Weaving is enjoying a comeback, with designers exploring novel ways to recharge an ancient tradition. These two projects – by Matali Crasset and Nendo – bring the trend to new dimensions.
Basket Case II by Matali Crasset
Weaving as an art form goes back centuries, yet it remains diverse and open to new interpretations. This versatility helps to explain its resurgence of late. Last summer, a coalition of European councils sent two designers, including Matali Crasset of Paris, to Zimbabwe in the hope of updating their host communities’ repertoire of making and selling woven products, one of the region’s few economic staples.
The results, displayed at the Ambiente interior goods fair in February, reimagine traditional methods in unexpected ways. Crasset’s bulbous pieces, developed with the weavers of Bulawayo city, are the most aesthetically adventurous: she played with ordinary baskets by combining several into multi-lobed creations. “It’s a system,” she says. “I came up with these shapes, but the women can invent their own.” She also used the opportunity to learn the craft. “You have to wait for each piece; you can feel the time encapsulated inside.”
When Singapore brand Industry+ set out to develop a collection that would make the most of its connections to micro-industries across Asia, the company turned to Nendo for input. It presented the Japanese design studio with the challenge to use such traditional materials as bamboo rattan in a contemporary way. Travelling to a village in the Philippines, the Nendo team worked with local artisans to develop a tribe of 22 stools, chairs, tables and shelves.
The solid oak furniture, launched at Maison&Objet Asia in Singapore in March, merges simple shapes with unexpected adornments in bamboo rattan. The weavers introduced complex patterns in natural and brown-dyed bamboo, while Nendo played with new forms: two baskets placed together, for instance, form a drum with ideal elasticity and support for a chair’s seat back. The result is a novel take on ancient techniques and materials.