An ancient art, closely linked to the material culture of the territory, today weaving is back in the spotlight for design, not only in collectible projects but also in innovative production in processes. New expressive textile languages reinterpret age-old practices, while systems of upcycling of materials or uses for digital technologies are also incorporating artificial intelligence.
The knitwear studio Boi, founded recently in Berlin by Goran Sidjimovski, sets the goal of reducing waste to zero, creating yarns and weaves by using unsellable stock of organic cotton, mulesing-free wool, FSC certified viscose and recycled polyester.
Thanks to the open source machinery and technologies of the Berlin-based Studio Hilo, specialized in textiles, Boi converts scrap from its own production into new raw materials, starting with the separation of refuse by color and the hand-carding applied as the basis of the fibers. The new yarn becomes a tapestry that combines knitting and weaving techniques.
The Como-based brand Abstract founded in 2014 by Anna Molteni, a photographer and teacher, also concentrates on upcycling and selection of eco-sustainable fibers. The project extends to the selection of certified companies only in the area of Como and Biella, operating with a local supply chain.
Tartan cowls, scarves and chokers in silk are made by limiting the blends of fibers that would prevent recycling of the material at the end of the products’ life cycle. Experiments are also conducted on new eco-sustainable fibers like Tencel (or Lyocell), free of toxic solvents and completely recyclable and biodegradable.
For finished products, the Re-Match project gives new life to samples abandoned in the warehouses of suppliers: every remnant is reassembled in keeping with the rules of patchwork, based on the various shades of color.
On a local scale, but on the other side of the world, the Oyuna brand of clothing and homeware based in London has its cashmere collections made from the yarn to the finished item by communities of Mongolian nomads.
The basis of the initiative is the acquisition and responsible production of the material, protecting the means of subsistence of communities of herdsmen and protecting the fragile environment in which they live, threatened by climate change and overgrazing that causes the emission of CO2 from grasslands and gradual desertification.
The small family-run workshops in Mongolia make models designed to reduce waste to a minimum, also by recycling yarns and weaves that cannot be sold. The company is part of the Sustainable Fiber Alliance (SFA), which promotes high standards and best practices in the complex supply chain of cashmere.
Towards the rediscovery of the historic wool varieties and ancient values of northeastern Italy, the studio ruga.perissinotto of Pordenone, with Lanificio Paoletti di Follina (Treviso), has developed a collection of décor complements in scrap wool, calling for no processes of coloring.
Specifically, the Tracce project, one of the winners of the latest edition of Edit Napoli, brings out the value of sheep raising in the Alpago valley, located in the southeastern portion of the province of Belluno, including the Lamon breed typical of the long valleys between the Cismon and Senaiga rivers, important factors for the local economy since the middle of the 19th century.
The collection references the working tools and felt cloaks that protected people from the cold and the rain, or the quilted blankets that offered relieve from winter’s chill. The products set out to erase the distance between the place of manufacture and the origin of the raw material, derived from threatened breeds whose wool is usually discarded. The collection also eliminates the use of chemicals in the dyeing process, offering patterns that rely on the natural hues of the fleece.
With colors taken from the wool itself, the project Tinto in Pecora of the brand Mariantonia Urru offers a contemporary reinterpretation of Sardinian weaving, with its special handiwork and jacquard techniques.
The company purchases wool from local shepherds and transforms it into sturdy yarn for the making of carpets and fabrics. Tinto in Pecora reworks seven of the most iconic designs of the Sardinian tradition, combining natural white and black wool in a chromatic range of seven tones, from ecru to dark brown, which will expand over time.
Mariantonia Urru works today with thousands of local farmers and shepherds to revive the island’s production of high-quality yarns in Sardinian wool, products that had vanished from the start of this century, making shearing a mere operation generating material for disposal.
The designer and artist Milla Novo, based in the Netherlands, interprets the techniques and patterns of the Mapuche people in her tapestries and rugs, the native inhabitants of central-southern Chile.
The project transfers traditional practices of weaving onto a large scale, not only in terms of measurements but also in the format of the weaving.
The products include RopeWorks, a collection in rope designed to reduce wasting of the material, featuring precious elements like gold, bronze or black metallic ropes, to create not only works of art but also tapestries that contribute to improve the acoustics of spaces.
The theme of tapestries and signature interpretations of production techniques is also addressed by Arazzi Connections of Torri Lana 1885, the historic jacquard textile mill at Gandino (Bergamo), now with art direction by Studiocharlie.
Specializing since the 1970s in furnishing fabrics, Torri Lana has often collaborated with important international designers and architects, a legacy taken forward today in search of new experiments with the jacquard technique.
Recent interactions are with Mikal Harrsen, Victor Vasilev and Zanellato/Bortotto, among others, to develop nine types of fabric woven with a particular linen frisée yarn.
Each designer began with free, personal impressions, focusing on patterns with minimal typographical signs (Studiocharlie), the intensity of color generated by various weaves (Mikal Harrsen), or the age-old tradition of woolen tapestries in castles, ironically reinterpreted (Zanellato Bortotto).
Finally, weaving becomes a tool of design exploration for Lanificio Leo, which in the Sky, Cloud, Umbrella series by the graphic designer and artist Melani De Luca introduces AI in the process of pattern creation, making technology part of the decision-making, together with human beings.
The series of blankets stems from random sketches that utilize the machine-learning model Spade-Coco.
Once generated, the compositions are subjected to a second reworking (RGB) to comply with the process of three-color production, a constraint of textile CAD programming. Once again, artificial intelligence opens up novel scenarios and applications, in the interpretation of current processes of design and production.