‘What’s in the Box’ represents an opportune moment for designers and researchers/ curators at the Powerhouse Museum to get together and discuss new developments in materials and technology. November’s ‘What’s in the Box?‘ gathering represented the Fashion Edition of what’s hip and emergent in the world of materials. The textile theme encouraged the museum to invite speakers who are quite hip and emergent at making things out of textiles.
UTS Fashion and Textiles practitioners responded to this invite, including Alana Clifton-Cunningham, Armando Chant and Gaelle Mazouer, along with independent textile artist Lorna Murray.
As per the modus operandi of a WiTB session, staff and guests drifted in and helped themselves to a drink. As they did, beautiful hand-crafted objects emerged from bags and boxes.
There were a few textiles covered in latex to create hard/soft sculptures. These samples were addressed by Gaelle Mazouer.
There was also a shrug garment was knitted on a machine, but riddled with laser cut leather to create a wearable artwork by Alana Clifton-Cunningham.
Another work was digitally printed onto organza and fastened into a garment by Armando Chant.
Finally, came a long, narrow textile created in India and consisting of discarded milk containers, and discarded string and buttons by Lorna Murray. This textile has been both worn as a textile and arranged as a double-helix sculpture for display.
The tactile nature of these samples is important to the session. These aren’t objects for conservation, rather they are objects for inspiration and consideration when making. Rather than merely seeing the object on screen, one is able to touch it, turn it around and upside down, smell it, even discuss details and ideas with the colleague sat bedside them.
After this local sampling of materials, the ActiveMatter box was opened and the textile samples curated from the international community at Materials ConneXions shared with the local group. These international samples were arranged into four themes: Impact of Textiles, Novel Construction Techniques, Counterfeiting Protection, and Protection + Comfort.
The standouts from this collection included:
1] SMP Tagnologies: this QR-coded tag is a polymer technology that morphs when wet/dry. Developed in Germany with thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), it accomplishes this metamorphosis by containing shape-memory properties (or SMP). Though the QR-code is difficult to read when wet, once it dries or heat is applied to it, it will retain its original shape. The company responsible for its creation is Bayer MaterialScience.
2] Ostrich Leg leather: developed in Iceland by Atlantic Leather Ltd., this natural material is sourced from South Africa. The skin found on an ostrich leg can receive colour manipulation in a variety of ways, ranging from dull to bright in hue, and with a textural option of films, suede, spray finished or matte. After our session, fashion curator Glynis Jones sent through a website already making fashionable purses from this material. It is from a design label in New Zealand called Deadly Ponies.
3] 3D printed fabrics: developed in Japan by AZOTH Inc., this process follows a painted textile technique that utilizes raised thermoplastic polyurethane ink (TPU). Variety in pattering is achieved via a spectrum of very simple to very complex patterning attained with individual dots and thickness of the lines.
It’s always wonderful to see what a ‘What’s in the Box’ session inspires. Discussions around these samples were very exciting and the potential uses diverse – ideas for applications are as varied as the designer’s imagination. Personally, I feel like a kid in a lolly shop everytime a new box arrives from the the Material ConneXions library. I can’t wait for the next session.
Stay tuned for the next edition of ‘What’s in the Box?’!