the fabric a wrinkled appearance in places. This feature causes the fabric to be mostly held away from the skin when worn, facilitating heat dissipation and air circulation. It also means that pressing is not necessary. (From: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seersucker)

A useful little glossary of textile terms is to be found online at:
http://vantageapparel.com/Pdf/Apparel_Glossary08.pdf

A more complete Historical Fashion and Textile Encyclopaedia is to be found at:

http://thedreamstress.com/research/the-great-historical-fashion-and-textile-glossary/

Texture in fabrics can be created in different ways:

  • by the fibres used
  • by the design of the yarns in the fabric
  • by the techniques used to create the textile
  • by the finishes applied to the surface that can change the surface and tactile qualities of a textile and also influence its drape

Some finishes (Creative Arts Today, page 215):

For a general online article on finishing: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finishing_(textiles)

BRUSHING: Some fabrics like velvet have a naturally raised (fuzzy) surface and this is referred to as the nap. The term nap is also used to describe other surfaces that look like the surface of a napped cloth. In the finishing process of manufacturing textiles, after the cloth is woven, it goes through processes such as washing, fulling, raising, and trimming the nap. There are several ways to ‘raise the nap’, most of which involve wire brushes such as raising cards and involved special brushing machines to get the best finish. During raising, the fabric surface is treated with sharp teeth to lift the surface fibres, thereby imparting hairiness, softness and warmth. Flannelette is a well-known example of this type of material. Gateway finishers are specialists in this process. (From: http://www.gatewayfinishers.co.uk/textile-finishingservices/brushing-surface-raising/)

LAMINATING: Laminated textiles consist of one or more layers of textile and component. The Textile Institute defines a laminated or combined fabric as: ‘a material composed of two or more layers, at least one of which is a textile fabric, bonded closely together by means of an added adhesive, or by the adhesive properties of one or more of the component layers’ (From: http://www.tikp.co.uk/knowledge/technology/coating-and-laminating/laminating)

FOILING: Foil stamping, (also known as foil application) typically a commercial printing process, is the application of metallic or pigmented foil on to a solid surface by application of a heated die onto foil, making it permanently adhere to the surface below leaving the design of the dye. (From: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foil_stamping)
PRESSING: Pressing is the final opportunity to change the finish of a fabric. It is greatly influence by both the fabric fibre content, structure and end requirement. Some fabrics will require a clean, lustrous finish, but that same fabric can be manipulated to look fussy, soft and warm.

Processes include:

• Brushing is used to make a fabric’s handle softer. The fabric is run through a series of wire bristles that lift individual fibres from the fabric, making a soft nap.
• Calendering: the fabric passes through a set of rollers which can add lustre or an embossed effect.  

• Singeing: Heat is used to singe away any loose fibres on the fabric surface. It is a dry process, which can be used prior to washing.

Raising is a physical finish where fibres are lifted to produce a warm-feeling and soft fabric, such as flannelette.

• During emerising, a fabric is passed over a rotating emery-covered roller (or over multiple rollers) to give a suede-like or peach-like finish. It produces a very short pile (protruding fibres) that softens the handle of the fabric. (http://www.tikp.co.uk/knowledge/technology/finishing/textile-finishing/)

FELTING: Felt is a textile material that is produced by matting, condensing and pressing fibers together. Felt can be made of natural fibers such as wool, or from synthetic fibers such as petroleum-based acrylic or acrylonitrile or wood pulp-based rayon. Blended fibers are also common. (From: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felt)

All websites accessed on 19/08/2017

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Research Point: Textiles in context – Zaha Hadid

Serpentine Sackler Gallery extension (2013), in London’s Kensington Gardens

 

Images from:

http://manchesterhistory.net/architecture/2010/sacklerextension.html (Accessed 2/08/2017)

Information from:

http://www.zaha-hadid.com/interior-design/serpentine-sackler-gallery-2/ (Accessed 2/08/2017)

http://www.archdaily.com/433507/the-serpentine-sackler-gallery-zaha-hadid-architects (Accessed 2/08/2017)

https://www.dezeen.com/2013/09/25/serpentine-sackler-gallery-by-zaha-hadid/ (Accessed 2/08/2017)

Like the MAXXI Museum in Rome, this project combines old and new, in this case an historic building – a 19th century brick gunpowder store – and an undulating tensile structure designed by architect Zaha Hadid to be used as a café/restaurant and social space.

