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Company Profile: AKHL

AKHL was founded by Akhil Nagpal in 2019.

AKHL is defined by its commitment to innovation, experimentation and the crafting of evocative pieces of fashion by contemporising traditional Indian handcrafting and handweaving techniques.

Essential to its designs are distinctive and complex textiles, engineered using unusual and often upcycled materials, employing a wide range of processes including hand weaving, traditional Indian hand embroidery, hand printing, applique and spectrum dyeing.

Ultimately, these signature textiles, in conjunction with handwoven and new age fabrics, are meticulously tailored into inventive and evocative luxury womenswear.

Since its founding, AKHL has been a recipient of various awards and honours. It showcased its debut collection at Lakme Fashion Week SS20 as the winner of the prestigious Gen Next Competition and won The Grazia Young Fashion Award in 2021.

It has also been awarded the curated title ‘Black Sheep’ on Not Just A Label, given to the most innovative and striking designers on the platform.

AKHL has been featured on the ‘Label Alert’ segment in Harper’s Bazaar India and Grazia India as well as in various other editorials by leading Indian fashion publications including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Grazia and Cosmopolitan.

Reflektor SS21 Collection
AKHL SS21 collection has been visually inspired by interactions and distortions of light and colour. The studio has  studied these interactions in highly-engineered and uniquely processed reflective installation artworks by Olafur Eliasson and James Turnell, as well as in softer, yet equally compelling, natural reflective surfaces.

These vivid colour and light visual studies helped them develop new-age handwoven and hand-embroidered textiles as well as sharply-cut sculptural silhouettes, all of them ultimately culminating into an innovative and evocative collection of modern ensembles.

The most dominant textile in this collection has been their handwoven/hand-embroidered silk-raffia mesh. This textile is first meticulously woven on a handloom, it has a raw silk warp and a raffia weft.

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Textile Innovation from Sudō Reiko: Talk & Conversation

Textile Innovation from Sudō Reiko: Talk & Conversation
Online Event
Date: Tuesday 27 April 2021, 12:00-13:00 BST
Booking Essential; Admission Free. Click here for link

Join Japan House for a special online talk with pioneering textile designer Sudō Reiko whose innovative works are featured in Japan House London’s exhibition MAKING NUNO Japanese Textile Innovation from Sudō Reiko.

As the Design Director of leading textile design firm Nuno and a member of the Japan Design Committee, Sudō Reiko is renowned for pushing boundaries of textile production and championing new methods of sustainable manufacturing.

During this talk she gives a special insight into the creative processes, craftmanship, techniques, and materials that are woven into her wide range of innovative textiles.

Following her talk, Sudō is joined by Anne Marr, Programme Director for Jewellery, Textiles and Materials at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London in a conversation chaired by Japan House London’s Programming Director Simon Wright.

There is an opportunity for registered guests to ask questions to the speakers during this live online event.

The exhibition MAKING NUNO Japanese Textile Innovation from Sudō Reiko opens in the Japan House London Gallery on 17 May, subject to UK government guidelines. See previous post on The Weave Shed

 MAKING NUNO: Japanese Textile Innovation from Sudō Reiko

Japan House London Launches Exhibition of Critically Acclaimed Textile Designer Sudō Reiko

MAKING NUNO Japanese Textile Innovation from Sudō Reiko is a brand-new exhibition adaptation presenting work by internationally acclaimed Japanese textile designer Sudō Reiko with projection installations designed by the exhibition’s artistic director, Saitō Seiichi of Panoramatiks (formerly Rhizomatiks Architecture).

Produced in collaboration with CHAT (Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textile) in Hong Kong, the exhibition expands on the successful show in 2019 curated by Takahashi Mizuki, Executive Director and Chief Curator of CHAT.

The free exhibition reveals how Sudō Reiko’s work pushes the boundaries of textile production with unconventional and sustainable materials and engineering techniques, working with manufacturers from across Japan

Featuring five large-scale installations combining NUNO textiles and art projections by leading technological designers Panoramatiks from Tokyo, shown for the first time in the UK, with supporting drawings and sketches, raw materials, design prototypes, and video.

