Made by Yourself

Tal Granovsky Amit

The Rose Fashion and Textile Archive, Shenkar

Designer: Unknown

Design librarian by day and hobbyist seamstress by night, Elena Pavlova was intrigued by the many mask patterns available online. After sewing various patterns from around the world she stumbled across a Japanese YouTube video showing how to make their kind of mask. Curious because of the folded flat polygonal shape, she copied the video without understanding the language of instructions and hand-sewn the Japanese version that quickly became her favorite.

The mask Elena made represents not only the Covid-19 health crisis but is a great example of a movement that is a part of our life. The Makers Movement or Makers culture is a term for a technological expansion of DIY culture. The makers are people of all ages that create objects in art, science, and other fields by using technology to explore ideas, learn new ways and create through worldwide lenses.

Today, it is impossible to disconnect digital development from design and making. Digital development changed the designer’s toolbox, mediated between products and people, and created new objects. It leans on contemporary principles of “sharing”. If in the past, people were trying to keep their trade secrets – a secret, today, we see more and more people that share their ideas online, create worldly communities, show their skills and the way they put them to use, for others to watch. Nowadays YouTube is a kind of an “open design” platform. Rooted in the open-source tech movement, open design has evolved since Israeli designer Ronen Kadushin coined the term in 2004. It is a form of co-creation, where the final product is designed by the users.

In his article “Beyond Materiality in Contemporary Product Design” Dr. Ory Bartal claims that from this point of view, contemporary design can be perceived as information exchange, and the role of the designer has consequently changed in the postmodern era. From dealing with materials to managing signs and information flow. The impact of interactive tools and social media enables a wide range of interrelationships. It brings a new way of connection between digital objects and the physical presence of the viewers and makers themselves. We all use the web as a platform for research, production, distribution of works, and global creation, that conducted in several places simultaneously. Thus, blurring the boundaries between design, makers, and users.

Dr. Bartal goes on to argue that the open design method is critical and subversive. It seeks to change the laws of consumer culture and calls on users to be involved in society, and to create social change – no more passive consumers, who accept the values of the capitalist economy. This type of design also poses a challenge to the materiality of the object, since the object is information, and its realization in the material is marginal and can be done in different materials according to the end-user. In this case, the use of a Japanese video by Elena, an Israeli hobbyist seamstress, to create a reusable face mask with scrap textile that was found at home during the lockdown.

Image credit

Rose Fashion and Textile Archive, Shenkar. Photo: Achikam Ben Yosef