Located in Haarlem, Netherlands—a near neighbour to Amsterdam—Orange or Red Design Studio was founded by Marieke van Heck to merge ‘graphic, textile and product design’. The success of her mission statement is evident in Dashes—a 4-metre tapestry designed in response to the increasing popularity (and necessity) of multifunctional spaces.
Intended to enliven spaces by creating a dialogue between its surface and its surroundings, Dashes‘ striking optical effect is created by the colour gradient of the field where pattern stripes seem to melt into the field, and then grow more visible as the field colour becomes bolder. The success of the optical colours is enhanced by the weaving techniques. Industrial (mechanised) and artisan (hand) techniques are artfully combined in Dashes. The tapestry was made possible by Marieke’s collaboration with TextielLab in Tilburg.
Marieke explains the process to work with the internationally renowned facility. ‘You submit your idea to them and if they like it, they invite you to visit and discuss it with them.’ When that hurdle was cleared, Marieke’s next step was to work on-site with a dedicated TextielLab specialist. ‘You tell them what you want to achieve and they give you options or suggestions. Then there’s all kinds of small tests and samples followed by adjustments before the initial tapestry is woven on the loom.’
Dashes is a high-warp Gobelin woven on a mechanised Staubli Jacquard loom using contrasting fibres—’dull’ merino wool and ‘glossy’ mercerised cotton. Thanks to the nature of Jacquard weaving, both sides of Dashes can be displayed—an essential consideration as Dashes is intended to be used as a room divider, wall tapestry or draped from wall to floor. (A smaller knitted version of Dashes is designed as a furniture throw.)
Dashes‘ design allows it to flow in an L-shape vertically down a surface (or suspended in a central space) and horizontally across a few feet of the floor. The area of the tapestry that sits on the floor is augmented with tufting wool to make this area ‘thick and stiff’, while the upper portion of the tapestry is ‘soft and pliable’. The lower quadrant of Dashes also features alpaca and Bio-Fur—a humane ‘fur’ made from long fibres of wool and alpaca secured to a polyamide cord. After the tapestry is woven Marieke felts the Bio-Fur, alpaca and merino wool in this quadrant by gently rubbing with liquid soap and warm water until the fibres felt after which Marieke shears the loops to create a luxurious high pile.
The combination of design, technique, colours and fibres creates an unusual, mutable and functional design-art object. Dashes could easily rest on its laurels, but Marieke reveals she’s exploring rug manufacturers who can help her translate Dashes from tapestry to rug.