September 23, 2020 Students Use Patterns in Weaving to Communicate within Historical Identities

Felicia Dean, assistant professor in the School of Interior Architecture, wove a unique story. In a new course, she taught students how pattern found in weaving is a powerful communication technique.

Student Work

In the course, titled “WOVEN: decoding/recoding pattern communication,” Dean led students to explore the translation of patterns within the context of historical, cultural and contemporary identities of design communication through craft, interiors and architecture.

An interdisciplinary class, students from Architecture, Interior Architecture and Graphic Design embarked on this unique course during summer 2020 to learn introductory tapestry and rug weaving techniques and how these methods are used as design communication tools.

“Pattern communication is a form of visual communication or language that is not just seen but a form of communication the viewer internalizes and responds to,” Dean said.

Dean overcame the challenge of teaching a hands-on course virtually. As classes were still taught online during the COVID-19 pandemic, the course was taught through live and recorded demonstrations using looms designed by Dean and fabricated in our Fab Lab.

Student Alexis Oran, said, “In addition to the new skills of weaving and textile production, I gained a better understanding of the role of textiles in communication within and outside of the field of design and of abstracting ideas. I also solidified some personal beliefs and gained exposure from the beliefs and ideas of my classmates.”

The creatively designed tabletop tapestry looms were fabricated by Craig Gillam, digital supervisor in the college’s Fab Lab, a 20,000-square-foot maker space, and then were shipped to students to complete their weavings from home. The versatile looms could be folded to lay compact and disabled for flat-pack shipping and easy reassembly.

Student Work

In addition to exploring the fundamentals of weaving techniques and design communication, students conducted virtual studio presentations and group workdays and participated in virtual course visits to hear presentations from craft and industry. Although students had to communicate virtually, collaboration and conversation were not lacking.

“This class was overall a fantastic experience,” said student, Megan Lange. “I was hesitant to sign up for a class where we would weave through Zoom, but there was no reason for any hesitation because everything went so smoothly. I feel we all learned so much, and we all adapted to experiencing this class through Zoom well.”

Classes like WOVEN demonstrate our faculty’s creativity to provide exceptional learning opportunities and our students’ resilience and eagerness to learn despite obstacles presented during a pandemic.