Bram van Breda is a Belgian Designer exploring objects and matters and their active roles in social and cultural contexts throughout his projects. His Gathering rugs series is an extraordinary example of this dialogue, where the final objects reflect the human side within industrial manufacturing processes.
Bram van Breda: When visiting the weaving factory Tasibel natural fiber flooring, specialized in sisal and coco’s carpet weaving, I noticed a lot of the by-products which are the result of the weaving process were still usable and often contained very unique and graphical images. Each part is knot by hand by the weaver on the loom, with some repairs they can be perfectly used as a wall piece or carpet. When I heard that this waste material would be cut to the pulp, which actually is a degradation of the material as it already has a whole journey behind itself, I decided to gather all these woven parts and start a series. With the Gathering project, I want to show the beauty of these irregular and unpredictable weavings, while highlighting a part of the process that normally would get lost.
Human side within industrial manufacturing processes
Bram van Breda: When in the weaving process they want to switch from color or design and they need to change the warp yarn, the weaver on the loom knots together all the warp threads by hand in order to keep on weaving. These knots lead to a transition zone in the weaving, which forms the core of the Gathering series. For the factory, the transition zones are not interesting, as they only want part ‘a’ and ‘b’, not the in-between. While today’s textile industry is under high pressure and more labor is done by machines, these knots are one of the last traces of human intervention on the machine, and it is exactly that part that’s been cut out and thrown away. Unfortunately, that’s also what often happens with the craftsmen who work in the textile industry and see their jobs disappear as part of reorganizations. We often think industrially manufactured products have less character because they’re all the same and have no irregularities, while in fact there’s still a lot of craft involved that we don’t know off because it gets lost in the production process.
The Main Challenges
Bram van Breda: One of the main challenges is to find the right way to spread the word, and show people that even within industrial manufacturing the unpredictable can lead to another kind of design. This unpredictability makes it an exciting project, as I never know which pieces the process brings forth. At the same time, it makes it also more complex to manage requests.
In my art-practice works always arise from research on the location and in relation to a certain cultural or historical context. My work is mostly handmade, and if it’s machine-made I’m always looking for a way to reclaim it by incorporating an intervention done by hand. I think it’s important not to fall back on a romantic idea of craft and handwork, and look for new ways of how we can bring together handwork or human interference with industrial or mechanical manufacturing. Bringing both together contributes to a cultural change in how we deal with our surroundings, the current mass-production, waste, and re-use.
The Gathering series is made possible with the support of Tasibel natural fiber flooring.
Interview with Bram van Breda.