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The Transposable Potential of Quilt-Making into Spatial Design

Text of Ballance Emily

  • The Transposable Potential of Quilt-Making into Spatial Design

    Emily Ballance 11082970 P30032 30 April 2012

  • Front Cover ImageTrapunto Quilting Technique;Experimentation.

  • Declaration of Authenticity

    Emily Ballance 2012

    This Research-led Design Project is presented to the School of Architecture, Oxford Brookes University in part fulfilment of the regulations for the Master in Architectural Design

    Statement of Originality

    This Research-led Design Project is an original piece of work, which is made available for copying with permission of the Head of the School of Architecture.

    Signed ...................................

  • Acknowledgements The Transposable Potential of Quilt-Making into Spatial Design has taken time and energy to complete and I am indebted to a number of people for their guidance and inspiration. My biggest debt of gratitude is owed to my tutor Harriet Harriss, who has given me real encouragement and has taken the time to point me in the right direction on numerous occasions and for her invaluable knowledge and reference suggestions. I have also been fortunate enough to continue to benefit from the advice of Dr. Igea Troiani.

    The catalyst for this work has been the marriage of both my study of architecture and my hobby, quilt-making. I should also thank those people who run local quilt-making courses in Bristol, where I learnt this craft.

    My real thanks should go to the pioneers of the past: women who, through their own crafts, successfully shaped architecture of the future.

    Finally, I should thank my mother for her unstinting support throughout my architectural studies.

  • Contents 1 - 2 3 - 8

    9 - 12

    13 - 16

    17 - 20

    21 - 38

    39 - 66

    67 - 76

    77 - 80

    81 - 82

    83 - 86 87 - 90

    Preface: Constructive Patchwork QuiltIntroduction:

    1: The Women behind the Machine Textile Prototyping and Product Innovation

    2: Feminine Applications of Textiles through to Architectural Design

    3: Deconstruction of a Quilt

    4: Ten Quilting Techniques as a Three-Dimensional Form

    5: Constructive Experimentation with Ten Quilting Techniques as Structure

    6: Victoria and Albert Museum Inspired Site for Prototyping Architectural Installations

    7: Ten Architectural Installations to Enliven and Enrich Spatial Design

    Conclusion: Syntax of Quilt-Making into Spatial Design

    BibliographyImage Reference


  • A personal account of the process of quilt-making, from preparation to construction. An insightful acknowledgement of how the project focus emerged.

    Outline of the project focus, research question, rationale, and methodologies. An introduction into the rationale and notion behind the two project(s): A) The Written Component B) The Design Element - commentary on how A) and B) are intrinsically interwoven and should be read in conjunction with one another, intellectual writing runs parallel to manual training (Gropius, 1934, p.26).

    Women unknowingly pioneered textile constructive prototypes for mass production, which became Textile Industrialisation.

    Women pioneers applied constructive textile knowledge to interior design and building construction.

    A study of the structure of quilting techniques.

    An examination of how ten quilting techniques share spatial syntax with three-dimensional form. These ten key quilting techniques will be identified, analysed, and a hypothesis created of their potential to be transposed as building structure.

    Experimentation with quilting techniques as building structure, combined with comparative precedents of key representative architects who have applied the interrelationship between the two discourses.

    The foremost museum of Art and Design resonates as an ideal site to install ten quilting techniques as prototypes for mechanisation.

    Acknowledgement of how the ten quilting installations can act as a educative tool for the next generation, as well as its endearing qualities to change the face of architectural elements for the future.

    Quilt-making as a generative tool for the future of building structure and spatial design.

  • Preface: Constructive Patchwork Quilt This work seeks to convince the architect that the intricacies and details of a specific craft, namely quilt-making, can be modified, exploded, extruded and applied to the construction and spatial design of buildings.

    The aim is to show the reader that in my opinion the fundamental elements in architecture are reflected in quilt-making. Aspects such as order, direction, symmetry, three-dimensional form, proportion and scale all play their part in both disciplines. Structural factors in technical arts show themselves in architecture, and it would appear that a directional organisation is an overriding factor.

    All functional material and structural factors that relate to the problem of style in architecture have been amply dealt with in the five preceding treatises on the technical arts, all of which work together in architecture for monumental purposes (Semper, 1989, p.179).



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    Img.1 - Structured instruction process for a patchwork.

  • Introduction

    Fig.1 - Constructed between 1690-1720. A Img. 2 - Myself constructing a patchwork quilt. geometric shaped design.

    Fig.2 - Edges and aves.

    Fig.3 - Quilt construction.Fig.4 - Outdoor patio construction.

    Quilting production has a rich history dating from 1700 through to the current day. It is perceived as a females domain, making it a comfortable environment for a woman to explore, experiment and evolve quilting techniques (Prichard, 2011). My own interest in quilting, experimenting with colour, patterns, texture, design and construction techniques, has undoubtedly originated from my exposure to architecture. As a result, it has unearthed an exciting area of study between the discourses of architecture and quilting, which is virtually untouched in literature and design.

    The following pieces of literature suggest vague acknowledgement that a direct relationship between quilt-making and building construction exists. For example the literature titled Adapting Quilts for Architecture (Wagner, 1992) implies a direct connection between quilt-making and architecture. Wagner (1992, p.34) describes parts of a building which can be applied to quilt design, the repeat patterns found along the edges of eaves, around entrances, or girdling exterior surfaces (...) can be quilted on either the border or setting strips of a quilt, however, the literature is a disappointment, as the connection that Wagner makes is somewhat literal. Wagner merely looks at surface design of transferring a building pattern from a hard material onto a soft material: a quilt (Fig.2). The following literature, too, reveals evidence of an interconnection between quilting and architecture, though it is important to be aware it is a post on a website and not from an academic source, which somewhat hinders its credibility. Day (2011) makes a direct comparison between constructive quilt-making and building construction, titling the literature Quilts Inspiring Architecture. Day (2011) was reminded of a quilt which was the perfect inspiration for [her] patio design and latterly remarks that she wanted something a little different with this quilt (...) a pattern like bricks stacked together, which reveals that similarly both quilting (Fig.3) and building construction can inspire each other (Fig.4). Transposing quilting techniques into spatial design, in an imaginative yet constructive way has not been investigated before, therefore this study seeks to address this gap in knowledge.






  • Fig.5 - Otti Berger colour weave construction samples of prototypes for industry.

    Fig.6 - Samples from reg/wick studio of handweave production for industry.

    In parallel, the research-led design study will investigate quilt-making techniques and create a new approach to how building structures are assembled, by examining the material, structural and construction analogies, together with those within the manufacturing and creative processes. The investigation will explore the construction and structural ramifications of this activity, as well as develop a theoretical rationale for a new form of structural, three-dimensional fabrication of a building. The research question will firstly, examine how constructive quilt-making techniques at a micro scale can be transposed into architectural processes at a macro scale. Secondly, it will analyse the new form-making architectural processes and evaluate whether they can enrich and enliven spatial components. Using a methodological framework of primary, secondary, historical, contextual analysis and comparative precedents, extensive knowledge and profound understanding will be gained in order to answer the research question. This study will consider historical connections between women and quilt/craft processes and prototyping for industrial manufacture. Evidence suggests that women critically constructed craft techniques at a micro scale for mass scale production (Daryl, 1995, xi). Women experimented through developing existing methods,

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