Weaving Love, Creating "Hope": Textile design

Competition Details

Panno Abaci (Cloth of Calculation)

by Stephanie Chen

The people of Bangladesh have strong ties to agriculture. In a country where a significant portion of the population are famers, many rural communities continue to base their lives and livelihoods on working with and reaping from the earth. This Grameen check pattern is designed with their connection to nature in mind.

A Bangladeshi folk poet wrote about a boy who looks forward to plowing his fields and enjoying the beauty of his plants when the new green shoots start to show. It is a simple hope – that in a world full of unpredictability, nature will always provide a new day and perhaps something fresh and lovely within it. I aimed to create a physical representation of this concept of hope and stability by basing the design on a fundamental and recurring phenomenon in nature.

Those familiar with the Fibonacci number sequence will know that it appears in many natural forms. Plant leaves, snail shells, blossoming flowers and even human proportions are based on these numbers in sequence or ratio form. The sequence begins 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 and so on, with each subsequent number equalling the sum of the two before it. For this pattern, the Fibonacci sequence is incorporated by simple thread count, transposed once 90 degrees, and layered over top of itself to create a versatile pattern; one that can be brought to life with a myriad color combinations.

By utilizing different colors, the pattern produces a fabric that can range from traditional to contemporary, and subdued to vivacious. The sample colors shown are representative of some of the changing seasons of Bangladesh: sleek blacks and white for the Magpie Robin nesting in winter; the joyful colors of the Holi festival in spring; blues and greens for the late summer monsoons. The final image shows a variety of possible designs this pattern can create.

In many ways, the Fibonacci numbers are the building blocks of form in nature -- a fitting analogy for a fabric that will go on to be made into many other things. Perhaps more symbolically, these numbers start small and build on each other, just as a flicker of hope may inspire and build upon itself to grow into something much larger.