As part of a small team of multidisciplinary graduate students and faculty members, I took part in the development a proposal that was accepted to participate in CONNECT at Chicago’s SOFA Expo. Over the course of several months, we designed and built an original environment that incorporated seating, lighting, and designed objects. The completed exhibit was presented at Chicago’s Navy Pier in November 2015.

To embody the community oriented spirit of CONNECT, we developed a participatory concept drawn from the rich textile history of New Bedford, Massachusetts. Visitors were invited to learn to weave by hand on one of the six looms on display in the exhibit. The looms and stools were originally designed for this project and were cut with a ShopBot before being assembled and finished by hand. Their unique construction allows them to be easily disassembled for flat, convenient transport. The long warps stretching from the front of each of the looms were arranged to provide a continuous and aesthetically appealing supply of material for guests to weave. Projected onto the back wall was a slideshow of historic photographs taken at the Bradford Durfee Textile School in Fall River, Massachusetts in the early 1900s.

Due to the popularity of the exhibit, the lengths of yarn were depleted by the end of the weekend, far exceeding our expectations and generous supply. The vibrant woven pieces resulting from this communal effort visually chronicle the contribution of every participant. Inconsistencies, experiments, mistakes, and aberrations present in the cloth illustrate a beautiful patchwork of shared experience.