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shaping weaves weaving shapes

shaping weaves weaving shapes is an investigation on sculpting with industrial weaving machines, aiming to weave textile objects that shape themselves. Whereas every woven, flat fabric is of a certain three-dimensional character, this project sets out to explore the possibilities of weave structures that become spacial through their own tension and stability. Therefor, the composition of yarns and a complex system of bindings (the principle of interlacing warp and weft threads) is essential. The series of woven objects materializes the transitions from 2 D to 3 D and renders them legible.

The weave is hereby seen as a spacial entity instead of an ornamentally patterned or pictorial surface. In practice, this spatial depth is achieved by weaving multi-layered structures. In order to control a loom, bindings need to be translated in a binary code. Every code can be woven with different materials. Depending on the combination of yarns and their physical properties, the resulting woven textiles are taking shape very differently. With a focus on the construction of new bindings and a specifically chosen combination of yarns, synergies are created that trigger the weave to form three-dimensional shapes.

Intending to design woven material, that flows gracefully and is lightweight but yet sculptural, the combination of yarns for shaping weaves weaving shapes performs several aesthetic parameters. The mutability of states and shape is enhanced by visually contrasting appearances. Reacting to changes of light, the textiles alternate between transparent and reflecting. Banana fibre, Lurex, Copper and Silver Wire and highly twisted Wool yarns are a suspenseful composition that misaligns the orthogonal structure of the weave into seemingly irregular rhythms. Already during the process of weaving the yarns start to (de)form the structure. Active and passive, pale and shiny, rough and smooth yarns balance their contrasts in motion.

The visualisation of the weaves was made in collaboration with an architect, who recognized formal similarities between the multi-layered woven structures and harmony curves, which he uses as a parametric design tool. (The so-called Lissajous Figures are used for the representation and calculation of frequencies in e.g. mathematics and music.) This allowed also the planning of a weave to be made with a 3D programme. The loom as a digital system can only distinguish between 1 (raised) and 0 (lowered). Given that suitable weaving software does not exist for this translation, the spatial coordinates had to be translated back to the second dimension manually. Through the dialogue between architecture and textile tectonics, new interfaces, tools, and construction systems were developed and thus extend the conventional design options of the loom.

The main intention of the project is the experimental exploration of the tension between material, technology and aesthetics. While application-orientated aspects and functions can be derived from this process, the essential motive is, however, to create a material that does not follow a linear logic for confined practical use. In fact, the fascination lies in challenging the perception to grasp the significance of the material and to develop a relation to it by means of individual interpretation. In spite of but also due to precise planning, the series of weaves presents consciously unpredictable, vivid structures, whose idiosyncratic kinetic properties can be experienced through interaction with them. Manifested in this incomprehensible behaviour is the approach that material is not solely a passive medium subjected to unconditional functionality; but that it is autonomous and capable of opening up imaginary dimensions.

In this sense shaping weaves weaving shapes focuses on the relationship between the designer and the designed. Their correlation to each other becomes the design method. The woven objects are developed in dialogue with the raw material: the organization of the weave structure is designed in a way that the yarns, each with their inherent characteristics, have freedom to form the final shape. From the point of view of the designer this is a form-finding process, from the perspective of the yarn pure form-giving. Deformation and mutability create surprising effects that are welcome elements in the open process.

In shaping weaves weaving shapes supposed dichotomies seem to dissolve: subject – object, two-dimensional – three-dimensional, natural ­– artificial, construction – being, technology – aesthetics, logic – intuition, limitation – openness, deformation – form. Within this, the sculptural qualities of the textiles reveal itself: transitions are fluid, shape is in motion.