patching post #1 : Woolfiller

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Woolfiller® was invented in 2009 by Heleen Klopper, a Dutch designer working in Amsterdam.

photographs by Mandy Pieper

Woolfiller is a patching device for woolen thingies - 'jumpers, cardigans, jackets and carpets.'
It consists of
- very loose felt (any color you like)
- that you push through the weave by pricking it with a felting needle
- while a little foam pad underneath provides the right surface porosity to work on.

video by Pieter Wackers

The genius of Woolfiller® comes from
1. The brilliant observation that wool fibers bind to each other, if they are mechanically encouraged to do so
2. Apparently survives washing
3. The process requires no sewing skills. ANYBODY can do it, from children to clumsy men to grandmas. Truly democratic, and easy to pass on.

I love the simplicity of this project, the fact that it comes from somebody who tried to listen to the properties of a material, and derived a graceful solution from this understanding. AND that it brings patching into the present, in a fun and easy way.

All images and references are reproduced with the kind permission of Heleen Klopper.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Starting a category of posts dedicated to the action of patching.

cropped photography from an original by Dorothea Lange
'Ex-slave and wife who live in a decaying plantation house. Greene County, Georgia' - 1937

1. A piece of cloth sewed on a garment to repair it.
2. A small piece of any thing used to repair a breach.
PATCH, v.t. To mend by sewing on a piece or pieces; as, to patch a coat.

I think it's relevant to the theme of bare necessities.
Selective ownership + intensive use => wear and tear
=> [disposal (=> acquiring new stuff)] OR [repair.]

As the author of this blog I can only advocate for postponing the acquisition of new stuff until it's really, really necessary. Repair is something you have to at least try.

less stuff, more happiness

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Got lots of things to say about it - good and bad -, will publish soon.
Am investigating his LifeEdited website as well, will be back with thoughts.

Opening remark: TED’s 6 minute talks are so frustratingly short they border on the ridicule – speakers can blurt out any kind of nonsense they want, and run away without having to elaborate. But they are also cool because they plant just enough of an idea in your head to start you thinking.

Criticism: I agree with the general intent of that talk (encouraging people to live with less things in less space), but its interpretation / implementation by GH leaves me more than perplexed.

How can you with a straight face tell people to ‘edit ruthlessly’,
then describe the brief for your ‘small’ 420 sq ft apartment as: ‘I wanted it all: home office; sit-down dinner for ten; room for guests; and all my kite-surfing gear. ’
Dude. What the heck did you edit out of your Soho yuppy lifestyle? The talking oven?
‘And, of course…my own movie theater’.
Oh, sorry. You were not done.

The final, completely refurbished apartment looks slick and clever, yes. However:
1. It is doing exactly the same thing as the stackable chairs, Russian-doll bowls, and magic digitization that makes ‘everything disappear’: finding a clean way to cram a lot of stuff into less space, i.e., the opposite of editing.
2. The big elephant in the room is the nasty question which designers do not want to hear: is it relevant today, especially within the framework of a ‘green’ discourse, to even think of designing anything from scratch?
As Christopher Guignon once said: 'sustainability must redefine itself as a tool for dynamic transition, not a tool for sustaining an existing modus operandi.' 

Which is exactly what GH doesn’t seem to have the guts to do.
The entire experience of the LifeEdited contest, while very interesting in terms of space optimization, seems to offer, as the main final deliverable, the design of a highly-customized apartment to sustain the lifestyle of a wealthy New Yorker, while easing up his environmental guilt through some ‘green’ patches.

To me some important questions haven’t surfaced: what does ‘simple life’ mean when societal pressure requires most of us to be connected through technological devices which we must more or less own? Do we really need to each have a fully equipped kitchen? What are daily utilities we could start sharing? Aren’t good plumbing and safe, natural materials more important than home-theaters? How can we be effectively coherent between what we preach and what we do?

emergency needs

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

This is a post I started a while ago, as Hurricane Irene was hitting the east coast of the United States.

Since the tsunami/nuclear accident in Japan, I have been thinking about how times of crisis suddenly make a population focus on bare necessities, and how some belongings suddenly shift value, becoming enormous advantages (ex: bottled water) or huge impediments (ex: high heels).
Suddenly the fact of being old / sick / living alone is more blatantly difficult than any other time, as having family and friends may define your chances of making it through.

For the sake of the exercise, here is a rough checklist (compiled from the internet) of things that turn out extremely valuable in such situations:

- drinking water (critics of plastic bottles: forget your fight just this once)
- clean water for washing and flushing
- non-perishable food (canned, dried)
- slow-perishable food not needing refrigeration (apples, carrots, green bananas)
- medicine
- first aid kits

- shoes that protect your feet from debris and allow you to run (sorry Jimmy Choo's)
- blankets and warm clothing

- filled batteries
- battery-powered radios
- flashlights
- cell-phones
- access to real-time, local information (tv or radio)
- a car filled with gas

- having a plan with your family (know how to contact everyone you care for, have an out-of-state common friend to call if you are separated)
- have evacuation routes in mind (and good maps too I presume)
- have a place to evacuate in mind (friends are priceless)

- know how to drive
- know how to shut down utilities

- a well constructed home, in accordance to building code

- insurance policies (on your home, belongings, office)
- photographs of your belongings (the less you possess, the easier the photographing)
- protection from flying objects (the less you possess, the easier the protection)

I like the fact that these requirements are solid arguments for fighting against the production and selling of junk - be they objects, food, buildings. In these cases, junk will hinder your chances of survival.
Also, it points to the futility of A LOT of life-accessories we surround ourselves with every day, even if they are well-made.

Lastly, it scares me to think how easily it is to be unprepared, and NOT have these very necessary items at hand. All it takes is a bit of lazyness, and a set of priorities dictated by fashion rather than need.

The Weather Channel
The Ready Store
Virgin Islands Information
University of Louisiana
New York Times blog