CREATING TEXTILES USING VIRTUAL TEAMS
The hands want to see, they eyes want to caress - Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Within our studio we love making, researching and experimenting. There’s nothing more rewarding and satisfying than closely working on new ideas with our engineering team in the Materials Experience Center. We love to do this onsite, collaboratively, and in a hands-on way. Textiles are developed round after round, being analysed, draped, stretched, twisted, touched and fine-tuned along the way.
A remote challenge
One question we have asked ourselves is: what do making, tactility and materialization mean in these uncertain times? Having both worked and lived abroad for longer periods of time we know that most creativity comes from being agile, staying connected and finding a balance between technology and the creative process. Now we have found ourselves in a situation where we can’t travel, meet up with each other or participate in our normal creative sessions, all of which presents us with a new challenge when it comes to collaborating on projects: creating textiles remotely.
During the current situation where we’re working remotely and cannot travel to the Materials Experience Center in China, we wanted to keep ourselves inspired and continue working on new ideas. We set ourselves a challenge to renew materials that are all around us. We focussed on materials like French terry, terry and fleece, which are used even more frequently now that lounge, street and sleepwear are increasing in popularity and are seen in many collections. These materials are, 95% of the time, used in a conventional way. However, we would like to see a personalized approach where structures can be engineered, refined, and detailed depending on the needs and desires of the wearer.
Our Engineered Fleece collection
This line of thinking has resulted in a collection called Engineered Fleece where we have developed the material around the ideas of comfort x beauty x tactility. During the making process we had several discussions with our engineering team about different sensations and how to create and integrate this into the textiles and the finished designs. Since we were unable to touch the textiles in person, the on-site team had to send us images and videos that were zoomed in, featuring plenty of draping and other ways of trying to convey the sensation of the material visually. Through this process we learned how to design and develop remotely and we were very pleased with the result.
The development process
We developed the engineered fleece collection by rethinking knit through a stitch-by-stitch construction. We asked ourselves: how can texture, pattern and color follow a layer-on-layer approach? This involved fine tuning from a micro perspective rather than working in a zoned way. We also utilized seamless machinery as a continuous fabric length rather than from a piece by piece perspective. This meant we could make use of features like fine gauge, engineering and smart design. This approach not only creates new product opportunities such as upholstery and outerwear, it also creates finishing possibilities such as brushing. The characteristics of the finished fabric are: touch, refinement, warmth, a luxe feel, breathability and engineered loft created by automation.
What we learned
During the project we learned that we could make amazing innovations remotely whilst communicating 90% of the details virtually. When we received the finished textiles in the mail, they were even more incredible than we had envisioned, and touching them allowed us to imagine what kind of garments they could be used to create, and how the textile could also be used in interior design and upholstery. Although it is always ideal to have a physical connection with our textiles during the making process, it is not always obligatory and this new way of working with virtual teams has opened our eyes to the many possibilities for remote collaboration on a global scale.