The use of hiking shoelaces is just one manifestation of a textile and technique that has been in development since Andreu’s student days. ‘The fabric consists of a composite of cotton rope and silicone,’ Andreu explains. ‘The rope isn’t woven but pleated in a certain pattern and glued with the silicone. It started in 2014 with a project at the Design Academy Eindhoven. The assignment was to create a new material and work from it. I’m used to working with steel, so to challenge myself I researched the opposite, a soft material: textile. I quickly learnt that I’m definitely not meant to be a textile designer,’ she says, laughing at this last remark. ‘I simply couldn’t handle any of the machines. I put a lot of effort in it, but kept on failing, up to the point that the teacher said I wasn’t cut out to manipulate textile. I was horrible. So, instead of sewing I started gluing.’
Although Regen is a textile, the fabric is not woven but shaped immediately in 3D, resulting in zero waste. ‘I set up a laser-cut steel template and coil the rope around it, then fix it with silicone,’ Andreu says. ‘When the silicone is dry I remove the key axe in the middle of the template in order for the metal construction to fold and be removed.’
Andreu is a designer of a new generation that is very aware of what the effects are of design on the environment. Designers today have to live with the new design paradox: the will to create versus the world that doesn’t need any more product. ‘It is a huge dilemma. On the one hand there’s capitalism, on the other the utopia of anti-capitalism. As a designer you’re in the middle. You want to let your creativity flow, but it’s not possible unless you sell products. As a result, the new generation actually does what our grandparents used to do: keep the production on a small scale. We realise mass production isn’t part of the future.’ Andreu doesn’t want to flood the world with her work.
This article originally appeared in DAMNº71.
DAMNº71: A Woman’s Work / Saskia de Brauw & Vincent van de Wijngaard / Wendy Andreu / Broken Nature / Cyber-urbanism / ecoLogicStudio / Geo-Design / Alexandre Humbert / Navine G. Khan-Dossos / Leonard Koren / Movie interiors / Radical Cut-Up / Miko Revereza / Klaas Rommelaere / SAVVY Contemporary / Shapereader / Thonik / Andrew Waugh