Textile design is both one of the least and one of the most localized of the arts. Textiles owe their development and evolution to religion, commerce, and travel, and their vibrant and creative preservation to tenacious regionalism. In the recent past, artists and designers from different backgrounds—India, Mali, Madagascar, Morocco, Burkina Faso, Nigeria—have reinvigorated art and fashion by using the fabrics and graphic elements they find on the streets of New York, Paris, London, and other cities to project an alternative vision of textile culture on the international stage.
The diversity of the textile world makes it both exciting and provocative as it brings together a wide range of otherwise fragmented images and perspectives. Extraordinary technological developments, from color-changing, light-sensitive camouflage to emergency shelters of cement-impregnated fabric bonded to an inflatable plastic, are included here alongside the simply beautiful, such as Eley Kishimoto’s patterns that point to the historical exchange of ideas between the East and the West, or the astonishing color transmutations of Morphotex, a fiber of multilayer optical interference.
A former design consultant, Chloë Colchester received a doctorate in anthropology. She lives in England.