The extension is made of a glass-fibre textile and forms an organic-looking white canopy that ‘grows’ from the original building.

Zaha Hadid has used textiles architecturally also in other projects, for example in the temporary structure created for the JS Bach Chamber Music Hall in Manchester (2009) in which a continuous ribbon of translucent fabric stretched over a steel structure suspended from the ceiling and enveloped both performers and audience in a common, fluid space.

Many other architects and designers have  made an architectural use of textiles, both for temporary and permanent structures, even if not always with such beautiful results. The examples are many, so it’s only possible to scrape the surface in this short post. These structures can be collectively named textile architecture.

At The Politecnico di Milano a Textile Architecture Network has been established in 2011 by a group of researchers whose main goal is that of sharing knowledge and promoting the development of lightweight constructions – tensile, inflatable systems, FRP in general – in architecture to improve the building environment from the quality and sustainability point of view (At: http://www.textilearchitecture.polimi.it/).

They also have a database of projects that show the state of the art of membrane and fabric architecture all over the world and that can be used by architects and engineers.

On the website of the German-Swiss-Latvian company MDT Membrane Design and Technique (At: https://www.mdt-tex.com/en/home/) I found an image with drawings of the basic ways in which textile structures can be designed to serve different purposes:

RIGID SYSTEMS TRANSFORMABLE SYSTEM OPEN SYSTEM
TEXTILE BUILDINGS
SECOND SKIN
BETWEEN BUILDINGS
ON FACADE

From: https://www.mdt-tex.com/en/textile-architecture/textile-architecture/ (Accessed 2/08/2017)

This is not ‘art’ or ‘architecture’ but it can be useful as a starting point for designing architectural membrane structures.

Eye Beacon pavilion, Amsterdam, designed by UNStudio, Amsterdam, partner of MDT-tex, is an example of their work.
The structure consists of two cube forms connected to one another by twisting surfaces. All surfaces of the pavilion are constructed from tensile textile modules that together create a pattern of openings and reveal glimpses of the interior. (At: https://www.mdt-tex.com/en/references/eye-beacon-pavilion/)

 

One of the great masters of tensile structures was the German architect Otto Frei (1925-2015) who was a pioneer in the use of lightweight tensile and membrane structures, including the roof of the Olympic Stadium in Munich for the 1972 Summer Olympics.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frei_Otto

File:Munich - Frei Otto Tensed structures - 5320.jpg

Frei Otto Tensed structures for the Munich 72 Olympic Games. Olympic Stadium and park. Munich Germany (photo © Jorge Royan / http://www.royan.com.ar / CC BY-SA 3.0 

 

Photo from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Munich_-_Frei_Otto_Tensed_structures_-_5320.jpg (Accessed 3/08/2017)

The Guardian has an interesting article on him, which explains how Otto Frei has inspired ‘everything from the Millennium Dome to pleasure-domes in Kazakhstan and service stations all over the world.’

Roof for the Multihalle in Mannheim, Germany.

Roof for the Multihalle in Mannheim, Germany.
Photograph: Atelier Frei Otto Warmbronn

Image from: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2015/mar/11/architect-frei-ottos-best-creations-in-pictures

For his projects he often drew inspiration from the study of natural forms,

taking a great interest in the development of soap bubbles:

 

He studied also architectural primitive forms, from Mongolian yurts to tribal tepees:

His work has greatly influenced the work of several British architects who use tensile fabrics in their work, such as Richard Rogers’ Millennium Dome

 

Millennium Dome 1.jpg

Richard Rogers, Millennium Dome (2000), Greenwich Peninsula in South East London

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_Dome

or Michael Hopkins’ Schlumberger Centre and many others.

The Schlumberger Cambridge Research Centre (1985) was one of Hopkins’ earliest buildings and shows the use of a suspended, high-tech, fabric roof

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hopkins_Architects

 

 

 

Research Point: Looking for textiles around home

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.

Risultati immagini per piazza in lucina roma

Risultati immagini per bar piazza navona

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0773

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.

