Bridging Textiles to the Digital Future

"Bridging Textiles to the Digital Future" (2017 - 2020) was a research and innovation project initiated by the Textile Center, led by Icelandic textile researcher and weaving expert Ragnheiður Björk Þórsdóttir.

Project Background

Ragnheiður B. Þórsdóttir first came to work with us in 2015 to assess and maintain the traditional wooden weaving looms in the building, now used now by artists and scholars in residence. In 2016, Ragnheiður spend five months researching the unique Icelandic weaving patterns from the late 19th and early 20th century held within the Kvennaskólinn building. The initial research and preservation project sparked the discovery of dormant industry knowledge; thousands of weaving patterns and fabric samples that are rich in cultural value and of potentially of great use to the weaving industry, designers, and educational sector. 

Technology Development Fund

A project proposal was submitted to the Icelandic Research Fund in early 2017, proposing a three-step plan: 1) Analysing and translating weaving patterns and instructions, 2) photographing and registering patterns and descriptions in a database, and 3) making the database available to scholars, artists and designers online. By applying new research of traditional patterns and how they are woven, new digital weaving pattern technology can be applied to make old patterns compatible with technology, such as the TC2 digital loom located at the Textile Center. 

The three year project was approved for funding by the Rannís Technology Development Fund and started in September 2017, with Ragnheiður Björk Þórsdóttir as the project leader. During the course of the project, Ragnheiður and her project assistants, photographer Cornelia Theimer Gardella and Central Saint Martins fashion and design student Guðbjörg Stefánsdóttir, also experimented with sample weavings on the TC2 loom, using different materials, colours and patterns, to show how traditional patterns can be transformed and reinterpreted for future use. 

DesignMarch 2020 and Opening of the Weaving Pattern Database

"Bridging Textiles for the Digital Future" ended in the summer of 2020 with an exhibition during the Icelandic design festival DesignMarch in Reykjavík, and the formal opening of our weaving pattern database by the Icelandic Minister of Culture and Education, Lilja Alfreðsdóttir. It is the first database of this kind in Iceland. 

Formal opening weaving database 2020. Image: Katrín Ólafsdóttir

Exhibition and formal opening of the weaving pattern database, DesignMarch 2020.
Lilja Alfréðsdóttir, the Minister of Culture and Education, Ragnheiður Þórsdóttir, Guðbjörg Stefánsdóttir (left to right).
Image: Katrín Ólafsdóttir.