Craft processes and techniques have become a dominant theme and pre-occupation within design in the last few years and some of the most exciting and innovative work is coming from designers and makers who are combining the hand-made with the latest digital technologies.
Several TFRC members are exploring digital processes in their textile work, and have been included in a recent exhibition called Labcraft: Digital Adventures in Contemporary Craft, curated by Max Fraser and organised by the Crafts Council, which maps this new territory.
Melanie Bowles (CCW), Philippa Brock (CSM) and Jo Pierce( CSM) were part of the show that launched at TENT London last September, and that is now touring throughout the UK.
Philippa Brock, is a weaver who has been exploring the potential for 'on loom' finishing techniques that push the boundaries of what is possible with CAD/CAM woven jacquard textiles.
Initial prototyping is developed on hand looms and then the designs are sent through an industrial jacquard power loom, often relying on serendipity to advance new techniques. Brock creates 3D textiles which 'self fold' as they come off the loom, which require minimal finishing, thus reducing the chemical impacts of one of the most damaging processes in textile production.
The process is also reliant on both old and new yarn developments and exploring unusual combinations of woven structure interactions.
Melanie Bowles is a digital textile designer whose work explores the parellels between traditional textile techniques and digital print processes. Digital Shibori involves the translation of the traditional folding and dyeing techniques of shibori, reinterpreted onto digitally printed textiles.
Jo Pierce's work explores the differences between the 'unpolished' aesthetic of the hand and the 'high finished' feel of digital technology. Lost in Digital was created from a digital collage of different images and drawings, that were digitally printed onto fabric and then hand-embellished.
Max Fraser has written an essay to accompany the exhibition available here, that cites TFRC as one of the most innovative research centres in the field. "....my search has led me to research departments where many of the most experimental digital developments take place....including Textile Futures Research Centre at University of the Arts London".
Top image: Philippa Brock
Middle image: Melanie Bowles
Bottom image: Jo Pierce