Luisa Cevese’s Fossilized Textiles

Damaged fabrics made of precious yarns, stained tablecloths, old lace, and prayer rugs with worshipped-in holes are among the objects that end up in Luisa Cevese’s hands. The Milan-based designer, who is known for fixing fabric remnants in resin for her Riedizioni line of bags and shades, has now begun transforming damaged textiles into more rarified art objects, mats, and rugs.

It was by chance that Cevese came upon the idea for the new pieces. “One time I got some remnants from a company, and I also received this very beautiful eighteenth-century textile with gold embroidery,” she says. “They came from a sacred textile company that makes fabrics for priests.”

The company is just one of many that supplies Cevese with silk and tie remnants for her Riedizioni line. She fixes these leftovers in large sheets of resin then cuts them into handbags, change purses, floor mats, place mats, and blinds. The industrial process—which Cevese started about 15 years ago—not only reclaims waste from the factory floor, but also creates products that are each slightly different because she only loosely controls the placement of the random scraps.

The arrival of the antique fabric sparked a new idea. “Getting that textile was purely accidental, but something clicked,” Cevese says. “I decided that if I cut it into a bag it would be a nice decoration, but fixing it in resin as a whole expresses the history of the object much more strongly.”

The new pieces, which are now being carried in the United States at New York design store Moss, are a more personal project. “I never know how many I am going to make,” she says. “The collecting is part of the work. It’s intimate; it comes from opportunities.”

Fortunately Cevese has some help in creating those opportunities. In addition to the searching she does on her own trips—specifically to Turkey to look for damaged carpets—she has the help of Italian carpet importer Raffaele Carrieri, who brings materials to her from his buying excursions.

The two share an enthusiasm for textiles that are in what Cevese describes as an “in-between” phase. “They are too damaged to be repaired and not old enough to be considered collector’s pieces, but they have a quality of dyes and fibers, and a patina that makes it difficult to consider them waste,” she says. “There is a certain quality of affection that comes from use. And time does something to a textile that makes it more beautiful.”

Categories: Cities, Textiles