Stephanie Rolph: The Peter Collingwood Trust Fund Winner 2014

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(im)Permanence.

“It is our perception of space that alters the space.
It is consciousness that finds meaning in all spaces.”

This Bryan Lawson quote inspired Stephanie Rolph’s research project: (im)Permanence. The project was part of her final year BA (Hons) Textile Design course at CSM, which was an investigation into the potential for creating rigid, self-supporting woven materials. The materials she  developed were designed to form a modular furniture system.

Her studio practice focuses on the role of textiles within spaces, both architecturally and as products and objects, looking not just at the appearance of textiles but at the form and physical properties. She aims to challenge preconceived ideas on what woven fabrics can be and how they can be used, believing that unusual applications of fabrics can help to redefine the textiles themselves.

Interior textiles are often generally drapes, rugs and upholstery fabrics. There is general feeling that fabrics within space are decorative: a cushion on a wooden chair or the drapes to accent a room. Often then, the textile is an after thought; some consider them less important because of this. Her project set out to see if she could disturb this relationship, creating woven structures that existed both as ornament and have function within a space.

_MG_0512Stephanie needed to create a beautiful and structural material on the loom, finally her investigations became both about creating a rigid material through various weaving techniques and finishing processes and also about using clever modular design to highlight the woven structures and use their rigid qualities in the most effective way.

Her initial  material research was on a small scale,  on a hand loom – exploring  the very basic principles of double cloth and creating fabrics that were both  hard and soft on the respective sides.

Her work progressed through practical experimentation and refinement into using thermosetting yarns & materials and exploring the way in which they could combine, when heated, to form rigid pieces off the loom. These experiments then underwent a heating and pressurising process that she developed through extensive testing. Once cooled the end result was a solid woven material, with the fabric ‘embedded’ into the plastic.DSC_0082

This material is unique, the woven structure making it strong and the fabric and plastic permanently linked together. The woven pieces were then laser cut and formed the modular furniture system.

This project has led onto her MA project at the Royal College of Art and she is seeking to further the development of this material. Stephanie is  keen to push the boundaries of weaving in terms of material research and the possibilities of new and unconventional materials being mixed and combined through on-loom process and off-loom finishes.

Contact: stephanierolph@live.co.uk

_MG_9063Text & images: Stephanie Rolph

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