McKim prize gala dinner at American Academy 2017

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)

 

 

 

Images from: http://www.casaeclima.com/ar_27448__PROGETTI-Nuovi-edifici-eur-roma-fuksas-la-nuvola-Centro-Congressi-Eur-Roma-La-Nuvola-di-Fuksas–pronta-per-aprire-i-battenti.html (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.

galleria degli arazzi in the vatican museumsImage 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.

Thomas De Falco, Alba, performance ed installazione tessile, 2016, Museo dell’Ara Pacis, Roma

‘Alba’ performance/installation at Ara Pacis Museum in Rome on May 28th, 2016

From: http://arte.sky.it/2017/06/a-citta-di-castello-una-performance-tessile-che-unisce-corpi-e-architettura/#1

(Accessed 1/08/2017)

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.

Textile installation ‘Harmonic Motion’ at Macro Museum in Rome (2013)

Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam, Harmonic Motion/ Rete dei draghi. MACRO - Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma

Image from: http://www.arte.it/foto/la-rete-dei-draghi-di-toshiko-horiuchi-macadam-90/8

(Accessed 1/08/2017)

 

 

Research Point 2: Zoe Arnold, artist jeweller

My designer/artist/maker of choice for this post is Zoe Arnold, who is a British artist jeweller, but also a sculptor, a poet and a book maker, because for me she really epitomizes in her pieces and through her methods the very nature of contemporary craft at its best, with all the qualities that have been identified in original, innovative hand-made objects in Project 2:

her work is risk-taking, individual and original

her work is masterfully crafted and of outstanding quality

her work builds stories people can connect to

In this short video produced by The Light Surgeons and commissioned for ‘Added Value?’, a British Crafts Council touring exhibition, she talks about her vision, her use of materials and way of working after a short introduction by Bruce Montgomery, Professor of Design and Craftsmanship at Northumbria University:

 

From: https://vimeo.com/49378348

Zoe Arnold makes her jewellery pieces and automata both from found and precious materials that she chooses because of their evocative value and meaning in the context of her wearable and non wearable sculptures – silver and gold, but also old prints, memorabilia, fragments, precious and non precious stones, old lenses or whatever captures her imagination. She produces only one-off pieces, little elaborate treasures that illustrate stories often inspired by her own poems or other writings and framed together with the objects in made-to-measure boxes or otherwise carefully presented. When not worn, her jewels create complex artworks or installations on their own, which can be admired as a whole.

The materials used are artfully and skillfully combined, transformed or altered by means of whatever technique she deems suitable for the piece she has in mind. In her interview with Diana Woolf on The Making website, she explains that all her work ‘is amalgamated into one creative process’ and that she already knows what she wants to make before starting on a new piece.

For this artist not only designing but also making things with her own hands is an absolute need: ‘I really enjoy sitting there and being able to produce something and do it all myself. I love the sense of achievement and being able to look down at something and think that I’ve made this myself … I would never want to become a designer and get someone else to do my jewellery because my work is so personal and the making is what I really enjoy.’

The whole process is totally inclusive, there is no separation between designing and making. For her what matters ‘is the story behind the piece, rather than the material worth’. Her customers are usually people who appreciate and wish to explore in detail the stories her objects tell, but she concedes that ‘the poetry is also a useful marketing device as I am the only person who works with it and it’s nice to be a bit individual.’

Thinking in terms of Slow Design, I would say that Zoe Arnold is not interested in Slow Design per se or as a conceptual frame for her work – for example she does not speak about ‘sustainability’ or being ‘slow’ in a programmatic way – but she certainly practices the six Slow Design basic principles as stated by Strauss and Fuad-Luke in 2008.

As an artist Arnold 1) ‘reveals’ non precious or discarded materials that would be otherwise overlooked, 2) ‘expands’ her pieces beyond their perceived value as functional jewels into complex and evocative sculptural installations, 3) ‘reflects’ over their meanings inducing contemplation and encouraging a thoughtful use, 4) ‘engages’ her customers and viewers with the stories behind her pieces and the details of their making, 5) ‘participates’ with people encouraging them to actively share her vision and design process and 6) ‘evolves’ her own findings, materials and pieces in slow design processes and transformations. So I would say that Zoe Arnold is naturally and intrinsically a ‘slow designer’ in her vision, methods, processes and outcomes.

