TronhjemRømer statens værksteder for kunst
Theme article

Textiles are making ANOTHER comeback

Top photo: Tronhjem Rømer
Tufted totem poles, birch tree trunks as soft as cotton and fluffy cacti that invite an embrace. Or how about sitting on a fabric stone and having your animal cards read – textile art’s answer to a tarot reading or dialogue cards? This diverse world was presented by the Norwegian textile artist Nina K. Ekman in the exhibition Fragmented Totems at Officinet. Ekman transformed the venue at Bredgade 66 into a tactile textile universe, peopled with flora and fauna figures and accompanied by a drumbeat over the loudspeaker and topical merchandise, including T-shirts and printed tote bags. An imaginative and engaging exhibition, buzzing with vitality, humour and mindfulness, with an almost healing effect.

Display of colours and shapes

The textile scene is bubbling over with creativity and aesthetic exuberance. Everywhere, people are taking up textile art and crafts – in professional workshops, user-driven maker spaces and living rooms. At the sublime end of the artistic spectrum, textile artist Louise Sass is currently exhibiting in Bygning A at A. Petersen, presenting The Colour Comes From Inside with works from 1989 to 2021. The patterns and abstract compositions are a riveting visual tour de force of colour intensity manifested in exquisite forms. The PH 5 pendant lamps from Louis Poulsen colorized by Louise Sass contribute to the story about how textile designers have also taken on industrial design tasks throughout history.


Louise Sass with the PH 5 pendant lamps in the background.
Photo: Dorte Krogh

Textual fabric, woven narrative

The current textile trend ranges from functional objects, such as rugs, tablecloths and room dividers, to unique individual works of art that cut across aesthetic categories. Knit artist and designer Marianne Møller-Johnstad recently published Tilblivelser – i og af et sorglandskab (Creations – in and of a landscape of grief) (2022) based on textile works.

Marianne Johnstad
The book contains texts on grief, landscapes and becoming.
And while we are in the literary corner, we cannot ignore the little gem of a hybrid novel Thread Ripper (2020) – a multi-track story about weaving, text and computer technology. Here, artist and writer Astrid Smith draws together associations on the relationship between text and weaving, loom and computer, the fabric of text, the woven tale … The Jacquard loom with its long roll of punch cards points to the earliest computer algorithms and the fourth industrial revolution. You can experience Amalie Smith’s digitally woven algorithms on five big LED screens in the exhibition Looming at Holstebro Kunstmuseum (Holstebro Art Museum).

Innovative signal

Other young makers moving into new textile territories include the highly talented design duo Tronhjem Rømer, aka Trine Tronhjem and Liv Marie Rømer. Textile printing is alive and very well indeed, as clearly demonstrated by Tronhjem Rømer. The two designers develop their patterns in a digital process and translate them into analogue hand-printed serigraphs. In the exhibition Color Occurence at Officinet in Copenhagen they created an atmospheric display with featherlight room dividers, accompanied by a rare sight in textile art: minimalist, ultramodern light sculptures.

Like luminous objects from an alien planet the lamps beamed a signal into the epicentre of Danish craft announcing that Danish textile art is back with an innovative outlook.
The current textile momentum is far from unprecedented, however.
Textile trends have undulated up and down throughout design history. Right now, there is renewed focus on sensuous, craft-based and free artistic textile expressions, also in an international context, for example at the Venice Biennale 2022.



Tronhjem Rømer's new lamps can be seen in the background of the light textiles.
Photo: Robert Damisch
We are currently seeing highly diverse interpretations of textile in a wide range of styles, materials and media revitalizing history in glimpses.

Welcome to rope and fishing nets, metal and acrylic

In textile history, the 1960s marked a paradigm shift, as artists and makers began to challenge and push existing boundaries. It was time for change, and the classical art of tapestry making was pulled off the pedestal. Instead, tapestry weavers experimented with sculptural works that were not content to occupy their usual place on the wall as decoration but insisted on taking over the entire room. Inspiration came from the international textile biennale in Lausanne, where Poland in particular represented the avant-garde, with Magdalena Abakanowicz as the most prominent name. In Denmark, Franka Rasmussen and Grete Balle were among the pioneers of three-dimensional textile. Balle also introduced alternative materials such as rope and fishing net. This growing emphasis on coarser materials was one of the general trends in 1970s textile art. In order to achieve the desired hand-made look, many makers spun their own yarn, while others, including Annette Juel and Randi Studsgarth, turned to paper, metal and acrylic.



Magdalena Abakanowicz
Magdalena Abakanowicz, the textile biennial in Lausanne 1967.
Photo: The Journal Dansk Kunsthåndværk (Danish Crafts) 1966-67. Vol. 39

1980s punk and postmodernism

Like the tapestry weavers of the 1960s, textile printers shredded conventions during the 1980s. The printing table offered a quick alternative to the time-consuming labour at the loom. Significant Danish textile designers such as Vibeke Rohland, Vibeke Riisberg, Dorte Østergaard Jakobsen and Ruth Fabricius and Jesper Gundersen from Kurage covered café or gallery walls with pitch black 1980s punk or bustling, postmodern cartoon patterns operating on building walls and in the street space. One iconic example is Østergaard Jakobsen’s spatial installation, which covered furniture and walls in the now defunct Galleri Sub-Set. Rohland’s graphically intense iconography continues to generate new textile signs, while Kurage’s dance motifs turned into a graphic identity for Café Amokka in Copenhagen’s Østerbro district.




Dorte Østergaard  Sub Set
Dorte Østergaard Jakobsen's total decoration of Galleri Sub-Set in Copenhagen, captured in 1984.
Photo: Dorte Østergaard Jakobsen

Forward-looking techno-textiles

Even back then, Riisberg was a digital first-mover, who linked computer technology with textile and printing and pulled the rug out from under the notion of unique pieces. Later, several prominent textile designers have joined the techno track, and by now, this field is a natural aspect of the craft. Martin Nannestad Jørgensen uses the computer as a sketching tool before bringing out the textural qualities in hand-weaving tapestries as tall as a person. Grethe Sørensen’s pixellated pointillism and Astrid Krogh’s forward-looking techno-textiles from the 2000s are in a league of their own. In decorations for the Danish Parliament and Mærsk Data, Krogh draws on inspiration from kilim rugs and uses neon as thread in a reflection on the history of light.

We are currently seeing highly diverse interpretations of textile in a wide range of styles, materials and media revitalizing history in glimpses. This latest renaissance represents a textural, sensuous and user-engaging breakthrough into the social sphere, where everyone can – and want to – take part. Contemporary textile art is as vibrant as ever and will undoubtedly be rediscovered and continued sometime in the future as the exciting and creative chapter in Danish design history during the 21st century.

More knowledge in the Archive

Search the archive for additional knowledge.

Det danske designboom – det nye design af Lars Dybdahl (side 10-12)
Dansk Kunsthåndværk 2002 nr. 1

Eller; Neon af Tine Nygaard. Artiklen handler om Astrid Kroghs udsmykning i Folketinget.
Dansk Kunsthåndværk 2003 nr. 3

At væve i en digital tidsalder af Martin Schultz.
Dansk Kunsthåndværk 2005 nr. 5


You only need to look carefully at any piece of textile to see the theme of this issue of Formkraft: fibres + connectedness = textile.
Whether fibres are being spun, woven, crocheted, knitted, braided or felted, the purpose is the same: binding a vast number of tiny fibres close together in formations that now suddenly possess new potential and capacity. The loose fibres become fabric, knitting, felt or mesh, which in turn becomes clothing, sails, fishing nets and upholstery – among many other objects.

Read more