November 24, 2020

About the School: Internationality 4 | Interviews with Graduates

 -From being an industrial designer to a student at KTS, then at a postgraduate school in the UK-    Tiffany Loy

The Internationality segment of a series introducing Kawashima Textile School (KTS). KTS is widely known throughout the weaving community overseas as a school where people can learn handweaving. KTS had opened its doors internationally since the very beginning, and the reputation as being a school in Kyoto where one can acquire reliable handweaving skills spread gradually by word of mouth from the participants. Over four weeks starting from Part 4, we will bring you interviews with graduates from all over the world who have various relationships with weaving, where we ask about how they came to learn at KTS, what influenced them, how they use the skills they have learned, and what weaving means to them.

The Weaverly Way (2020)
The site-specific installation employs a weaver's approach to conceptualising and building sculpture.
The piece was produced in collaboration with British heritage silk mill Gainsborough Weaving, and presented at London Craft Week 2020.
Photo: Ed Reeve

Tiffany Loy (Singaporean)
Independent designer, artist
Currently living in Singapore
Courses: Beginners, Foundation Kasuri, Applied Kasuri I, II, III* 
(May to July 2015)

*now part of Applied Kasuri II

-Could you tell us why you chose to study at KTS?

I was working with textiles as an industrial designer, when my interest for textiles grew. I wanted to take a step further and learn how textiles are constructed so I searched online for short weaving courses. Eventually I found Kawashima Textile School’s website and was impressed by the work of its graduating students, so I applied. Also, I wanted to be immersed in another culture while learning this new skill.

-How has your experience at KTS influenced you?

At the start of the course I had thought of it as a study-holiday, a fruitful 3-month getaway. The knowledge of textile construction was to be helpful for my textile-based projects in the future. I had no intention to continue weaving when I returned to Singapore, considering the amount of equipment it required. However, at the end of Applied Kauri Course III, which was coursework-based, I was confident that I could manage my own weaving projects, and was excited to take these skills further. It felt like a real pity to stop weaving at the end of the trip. I then decided to set up a mini weave studio back in Singapore and show the local design community my woven work.

"Pastiche (2018)
"Pastiche was a piece of handwoven fabric employing nassen gasuri technique. It was used as the covering for a beanbag. The 1-off piece was created for furniture brand Zanotta, as part of their 50-year anniversary celebration of their Sacco beanbag design."

-How do you use the skills learnt at KTS in your career, life, etc?

Through the courses within a 10-week period, I had gained a solid foundation of weaving and dyeing techniques which enabled further self-directed learning later on. I still refer to the notes I had taken then, when I compare methods of working. I continued to practice and expand on the skills I learnt, and incorporated them into my design projects. Shortly after my return to Singapore, I exhibited some woven tapestries at a local exhibition, and met the first client who engaged me to create woven designs for his brand. I was optimistic about my pursuit in weaving as a profession. 3 years after the course at KTS, I felt I was prepared for another learning adventure. There are no textile mills or institutions in Singapore, so to gain more technical knowledge and skills, like design for jacquard weaving, I had to go overseas again. This time I managed to secure a scholarship from DesignSingapore Council to study at the Royal College of Art in London. Taking a masters course meant that I was meeting other students who had learnt weaving elsewhere, and it was interesting to observe the differences in our approaches in weaving. Having strong foundation skills acquired at KTS allowed me to be more experimental while at RCA, since I was familiar with each step, and how changes affect overall results.

-What does weaving mean to you?

As I had received earlier training in product design before learning how to weave, I was always very aware of the differences in approaches and applications. When weaving, I feel compelled to look very closely at the project, sometimes through a counting glass, but I must also zoom out and look at the fabric as a whole surface, and object. Toggling between the 2 points of view is something I find very unique about the weaving process; there are 2 different modes of seeing. Also, weaving as a skill is by no means restricted to fabrics. To me it is a way of building, of assembling lines to form surfaces and volumes. Looking at it in this abstract way, we can apply skills related to weaving to other forms of art and design, like sculpture, or architecture.

"Lines in Space (2019)
"Lines in Space was a project completed at RCA. It's about reducing the fabric surface to minimal lines, and exploring leno weave structures."

You can visit Tiffany's website Tiffany Loy or follow her on instagram at @tffnyly

Tiffany's "Student Voice" article from 2016, with photos of her work in the KTS Graduate Exhibition.

About the School: Internationality Series 1/2/3