Quilting Space: Experimental Form-Finding with Knitted Fabrics

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This paper outlines an ongoing project exploring the potential for knitted textiles to create architectural forms. The project is inspired by the processes of the engineer Heinz Isler who used textiles as a form-finding medium and subsequently set those forms into permanent structures, using the knowledge acquired during that process to create large scale forms inspired by the maquettes. This project examines how this approach could be explored using a textile design route and incorporating knowledge of the textile design process as both a technical and aesthetic act. The first part uses a collaborative workshop to transform tubular-knitted fabric into small and large sculptural models. These are then recontextualised with a focus on photographic output to present the outcomes as architectural forms. Second, thermoplastic polyurethane yarn (TPUY) is used to create knitted structures that exploit the innate potentials of knitted fabrics when used with heating methods to find forms to create architectural maquettes. These knitted structures are created on electronic Stoll knitting machinery and rely on tacit knit knowledge to create structures that capitalise on the adaptability of the knitting process. This reduces the need for seams or other areas that may cause weakness and allows the creation of both flat and three-dimensional shapes. Using various techniques, concentrations of TPUY and conventional knitting fibres, the project proposes an exciting future application for knitted textiles in the process of designing structures with potential in architecture, engineering and sculpture. Finally, the discussion moves to further potentials for this process in both research and teaching scenarios.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Textile Design Research and Practice
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Oct 2022


  • Heinz Isler
  • textile architecture
  • thermoplastic polyurethane
  • knitting sculptural


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