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Design for Resilience, by Vanessa Colignon
Textile research atelier Design For Resilience is the focal project of Vanessa Colignon’s textile design practice and – there is no other word for it – a quest. A long, often difficult but relentlessly hopeful search for a truly sustainable textile supply chain for Belgian linen, hemp and wool that encompasses all its aspects: soil, water and air quality, animal wellbeing, travelled distance, social reality of textile workers, preserving savoir-faire, material properties, its effect on the human body and its environment, the performance of a finished product, its cost and its price. Over the last 15 years, Vanessa has spent countless hours getting to know the sheep shearers, hemp farmers, spinning and knitting factories for the production of the first Design For Resilience products: a range of sponges, towels and bags for household and body care. They have garnered Vanessa and her brand the support of eco-conscious customers and of sustainable textile innovators alike. Today, after all those years, the name of Vanessa’s research studio seems more apt than ever as Design For Resilience is about to transform their first batch of wool yarn into market-ready garments.
Vanessa Colignon is a fashion designer by choice and an eco-responsible textile specialist by necessity. Already as a teenager she turned towards textiles and fashion, leading her to the fashion department at La Cambre in Brussels in 2009. There Vanessa became aware of the part fashion plays in the environmental crisis of today. She realised she needed to build up her knowledge elsewhere if she wanted to change the world for the better. She alternated jobs at various eco-minded fashion studios (and as costumière at the theatre in her hometown Charleroi) with trainings in the field of agriculture, material studies and even sheep farming. Drawing on this broad education, she decided in 2018 to get an executive masters degree in knitting design at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels, where she developed her first hemp sponges. They are awarded with the jury prize and the audience award at the 2019 Tremplin competition organised by BeCraft. Since then Vanessa’s work has been widely published and exhibited, most recently by financial newspaper l’Echo and by Lidewij Edelkoort at New York Textile Month in the exhibition “The gift to be simple”. Vanessa’s practice proves that it is no simple task to create simple things of remarkable quality, positioning her as a voice of integrity to reckon with in the years to come.