Monday, June 22, 2009

fashioning felt

I went to the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum this weekend to see the Fashioning Felt exhibition that's on display now through September. So, like most people, you've probably never given much thought to the material of felt. I never knew, for example, that it was so versatile, or that it felting was such an ancient process. The felt objects on display in this exhibit could be categorized for use in architecture, fashion, furniture, as craft objects, or as product-design, and there were some amazing examples for each, as well as information about the actual process of making felt.

The Swing Low Cradle; designed by Søren Ulrick Petersen and produced by SUP Design; Denmark, 1997; wool felt, hemp rope

A-Z Fiber Form: White Dress; designed and made by Andrea Zittel; United States, 2002; wool and two 3-inch skirt pins

Cell Carpet; designed by Yvonne Laurysen and Erik Mantel; manufactured by LAMA Concept; The Netherlands, 2004; wool felt and LED lights

My favorite item in this exhibit was Palace Yurt, by artist Janice Arnold. Created within the space of the museum's conservatory, whose domed roof resemble the framework of a yurt, this installation pays homage to the nomadic tribes who first created felt. Designed as a total environment, Arnold made this yurt out of a combination of gorgeously luxurious Merino wools, silk, metallic fibers, and sheer fabrics. Unfortunately, I was not able to find any images of the finished yurt, but below are some of Arnold's sketches and examples of the felt created for the installation. You can read more about the creation of this piece on the Cooper-Hewitt Design Blog, with the sketches here, and a video of the making of the yurt here.

Examples of the felt that was made: it has a base of silk gauze with wool, silk, soy, and metallic fibers felted in.

A double arch with a Mongolian blessing frames the entrance.

Sketches of the entrance.

The iron framework of the Conservatory’s roof resembles the struts of a yurt’s trellis frame.

All images and image descriptions are courtesy of the Cooper-Hewitt Fashioning Felt website and the Cooper-Hewitt Design Blog.

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