Launches Monday 17 May 2021

Japan House London presents an exhibition showcasing the innovative work of textile designer Sudō Reiko. Running from 17 May ‒ 11 July 2021, this new exhibition, with art direction by Saitō Seiichi of Panoramatiks (formerly Rhizomatiks Architecture), shines a spotlight on the Japanese designer pushing the boundaries of textile production and championing new methods of sustainable manufacture.

Design Director of leading textile design firm NUNO for over 30 years, Sudō trained as a textile and industrial designer, and she designs fabrics that incorporate traditions of Japanese crafts with new engineering techniques and unusual combinations of materials. She works with materials as diverse as silk, hand-made washi (Japanese paper) nylon tape and thermoplastic, and technologies derived from Japanese hand craft traditions such as caustic burning, weaving and dying. Her inspiring designs are currently housed in collections around the world, including in MoMA in New York and in the V&A in London.

The exhibition at Japan House London includes five large-scale installations of Sudō’s work with the manufacturing processes brought to life by Saitō Seiichi’s artistic direction. Using a variety of thought-provoking processes from washi dyeing to chemical lace embroidery inspired by rolls of paper, each installation is accompanied by drawings and sketches, alongside raw materials and design prototypes.

Visitors to the exhibition encounter a series of installations that demonstrates the ways in which Sudō uses innovation and creativity to make steps towards building a more sustainable global textile production industry, with particular focus on the sustainability of materials, regional manufacturing industries and craftsmanship.

Sustainability of Material:
Explore how Sudō harnesses unconventional materials such as washi alongside textile techniques such as heating and bonding to create entirely original works.

Not to be missed, Kibiso Crisscross, a collaborative project with the Tsuruoka Textile Makers Cooperative, takes discarded kibiso, the protective outer layer of silk cocoons and uses a specially developed machine to create yarns from the tough remnants, creating the first step towards realising the ‘no-waste, use everything potential’ not previously seen in the silk industry.

Sustainability of Regional Manufacturing
Explore the origins of Sudō’s work, following her decades of work with family-run factories across Japan which specialise in different production techniques, collaborating with each to develop new, alternative production methods to push the possibilities of industrial machinery making and help revitalise these regional manufacturing hubs.

Sustainability of Traditions and Craftsmanship
Discover Sudō’s designs that revive old textile machines and Japanese craftsmanship on the verge of disappearing. Learn how she incorporates intricate craftsmanship into industrial textile production, collaborating with different experts and artisans along the way to help preserve craft heritage through upcycling and reinvention.

Sudō Reiko, Textile Designer and Design Director of NUNO:
“Japanese textiles are born of a long history, embracing both refined traditions of artistry and unparalleled high-tech materials. Since 1984, Nuno has collaborated with skilled local artisans all over Japan using a wide variety of different fibres and techniques to craft some 3000 different textiles. Among these are the richly textured maku partitions to be displayed in the centre of Japan House London’s ground floor. Much more than a mere ‘curtain’, these textiles afford entry into a visionary realm with a uniquely Japanese essence. Please step inside and be transported into our weaving wonderland.”

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Weave Designer Profile: Graysha Audren | Founder – Weffan

Weffan

Fully Fashioned 3D Woven Garments

Inspired by the possibilities of new textile technology to sustainably redesign fashion production systems, textile designer Graysha Audren, founded Weffan to revolutionise the way clothes are made. Weffan creates fully-fashioned 3D woven garments, produced in one step, engineered on an automated jacquard loom. 3D weaving whole garments on the loom means the fabric and the garment are woven at the same time to shorten production steps, minimise fabric and resource waste, and build a more dynamic, transparent manufacturing supply chain.

