When we think of natural latex, the first thing that comes to mind is probably not lace. In fact, these two concepts make an unlikely couple, and yet textile designer Magdalena Orland has managed to bring these two together to create a unique, cutting edge fabric that successfully delivers in aesthetics, sustainability and innovation.
Magadalena has an MA in Conceptual Textile Design from Burg Giebichenstein in Germany and it was during this time that she developed her expertise in multiple manual and digital manufacturing and finishing techniques. Striving to push the boundaries and challenge these processes, Magdalena embarked on the experimental process of combining these techniques- the old and the new- to create a new type of material, with a category of its own. For her, it is the very intersection of both the manual and the digital that contains the unique opportunity to interpret and practice textile design. Magdalena’s goal is to understand how innovative technologies can drive and transform traditional craft.
This exploration is materialised in Magdalena´s work BETWEEN_SPACES, using lace as an exemplary case study, where this craft which is heavy with tradition, is reinterpreted, by experimenting with an innovative approach using natural latex as the material to create it.
In case you are wondering, natural latex is a cloudy, white liquid that is collected by cutting thin strips of bark from the tree and allowing the latex to drop into collecting vessels. It is mostly produced from the Hevea brasiliensis rubber tree. Once the latex is gathered, it is poured into containers, and delivered to a processing station where it is strained & concentrated before being transformed into rubber.
Magdalena was instinctively drawn to natural latex, attracted by its pourability and extrudability in its raw state. She had been looking for a sustainable material alternative for her prototypes, and in combination with other natural materials, latex offered a wide range of experimental approaches. Magdalena also found that this material allowed her to challenge the typical appearance of latex goods, visually redefining them as she explored its potential. It was important for Magdalena to focus and understand natural latex’s properties, in order to reinterpret it, and develop a completely new material. It was only once she truly understood the properties that she was able to manipulate and mould them into the direction of her design process.
It wasn’t an easy, straight-forward journey, however. As she began her research. Magdalena thought she could process latex in a similar way to how she had processed other materials, yet she soon discovered that she would have to adapt and develop new techniques and the processes, which opened up a whole new range of experimentation. Nailing down the right recipe to process the latex was a challenge, as it quickly sticks to other surfaces and under the wrong conditions it can go bad and change its aggregate state.
But the enormous elasticity and perfect dyeability that are inherent to natural latex, widely compensated for this. In combination with copper wire, the material’s properties were partially modified and could be shaped and manipulated to create durable effects. She discovered that by using conductive wire, movement and heat mechanisms could be implemented, even allowing the material to interact with external influences.
The application possibilities are endless, and Magdalena is adamant that she does not want to commit herself to either fashion or interior design. For her, the development of specific applications brings material experimentation to life, making each step exciting and full of opportunities.
Magdalena and her project BETWEEN_SPACES Ver.2 recently won the MaDe Awards chosen by the international jury of the MaDe workshop and competition series, for BEST INDUSTRIAL APPLICATION. She is currently looking forward to an upcoming cooperation with MAM Originals.