Chakraview and Selvedge at the London Design Biennale


India: a country of over two thousand ethnic groups, 122 major languages and a cultural heritage that stretches back 4,500 years. It is a land where ancient mythology and traditional arts remain relevant, and continue to influence contemporary art and design. As a nation, India is enormous, diverse and contradictory. It must have been a daunting task to create an installation representing over a billion people, yet Rajshree Pathy had to do just that as the curator behind ‘Chakraview’, at the London Design Biennale. Rendering of installation, ChakraView - detail, India Design Forum, 2016. Image courtesy of India Design Forum Celebrating the fascinating ways in which the modern and the ancient come together in India, Rajshree used the idea of the seven chakras, or energy points, as a focus. She also collaborated with Aadyam: a weaver’s initiative that works with weavers throughout the country and encourages the marriage of innovative design with traditional Indian techniques. The result of this is a dramatic installation of brightly coloured circular structures and weavings, created using modern materials but inspired by ancient philosophy. Rendering of installation, ChakraView, India Design Forum, 2016. Image courtesy of India Design Forum As part of the London Design Biennale’s talks program Polly Leonard, Founder Selvedge, will lead a discussion that considers how in a world of fast fashion, when a new t.shirt can cost less than a cup of coffee, we can reconcile providing income to makers in developing countries while acknowledging the carbon footprint of our clothes. As well as investigating how we can justify making more garments when there are wardrobes bursting with deserted clothes, she will look at pre-Industrial Revolution textile production methods as a possible ways to engage with sustainable production for the future. Rendering of Aadyam fabric, Aadyam, 2016. Image courtesy of India Design Forum Make sure to catch Selvedge’s discussion Back to the Future: sustainability in contemporary textile production, speakers will include Polly Leonard – Founder of Selvedge, Safia Minney – MBE FRSA, Founder of People Tree and Carin Mansfield – slow fashion designer and Founder of Universal Utility and Lisa Whatmough, Managing and Creative Director of Squint Limited. Saturday 24 September, 4pm Book tickets here.

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  • Rikki Quintana on

    How “we can reconcile providing income to makers in developing countries while acknowledging the carbon footprint of our clothes” is a topic that engages Fair Trade vendors working with artisans around the world. In my Fair Trade start-up business, the first in the US to work with artisans in the Central Asian country of Tajikistan, we are exploring ways to revive the traditional art of ikat weaving and eco-dying, while addressing the need for reliable raw material supplies, access to dyes (for example, it appears to be easier to import indigo dye from the US to Tajikistan than from India), and the ability to reliably reproduce colors and patterns for the western market. Even for “slow fashion” handcrafted, small volume items, it often seems a “chicken or egg” problem—no sustainable raw materials without large orders, and no large orders of raw materials without large orders of finished products. I am delighted to see the textile arts world and the fashion world beginning to work together to take on these issues.

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