Minding your business

From application to creation in the lab

Our selection team considers every application – if correctly completed – to develop a project in the TextielLab. How does the application process work? And how can you prepare for your time in the lab?

Babette Pörtzgen, Front Office coordinator, handles an average of 500 applications per year. The Front Office deals with all the details regarding submitted and selected projects and is the first point of contact for designers interested in developing a project in the lab. “We’re not involved in the creative content but with everything that goes with it,” Pörtzgen explains. Quotations, planning, logistics and invoicing are all managed by the Front Office. “Everything starts and ends with us,” she says. “Development requests that come through here as applications are often hanging opposite us in the assembly studio several months later, which is really special.

Every project is different, which makes the Front Office’s job challenging, says Pörtzgen. “Because we don’t do mass production, everything is customised. We don’t want a schedule that’s so tight it restricts the creative process, but at the same time we want to give as many makers as possible a chance to work here. That’s why the machines never stop.” To make optimal use of everything the lab has to offer, Pörtzgen advises makers to prepare thoroughly for the development process. Here’s her list of what to expect and what you can do yourself to get the most out of the experience.

“Everything starts and ends with us.”

1. Online application form
This is where it all begins. Click the ‘Submit request’ button at the top of the lab’s website to get started. Applying does not commit you to working with us, but the application form does ask you to choose a technique, write a short design plan and attach a design sketch. That requires some preparation on your part. Do you want to weave, knit, make trimmings, tuft, laser cut or embroider? Choosing between weaving and knitting can be difficult. If you are unsure, select one and mention in the project description that you don’t know which technique is most suitable. The creative team will then determine the best option. You can look for reference materials yourself in the online collection and Sample Studio. The museum, library and physical Sample Studio next to the lab are also good places to find inspiration for your design plan. Finally, don’t forget to update and upload your CV and portfolio, both of which will be considered in the selection process.

Fashion designer Pol Vogels with product developer Sarena Huizinga on the knitting machine. Photo: Patty van den Elshout.

2. Application deadlines

Different application deadlines apply for the various techniques:

  • Weaving and knitting: We select from among the applications received each month, and you can apply at any time. However, we schedule projects at least six months in advance, so please take this into account in your own planning.
  • Tufting: Apply by 7 November 2022 to work in the tufting department in the first half of next year. The deadline for the second half of the year is 15 May 2023.
  • Passementerie: Apply by 16 January 2023 to work in the passementerie department in the first half of next year. The deadline for the second half of the year is 26 June 2023. 
  • Embroidery: You can apply at any time; we select projects each month.
  • Laser cutting: You can apply at any time; we select projects each month.

3. Selection
We receive on average 500 applications per year, which is about 200 more than the lab can handle. The lab team selects the projects that best match the TextielLab’s objectives. We base our selection on innovation and artistry, but a project must also be technically feasible. That’s why it is important to describe your concept clearly and include a design sketch in your application. If your project proposal is a good fit, we will set up an exploratory meeting between you and the product developer for your chosen technique. Our final selection is based on this meeting. The following questions will help you prepare for that discussion:

– What is the purpose of the fabric you are going to develop?
– Is the work for a client?
– What technical and functional requirements does the textile have to meet?
– How many metres do you want to make?
– Will it be a unique piece, or a limited edition?
– Do you know which machine you want to work on?
– And with which yarns?
– Do you want to finish the textile in our assembly studio?
– What is the budget?
– Have you applied for a grant? Where? Which grant scheme? When will you find out if the grant will be awarded?
– What is the deadline for the finished product?
– Are there periods you are unable to come to the lab in the coming year?

4. Quotation and schedule
Based on everything discussed in the exploratory meeting, you will receive a quotation with a schedule and budget. Please note that we plan projects six months in advance. So, it will take at least six months before you can start working in the lab.

The budget is an estimate of the costs of materials and man-hours. If it looks like we will exceed these during development, we will inform you in good time. The budget also shows how much of our own grant money we will invest in the project.

Once you approve the quotation and schedule, the Front Office will finalise the details and send you a down payment invoice for 30% of the planned development days.

Textile artist Marcos Kueh with product developer Marjan van Oeffelt on the weaving machine. Photo: Patty van den Elshout.

“The machines never stop!”

5. Knowledge gathering and design
Use the months leading up to your time in the lab to complete or refine your design. Send an email to collection@textielmuseum.nl if you would like one of our curators or the librarian to help you look for reference material in the museum collection. You can also visit the lab and exhibitions in the museum. All of these can provide valuable information and inspiration for your own design. Keep in mind that the design can change during development. When making a new fabric, the finished product can’t be predicted in advance. To get the most out of your development days in the lab itself, it also helps to prepare technically, for example by watching the knowledge clips we will send you after you approve the quotation and schedule.

Want to know more about the application or development process? Contact info@textiellab.nl.

Useful links

– Good preparation is half the work: In this article, weaving product developer Stef Miero and curtain designer Peter Niessen share their top tips on developing work for a client.

Treasure hunting in the collection: curator Sjouk Hoitsma discusses the value of the museum collection when preparing for your time in the lab.

– Go to textiellab.nl and click on the ‘Working’ tab for more information about how we work and our costs.

Dit artikel is part of the series ‘Minding your business’, a section with practical tips and tricks for managing your business – from applying for a subsidy to properly storing your work.