Tactile Baltics: London Design Festival 2021

July 08, 2021

Designers who explore local materials, sustainability, and craft traditions of the Baltic nations feature in a new addition to the annual festival

Designers from the three Baltic nations—Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania—feature in the new Tactile Baltics exhibition and sales platform during London Design Festival 18 September – 3 October 2021 as a joint initiative of London Design Festival, Shoreditch Design Triangle, and Adorno’s Collectible Design Trail.

The sea, landscape, flora and fauna of the region inform the designs of established and new designers who work across multiple disciplines. COVER looks at four who weave rugs and textiles where a high degree of tactility is essential to their concepts.

Ignorance Is Bliss: Agne Kucerenkaite

<em>Ignorance is bliss <em>by Agne Kucerenkaite for Ecolinum

Agne Kucerenkaite’s research-based project in collaboration with Ecolinum—the only Lithuanian company weaving linen rugs and carpets—investigates how to create dyes from non-toxic botanical waste from the food, beverage, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries.

Her hand-tufted linen rugs feature designs that seem to reference colour swatch cards, a decision that highlights the varied and nuanced colour range her dyes produce. ‘Surprisingly,’ she says, the diversity of colour is a result of ‘irregularities present in [the recovered botanical] residue,’ which yields ‘more vibrant design objects,’ than she initially expected. 

3D Stripe: Annike Laigo

<em>3D Stripe<em> by Annike Laigo Photo by Albert Kerstna

3D Stripe is a classic rug design. Designed more than twenty years ago, its sculptural minimalism is created with hand-tufted wool. The rhythmic, undulating ‘pattern’ was discovered through Laigo’s in-depth investigation of how tufting can create dimension, volume and light. Designed in 2000 as her graduation project at the Estonian Academy of Arts, she began her exploration of tufting at the beginning of her degree in 1998.

‘At that time,’ she says, ‘hand-tufting was pretty much-uncharted territory’. She experimented with a Hoffman tufting gun altering textures and pile heights before she eventually created the wave-like sculptural technique that is the foundation of 3D Stripe. The rug is ‘comfortable to walk on and keeps its shape very well,’ facts that help ensure the popularity of 3D Stripe. 

ARS TELA: Alvida Klinge

<em>Mezzo<em> in stone by Alvida Klinge for ARS TESLA

Founded by Alvida Klinge, ARS-TESLA is noted for handwoven textiles with a high degree of texture created by weaving techniques such as floats and supplementary warps. Klinge combines contemporary Latvian textile design with her love of historic handcrafted Latvian textiles. Plaid Vainags woven from linen, cashmere, merino wool, alpaca, viscose and lurex is a highly tactile example from the range, while Throwket Osis feature traditional Latvian motifs updated through colour, technique, and materials. The company is also known for its support of rural craft weavers who create products for ARS-TESLA on their domestic looms. 

Resting Sail: Kärt Ojavee

<em>Resting Sail<em> by Kärt Ojavee

Resting Sail is a handwoven conceptual rug that blends traditional fibres (wool and linen) with fibres that have marine applications: kevlar, optical fiber, and polyamide (widely used for fishing nets that when lost or discarded become a major source of ocean plastic pollution. Her concept of a ‘resting’ sail represents an act of resistance against a widespread ‘extractive mindset’ that views the global ocean commons as an often exploited resource for raw materials. A research fellow at the Estonian Academy of Arts’ Interior Architecture Department, Ojavee’s focus is on experimental biomaterials and living materials. 

Chaos: Audronė Drungilaitė for EMKO

<em>Brown Chaos Rug<em> by Audrone Drungilaite for EMKO

Within chaos there is order states the branch of mathematics devoted to chaos theory. Similar logic is paired with creativity in this hand-tufted linen rug that features a solid colour field and a terrazzo-like pattern. The weaver selects whatever colours they fancy from a range of waste linen yarns to create each asymmetric ‘island’ of colour within the solid field ensuring each rug is unique.

The idea to use linen industry waste yarns was sparked when Drungilaitė, a graduate of Vilnius Academy of Arts and Creative Director at EMKO, visited a Lithuanian carpet factory. The owner explained recycling is complicated because of the quality differential between yarns, and Drungilaitė saw an opportunity to put waste yarn to use and keep it out of landfill. 

Tactile Baltics, 18 September – 3 October 2021, is organised and curated by NID, the Latvian Design Centre, and the Lithuanian Design Forum. It is funded by the Baltic Culture Fund and ‘Estonia Culture Abroad’ and supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Estonia, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, the Lithuanian Council for Culture, and the Lithuanian Culture Institute.

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