CTD 446: Unforgettable Textile Designs in Everyday Things

If you look at the objects that you encounter in a day you will more than likely find that at least one of them is touched by design with cultural antecedents outside your own.  Many of the designs we see in everyday life come from textile surface or structural design that have been passed down through multiple generations proving that they are unforgettable and continue to have appeal.  Textile surface design or applied design is when a finish of some type is applied to a textile.  Embroidery, painting, or tie dyeing are examples. Structural design incorporates the design as fabric is produced, such as weaving a tapestry or creating lace. What is fascinating is when that surface or structural design is incorporated into a different type of object than for what it was originally intended. A pair of socks could have a Navajo geometric design knitted into them.  A tray might have an Incan Tocapu design painted onto it.  An African Kente Cloth design might be printed onto a fabric shower curtain.  Now the materials and the way of creating the design have both changed but the visual idea of the design is still dominate.

Producers decided how far to take the use of the design on which they base their work.  Is it a direct copy and has it been approved by the original creating group?  Is it an inspired piece that uses ideas from other works?  Is it a piece created in traditional ways by a group in the same ways as their predecessors? Is it even a textile or another form of media that uses like graphic ideas?  These are questions that play into the design process of the producers, values, and perception and evaluation of the design.

A selection of nine projects from Clothing, Textile and Interior Design 446 Cultural Dynamics Course at The University of Alabama are presented.  Each project has a representative everyday object that can been found in today’s global market.  The student research projects tell about the original surface or structural design that the object’s decorative design relates to.  We hope this will help the viewer to see how what is around them can have influences from many cultures.  Hopefully this will inspirer you to look at something and ask where did the surface or structural design come from and why is it so unforgettable that it is still popular and appealing today.