With its 3D weaving garment technology, Weffan aims to align fashion industry incentives with sustainability goals through manufacturing efficiency resulting in cost-effectiveness.
To this end, Weffan uses existing loom technology, making sustainable manufacturing accessible, for the biggest positive impact.

Weffan’s first research project Loom-State: 3D Woven Garments, focuses on trousers, since solving for the complexity in sizing, fit, materials, and recyclability of this garment is transferable to most other clothing. The Loom-State trouser prototypes are woven in the Netherlands by EE Exclusives, a leading jacquard mill.

The continued research and development of a 3D woven trouser will ultimately lead to a full garment production system aimed at limiting pre-consumer waste, eliminating overproduction, and responding more accurately to demand.

Weffan’s low cost of adoption could support near-shore manufacturing to the UK, lowering a garment’s carbon footprint even further and reducing the risk of supply chain interruption on labour and business.

You can follow Weffan’s progress on instagram @wef.fan
For comments or questions, you can email Weffan

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Company Profile: Christopher McEvoy

Christopher McEvoy founded his woven studio in 2017 after graduating from the Royal College of Art, London.  

Being a born and bred Glaswegian, with the backing of Deutsche bank’s DBACE award he returned to the city and opened McEvoy Textiles, becoming the first hand weaving mill in the city for over a century.    

Being based in Scotland was always important to Christopher as his heritage and cultural identity has often infomed much of work. A firm believer in the beauty and breadth of Scottish textiles, the studio has made these techniques central to its collections which have been sold all over the world.  

Offering a range of design, production and consultancy services, the studio became known for a contemporary take on Scottish heritage textiles and a championing of new fibres and processes  being applied to traditional techniques.  A way of thinking that has seen the studio produce work for major fashion houses, cultural institutions and automotive market disruptors.

In 2019 in a move to expand the weaving industry in Glasgow, Christopher teamed up with fellow weaver Chantal Allen to found a new mill in the city – VEVAR– offering power loom production on a small accessible scale within the city. The development of Vevar has allowed Christopher to reimagine the purpose of McEvoy Textiles leading to the rebrand and relaunch of the studio in 2021. 

Now under the eponymous label of Christopher McEvoy the studio will continue to produce a seasonal collection of designs each year for sale as well as hand woven lengths of cloth for the luxury market. However there will be an increased emphasis on craftsmanship, process and materiality. 

This celebration of weaving savoir faire is intended to highlight the breadth of the craft.

As well as championing the process of making itself, this will be applied not just in the studios’s collection, but in an increased level of public engagement through workshops, exhibitions and projects.   

Christopher McEvoy Instagram  Continue reading →

Company Profile: Lark & Bower

Sarah Ward is a hand weaver based in Essex, mostly known for her work as The Aviary Studio. Now she launches Lark & Bower, a new endeavour born during the Covid pandemic.

Most of Sarah’s weaving career since 2010 has been spent producing seasonal collections of hand woven swatches which she sold as design ideas, working closely with brands to develop woven concepts and colour stories for their collections.

The ‘enforced pause’ that came with the pandemic, though initially turning the studio on its head, was an opportunity to evolve and diversify, to re-evaluate a weavers place in the industry.

The idea of ‘off-loom’ weaving was conceived during the first lockdown in 2020, when Sarah didn’t have access to her loom or studio. Desperate to weave, she started using leftover yarn and a needle and thread to make small studies of woven structures; twills, hopsacks, houndstooth, waffle.

Now, despite having access to both, she has continued to work on these small, intricate offerings, whilst pondering why woven structure isn’t more celebrated.

Hand-weaving is an often forgotten art, and one which deserves to be appreciated without necessarily being part of a functional or ‘throw away’ item.

As an ancient craft, weaving is deeply connected to what it is to be a human. Like music, weaving developed in many parts of the world simultaneously, long before civilisations had communication with one another – an idea often forgotten in our new digital and industrial world.