Through her pieces she tells the stories that matter to her in significant and thoughtful ways, she takes position on what is important to her as an artist and as a person and masterfully translates and transforms these stories into beautifully crafted pieces.

To me Zoe Arnold is a great example of what contemporary hand-made can achieve today if designed and created with a clear vision in mind, expressing the authentic values of the maker and realized with great skill and passion. The result can be a crafted work that inspires, invites to a ‘slower’ and more meditative use of products and is an antidote to mass consumption and hasty replacement.

I had the same thoughts on a recent visit to the Museum of Fabergé eggs in Saint Petersbourg while admiring those masterful objects: viewed from close they are not only incredibly precious and perfect miniaturized jewels and automata but also an exceptional celebration of the very special world in which they were created.

 

Bay-Tree Egg, 1911. The egg, presented by Emperor Nicholas II to his mother, Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, is inspired by a French 18th century singing bird automaton. According to the Fabergé invoice, the bay tree comprises “325 nephrite leaves, 110 opalescent white enamel flowers, 25 diamonds, 20 rubies, 53 pearls, 219 rose-cut diamonds and one large rose-cut diamond”. When the clockwork automation is wound up and set in motion, a feathered bird appears, flaps its wings, turns its head, opens its beak and sings. From: https://www.faberge.com/the-world-of-faberge/the-imperial-eggs

 

References:
 

https://zoearnold.com/ (Accessed 29/07/2017)

http://www.themaking.org.uk/content/makers/2009/09/zoe_arnold.html (Accessed 29/07/2017)

https://www.faberge.com/the-world-of-faberge/the-imperial-eggs (Accessed 29/07/2017)

 

The hand-made: Craftsmanship and quality

 

Notes from Creative Arts Today, page 195

Ptolemy Mann is a contemporary textile artist and designer known for her unique and colourful hand-woven artworks and textile designs.

Website: http://www.ptolemymann.com/ (Accessed 26/07/2017)

Chroma Ikat cushionMonolithic Box Series at Roast RestaurantIkat collectionCircle 2

From: http://www.themaking.org.uk/content/makers/2011/12/ptolemy_mann.html (Accessed 26/07/2017)

The Making, a craft development agency based in Hampshire (http://www.themaking.org.uk), has an interview by Diana Woolf with this designer/artist/maker: she explains why and how she got involved with abstract weaving during her degree in Textile Design at St Martin’s, how in college she developed a real expertise in working with colour and soon started dip-dying mercerized cotton to produce her warps and obtain the subtle gradations that are characteristic of her production.

After reading this informative interview I got curious about The Making and had a good look at the website which in its section Makers of the Month includes many interesting interviews with masterful crafters and artists working in different fields. I’m mentioning here just a few that I already know, but many others are featured:

Zoe Arnold, who makes artist jewellery and automata, but also writes poetry and short stories.

Zoe Arnold, from: https://zoearnold.com/

 

Alice Kettle, a textile artist who creates figurative panels built up using free machine embroidery.

Alice Kettle, from http://alicekettle.co.uk/

Su Blackwall, a paper artist who makes intricate, narrative paper sculptures out of old books.

http://www.sublackwell.co.uk/

Michael Brennand-Wood, who describes himself as ‘an artist with a sustained interest in textiles’. He makes elaborate, eye-catching wall-hung pieces that are part sculpture, part textile and which are covered in an intriguing variety of materials ranging from conventional textiles to flags, CDs and badges.

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art

‘Flower Head- Narcissistic Butterfly’ 60 dia x 40 cm, 2005.
Collection of the artist. From: http://brennand-wood.com/images.html

Emmanuel Cooper, who as a critic, writer, potter and educator gives a hugely significant contribution to the world of ceramics.

