The following article was published in the Bauhaus journal "Offset", No. 7, 1926.
Is the woven fabric one of those items that present a challenge for the creative efforts of man?
Yes! Because a woven fabric is an aesthetic whole, a composition of form, colour and material
as a whole. In all fields of design today there is a quest for law and order. And we too, in the
weaving workshop, have set ourselves the task of investigating the basic elements of our
particular field. While at the beginning of our Bauhaus work we started with image precepts -
a fabric was so to speak a picture made of wool - today we know that a fabric is always an object
of use and is determined equally by its end use and the factors of its production. These factors are:
the loose threads which can only be made into a definite surface by the arrangement to
which they are subjected;
a multiplicity of interlocking threads which produce the sculpture of the surface;
the colour intensified or toned down through gloss or dullness;
the material, whose characteristics limit us in its use.
The fabric has to meet further requirements: it has to be a surface and always has to
have the effect of a surface. This does not imply that elements of a static, dynamic,
sculptural, functional, constructional, and spatial nature are excluded from
consideration. These elements count and are subject to the laws of plane geometry.
Today we do not weave flowers and fruit, figurative scenes and architectural perspectives,
and neither do we devote ourselves to ornamental decoration. As said before, fabric design
is concerned with designing surface structure that relates to surrounding things, adapts
itself and fits in. On the one hand it is the flexibility of this surface which characterizes
the fabric, namely the fact that a curtain, a bedspread, a pillow can easily change its place
in the room; on the other hand there is the nature of the material, rough or smooth, stiff or
soft, light or heavy, dull or glossy.
Since today mechanical weaving has not yet been developed to the point of incorporating
all the possibilities of hand weaving, and since the developing creative person needs to
know all these possibilities, we concern ourselves mainly with handloom weaving. Only
work at the hand loom allows the kind of latitude for an idea to be developed from
experiment to experiment until it is defined and clarified to the point that sample
products can be handed to industry for mechanical reproduction.
Since the applications of fabrics, and hence the problems involved, are so varied,
only a few are selected here:
A cloth or a curtain - these are easily movable and adaptable objects to suit
individual tastes and requirements of colour and form.
A carpet can be designed as an integral part of the room and as such can have
a space-determining function, but it can also be thought of as an independent
" thing in itself", whose colour and formal language can express any surface theme.
Upholstery fabric, being fixed in space and being confined to a specific purpose,
should have an attractive textural surface effect.
Tapestries and wall hangings are not commodities. Other standards apply to these;
they belong in the area of free artistic expression, yet are determined by the
process of weaving.
Weaving is primarily a woman's field of work. The play with form and colour,
an enhanced sensitivity to material, the capacity of adaptation, rhythmical
rather than logical thinking - are frequent female traits of character
stimulating women to creative activity in the field of textiles.
Cover by Joost Schmidt
Cover by Joost Schmidt