I received a commission to design and fabricate a chair to pay homage to a textile technique for the Tatter Blue Library, a textile library in Brooklyn, New York by Jordana Martin. The library was conceived as a vessel for textile publications, and a resource for textile artists. The commission stipulated that the library be used as a source for the content of the chair. As a designer using furniture and textiles as a medium for narrative; I embraced the opportunity to make a chair that would investigate multiple habitable scales; textiles integrated into furniture and furniture integrated in a specific interior.
Smocking was selected because of it’s 3D potential and its prosaic reputation. Thought of as a decorative practice relegated to aunties; smocking actually originates in the agrarian culture of England and the farmer’s traditional smock or frock. The construction of these garments used smocking as a performative technique, foremost was to gather up sleeves and frontispiece areas to shape the garment. The smocked placards at the front and back of the garment serve the wearer as padding on chest and shoulders for farm tools. The tubes created by smocking serve as ventilation while working in these garments. The fabric was soaked in linseed oil to make the garment waterproof.
The knowledge of the performative mission of smocking was a leap in the research. A chair that would illustrate smocking techniques was now a chair that would test the functional concepts of smocking. Smocking would be placed where people would interact regardless of the decorative preconception of smocking, and the areas of smocking would receive the traces of inhabitants via the indents created on the smocked areas.
All images by Jordana Martin