Two French designers have updated a weaving technique from before the Industrial Revolution for the 21st century. Pixtil*, a company founded by textile designers Delphine Saltet and Olivier Paradeise, uses contemporary digital tools to design fabric in the classic Jacquard style, a traditional weaving method that produces intricate, textured fabric. For their most recent project, Large Napkin, the designers wove 300 napkins, each with a unique, algorithmically generated design.
Jacquard weaving is one of the oldest mechanized methods of creating cloth. Invented in the late 18th century, it used paper cards with holes–similar to the punch cards that would later be used with early computers–to tell a machine what pattern to weave. The punch cards were complex to make. The more complex the design, the more expensive and complicated the manufacturing became.
Pixtil uses a Java-based programming language called Processing to simplify the process. Processing allows the designers to easily generate countless paper cards–each with a unique pattern.
For Large Napkin, Pixtil created 300 patterns, and each pattern was woven onto a napkin just once, creating 300 unique napkins (a regular pattern would be woven on industrial looms thousands or hundreds of thousands of times). The designs have a bold, pixelated look–as if an early ’90s Mac OS mated with your grandmother’s linens. Saltet and Paradeise say there’s nothing stopping them from making 1,000 or more sui generis napkins. The napkins are available for purchase here for about $20 each.
[via Creative Applications]
*Pixtil was misspelled in an earlier version of this article. We regret the error.