Weaving as metaphor by Emi Tsutsushio
Weaving as metaphor
Weaving is the craft or action of forming fabric by interlacing threads. The craft of weaving is used as a metaphor not only in the field of textile as a philosophical understanding of our world, but also in architecture and urbanism.
Weaving is also a medium for community art. In the installation created by the collective Matri-Archi(tecture)’s “Weaving Constellations of Identity” (2021) at Vitra Museum, the final art piece is created in collaboration with a female weaving community in Basel.
“In our work as a collective, we call for inclusion of marginalised identities. How design is understood and interpreted is always determined from the cultural context from which it emerges.”
“The work invites the visitor to consider the emotional journey of following your professional calling to Design. We have recorded five African designers who were asked to reflect on their professional lives, the forces that drove them, the obstacles they faced and the lessons they learned. Their trajectories are visualised in the exhibited art piece, which was finalized in a collaboration with a female weaving community in Basel.”
– Khensani de Klerk and Solange Mbanefo, the co-directors of the collective Matri-Archi(tecture), are committed to increasing the visibility and recognition of African and Black women’s work in architecture, design, and spatial education.
Scaling the weaving onto an exsisting building, Nicolas K. Feldmeyer created a site-specific installation in which he has woven the columns of the portico of the central building at the University College London. The interwoven mesh sheets bring lightness to the massive pillars, presenting a new temporary monumentality to the building.
PVC mesh, webing, ratchets 24x8x3m
Nicolas K. Feldmeyer, untitled (woven portico) © photo Nick Rochowski
Weaving with paper and slowing down the design process
How does weaving as a metaphor relate in creating the space for slowing down? Using my hands, I started to weave my own fabric with washi paper and thin hemp ropes. I began with the simple movement of going above and below the warp threads. After twenty rows or so, the weaving in the middle becomes more tightly binded together that it is difficult to weave. Further on, the pattern comes to resemble a gently undulating hill. The ends loosens up more and more. I can see the tention gathered in the center.
Weaving is therapeutic in the sense that the structural rhythm gives routine and stability to the action. Calmness of knowing what you are doing gives time for reflections in your busy mind.
As I weave further, I encounter unexpectedness even in the ordered way of weaving. Like the tension creating gradual change in the shape of the woven object.
Under the topic of ‘Searching for Atmosphere: Uncertainty and Slowness’, Juhani Pallasmaa writes that unexpectedness is a gift, to experience this unexpectedness, the design process needs to slow down.
“It is quite clear that the best things in life have always been gifts. These things that are against your deliverate plans become the most fortunate things. Usually when you go in search os some specific information you don’t find what you were looking for. But when you open the next book, it is that unexpected one that trigger’s you. This is part of the essence of uncertainty. The search itself is important, as well as the vividness of that search.”
“Therefor I think the design process should slow down, to condense thought and feeling, and to increase the possibility to be surprised. When you design with a pencil, instead of doing it quickly with the computer, the process is significiantly slower. It is the time span that allows one to think about a ot of things stimultaneiosly - and all of it is relevant.”
Weaving as a metaphor, using your own hands and weaving manually gives you the time to relect your thoughts that lingers in your mind. Making with your own hands is the act of embodying slowness. The physical result of the woven piece of fabric brings unexpected insights which otherwise, would have been left unnoticed.
- Matri-Archi(tecture), “Weaving Constellations of Identity” (2021) at Vitra Museum
- Nicolas K. Feldmeyer, untitled (woven portico)
- OASE #91, Building Atmpsphere © nai010 Publishers, Rotterdam, 2013, Atmosphere, Compassion and Embodied ExperienceA conversation about Atmosphere with Juhani Pallasmaa