I met Malin Bobeck at the Stockholm Furniture Fair‘s student and graduate showcase, Greenhouse. I was immediately captivated by her experimental projects using light technology in textiles, Droplet and Liquid. I had to find out more…
What’s the most important thing to know about you as a designer?
That I’m curious, I create my textiles with the aim of learning something new with every project, so I’m often taking on and looking for new materials and techniques. For me the field of textiles is so big, in some ways I hope I am never fully trained.
Why textiles as opposed to any other design discipline?
I started out studying industrial design but sewing my own clothes in my spare time, so I decided to go in that direction instead. I have a long tradition in my family of people who have worked with textile crafts in different ways, so it was never far fetched that I would start working with textiles. I’m really interested in how things work and how they are made and when I create textiles I can really go in to a close level and control every crossing or loop the yarn takes. But of course sometimes the outcome of the fabric is completely unexpected and that’s what fascinates me. I’ve studied pattern making, textile history and crafts and now I’m soon to graduate from my Bachelor’s Degree in Textile Design. I enjoy the whole process from sketch to finished product and when you’re designing textiles you can actually be involved all the way through.
Tell me more about Droplet.
Droplet is part of my experimental series of textiles with optical fibres. It started out as a hand-woven sketch. I tried out weaving with Pemotex which is a yarn that shrinks, in combination with optical fibres in a warp with big gaps in it. After the weaving was done I steamed the sample and the Pemotex shrunk, leaving the optical fibres in big loops on the surface. I often get my inspiration from materials and this new combination made an interesting effect. So I created a pattern inspired by water drops on a flat surface and incorporated the materials to get that three-dimensional effect. I designed four custom made weaving bindings for Droplet so I could control where I wanted the optical fibres to float on the surface and were they should be hidden. I wanted to create a fabric with many dimensions and also a fabric that is exciting to look at both in daylight and in darkness.
Where do ideas come from?
From all over – I can get an idea from touching an interesting structure or surface or I can get it from looking at something that I don’t really understand and trying to figure it out. In my design process I often start with a material research to find new materials to work with, then when I find something exciting the ideas come from playing around with the material.
How do you get from an idea to a product – what’s your process?
I often start with an analysis of what has been done in the area before and from there work out a concept or a theme for my project. It can be anything from an idea of two extremes like soft and hard or creating a mood in a room. Then I start to sketch in different ways depending on what kind of project it is. I really like to hand weave or hand knit to get a feel for the material in combination with hand drawing and a lot of writing. Then I put my sketches in the computer and work on them there. Even once they come out of the computer as an actual technical pattern, I continue experimenting in the weaving or knitting machine to decide colours and quality.
What’s your favourite part of the process?
Sketching in the weaving and knitting machines. Once I’m there, I know that it actually is becoming something and that I just have to put that little extra touch to it before it’s finished.
What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of my project Liquid Light that I exhibited at the Stockholm Furniture Fair earlier this year. It’s a series of experimental textiles with optical fibres. I loved that project and learned so much from it – having all my classmates working with the same materials and seeing the totally different outcomes. And I’m really happy with the results from the project. I think it shows something new that opens up opportunities for combining electronics in textiles and making them more interactive, giving them a higher value.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of studying textiles design at university?
Take care of the time you have at the school and make the most of it. I took a year out to do an internship at a weaving company and that has really made my last year of school so much more inspiring and fun. I realised that when I’m in school I can do whatever I want in my projects as long as I follow some kind of guidelines. So be over the top, because when you have to make money designing you have to make sure your product sells, but when you’re in school just go crazy!
What’s next for you?
I’m starting up my degree work again this week, which is going to be a continuation of Liquid Light. I’m going to broaden my knowledge about the possibilities of optical fibres in woven structures and design a series of textiles that show different qualities when it comes to emitting light in combination with pattern. I’m putting my work in a context of interior design and furniture and one of my fabrics will be shown as upholstery fabric on an armchair.
And finally, what’s your favourite colour?!
That’s a hard one because I think all colours are beautiful. Right now I’m really into sparkling things like sequins and glitter so I’ll have to say the colour of diamonds!
Further reading for the especially geeky:
Having established confessions of a design geek in 2010, Katie Treggiden has gone on to a career in design journalism, writing for titles such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, Elle Decoration, Stylist, Design Milk and Ideal Home. In 2014, she launched Fiera, an independent magazine dedicated to discovering new talent at the world’s design fairs. Her second book, Makers of East London, was published in 2015.
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