Woven structures

Textiles as a structural art

“The geometry does not follow the event, geometry coevolves with materiality”

—Lars Spuybroek

As an artist trained in design, I have often struggled with the notion of ornament. The teachings of my teachers’ teachers of the tenants of a now seemingly geriatric Modernism tend to clash with my desire to create something more than monochrome, something after the end of art that isn't post-modernism, that does not rely on interpretation in its expression. Somewhere in this internal conversation enters textiles, as the very notion of a textile seems to address this push and pull of forces related to the morality of object-making in a poignant way.

A textile is never monolithic. It is never as finite and singular as a painterly gesture imposed upon a canvas. Instead, a textile is made of many connections, loops and fragments that only together form a complete, legible object. In turn, when we gaze upon a textile, we are experiencing this phenomenon of change or difference via repetition communicated through the indisputable language of materiality. To appreciate the beauty of a textile is to appreciate the beauty of an algorithm made real.

Top view of model Model pinned to drawing

I began to explore the formal, structural and material capabilities of textiles by creating actual garments, but soon wondered: could this be taken to a larger, more consequential scale?

This is a model constructed by weaving braided mylar tubing over a drawing of a knot by Gottfried Semper. When the model was unpinned from the drawing the model popped up into three dimensions, with noticeable changes in curvature across four nodes: two convex and two concave.

Could this phenomenon be studied, modeled, manipulated and reproduced at a more meaningful scale?

Much like a bobbin lace or woven baskets, what if the figuration of the ornament actually determined the form and constituted the physical structure, as well?

What if the length of the substrate could lengthen and contract on demand, much like Nitinol “Muscle Wire”? How would the geometries and structural integrity change?

How would a woven structure at the building or pavilion scale be constructed? Could it be woven in tension on the ground and then ‘pop up’ to stand?

Further reading

While I am just in the beginning phases of research for this project, I’ve compiled a list of sources that have taken me this far.

Next project: Garments