Thinking about scale in textiles

In tutorials with my students we often discuss scale. Many of them are afraid of trying to work large and usually feel more comfortable painting and making on a smaller scale. In this blog post I will show you 3 exciting textile artists and their installations – pieces that exploit the possibilities of textiles on a very large scale.

Wies Preijde, graduated in Textiles at the Royal Academy of Arts (in the Hague). She concluded that the process of designing new textile materials always involved the creation of new forms. She takes inspiration from rhythmic patterns, textures and shapes found in everyday life and from architecture. She then connects these to the techniques used to make her textiles. Everyday objects and the way they occupy space, such as floors and walls, are constructed using a different material thus creating the experience of new effects and functionalities.

Her project TEGENDRAADS, consists on an installation of various hand-woven walls, which when put together affects our perspectives in space.

A combination of lines, colours, views and passageways gives the observer the idea of walking through a transparent home. Different colour combinations exist in the abstracted, patterned spaces, resulting in a flat image which gives the holographic impression of a three dimensional expansion. The screens render the existing space partition-able, articulating new spaces which provide an illusional as well as a physical subdivision of the room.

The varied vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines coalesce into rooms, windows, and other imaginary environments and passages. The woven fiber-walls also are slightly transparent, thus providing a translucent lens to the other side of the threaded divider. This makes the observer curious and invites him or her to start moving around in the installation to discover and experience the different colour combinations and patterns which make up the space.

Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec are brothers and designers based in Paris. They have been working together for about fifteen years bonded by diligence and challenged by their distinct personalities. In 2009 they developed a project named Clouds, a natural continuation of North Tiles that was created in 2006 for Danish textile manufacturer Kvadrat in order to develop a new, modular wall system out of the textile material. Clouds is a fabric-based modular system. The original idea was to make something that was very easy to install. They developed a new fixing system of special elastic bands to specifically meet this requirement. The evocative space-shaping Clouds can be assembled with a simple click allowing maximum freedom of configuration. Indeed, Clouds is meant to be an organically composed structure that grows like a plant, freely – even chaotically, since the only controls are the colour palette of the modules and their 3D surface aesthetics.

Clouds offers a variety of options as the assembled elements can be hung on walls or from the ceiling to divide the environment. The system’s infinite possibilities offer complete freedom in creating customised pieces. The textural quality of the materials of Clouds are inviting to the touch and have significant impact on the sound as well.

In 2013 Akane Moriyama developed Blue Bricks. Consisting of 729 connected textile components Blue Bricks is dyed in three different blue gradients and nine hue variants. Each nylon piece can be separated and sewn together again to transform, which enables a continuous transformation within the spatial installation. Functionally speaking, it has the potential to co-exist within the space as a transparent wall, massive curtain, or even as a horizontal carpet-shaped element.

‘Cubic Prism’ at courtyard of Goldsmith Hall at The University of Texas at Austin is another relevant piece by Moriyama. It is a large cube-based structure made out of three different coloured textiles. Suspended between two buildings at the Goldsmith Hall in the university of Texas, Austin, the piece reacts to environmental factors, as the geometry of a rigid cube is replaced with soft semi-transparent fabrics. The installation’s opacity changes according to the way natural light is filtered through it, mixing the different colours – the transient prism continuously shifts its visual appearance. Hanging naturally between the surrounding buildings, the structure dramatically influences the nature of the square below.


  1. Jennifer 13 July 2017 at 10:59 am

    I don’t think it’s just textiles students who this is is relevant for. I’m a Drawing 2 student, and this is 101% relevant – and inspiring!

  2. Bryan 26 July 2017 at 10:02 pm

    It may sound counter-intuitive but the Venice Biennale has far more textile works than paintings this time round. Some are very large — they need to be in the Arsenale as the space is vast — and many tread a really interesting line between decorative and conceptual art. I really do recommend that if you’re serious about how textiles can be deployed in a contemporary art context that you scurry off to Venice before November 26th…

    I’ve just found this blog that has images of some of the most impressive works:


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