 

 

 

The hand-made: Taking risks

To note from Creative Arts Today, page 194:

Mike Press, Handmade Futures: The Emergence Role of Craft Knowledge in our Digital Culture (Alfoldy, 207, page 249):

Workmanship of risk – the centre is the individual

it implies:

individual production

it’s unpredictable and risky

production by a skilled person(s)

 

Workmanship of certainty – the centre are industrial production and industrial design

it implies:

mass production

it’s predictable

production by a system

 

The concept of workmanship of risk goes back to David Pye, who was a skilled wood-turner and carver and also Professor of Furniture Design at The Royal College of Art from 1964 to 1974. In his book The Nature and Art of Workmanship (1968) (ISBN 1-871569-76-1) he makes a distinction between two kinds of workmanship: the ‘workmanship of risk’ which involves a continuous risk of failure and the ‘workmanship of certainty’ in which results are guaranteed. (From: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/obituary-david-pye-1476905.html, accessed on 26/07/2017)

 

Sustainability examples and initiatives

Creative Arts (pages 186-7) mentions some artists who take a sustainable approach in their work and interesting initiatives and projects in favour of sustainability in design, manufacturing and use of products.

Jane Atfield

Artist website at: http://www.janeatfield.com/

(Accessed 10/07/2017)

High density polyethylene (HDPE), from the designer website

 

Jane Atfield is a British designer who is interested in reinterpreting discarded objects and finding a new function for them. In 1993 she set up a company – MADE OF WASTE – which pioneered the recycling of plastics  – from plastic bottles to yogurt pots – turning them into sheets which could then be assembled into pieces of furniture.

 

Laura Anne Marsden

Artist website at: http://www.lauramarsdenlace.com/

(Accessed 10/07/2017)

Eternal Lace Wedding Dress

Eternal Lace Wedding Dress, created using waste plastic bags, from the artist website

Laura Marsden is a textile designer who develops and promotes recycled textiles. She uses waste plastic bags and through a combination of hand-stitch and needle lace-making – a technique inspired by historical costumes – creates textiles than can be sculpted and used to make one-off pieces of wearable art and wall hung creations.

 

Textiles Environment Design (TED)

Association website at: http://www.tedresearch.net/

(Accessed 10/07/2017)

 

 

 

TED is a team of textile designers and researchers that has been developing a set of practice-based sustainable design strategies – a set of ten criteria – aimed at helping designers in creating textiles with a reduced impact on the environment. They are really an inspiration not only to textile artists but to designers working in all sorts of materials. I have printed them and shall certainly use them in my future as a very useful reference. The site is also rich in resources, news and updates. A real find!

 

Leon Kaye, ‘Clothing to dye for: the textile sector must confront water risks’ (2013) In: TheGuardian 12.08.2013 [online] At:

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/dyeing-textile-sector-water-risks-adidas

(Accessed 10/07/2017)

This is an interesting article focused on dying practices in the textile industry that can pose serious sustainability issues both for the environment and the local communities, especially in countries like India and China, since not only the local dye houses exhaust available water supplies but also dump untreated wastewater into streams and rivers, with dramatic consequences for the local communities.

In looking for ways to mitigate such massive waste of water one important answer is certainly the mechanisation of the industry. Waterless dying would be ideal for polyester but cannot be used for natural fibres such as cotton and wool, for which a huge progress would be instead to drastically reduce water consumption.

Several companies are developing low-water and waterless technologies like ColorZen (http://www.colorzen.com/) and AirDye (http://www.debscorp.com/en/airdye-technology/) while a large company like Adidas is researching dying which uses compressed CO2 with the cooperation of a supplier in Thailand. Also Levi’s, Nike, Ikea and H&M are taking some for the time timid initiatives in this direction.

However, according to this article, ‘as long as companies do not pay a price for the land and water their suppliers poison’ the abuse of water and poisoning of the local streams and rivers will continue.

 

Thomas Thwaites, ‘The Toaster Project’

http://www.thomasthwaites.com/the-toaster-project/

(Accessed 11/07/2017)

http://www.peoplesbookprize.com/Extracts/i780.extract.pdf

(Accessed 11/07/2017)

Video from: https://www.ted.com/talks/thomas_thwaites_how_i_built_a_toaster_from_scratch

(Accessed 11/07/2017)

In this project Thomas Thwaites, in his own words ‘a designer (of a more speculative sort), interested in technology, science, futures research & etc.’ documents his almost heroic effort to make a cheap electric toaster from scratch by personally sourcing all materials – mining and working metals, making his own plastic and so on – and so experimented how even the manufacturing of a very basic object is extremely complex and involves a very high number of hidden processes that we tend to take for granted. Almost every product and object could be analysed in this way and its sustainability investigated through the different stages of design and manufacture.

(Accessed 11/07/2017)