EXPLORING MATERIALS AND STRUCTURES
Interweaving expression, storytelling, artistic and technical mastery
New methods for Textile and Fashion education
Maarit Salolainen, Adjunct Professor, Textile Design, 3D Surface Design
At Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture (Aalto ARTS) recent curriculum and pedagogy development linked to the vast textile studios have been able to bring fashion and textile design to a widely acknowledged level. The students’ fashion design is praised for its rich, immersive research and its strong use of materials and textiles as well as the profound knowledge of textile techniques. Textile design studies extend to woven fabrics and jacquards as well as knits, embroideries and prints. Through collaboration with European mills, industrially woven fabrics designed by the students are incorporated to the fashion collections.
The textile design studies consist of research and conceptualization skills as well as surface, material, structure and collection design on a strong technical foundation. Textile studies are linked to the clothing and collection design courses. Due to the new curriculum and pedagogy, the students are able to quickly proceed to implementing the skills in their fashion work.
The Aalto students’ advanced knowledge in designing shaft weaves and jacquards is due to a new pedagogic method. At Aalto, exploring weave structures and yarn materials starts by experimenting on various different sample warps in the studio. Each warp introduces new aspects on weave structures and properties of textile fibres. The looms are seen as means for 3D surface modelling. Already during the first 4 weeks course the students learn all basic as well as the most important derivative weave structures including multiple weft and warp systems and double weaves, and are able to manipulate these to design a versatile woven fabric collection. The process is inspired by the will to express concepts and tell tactile stories through exploration of materials and structures. Through this practice – based learning process, the students learn to use the weave structures and different fibres and yarns to influence the finished fabric’s properties as well as the appearance. After the first course, the students are ready to proceed to combined weaves and jacquards and to innovate, implement and apply their skills. In comparison, the traditional learning method of woven textiles is a time taking process, so textile studies can often not be included in the fashion students’ curriculum and the wonderful versatile world of textiles, yarns and fibres stays hidden.
There is a growing need for knowledge of textile processes, structures and fibres outside their normal domain. Numerous new and innovative products, “textile hybrids”, result from interdisciplinary projects, where textile techniques and textile surface constructions are applied to non-textile materials or inversely where new technologies such as 3D printing are combined with textile surfaces. Efficient pedagogy, which aims at making the students ready to apply and implement their skills, helps in communicating the knowledge to a wide audience. The textile courses at Aalto are open to textile and fashion students as well as students from other design disciplines. Cooperation, development of ideas between peers and multidisciplinary groups are encouraged. Creativity thrives in an atmosphere of openness where there is space for equal giving and taking and the group works together for the common goal of learning.
Maarit Salolainen is an experienced international design and textile professional. She has worked as a creative director in European and Indian textile and design companies as well as through her studio as an artist and designer. In 2013 Salolainen was engaged as Professor for 3D Surface Design and Textile Design at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture. The part time adjunct professorship enables Salolainen to continue her active professional work in the field of textile industry and business.
Salolainen has been involved with the Aalto University since 2003. Coming from outside academia with a view and experience of the international textile field enabled her to view teaching anew and act as a link between the academia and industry. Her curriculum development, multidisciplinary approach and development of new pedagogic methods represent a major improvement in textile design education.
Maarit Salolainen has actively opened the textile courses to fashion students and to students from other design disciplines. The innovative use of materials and techniques by Aalto ARTS fashion students has claimed international recognition at international shows and fashion competitions in the recent years. Currently Salolainen is writing a text book: Interwoven – Exploring Materials and Structures, to be published in 2016.