Ruth Morrow, Patricia Belford

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This paper draws on the experience of practice-led research that makes hard surfaces soft. The project is a collaboration between a textile designer and an architect and is driven by a critique of the built environment, asserting that most components that make up the built environment are designed only to meet technical specifications and not to address a human interface. The project, in its fourth year of development, has led to patented technologies that allow textiles to be embedded onto the surface of precast concrete, resulting in tactile finishes. The project is currently within an analysis phase to better understand and exploit the altered characteristics of precast concrete surfaces– which overcome the grey, cold, acoustically harsh and ‘unfriendly’ characteristics of concrete to become colourful, warm, acoustically soft and user friendly. The development process has revealed many challenges, not least those of bringing together two culturally diverse industries of textile and concrete. We have also had to consider whether the resultant hybrid products fall within the category of design, art or craft. As trained designers we determinedly remain within the territory of design as opposed to art but we have become increasingly interested in the values that craft brings to the process. Where design is aligned to multiple production and can remove itself strategically from the process of making; craft speaks of limited numbers and occurs within the act of making. Where design is associated with the thinker, craft is defined by the maker yet paradoxically over 50% of our process is done through digital manufacturing. The paper will further examine the relationship between craft and design based on the experience of this project, and identify ways in which design and craft can be reconceptualised to develop products crafted with care for the end- user.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
Place of PublicationBELGIUM
PublisherKoninklijke Vlaamse Academie van België voor Wetenschappen en Kunsten
Number of pages5
ISBN (Print)978 90 6569 071 5
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 20 Sept 2010
EventDesign and Craft: A history of Convergencies & Divergencies - Palais des Académies, Brussels, Belgium
Duration: 20 Sept 2010 → …


ConferenceDesign and Craft: A history of Convergencies & Divergencies
Period20/09/10 → …


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