It’s 2023, we have put Covid behind us and the lab is gearing up for a challenging year ahead. We have invested heavily in our machines and facilities over the past 12 months. “I’m excited that we can now share the effects of these investments,” says Hebe Verstappen, head of the lab.
Much has happened in the past year. We saw the arrival of a new circular knitting machine that can knit double-sided jacquard as well as new parts and software installed on other machines, a camera mounted above all knitting and weaving machines to facilitate remote working, a photo studio for meticulously photographing samples, a Sample Studio that is twice as large and an assembly department with increased capacity. The lab team also welcomed several new experts. During the Covid-related restrictions, when physical visits to the lab were limited, we took the opportunity to expand our offering for makers.
Advanced Textile Program
Besides these many improvements, 2022 was also a highly productive year. Our annual review of all the completed projects speaks volumes. Verstappen is especially pleased that more time has now been built in for research and experimentation in the development process. “We give creative minds the chance to test their ideas and collaborate with professionals from different disciplines.” For example, we organised the first Advanced Textile Program (ATP). Assisted by educators, curators, product developers and artist Otobong Nkanga, young makers explored the theme of sustainability. By doing this together with companies such as Kvadrat, Vlisco, ByBorre and Enschede Textielstad, makers not only gained access to the lab’s network but were also given an inside view of the industry. “The ATP was really about multiple perspectives, and discussion was at the heart of the program. In this respect, the process was more important than the result.”
A highlight of some of the projects developed in the lab in 2022. Video: Blickfänger
“We have created more space for dialogue than ever before.”
Make room for young talent
Following the success of the first ATP, a second edition is being planned for 2023, and the number of participants will be increased from six to ten. “The first group was very international. I hope that this year we will also receive applications from outside Europe,” says Verstappen. The same goes for the internships and graduation projects: nine designers from a range of backgrounds graduated in the TextielLab in 2022, several of them with flying colours. For example, KABK student Marcos Kueh’s woven tapestry not only won the Ron Mandos Young Blood Award, but his eight-metre-long masterpiece also attracted the attention of the Voorlinden Museum, which acquired the piece for its collection.
By far the largest project of 2022 was the embroidered curtains for Huis ten Bosch Palace. The project not only resulted in an impressive set of royal curtains but also an enormous stitch archive. “I hope that this database will be a rich reference for new embroidery projects in 2023,” says Verstappen. Works commissioned for the TextielMuseum’s collection by well-known designers such as Claudy Jongstra were also in the spotlight. Less visible so far is the R&D we have been doing with Studio Drift. In the lab, Studio Drift is experimenting with unusual materials, outdoor applications and movement in textiles. We expect to publish more about this project later in the year, hopefully inspiring other makers to build on the findings.
“A lot also went on behind the scenes in 2022,” says Verstappen. “I’m excited that we can now share the effects of these efforts through lab programmes and exhibitions.” One of these exhibitions is Textile now, a showcase of the crème de la crème of the lab’s new technical possibilities. It will feature performances, installations and 3D works by Melanie Bonajo, Gio Wyeth, Otobong Nkanga and Patricia Kaersenhout, demonstrating the extent of what the TextielLab has to offer. Verstappen is also looking forward to the third edition of the Secrets of making exhibition, which reveals the creative process from initial idea to final product. This new edition will have an added dimension, aimed at engaging children in the story.
Other highlights to look out for this year include the work of Raquel van Haver, Susanne Khalil Yusef, Alydia Wever and Ryan Oduber. But there may also be some surprises: we are still accepting applications from makers who would like to develop work in the TextielLab in the second half of the year.