Studio 23: A Common Thread

Studio brief

‘A common thread’ has a dual meaning, functioning as a way into look at a ‘material’ that is so intrinsic to our everyday life, that it has become overlooked because of its ubiquity. However, the many references in our language, ‘a stitch in time’, ‘fabric of society’, ‘spin a story’, indicate how deeply rooted the history and use of textiles is in our culture and history.

The studio will explore aspects of how we interact with textiles. Firstly, we'll look at the textile industry in design, trade, history, architecture and issues involving sustainability and ethical use.

Secondly, we'll use the textile metaphor to weave an argument, follow a thread through, stitch together, and patch the pieces into a dissertation.

In the Greek myth, Theseus escaped the Minotaur by leaving a thread, given to him by Ariadne, through the maze, so he could find his way back out. This is an example not only of how we might underestimate the strength and power of an everyday object, but also of how deeply embedded into our culture are the links with textiles.

Summer preparation:

  • read the Greek myths
  • visit the El Anatsui Bottletop Textile in the British Museum
  • photograph six textiles that have either emotional meaning for you, are used in an usual context, are used in a building or are used with a non-aesthetic function.

Outline the first seven weeks of study

The first seven weeks will be looking at the way in which we use and interact with textiles, looking at practicalities, concepts and contexts. This overview, applicable to all course disciplines, will involve lectures, trips and tutorials. We will be using case study examples to demonstrate different methodologies to suit both textile students and those from all other areas.

  1. Introduction
  2. Materials library
  3. Discussion/presentation
  4. Archive visit
  5. Tutorials
  6. Dissertation planning, presentation
  7. Tutorials

Reading list

  1. Sarah E. Braddock Clarke, Techno Textiles 2: Revolutionary Fabrics for Fashion and Design, London: Thames and Hudson, 2005
  2. Kate Fletcher, Sustainable fashion and textiles: design journeys, Routledge, 2014
  3. Bradley Quinn, Textile visionaries: innovation and sustainability in textile design, Laurence King, 2013
  4. Thomas Schröpfer, Material design: informing architecture by materiality, Birkhäuser, 2011
  5. Robert Graves, The Greek Myths, Penguin, 1992
Photograph of a collection of textiles.


Tutor Gina Pierce

Dissertation Studios