In preparing her new craft-themed exhibit, Li Edelkoort collected contemporary furniture and lighting from over 70 world-renowned designers, including Bertjan Pot, Inga Sempé, Werner Aisslinger and Tord Boontje. Her dedication to devising a show with such breadth is no surprise; the trend forecaster is known for identifying the common threads that run through the design world and letting us all in on them through her in-depth exhibits, such as Totemism, and Talking Textiles.
For Gathering: From Domestic Craft to Contemporary Process, on now at Design Museum Holon, in Israel, her selections (which she made with Philip Fimmano, who heads up her exhibitions) were guided by a search for the re-humanization of the making process, even as it becomes more technological. Seen this way, craft can be understood as the repetition of common skills that date back to pre-history – traditions tied to both our sense of belonging and a continuity with our past.
Edelkoort drew inspiration for the project from a mounting sense of alienation in society, or a “fear of the virtualization of society,” as contemporary culture becomes unmoored from the past. “We are an unstitched society suffering from a lasting socio-economic crisis that has made us ferociously protective and egocentric,” she says. “It is time for mending and gathering, thus restoring the fabric of society.” The growing popularity of craft is a natural response to this alienation, Edelkoort explains, and has become one of the major movements of our time.
The crafts Edelkoort has chosen to put on view – pleating, draping, layering, ribboning, smocking, wrapping, folding, needleworking, felting, knitting, quilting and baking – break from rote interpretation, and are instead incorporated and transformed into new methods through technology; by merging these hand-worked techniques with modern developments, such as 3D printing, new materials or industrial weaving, designers create a connection between past and future.
Besides lighting and furniture, the exhibit includes an overview of Issey Miyake’s 132 5. collection, a line of daring, origami-inspired clothing that fills the museum’s lower gallery. The fashion line complements the exhibit as an example of using traditional folding techniques in new ways, keeping artisanal knowledge alive. For 132 5., Miyake worked closely with a team that included a computer scientist, a textile engineer and a pattern engineer, using mathematical algorithms to devise the 3D models that would guide the manufacture of his garments. Fittingly, the collection also includes IN-EI, Miyake’s lighting collection for Artemide that uses similar folding techniques to create angular lampshades from recycled PET bottles.
Gathering is on view at the Design Museum Holon in Israel until October 25th, 2014.