Green Talks with Juliette Berthonneau

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“In a society of fast mass-consumption, superior quality products with timeless design are a way of being more responsible. Minimalism and simplicity is not only an aesthetic choice, but also a part of the ethics.”

Most people study textiles, but not everyone has a vision like the ambitious & optimistic Juliette Berthonneau. Her research aims at looking for alternative, speculative textile materials which could replace the polluting ones. Moving forward with our #GreenTalks series, MiND spoke to Juliette Berthonneau, who took part in the Greenhouse Project at the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair of 2019.

Portrait by Jan Berg

"I feel inspired by the poetic relationship between space, human motions and textile behaviors."

Can you tell us about your background?

I studied Fine Art, History of Arts & Philosophy in Paris after which I progressed onto my textile practice at the School of Beaux-Arts in Lyon. In the meanwhile, I took up a few internships at weaving studios, which helped me build on my understanding of fabric properties. Coming from an artistic & theoretical background, my fascination for countless fabric possibilities, digital tools and technologies has grown over the years. This motivated me to travel to Eindhoven to work with a studio on a specific technique of 3D printed textiles.

Currently I’m developing my research at the Swedish School of Textiles. Here I have the possibility to learn any textile techniques from weaving, knitting to printing, dying etc. I consider this as the best playground for textile experimentation.

Juliette Berthonneau holding her three-dimensional woven panels

What does Greenhouse Project at Stockholm Design Week mean to you?

I see The Greenhouse Project as an international inspiring platform, open for discussions and a place to build the future of design practices. This exhibition was a chance to show few research projects from my degree work, and to have an industry professional’s point of view. As a young designer, this fair is an opportunity to consider the future of my textile research.

‘Bouncing patterns’ by Juliette Berthonneau

Can you describe the design process behind the work you displayed at Greenhouse?

I exhibited two projects – ‘Bouncing Patterns’ and the other one ‘Active Screens’ in collaboration with textile designer Maria Wolff Metternich. ‘Bouncing Patterns’ investigates the use textile technologies to challenge the traditional flat format of weaving. It is a collection of three-dimensional surfaces and experimental shapes, investigating the interrelation between pattern and form and questioning the way they influence each other’s structure. My aim in the project was to use the weaving technique to develop diverse alternative materials, and to give an innovative and broader picture of textile, inspired by architecture.

‘Bouncing patterns’ by Juliette Berthonneau

“The 'Bouncing Pattern' could be a solution for acoustic issues in open spaces, a new mattress or an upholstery material, both visual and technical.”

For the second project ‘Active Screens’, my partner Maria & I, created some visually vibrant surfaces that due to transparency of layers, merge to create forms. Each piece is hanging from springs which gives it movement and rhythm. On the edge of functional and artistic research, each composition acts as a floating painting designed as minimal and playful. The fluidity of textiles enables to create a space for experiments and discoveries. They are not static which brings something attractive and surprising.

Active Screen by Juliette Berthonneau and Maria Wolff Metternich

“Our idea was to encourage people to experience the individual perception of colour nuances and optical effects depending on the surrounding of the pieces and on gravity.”

How do you integrate sustainability into your works?

During the design process, I think about how technologies can be used to produce minimum waste. I imagine how to design directly on the loom, to have a product almost ready to use when cut off, and reduce the production line. It is important to think about the future of a design in its conception, its longevity. Materials should be thought in relation to resources and environmental concerns, as well as the need of new products, number of functions it can serve, durability, energy issues, weight saving, recycling or transforming possibilities. My textiles have the quality of being lightweight which is an important feature. They are easy to transform, carry and move.

Juliette Berthonneau using the Jacquard loom

“I believe that a design should be able to adapt and follow our world in permanent motion to be lasting.”

Where do you draw inspiration from?

I’m inspired by the architecture of spaces and forms. I went to Japan last summer and I visited the Teshima Art Museum (by the architect Ryue Nishizawa and sculptor Rei Naito). It was a beautiful immersive experience of space in relation to nature, sky, air, water and light. A good metaphor of what textile is for me. Weaving is like mathematics – it’s all about structure, proportions and balance, but it’s also very sensitive. A textile is something that has different scales in one piece. It has a presence in a space, but is also a micro structure made of miscellaneous details. A part of me is a little geeky. I am fascinated by digital and virtual spaces. I design my weaves digitally and a big part of my process is to program them on a computer.

Teshima Art Museum in Teshima, Kagawa Prefecture, Japan

“I am inspired by the spirit and delicacy of Japanese arts, crafts and designs. I am inspired by structures, patterns, textures, lights and colors that surround me.”

What are the changes you would like to see in design industry?

In my point of view, the textile industry has advanced and opened up to some specific fields such as medical, sport, automotive, but not so much for designers’ research. It would be ideal to break the resistance of conventional production and to give more space to creativity and experimentation. With industrial equipment and technologies, many possibilities both in visual expressions and potential functions could be developed. What should also change is the mass production’s system. I believe that highlighting durable and qualitative products is a key for our future.

By Akanksha Salunke