Waxman Textile Prize 2023
Mohawk Group is proud once again to sponsor the Waxman Textile Prize, an annual design competition that explores textile innovation from the next generation of emerging designers. Organized by Trend Union as part New York Textile Month each September, the 2023 Textile Prize jury was comprised of Sagarika Sundaram, assistant professor at Pratt; Kari Pei, commercial textile designer; Sugandha Gupta, assistant professor at Parsons; Royce Epstein, Senior Director of Design at Mohawk Group; and Dorothy Waxman, textile industry legend for whom the prize is named.
The judges – along with Li Edelkoort and Philip Fimmano from Trend Union - were interested to see new themes embedded into textile design, especially materiality, creativity, and sustainability in the student work, along with signals of cultural trends. Another important criterion was seeking solutions that exemplify a new model of creating textiles for the future.
There were 350 entries from design students around the world, with a shortlist of 20 finalists. The jury recognized several themes represented in the student work that arose from the post-pandemic era, such as healing and care; reusing and remaking with existing or found textiles; nostalgia and family connections; and identity.
Sustainability was a strong reference for most of the projects, with a focus on using waste materials, and as in years past, seeing interest in foraging for dyes and fibers, use of natural fibers such as wool and linen, and making of fiber from scratch.
The winner of the Waxman Textile Prize for 2023 is Jing Pei, from Parsons School of Design. Jing’s project is a fashion collection made only of thread. Dematerialized and only using embroidery and freehand sewing, Jing focused on a zero-waste project where every bit of fiber was used in the garments and the base fabric was water-dissolvable to reveal stories in the thread.
Jing used her memories of her youth in China to conjure up statues that made an impression on her at traditional lantern festivals. These statues, especially in her words, were creepy and tacky, and she wanted to explore if they could be a point of reference for beauty and expression in textiles.
The jury also recognized three additional projects with the designation of Honorable Mention:
Milagros Pereda, also from Parsons School of Design, for her project called CRUDO, addressing the artisanal and sometimes forgotten ways of making wool fiber from her family farm in Argentina. Her entire process is handmade, from collecting raw wool waste from shearing, to washing the fiber, to spindling, and then knitting it into organic garments, which in turn make them biodegradable. The wool garments also offer a sensory experience to the wearer through touch, smell, and visible textures. Milagros engaged the women of the farm to work as a community with her on the project. Her entire project was a commitment to natural materials and craftsmanship, showing how care and conservation can create new sustainable resources.
Our next Honorable Mention is Kate Ritchie, from Central Saint Martins in London. Kate’s project provided a new context for household textiles through her thoughtful interventions. Kate asked the question: “How many times can something fall apart and come back together while continuing to be itself?” By adopting a methodology through deconstructing and then reconstructing domestic textiles, they become objects of care and show respect for the soul of materials. Kate also approached the textiles as co-creators and saw the role of weaver also as an unweaver.
Next, we recognize Katerina Knight from the Royal College of Art in London. Katerina’s project was also about care. Entitled “My Material Memoir: Hands Can Heal, Cloth Can Care”, Katerina created a textile collection using living materials such as blackberries, dried flora, lavender, silk, and linen. These were homegrown, foraged, and collected. Using the process of making slow craft textiles to heal from illness, the process of making was an act of personal healing. Kate recognizes the poetic metaphors in slow craft as in nature’s healing, both require patience. For example, the self-harvested lavender took over 250 hours of hand threading. Kate sees the textiles she creates in transition, just as nature and our planet are in transition.
Mohawk Group congratulates all the students who participated and were shortlisted in the Waxman Textile Prize. We can’t wait to see where everyone takes their design concepts for new ways of working in the future.
To see the work of all the finalists, please visit here
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