Practitioner lecture: Merel Karhof

Interesting visiting lecture from Studio Merel Karhof who talked to us about her work. She described herself as revealing the unnoticed and creating awareness of obvious things such as the colour of water, or the urban wind. There is a strong emphasis on the process which I really liked.

She started by talking about her wind knitting factory which came out of a class exercise while she was studying at the RCA. An interesting premise for a production process: a wind powered knitting machine which creates raw knitted materials she uses to form textiles, for fashion and upholstery.


She was very interesting to listen too, although I must admit I’m wasn’t entirely convinced by the wind knitting idea. I felt she isn’t pure enough with the process to make it capture the full serendipity of wind – instead, manipulating the outputs in order to make more commercial products (e.g. felting the knitting afterwards to reduce the holes/impurities in the wind knitting, or using chemical dyes mixed in with natural dyes as the colours are brighter). Is this really a business model, or just a gimmick? If it makes money, does it matter – or is that part of the different between art and design?

What I did like however, was her description of her process as an experience of visualising the intangible. Her other works were more interesting, and she showed some work from a month long residency in Italy. I particularly liked the scarf made to reflect the different colours of the water in the Venice canals over the course of the 30 days.


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