Meet A+N, the textile pioneers shaking up the material world

Dutch design duo Alissa van Asseldonk and Nienke Bongers are leading the way in material experimentation with joyful, highly textural fabrics

A+N woven textiles
A+N

Design duo Alissa van Asseldonk and Nienke Bongers are shaking up the material world. Graduates of the progressive Design Academy Eindhoven, the pair co-founded A+N in 2013 and have been wielding digital tools – often in collaboration with manufacturers and makers – to push the boundaries of surface design ever since. ‘We are growing an archive of materials as reference for ideas, but really, we let the techniques and materials, and how we work with them, lead us,’ says Bongers of their creative process. ‘But we are inspired by anything: nature, buildings and art.’

In their hands, textiles become sculpture. The pair’s bespoke window blinds, aptly named ‘The Sun Show’, made for the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, are a clever construction of four woven textile panels with pop-up layers that regulate light flow. ‘Mirabilia’, meanwhile, is a three-dimensional wallpaper of vinyl-coated material with active elements that flair out catching the light and breeze.

woven fabrics
Alissa Nienke

Their most recent innovation, the brightly coloured ‘Fringes and Floats’, launched during last October’s Dutch Design Week and is a collaboration with expert weavers EE Exclusives. A collection of three-dimensional textiles that have been digitally woven, their exposed tufted threads are integral to the pattern formation. Essentially a modern jacquard (when the motif is woven into a warp of the material itself ), the name of the collection stems from the fringes, floats and layering created by the loose binding, leaving the weft to float over to the next binding, thus forming a rich, raised three-dimensional surface.

woven fabrics
Alisaa Nienke

‘We worked closely with EE Exclusives, producing multiple iterations to develop the most innovative and interesting woven textiles,’ says Bongers. ‘We bring the knowledge of materials, design and colour, while EE Exclusives provides the technical know-how about weaving, yarns and bindings.’ The result: silky, abstract artworks, with three designs so far and plans to add more. The duo is also keen to experiment by changing the yarns so that each design can be adapted into a bespoke fabric for clients. There are also plans to produce wallcovering versions.
‘Fringes and Floats’, from £171 per sq m. alissanienke.nl; ee-exclusives.com

This article appeared in ELLE Decoration February 2020

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