Of ‘Structured Textiles’, three-dimensional surfaces and more innovation from designer Robin Pleun Maas
Take two familiar, known materials– felt and brightly colored rope. Now imagine them woven together beautifully, the mildly rigid rope almost embroidered onto the soft felt. The result, no doubt would be intriguing and beautiful. Designer Robin Pleun Maas has created this very union of two contrasting materials. The results are not only visually appealing, but these 'Structured Textiles', as she has named them, have immense acoustic abilities.
The Eindhoven, Netherlands–based designer has elevated two-dimensional textiles to three-dimensional surfaces which have depth, and acoustic qualities. While this work– Robin's Acoustic Landscapes–is one of several, exciting projects that we spoke with her about, it stands out as an emblem of her design philosophy and approach. Hers is a process that starts with inventory and experimentation of materials, moves into combining them in unusual ways and ends in products which are both beautiful and functional.
Acoustic Landscapes was Robin's recent graduation project at the Design Academy Eindhoven, where a concentration in the department of 'Man and Identity' allowed her to work closely with materials and create products imbued with a deeper understanding of users and clients. "I wanted to continue the behavior of the materials I worked with, and not push any single material in a direction that it didn't want to go by itself," Robin says.
Experimenting with a series of materials led to selecting felt and rope, and crafting a dense, embroidered structure from them. The result is a surface that is rigid with friction between its components, whose appearance and color changes as you move and view it from different angles, as well as a surface that breaks down sound waves. Robin says "This kind of textile is more valuable to me because it interacts with the moving body in its surroundings."
Another innovative project from Robin's time at the Design Academy is her Sleeping Bag.
The custom-designed head pillow, intended for travel, also acts as a bag to store and keep valuables safe as you sleep. Aside from this entirely new interpretation of the standard term 'sleeping bag', the bag is fabricated entirely from fabrics (from seating) and metal parts salvaged from KLM airplanes. This was a class project, born from a collaboration with Dutch airline KLM, who were very involved in the review and promotion of the products and ideas generated by students.
Sleeping bag stands out for it's crafty and fresh reuse of airplane seating fabric, as well all the tiny parts and pieces of seats that one is unaware off. Interestingly, Robin retains the identity and history of these materials in some way; She says "I wanted the core idea to remain related to the notion of travel, and airplanes when I began transforming these materials." As a product, it is aesthetically pleasing, as well as highly functional and easy to handle. It is a product we could easily imagine becoming a frequent accompaniment to travel.
The final project of Robin’s that we talked about, and we loved, is wearable. Precious Sight is a prototype collection of eyewear that can breakdown and metamorphoses to jewelry instantly. For Precious Sight, Robin draws from personal experiences and the need to celebrate the gift of sight, one that we often undervalue. Made from plexiglass and elastic, Precious Sight is colorful, playful and sensitive. It is a product that engages the user, prompting easy transitions from two core uses- unique jewelry and functional eyewear.
A young and talented recent graduate, Robin, now joins the ranks of Netherlands-based design collaborative Envisions, whose work famously focusses on products in process, and was most recently appreciated at Milan Design Week earlier this year.
Robin's work can next be seen at the upcoming, prestigious Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven, in late October this year. Look out for the work of this innovator!