Rejecting the constant demand for newness and instead supporting slow-design and sustainable practice, Sarah plans to use these woven pieces to raise awareness about waste and the impact of the textile industry on the environment, and to shine a spotlight on craftsmanship and woven structure as an art form in its own right.

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Exhibition: Pushing The Limits | A Virtual Shaft Weaving Art Exhibition

Pushing the Limits is a virtual shaft weaving artwork exhibition curated by former European Textile Network ETN president -and always a weaver- Lala de Dios (Spain) and textile artist Olivier Masson (France) who has also engineered the exhibition.

Weaving is one of oldest human industries -if not the oldest- and many kinds of looms or weaving devices have been accompanying humankind since the beginning of times. From the backstrap to dobby looms, the history of weaving has been an uninterrupted succession of technological inventions until the arrival of the first Jacquard hand looms in 18th century France.  The rest is history. Today we are living the digital Jacquard loom era. Contemporary textile artists use this tool which allows for an -almost- unlimited freedom to weavers.

This should not hide the fact that many of today’s artists and designers are happily enjoying weaving in shaft looms as weavers have been doing for hundreds of years. Not only to weave the functional textiles so often associated with the machine, but also works of art ; from Anni Albers’ pictorial weavings to Peter Collingwood`s macrogauzes to quote only two well-known examples from the last century.

The exhibition aims to highlight the incredible possibilities of that supposedly limited “machine” to create textile pieces that are works of art in their own right. Continue reading →

Woven Textile Designer: Milou Voorwinden

Milou Voorwinden is a woven textile designer based in the Netherlands. She graduated from the product design department of ArtEZ University of Arts in Arnhem in 2016.

Voorwinden currently runs her own textile design and research studio and works as a jacquard designer and product developer at EE Exclusives.

She specialises in weaving three-dimensional structures and one-piece woven products on the loom. Voorwinden is inspired by traditional weaving techniques and aims to rediscover, renew and apply the techniques in an innovative way using contemporary digital tools.

The Space Between
The Space Between explores the creation and application of knitted and woven spacer fabrics. The project is a collaboration between Milou Voorwinden, Suzanne Oude Hengel and  the Functional Textiles Unit at Eurecat in Spain. By working alongside the machines and closely with the technicians Francesc Mañosa and Francesc Pera of Eurecat, Oude Hengel and Voorwinden are able to engineer each step of the process, allowing for functionalities to be built directly into the fabric Continue reading →

Social Enterprise: AMMA Natural Textiles | Sri Lanka

AMMA Natural Textiles, is a social enterprise championing the tradition of hand weaving in Nuwara Eliya, a tea estate region in Sri Lanka. AMMA was founded by Josie Mackenzie who was curious to explore the role natural dyes play in the Sri Lankan textile industry and how, when used in combination with handloom could contribute to providing livelihood creation for women living rurally.

This innovative business empowers marginalised women by employing them to make handwoven zero waste garments and accessories. AMMA’s current Kickstarter Campaign is raising money through maker made rewards so that they can continue to keep their workshop doors open and their artisans employed on full salaries. Continue reading →

Exhibition: Blanket Coverage

Celebrating the Heritage and Diversity of Weaving
Textile Designer & Artist Laura Thomas curates a long-awaited exhibition platforming contemporary woven design.

Blanket Coverage opens at Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre, Cwmbran, south Wales, on 28th November  – 30th January 2021, in a much needed review of how contemporary weavers continue to challenge the notions of this exciting and tactile art form.

The exhibition features 12 designers and businesses, from the very established to emerging names. Margo Selby, Wallace Sewell, Beatrice Larkin and Eleanor Pritchard are all handweavers who work closely with British mills to faithfully interpret their hand-rendered or handwoven designs into production. Catarina Riccabona and Maria Sigma are passionate advocates for sustainability through their handwoven practice, both producing blankets of true character without design compromise. Llio James and Sioni Rhys Handweavers, are Welsh handweavers of blankets cleverly combining colour and weave structure to create captivating patterns. Continue reading →