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Themes/Innovation: When craft and technology collaborate

Neklesa. Material Alchemy featuring LIVING COTTON. Photograph: Neklesa.
Written by
Yosan Leal
Published date
23 March 2018

In today’s world, we have collected centuries of knowledge about traditional making or craft techniques and now we’re also lucky enough to have a whole range of digital tools to help us make our ideas come to life.

Yosana shows us what can happen when craft, textile design and technology collide.

In the world of textile design, whenever the word craft is mentioned most people automatically think of traditional woven carpets, hand-embroidered flowers and repeat-print patterns. All of these associations do represent craft but there is more to craft and its meaning has many different dimensions.

Over the past few years many sectors within the creative industry have evolved and we, as creative practitioners, are curiously seeking for alternative ways to create new products as well as improving existing ones. This curiosity has allowed various designers to intertwine craft with technology and science in order to produce fresher and more innovative materials.

Although innovation is essential, we also need to keep in mind that preservation of craft and its traditional techniques is extremely crucial. As without it, many designers and creative artists wouldn’t be able to develop within their specialised areas. With all this in mind, I’ve picked out a selection of designers and projects – including one of my own- that show you what’s possible when you mix craft, textile design and technology together.

Oluwaseyi Sosanya: Engineering

3D Weaver

Video: Zuzanna Weiss, courtesy of Oluwaseyi Sosanya.

Designers such as Oluwaseyi Sosanya use a multi-disciplinary approach (drawing on experience and ideas from different art, design, and engineering subject areas) as a way to challenge our perspective on how weaving works. Oluwaseyi used his engineering knowledge and created the 3D Weaver, a loom that can create various woven patterns. One of these patterns that he created was converted into soles for shoes and can be applied to making other robust products that you wouldn’t normally associate with woven textiles.

Read more about this project on the Guardian

Explore Oluwaseyi’s website:

Anna Neklesa: Science

Material Alchemy


Video: courtesy of Neklesa.

Anna Neklesa is one of many textiles designers who believe that within textiles there is plenty of room to reinvent by using various technologies and science to create innovative materials and fabric. LIVING COTTON, featured in the video, is a new non-woven material made out of pure cotton and is made by modifying the molecular structure of the cotton. It’s interactive and responds to human skin & moisture by changing its shape.

Follow Anna on Instagram: @neklesa

Ryan Mario Yasin: Functionality

Petit Pli - Clothes that grow with your child.

Video: courtesy of Ryan Mario Yasin.

Another designer and engineer that has used craft techniques in an innovative way is Ryan Mario Yasin. For his Petit Pli range, Yasin used the traditional technique of pleating to tackle the growth of toddlers. The pleats allow the fabric to expand up to seven times more than its original size. The lightweight and waterproof material enables toddlers to move freely.

Step into the expanding world of Petit Pli:
Explore more of Ryan’s work on his website:

Celia Pym: Preservation

an elderly man in a garden, wearing a knitted yellow sweater
Bill’s sweater and Ros’ sweater, original sweaters and wool darning, 2017 by Celia Pym. Photograph by Michele Panzeri.

The preservation and honouring of craft is crucial to its development. For example, artist/designer Celia Pym’s usage of a craft technique called ‘a darning stitch’– a method of sewing invented by older generations to repair and extend the life of favoured garments – reminds us of the comfort we feel when wearing an old but well-cared for piece of clothing. The garment may even evolve into a photo album of the memories collected while worn. Being able to restore the integrity of an item (like an old sweater) preserves and even adds to the broader value of craft.

Explore more of Celia’s work on her website:

Yosana Leal: Craft and computer aided design (CAD)

a detailed photo of intricate blue embroidery on an orange background
Final embroidery piece by: Yosana Leal.

My work analyses how traditional embroidery techniques such as ‘drawn thread’ work. I identify every step taken in order to re-produce the technique. Once the steps are identified you can reverse their order and use CAD embroidery machinery to create lacy patterns as shown in the image above.

Follow Yosana on Instagram: @yosielrl

Bolivia’s indigenous women: Health

a banner promoting a story called 'life-saving weaving'
Still from ‘The life-saving weaving of Bolivia’s indigenous women’, a film made by A Great Big Story.

Sometimes textiles craft innovation is acquired through the knowledge gained from cultural activities involving traditional techniques. For example, in Bolivia, a group of Aymara women hand-weave with nitinol – an elastic metal – to create occluders, which are medical devices used to cure heart defects.

Watch A Great Big Story’s film about the project on Vimeo

Read more about this story on Remezcla

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