Strong Wool Speaks: Exploring a Material Conversation in the Knitting of Strong Wool for Acoustic Design

Coxhead, Sarah
Kalyanji, Jyoti
Gallagher, Sue
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Master of Design
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Auckland University of Technology

Can the inherent properties and value of Strong Wool be amplified through a materialcentric textile design practice?

Strong Wool is a highly technical, durable, biodegradable, and renewable natural fibre but its story is not being heard. Instead, the Strong Wool industry is overwhelmed by the noise of well-marketed plastic alternatives, poor understanding of its properties, and a lack of innovation in value-added manufacturing of the raw wool. This project proposes that listening to and responding to the fibre and its materiality allows for new conversations with Strong Wool and subsequently, the stories it can tell. The research adopts a material-centric approach alongside a digital knitting practice to explore acoustic textile outcomes.

In collaboration with Autex Acoustics, a proof-of-concept acoustic panel is developed within a framework that strives for a zero-waste production process and is dimensionally variable, commercially viable, and easy to install. This panel design is informed by a critique of how Strong Wool is understood currently and using tools, such as working across scales and visual storytelling, how it might be better understood is explored. The proof-of-concept artefact demonstrates how digital knitting augments Strong Wool properties. As a broader outcome, the research demonstrates how designing across scales with Strong Wool offers us tools to better design with the fibre. Specifically, it presents a sustainable design approach where we embrace the full breadth of the material through deeper conversations with it, with a focus on what Strong Wool is, and what stories it can tell.

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