Restrictions as inspiration – An exploration of the design process in the contract textile industry

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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I believe restrictions can inspire creativity. Due to my personal background of living abroad with limited knowledge of foreign culture, I consider limitations a challenge that motivates me to solve problems in everyday life. Through this thesis, I explore if limitations in the design process can also motive my creativity. The quality requirements of contract textiles significantly restrict not only the manufacturing but also the design process of textile products. In order to ensure safety in public premises, contract textile designers face the challenge of developing new products under restricted circumstances. The objective of this thesis is to investigate how quality criteria restrict the design process and the designer’s approach toward these restrictions. Moreover, I challenge myself to apply this knowledge to my own design practice. As a result, I have designed upholstery and hanging fabrics for contract use and created final prototypes in the Swedish weaving mill Svensson. This research is conducted through different approaches: theoretical investigations, expert interviews and design production. The theoretical research defines the contract textile industry and the essential factors influencing the design process. This investigation reveals that quality standards narrow the possibilities for designers in their technical choices. In addition, expert interviews explore how designers actually develop textile products within the technical limitations. For the practical approach, I complete a contract textile collection based on the collection concept Radom Order; a visual story for public spaces featuring structural patterns of architecture and echoing random movements of people. Moreover, I apply restrictions in the contract textile design process as inspirational sources to this design practice. Through this research, I found that the technical limitations of contract textiles affect the overall design process as well as aesthetic value of textile products and clearly motivate designers to focus on the design challenges. Therefore, restrictions in the design process can drive designer’s creativities by creating freedom within a framework of technical limitations.
Salolainen, Maarit
Thesis advisor
Rodriguez Chavez, Marco
contract textiles, quality standards for contract textiles, technical limitations, weaving production, upholstery, hanging fabric
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