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Brief Published: 27 Jul 2018

Crafting Textiles to Create Meaningful Consumer Product

Maharam x Scholten & Baijings

Textile designers are crafting fabrics that depict heritage motifs to transform materials into artefacts imbued with cultural and personal value. Beyond decoration, textiles can be used as tools to communicate geographic and cultural histories, as seen in Colourful Exhibition Celebrates Folk Textiles. US textile manufacturer Maharam achieves this in its latest collection, illustrating how updated legacy patterns can give contemporary product a crafted quality.

The Darning Sampler collection is a collaboration between Maharam and Dutch design studio Scholten & Baijings and revives historical darning samples in a pattern of threaded geometric shapes. Against a flat background of hand-painted canvas, coloured rectangles of yarn are sewn on top of one another in layers, creating angular intersecting forms. 

As referenced in the name, the design is inspired by antique squares of material historically used by young girls to practise repairing clothing. Darning was common throughout the western world in the 17th and 18th centuries and was particularly popular in the Netherlands, explaining why this design resonated with the Dutch studio. 

Traditionally, darning was not only used as a functional form of mending, but also as a way for girls to present highly technical stitch patterns and prove themselves as a suitable wife. The samplers sourced as inspiration for the project featured stitching layered in different coloured thread to show off the quality of the darner’s work.

The patterns’ graphic forms are in keeping with modern tastes, allowing the collection to have fresh appeal while communicating a hand-made character that references heritage crafts.

In addition to expressing older narratives, textiles can also encourage a more friendly and intimate interaction with contemporary technology, as seen in Dutch designer Kiki van Eijk’s collaboration with Google at this year’s Milan Design Week. Now is the time for brands to recognise textiles’ huge potential, and their ability to create more exciting and meaningful consumer product.