Designing with data


Designing with data

Designing with data offers new ways to embed meaning in quilt pattern design. I think that’s important because of the potential for opening up new audiences to the quilt industry, as makers, as designers, as those with an interest in quilting futures. #QuiltingFutures – you heard it here first, maybe!

Making a quilt is a big commitment both in time and cost. Finding the right pattern is the first step in that process. I could spend (have spent) many an hour on Pinterest scrolling through quilt patterns. There are so many I absolutely love. It might be the the way that the colours are brought together, the way that different blocks interact with each other, the playfulness of a design, or perhaps the technical challenge that’s offered. But what's going to take me beyond appreciating a pattern to wanting to make it?

I love ‘Interwoven’ by Brittany Lloyd for how the pattern symbolises the journey she has taken with her husband. So, for me, relating to that connection between the intentions of the designer and the pattern is a powerful hook. Taking data as the starting point for designing patterns offers limitless possibilities to articulate meaning in design. 

But what are the implications for designing quilts in this way? What new possibilities for personalisation are created when using data in quilt design? What skills are needed to design in this way and how can they be shared or taught? So many questions, so few answers. FAQ to follow (at some point).

What practical challenges arise for the quilter through the data handling process? 

The simplest of quilts might involve a single block repeat with instructions for making that one block. Designing with data requires a balance between the integrity of the data in the design and thinking through the practical challenges the quilter will face bringing the design to life. There is something enjoyable about the subjective decision making that's involved in that balance. A reminder that the interpretation of data rests on decisions made about how the data is organised and represented. 

Where is the data in the dataquilt? 

In temperature quilts it's often the colour. In Monadh it’s in the piecing and the variable sizing (and colours) of the flying geese. How can the meaning in the piecing and fabric choices be highlighted through the freedom of expression afforded by the quilting? 

This is the bothersome question I'm going to be thinking about for a while..