Textile design is the discipline that concerns itself with the ideation, creation and modification of textiles, which are materials made through the process of linking and joining. Finding application in various fields such as fashion, home decor, lifestyle, automobile and other service industries, textiles form a substantial part of our daily interaction with the tangible world. Its versatile nature and adaptability is what makes it a very reliable, adept and responsive material in meeting man’s evolving needs.
Historical and cultural context
Textiles are a representation of the social, cultural, political, economic and religious identity as history holds testimony. It has been and still is used as a powerful medium in anthropological expressions and relations, and holds significance in any influential and powerful events of the world such as the revolutions, wars, rebellion, revolts, protest, confrontation, and also weaves itself into the functioning of our own daily personal narratives. It holds the power to identify members of a community and through its study, it is possible to excavate the influences and cultural environment that affected its making.
Classification based on construction and development
Textile Design can be classified in terms of its construction techniques (weaving, knitting, and other non-interlocking and interlacing techniques) and its 2D and 3D surface development (printing, embroidery, and fabric manipulations). Commonly constructed using yarns which are spun from fibres, weaving involves the interlocking of yarns while the interlacing format of knitting imparts knitted textiles more flexibility and stretch compared to woven textiles. Construction techniques that employ non-woven and non-knitting techniques such as felt, made by matting layers of loose fibres are an alternative to textile construction. Woven textiles make up more than half of the global textile manufacture and they are mostly used in making ‘formal’ apparel pieces such as suits and skirts, and also for application in homeware and interiors. Knitted textiles are preferred for roles that require flexibility or for more ‘informal’ occasions. Inner-wear, t-shirts, socks, and home-furniture pieces such as office chairs or any other application that requires movement can be supported by knits. Felt or other non-woven textile pieces has found their place in utility spaces such as health and personal care, and in the technical and industrial fields such as engineering and geo-textiles, among others. Concerned with the embellishment of constructed textiles, 2D surface textile design broadly involves various printing methods such as screen, rotary, roller, block and digital, along with laser cutting. 3D textile development includes various embroidery, and other textile manipulation techniques such as quilting, which involves layering textiles, and patchwork which is the assemblage of various fabric pieces to construct textile.
Scope of textile design in India
With its abundant resources and historical textile heritage, India remains a global competitor of textile design and production. What makes the Indian textile industry different from its global competitor is the integration of its indigenous and traditional craft practices in its textile production. These multitude of regionally-exclusive craft practices that are diverse in idea and methodology contribute to the richness of the Indian textile sector and makes one question the distinction between craft and design. Upon close enquiry, it is evident that these textile practices are the pioneers of sustainability and sustainable living as they took shape before the industrial revolution which has arguably disrupted and still disrupts the natural ecological balance. It is an ironic reality to recognise that the Indian textile craft practices embrace a sustainable methodology which is far advanced from what we have been able to achieve today. It is also interesting to note the relevance and role the Indian “fabric” played in its history. Acting as an agent of ‘self-reliance’ during the colonial rule in India, the ‘khadi’ fabric of India as popularised by Gandhi is a testimony to the resilience of the country’s unity as a collective community; the significance of the fabric still being acknowledged by the attire choices of the current political leaders.
Textile design and its understanding throughout the past decade has evolved more than just as a medium of ornamentation, but as a practice that supports inter-disciplinary participation and development; and as a core field of knowledge that facilitate the functioning and efficiency of various industries such as fashion, interior, healthcare and many more that rely on it. Although textile classification exists, a textile designer’s practice is a culmination and consideration of all its creative and manufacturing methodologies in order to embrace innovation within its artistic practice. A 2 years MSc. in Fashion and Textile Design course is beneficial for aspirants with a background in fashion or allied fields and would like to take up textile designing as a professional endeavor.
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