Stephanie Rolph

Stephanie Rolph, (im)Permanence, 2013

Stephanie Rolph talks about her woven modular furniture.

(im)Permanence

(im)Permanence began as a research project trying to answer the question: Can I produce rigid, self supporting woven fabrics? This starting point has led onto the production of a modular furniture system. Like a 2D version of Lego individual pieces were woven and laser-cut into a variety of shapes that slot together to create different items of furniture. 

Most woven fabrics are flexible. In order to make furniture I had to develop a unique process that created rigid woven pieces. After trying a huge variety of plastics and heat setting techniques (where plastic is melted, reformed, and set in different ways) I settled on a combination of polyesters and polypropylene (a thermoplastic). The process I developed involved creating a new double cloth (a woven structure that creates a fabric with two separate layers that are woven simultaneously) that combined the polyester and polypropylene. This was then melted and set into thicker sheet polypropylene before finally being cut into the interlocking shapes to form the modular furniture system.

Contemporary furniture design places weave as an accompaniment to hard structures. Whether upholstery fabrics or woven wicker seating, weave seems to be an afterthought; impermanent and somewhat inferior. I wanted to take the craft of weaving and make it central focus - standing alone as a structure in its own right. This has been achieved through the development of my innovative process and has allowed me to create unique pieces that show the huge possibilities of weave within 3D design. I have started to challenge the preconceptions associated with weave and its role in modern design. I hope to explore its potential further in the future.