Morgan & Irvin Present at Making and Unmaking

Lisa Morgan (Assistant Professor) presented with Kate Irvin (Curator, RISD Museum) and Nakeia Medcalf, a Graduate student in Architecture at Making and Unmaking the Environment: Design History Society Annual Conference 2017, University of Oslo.


The panel’s theme explored, Repair, Textiles, and Contemporary Design, and initiated a deep investigation into the lessons that worldwide practices of mending offer designers today. The presentations reflected upon various objects and efforts that have brought the material act of mending to the forefront of creative dialogues along with exploring the conceptual and creative potential unleashed by the physical act of mending.


Lisa Morgan presented the paper Filling the Void:

When I was growing up, all the women in my house were using needles. I’ve always had a fascination with the needle, the magic power of the needle. The needle is used to repair damage. It’s a claim to forgiveness. It is never aggressive.

—Louise Bourgeois

This paper will consider acts of repair at close range: the darning of holes, in particular the ruptures created by unwelcome pests such as moths or those caused by the constant wear or the repeated rubbing of a toe or heel against the fabric of a favored sock. The mending and re-working of such holes requires focused attention. The unwanted hole exposes. And the filling of the hole has the potential to become a highly subversive act; a space of agency intervention. How to fill the void is open to interpretation, and the materials chosen articulate a distinct persona. Whatever the process used, an amorphous, expanding vocabulary unfurls as one works to repair a hole, with each thread, method, and rhythm creating new meaning and insight.


Kate Irvin presented the paper Creatively Defying Brokenness: Lessons from Repaired Textiles:

Material examples of mended and patched garments and textiles—well-used, well-loved, and well- maintained objects—have inspired contemporary designers across many fields and continue to speak to the current generation of design students. In my experience as a curator at an encyclopedic museum connected to an art and design university, such objects inspire students to not only find meaning and beauty in the ravages of time but also they underscore the care and attention that guided them into the present and into our collective vision. Made to work and to last, these objects show darns that animate them, reveal their labored history, and bind them to us with memory and emotion. They remind us that everything we wear and use is in the process of becoming and is imbued with a living history that, if given the chance, will continue well beyond our time.


Nakeia Medcalf presented the paper Superkilen Repairs:

Exploring the parallels of insertion within the contexts of architectural adaptive reuse and textiles speaks to the language of repair. By creating a wedge of graphics within the city landscape, Superkilen in Copenhagen, Denmark, repairs the city through public works. As a project designed for a homogenous city, Superkilen highlights the existing culture, language, and ethnicities not often associated with the country. The result is a practice of adaptive reuse which uses graphic color, texture, and wayfinding to describe the area. In this paper I will discuss how Superkilen aims to dissect the complexities of repair through an urban habitat. As we often presume built environments consist of physical walls and framing, I will argue that within such urban parks as Superkilen lies the same interiority as a physical structure. The idea of public works being woven into the infrastructure of a city will be addressed. Mending the city through reparative tactics goes beyond fixing society. It is the innate reaction to our immediate surroundings.

international, Kate Irvin, Lisa Morgan, Making and Unmaking, Nakeia Medcalf

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