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Christen Maxwell

New York, United States

Designer (Textile Design)

Member since March 10, 2008

  • loti | digicraft meets handcraft: technology as revival for traditional Afghan textiles

    Arts & Culture, Industrial Design


    Made closely in part with Rachel Lehr, cofounder of Rubia, Inc., an NFP that works “to serve women in rural Afghanistan, through education, skills training and promotion of their hand-embroidered textiles... Rubia is creating new traditions in textiles by translating the heritage and skills of Afghan women into sustainable livelihoods.”

    Loti is an effort to sustain and revive the traditional craft of the Darrai Noor region of Afghanistan and dispose of its toxic processes by overlaying their embroidery upon the contemporary craft process of wide-format digital printing. This venture ensures that the processes that have led us to where we are today will be sustained before they skip a generation and are forever lost or mass imitated.

    Taking inspiration through nature, loti is a line of pillows initially made biculturally - in part here in the US, embodying the impressive, almost magical use of digital textile printing, and finished in Afghanistan, handcrafted by women in Darrai Noor. The dimensions of the pillows are chosen based on two factors; one - market desirability, and two, maximal use of yardage.

    Loti encourages a cross-culture dialogue in fabric that shares and explores common beauty between two counties at war through revolutionary production linking producers, designers, and consumers in a hands-on way. In addition to a line of pillows, loti is a system that is built to enhance the economy of Afghanistan. Initially, loti fabric will be printed in the United States, creating jobs domestically in order to sustain the workforce internationally. Because loti has been affiliated with a wonderful non-profit that is so dedicated to the people of Afghanistan, Rubia will manage the business so that a portion of profits from products made will be put into a fund towards the purchase of a printer in Afghanistan. This advancement in technology would not only instill a new craft, that of digicraft, but would also give margin to new industry as it can do much more than produce fabric for loti. The printer is proposed to be in an urban setting - Jalalabad is the nearest city to Darrai Noor - where there is better electricity, shipping, and technology.

    Due to the success of eliminating toxic processes and chemicals for transferring designs to fabric, Rubia hopes “this project leads to new embroidery designs and transfer techniques with the possibility for a grant to start up an efficient embroidery transfer business.”

  • Christen,

    I've been invited to give feedback to all Parsons students, regarding your thesis projects.

    Let me start by saying, "fabulous topic!" You've managed to carefully weave together (pun intended) a lot of complex factors into a seamless whole. In this way, I believe you really understand the true meaning of sustainability.

    Your problem statement is clear. And your proposed solution is impressive, even down to considering how to maximize the use of fabric, minimize toxicity, respond to market demand and inject life back into a local economy. It's beautifully put here: "a cross-culture dialogue in fabric." Love it.

    Let's hope this really happens. Best of luck! J.

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My Interests

  • Industrial Design
  • Environmental Design
  • Communication Design
  • Fashion Design
  • Audio/Visual Design