I decided to look for inspiration in furniture already upholstered in wool in addition to knit patterns to add to the narrative of 'wool' as a material. I collected some of my favourite inspiration points for a moodboard.
As a vegan, I do not eat, use or wear any animal by-products because I do not want to contribute to the exploitation of animals. A lot of the time, others who do not share my belief do not understand how that animal is exploited. The animal agriculture/animal by-product industry likes to justify what it does with words like 'humane', 'sustainability sourced', 'grass fed' and 'organic' to give the illusion of care and compassion. Unfortunately, as the name would suggest, these sentient beings become purely resources and are thereby exploited for the demand. I view this as the ethically-concerned version to 'green washing' where a company will make themselves seem environmentally-friendly to make themselves seem 'better' or a box ticking exercise on the product specification. Companies like these need to stop searching for loopholes to disguise the reality that the well-being of their 'stock' or animals will always be secondary to economic interest. And that's why I don't contribute to these industries.
At around three months old, lambs who survive because they are to be used to produce wool suffer very painful mutilation. They are marked on their ears, castrated and tail docked. Tail docking occurs in order to prevent them from getting parasites.
(Animal Ethics, 2017)
Animal Ethics. (2017). Sheeps and goats - Animal Ethics. [online] Available at: http://www.animal-ethics.org/sheeps-goats/ [Accessed 28 Jun. 2017].
Animal Ethics. (2017). Wool - Animal Ethics. [online] Available at: http://www.animal-ethics.org/wool/ [Accessed 28 Jun. 2017].
I was advised to research into the Campana Brother, a Brazilian pair of siblings that are known for their wild and wacky designs that have a hidden serious and sensible narrative. I was most excited to see their stuffed toy chairs that are made to tackle important issues such as child labour.
The Campana Brothers, Fernando (b. 1961) and Humberto (b. 1953) were born in Brotas, a city outside of São Paulo. Together, in 1983, they founded the Estudio Campana. In 1998, “Project 66” was their first international show with Ino Maurer, curated by Paola Antonelli of New York MoMa. Also in 1998, they established their first design partnership with Edra in Italy. Each year, the brothers launch new products and concepts in collaboration with international brands such as Alessi, Artecnica, Bernardaud, Baccarat, Corsi Design, Consentino, Edra, Nodus, Magis, Moleskine, Skitch, Plus Design, Venini, and Trousseau, among others.
Alligator Couch in Leather
This couch is part of a large series of furnishings upholstered with collections of stuffed and leather animals. When the Campana Brothers decided to build the structures with leather objects instead of mass-produced plush toys from China, they began collaborating with the Brazilian NGO OrientaVida, an organization that supports underprivileged women. Members from OrientaVida sew the leather alligators together that create the writhing (and slightly unsettling) groupings
The Bolotas series
The Bolotas series includes an armchair and sofa covered in soft bundles of brown sheepskin, designed to create a "nest" effect, while the Animal Center table features traditional straw marquetry techniques, placed on a brass tube framework.
The Bolotas series includes a sofa and an armchair wrapped in brown sheepskin to create nest-like seats
Archyworldys.com. (2017). The “design povera” Campana brothers – Archy World News. [online] Available at: http://archyworldys.com/the-design-povera-campana-brothers/ [Accessed 27 Jun. 2017].
Tucker, E. (2017). Campana Brothers show new work at Manufatura exhibition. [online] Dezeen. Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2016/03/18/campana-brothers-humberto-fernando-furniture-new-exhibition-manufatura-carpenters-workshop-gallery-paris-france/ [Accessed 27 Jun. 2017].
In 2009, the V&A created an exhibition called ‘Telling Tales’ which featured a lot of well know product/industrial designers try their hand at fine art pieces including the likes of Studio Job, Maarten Baas, Kelly McCallum, Jurgen Bay, Hella Jongerius and so on
Why do designers go back to this kind of content?
Nick and I thought that it would be kind of funny to imagine ourselves and let’s say (in) an office of a very bad person, you know a person who makes the money of over the backs of the poor.
For me it’s using certain techniques or using certain sort of craft is a way of getting across, as you said, a story and having people look at objects in a new way. For me, because I’ve always been inspired by these specific objects it’s about looking at their story and sometimes creating stories about them and then telling those stories to other people.
This exhibition was more symbolic than functional and was more a personal statement and the personal manifesto of the designer: a range of conceptual pieces. This exhibition was centred around the narrative and storytelling. It was all about communicating your message well with lots of meaning behind the pieces – free of commercial or industrial boundaries. Job Sneets said it was about being ‘your own curator’ and having ‘an open mind’.
Vam.ac.uk. (2017). Video: Telling Tales: Fantasy & Fear in Contemporary Design - Victoria and Albert Museum. [online] Available at: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/videos/t/video-telling-tales-fantasy-and-fear-in-contemporary-design/ [Accessed 27 Jun. 2017].
As my previous outcome I created in Material and Emotion Values was replaced around the use of cow leather as a by-product, for this project I have been interested in another animal whose 'old' and young are only seen as material: sheep. Mutton, lamb, wool, sheepskin, fleece are all 'by-products' of sheep and their babies.
So why cork? Cork is a material I have wanted to work with for a while but it also has an interesting narrative to it. Cork is comes from a cork tree but instead of cutting down the tree, the cork is instead stripped for harvesting. I really enjoy this narrative in comparison to the animal-by product industry and it reminded me of the plant-alternative to shearing. This is often a question I get asked – is wool vegan? No, it isn’t. Veganism is about avoiding animal by products and as wool is a by-product of the sheep, it is not vegan. However, I don’t subscribe to this belief purely on the technicality. The wool industry is successful and with success comes demand. With demand comes the need for mass production. Shearers are often paid on commission: meaning the more shearing they do, the more money they will make. Animal welfare is not essential for a woolley scarf – all they need is the material – not necessary a happy sheep. Unlike a sheep, cork trees are not sentient (meaning they ‘feel’ no nerves etc.) and harvested with the intension to keep the tree alive and healthy.
The harvesting process of cork is a reminder of the care and welfare that our animals should be receiving. There are many vegan, and even ecological materials that can replace wool (bamboo, hemp etc.) but I am not so much trying to replicate the material, as I explained. My issue and the reason I do not contribute to the animal-by product industry is the cruelty, lack of humanity and welfare it encourages. In 2017, we have plenty of alternative options than an animals suffering. And so by choosing a plant-based harvesting process that is similar to sheep shearing, or even 'skinning' but with the welfare of the tree at the forefront. If we could give animals the same care, consideration and spare their lives, as we do the cork tree, I think we are one step closer to regaining our compassion.
Cork, 1. (2017). Harvesting Cork Is as Natural as Shearing Sheep. [online] 100% Cork | Produced by Nature. Preferred by Winemakers. Available at: http://100percentcork.org/harvesting-cork-natural-shearing-sheep/ [Accessed 19 Jun. 2017].
Lambshoppe.com. (2017). Sheep Shearing. [online] Available at: http://lambshoppe.com/sheep-shearing/ [Accessed 19 Jun. 2017].
Malin, J. (2017). The World's Oldest, Largest Cork Tree - The Whistler Tree. [online] VinePair. Available at: https://vinepair.com/wine-blog/worlds-oldest-largest-cork-tree-the-whistler-tree/ [Accessed 20 Jun. 2017].
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