Can industrial weaving embody a sense of the handcrafted? Hella Jongerius investigated for Vitra with the Vlinder sofa.
17 May, 2019
“We live in a world of fast fashion, in which textiles have become a throw-away product. We are losing skills – like the craft of weaving, with its richness and quality of textiles and the expression that it has,” says Hella Jongerius, the Dutch industrial designer and Art Director for colours and materials at Vitra.
“We also live in a digital world,” she continues. “Today it is becoming increasingly important to have a haptic environment, something real to touch – a tactile, rich skin. With Vlinder, I show what textiles can do if you break the boundaries of traditional manufacturing.”
At the Salone del Mobile in Milan this year, Vitra announced the market launch of Vlinder – a ‘haute couture’ sofa designed by Jongerius that challenges the typical mode of industrially produced upholstery fabric to connect more deeply with a sense of craft.
In terms of its shape, Vlinder takes the archetypal form of a contemporary sofa. But in terms of its upholstery, it is something else altogether. The textile that makes its cover is a large-format pattern in a soft jacquard weave that was designed specifically to fit the sofa’s shape.
Jongerius describes this ‘tailored fabric’ as “a collage of intertwined textures and colours” that’s reminiscent of historical tapestries – something that blurs the boundary between utilitarian object and art.
Eight colours of yarn in two thicknesses comprise seven different jacquard weaves, which create an abstract composition of weave patterns, colours and textures. “A team of textile engineers and hand weavers joined forces to make this unique design possible,” Jongerius explains.
“It shows a new way of producing a ‘one-off’ pattern and creating an haute couture sofa that combines the human touch of crafts with the possibilities of digital technology,” she adds.
The cover is draped over the seat, back and armrests and held in place by its own weight. The tactile quality of Vlinder extends from its surface to the softness it offers to the sitting experience.
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