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Textile design means material design. What does a material do?


Currently the domain of textiles upon its diverse manifestations experiences a renewed evaluation, a phenomenon which in the professional literature has been addressed as "textile cultures".  

Be it an actual material, a way of conceptualizing or a metaphor, cloth, its components and structure, constitutes an inseparable part of everyday life. Cloth envelops the existential hard core of birth, health and death; daringly unfolds through architecture and engineering; stages, (un)covers and beautifies the human body in every possible time and situation. In other words in our time, as in the past, textile remains a basic product and commodity and thus - a never-ending quest for creativity and invention, ambition and capital.


         Dr. Katya Oicherman

Being a basic commodity, the cloth is a highly significant universal cultural attribute, participating in the stitching and unpicking of diverse identities. As such it is saturated with politics, questions of gender, ethnicity and nationhood, issues of status and economical order, disciplinary divisions and definitions of knowledge. Throughout its entire history the cloth acts as a sensitive indicator of changing social realities, of rise and fall of economic and political alliances. It becomes a canvas and a filter for collective and personal expression of man and woman, who live those realities as those leading or those being led, supporters, protesters or "simply" trying to survive.

There is no bed without a sheet (cotton, silk or anti-bacterial polyester); there is no stage without a curtain (Fortuny velvet or a stainless steel weave); there is no baby without a nappy (unbleached linen or Huggies), there is no soldier without a uniform (colorful weaves of the Masai tribe or Dakron of IDF), there is no bride without a veil (the opaque white kerchief at a Jewish ultra-Orthodox wedding or a torn black lace of a London punk). The list can be endless, while the absence of cloth brings unease and a question: why is the cloth not there?

Each of those situations brings forth a cultural, social, political and humanitarian tangle. The cloth calls for a fascinating design challenge, demanding intellectual depth, technological daring, technical skill, aesthetical sensibility, cultural openness and compassion.

In the small detail, in intersection of yarns, in the single loop, in a drop of dye absorbed into a soft surface, traces of labor, thought and feeling are contained. Cloth does not speak, it invites to touch. Touching enables even a momentary recognition of the material existence of someone else.  The touching is touched. This is what material does.



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