Dorothy Waxman Textile Prize 2021

January 1, 2022 1:30 pm

Dorothy Waxman Textile Prize 2021

Mohawk Group once again sponsors the Waxman Textile Prize, an annual design competition that seeks out the next generation of design talent in the field of textiles. Presided over by Trend Union as part New York Textile Month, the 2021 Textile Prize jury was comprised of Dorothy Waxman (whom the prize is named after); Textile artist Kiyoshi Yamamoto; Textile and product designer Lori Weitzner; and Royce Epstein, A&D Design Director at Mohawk Group. The judges – along with Li Edelkoort and Philip Fimmano from Trend Union - were especially interested in seeing innovation, creativity, functionality, and a heavy focus on sustainability as part of the student work.

There were 270 entries from around the world, with a shortlist of 21 designers. The jurywas impressed with and moved by the quality and content of the submissions and were excited to see what techniques and concepts students are exploring during this challenging year with limited resources. The judges saw some trends and themes emerge from the collective work as well as a response to Covid. Sustainability and circularity are a universal subject, ranging from fast fashion, working with scrap and waste, and trying to remedy nature’s challenges to the climate crisis. Many students also addressed tactility and how textiles can contribute to enhancing our human sensory experience. We also saw a reverence towards textiles, honoring fiber by transforming it into new possibilities through both hand craft and machine techniques. Most significantly, there was a high level of poetry and emotion expressed in the work, along with a desire to mend and heal society through textile.

The winner of the Waxman Textile Prize for 2021 is Natsuki Hanyu of the Royal College of Art in London. Her project is based on the concept of Kami, which is the word in Japanese for material, paper, and also God – which shows how spirituality is found in paper in Japanese culture. She used a knitted paper cloth called Curesheet, intended for the agriculture industry and which is biodegradable, and then hand knot recycled paper string to create costumes. 

Natsuki used two different kinds of paper to create spirit costumes, to reawaken our senses and to remind us that as humans, we belong to – and return to – nature. The costumes are used as objects of ritualistic performance, and a celebration of animism and spirit life found in all living things and reminding us of the need for spirituality and fantasy during these trying times when humanity and the planet is in crisis.

The jury also recognized three additional outstanding projects:

Magoux Magdalena Baeyens from ENSAV La Cambre in Belgium submitted WORN, an exploration of the concept of fabric within fabric, using cast off textiles as the source for new textiles. She developed new techniques to re-weave these fabrics with endless possibilities inspired by zero-waste design and spanning both fashion and interiors.

Takahito Iguchi of Coconogacco in Tokyo submitted a project using discarded yarn and fabric scraps typically used for testing clothing in a performance lab. Takahito collected these tested specimens, which have been damaged and destroyed by the machine tests and wove and knit these scraps into beautiful garments that give an alternate life to the disregarded fabric swatches. The textural mix of materials with color gradients from the random samples makes this work upcycled on an emotive, high art level.

Erin McQuarrie, a Scottish designer from Parsons, presented her project “Language of Air” that was a stunning narrative tapestry connected to the writing of Sappho and Virginia Woolf, the physicality of weaving, and personal experience all connected through threads of love and collected fragments.

Congratulations to all the students who participated in the Dorothy Waxman Textile competition, we can’t wait to see more of your talents in the future.

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