2018 Brief: 'Material Alchemy meets Modern Morality'

Use embroidery to explore the stranger side of the 21st century.

Context for the Brief

We find ourselves in a strange new world of division and moral uncertainty. The fashion and textile industry must reflect upon the values it holds and ask itself if it can stand for something greater than itself?

David Shah, Kate Frankin and Caroline Till in issue #39 of the magazine, Viewpoint, consider the need to set our moral compass. Expressions of morality within the industry leads to conversations about environmental concerns.

The focus on recycling remains central but is now considered further through our ability to create beautiful products of a higher quality, combining modern materiality with relevant cultural meaning.

New materials are being developed and created, old materials considered in new processes and new approaches to old techniques explored. Nature may lend itself not only for imagery but also for investigation and exploration of function and purpose through biomimetic studies. There is a renewed interest in material processes and an urgency to understand what products are made of.

Smart textiles are being developed with new technologies with advantageous possibilities through communication and well-being as well as protection and beauty. Materiality is the initial inspiration leading us through to the process to the final product.

The Brief

Focus your project towards celebrating culture, gender and individual heritage in the global atmosphere of transformation. Make your work stand for something bigger than itself conveying a meaningful message relevant to the transient state of the world today. Explore materials and process; embroideries that mimic qualities found in the natural world, materials that turn from base metals into gold or textures that deceive the eye by appearing rough but are in fact smooth and soft. Be curious, become a textile alchemist.


‘Time to change: to be open to experimentation, sharing competencies and know-how, exploiting traditional and modern technology, supported by science and culture. Time to aim at innovation that put the ‘person’ at the center of the scene, with concerns for his physical and psychological wellbeing, protection and performance abilities”. Ornella Bignami, Fibres and Fabrics, Textile View #39

Research references

As a starting point you may wish to explore:

Viewpoint #39. The Morality Issue.

David R. Shah, Publisher’s letter Morality in a divided world

Material world exhibition (selfridges.com)

Designed for the New Old exhibition, Design Museum/ London

Kate Frankin and Caroline Till, Editor’s Letter

25: The Big Idea – current topics informing the creative industries

39: The Morality Seekers – looking for meaning in complex lives

44: The Escapists– fewer but better products that appeal to our moral sensibilities

57: The Neo Vegans – exploring performance fabric alternatives to leather and wool

120: Design Notebook – emerging design movements

Granular – unconventional materials, juxtaposed materials, recycling

Mechanically crafted – innovation



133Innovation – technologies, materials, methods

Sweating the Resource

157Talent: The Botanical Futurist – azumamakoto.com

Textile View magazine Issue 117 (curiosity) Spring 2017

Menswear: The Atelier approach and The Rainbow boys

Womenswear:  Quiet – well-being,  Fusion – cultures forming rich narratives,

Militant – protective,  Neonatural – organic mimicry

Trend Letter by Lidewij Edelkoort curated by Trend Tablet

See Folklore – for cultural heritage section devoted to elements of world folklore revived by contemporary aesthetics. The work of Agnieszka Osipa (Instagram: agnieszkaosipa) and Melissanthi Spei (www.melissanthispei.com),  Sana Aloui (Instagram: sana-aloui), Kimiko Yoshida (www.kimiko.fr) and Susanne Bisovsky (www.bivosky.com) exploring cultural and personal identities, materials and process.

See also museumofbritishfolklore.com and the work of the photographer Henry Bourne (www.henrybourne.com)


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