As knitting, weaving, and other traditional methods of textile production have made the leap from old-age pastimes to mainstream DIY hobbies, designers have been pushing the boundaries of what's possible with stitched and woven fibers. This week we found a late-spring blast of innovative handmade textiles—plus one new collection that was woven by the wind.
Exhibited at New York's Wanted Design last weekend, the Guatemala City design studio Fabrica's Seat Ball has a soccer-equipment core surrounded by spring-suspended cushions made out of cotton rope. The combination, which can be used for seating, a yoga ball, or an ottoman, wraps up a current recreational preoccupation in an ancient crafting technique.
Also at Wanted Design, the New York textile artist Sinje Ollen showed off some of her pieces aimed at upgrading furniture. A friend's designer chair, damaged by a stain, was the inspiration for the project. Ollen's line of hand-painted yarn coverings offers an upholstery-saving solution or just a cozy seating enhancement—spill not required.
Joanne Arnett's textiles are anything but wholesome. Her series of photorealistic mug shots, woven on a loom with hand-dyed yarn, appear to be plucked out of police archives, but they are actually Cindy Sherman-esque stylings of the artist herself.
When the Dutch designer Merel Karhof wanted to test out her wind-powered knitting machine in 2010, she, like so many other needle-wielding crafters, started with scarves. Since then, the Netherlands' blustery weather has helped Karhof with more inventive applications. This week she revealed her line of seats, benches, and stools topped with tightly woven pillows. But the Windworks Furniture collection not only features wind-knitting. Karhof collaborated with a saw miller and a color miller who both work out of preserved historic windmills in North Holland, and the wood-sawing and color-grinding for the project were also powered by the wind.
Rachel Swaby is a freelance writer and editor. She's written for Wired, Afar, O, the Oprah Magazine, Gizmodo, and others. Out in the wild she enjoys magazines, urban night hikes, games (both board & video), fiction, and facts.