What is it… Textiles

Creator Carlo Volpi from issue 3 of Garde Magazine comes back and explains further on his expertise…

  1. What does Textiles mean to you?

I spent three years of my life wondering what is or isn’t textiles. I don’t think it can be defined. That’s what is so great about this discipline. In my opinion, textile design has to do with creating a surface. But then again, most design practices deal with that same thing: creating a surface.

  1. What is the process of creating a piece of fabric in textiles?

It depends on the type of cloth that you need, but usually it’s weaving, knitting or felting. Most of the fabrics that we wear today are either knitted or woven. I think it is incredible that despite all our technological progress, we still rely on ancient methods of making fabrics. The machinery has evolved incredibly, but the methods have practically remained the same.


  1. How does it become a piece of garment?

If you are weaving a cloth, the fabric is then cut and sewn together by a seamstress or a tailor. With knitted garments it’s slightly different: for hand knitting, you can practically make a whole garment with two needles. If you’re machine knitting, the garment is usually made in panels (front, back, sleeves and neck trim), which are then assembled using another piece of equipment called linker. The garment pieces can be “fully fashioned,” this means that they are knitted to the right shape and there is no fabric waste. Alternatively, you can knit a length of fabric on a machine and then cut the pieces and sew them together. Having said that, there are some knitting machines that can produce entire garments and fully-fashioned fabrics that have the same qualities as woven ones.

  1. Architecture constructs spaces and buildings. Fine arts makes abstract concepts come to life. What does textile make?

Textile makes all of that. And much, much more!

  1. Can you give us examples of materials that can be used to create make textiles?

If we assume that making textiles means creating a surface, then the only limit is your imagination!

Carlo Volpi knitwear2

  1. What is the most difficult thing in textile design?

I think finding your own space within the realm of textiles. It is such a broad subject that you can get lost in it so easily if you don’t know what you want to do: you could work in interiors, fashion, fine arts, architecture…those designers who have a more technical approach research and develop textiles for certain purposes, like the fabrics of astronaut’s suits for example.

  1. Some patterns look very complicated. How do you do it so that the patterns on the clothes look exactly the same as those from the drafts?

Again, it depends on the pattern and the method used for creating that particular pattern. In knit, usually Jacquard or Fair Isle patterns are not very difficult to machine knit, but some other textured patterns can be quite difficult and time consuming.

  1. From your perspective, what do you think the future of textiles will be like?

A lot of people talk a lot about wearable technology embedded within the fabrics of our garments…I think that’s a very sci-fi vision of the future, but it’s not something that I find interesting or inspiring. I would like to see new developments in the creation of fabrics that go beyond knitting and weaving. It would be great if 3D printing could be pushed in this direction, to create beautiful and sustainable fabrics.

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