Textile Design Adoptions. Adopting silk production from San Leucio to innovate

Textile Design Adoptions. La adopción de la producción de seda de San Leucio para innovar

Sbordone, M.

USCLV - Università degli Studi della Campania Luigi Vanvitelli

Retirado de: http://convergencias.esart.ipcb.pt

ABSTRACT: The University of Campania and the Setificio Leuciano collaborated, during 2016, on the project "Textile design adoptions. Adopting the San Leucio silk production to innovate ", the final result was the realization of an exhibition-event with video installations and prototypes of the works of the second year students of the Master Degree in Design for Innovation. The project proposes new scenarios for textiles in the fashion and interior design sectors. During the courses, students have been involved in product and process research innovation by reinterpreting the company's cultural and business identity. The Master Degree in Innovation Design promotes cooperation between universities and the productive and cultural local contexts by: research and scouting of manufacturing of excellence, the innovation processes for companies representing the local excellence, thanks to a method of design founded on contextual knowledge.

KEYWORDS: traditional manuafctures, cultural identity, textile adoptions, co-creation process, contextual design

RESUMEN: La Universidad de Campania y el Setificio Leuciano colaboraron, durante el año 2016, en el proyecto " Textile design adoptions. Adopción de la producción de seda San Leucio para innovar", el resultado final fue la realización de un evento expositivo con instalaciones de video y prototipos de las obras De los estudiantes de segundo año del Master Degree en Design para la Innovación. El proyecto propone nuevos escenarios para los textiles en los sectores de la moda y el diseño de interiores. Durante los cursos, los estudiantes han estado involucrados en la innovación en la investigación de productos y procesos mediante la reinterpretación de la identidad cultural y empresarial de la empresa. El Máster en Design de Innovación promueve la cooperación entre las universidades y los contextos locales productivos y culturales mediante: investigación y exploración de la fabricación de excelencia, los procesos de innovación para empresas representativas de la excelencia local, gracias al método Design basado en el conocimiento contextual.

PALABRAS CLAVE: manuafctures tradicional, la identidad cultural, adopciones textiles, proceso de co-creación, design contextual

1. Introduction

Historical productions of Southern Italy, particularly in Campania, date back to the 18th century. There is a site called San Leucio tied to the creation of a colony of silk production by the Borbone (Spanish dynasty) that turned a hunting reserve into a social experiment. The Real Colony of San Leucio, with its social and productive vocation and its internal rules, was a campus of social innovation ante litteram. 
Ferdinand IV wanted to built a hospice for the poor of the province, near which he assigned a factory; the colony and the productions rapidly grew and a community known as Real Colonia of St. Leucio was born in 1778, based on its own laws, that defined an unique and innovative welfare for that period. It’s created what today could be identified as a modern productive and residential site. French artisans were added to the local craftsmen, who settled in San Leucio, attracted by the many benefits enjoyed by silk workers. In fact, the workers of the silk factories got a home within the colony, in addition, free education was provided for their children. The children were admitted to work at the age of 15, with regular shifts for everyone, but with a shorter time than the rest of Europe. The dwellings were designed, keeping in mind all the urban rules of the time, and they are still inhabited today and from the beginning were equipped with running water and health services. Productivity was guaranteed by a cash bonus that workers received on the basis of the level of expertise they had achieved. Production was historically focused on furnishing textiles, and local silk companies are looking for innovation that restores the conditions for experimenting textile materials and production processes that testify the vitality of the industry. The San Leucio production site still retains some manufactures; among these, the silk factory of San Leucio, in full process of transformation, intends to pursue the aim of restoring and enhancing the manufactures in a reinterpretation of iconography and textile typologies of tradition. The project is part of the valorization of cultural, material and immaterial assets, considering the site of the Real Colony of San Leucio as a cultural asset recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which updates its vocation as a center of innovation and excellence, in the production of thirst with a value of ethical and social enterprise. 
The reality of the territories that are the expression of the complex interaction of productive and socio-economic systems reveals the nature of the relationship between man and the environment and the relationship system. The functional intersections created by the various spheres of interest are generating local economies that transform the spatial spheres into productive activity districts and very specific services. The network of local relations based on social capital, namely on family and friendships relations, which characterizes social, cultural and productive activities, represents the specialization that every territory expresses. Some authors talk about "contextual knowledge, the totality of not-coded knowledge that mature at the level of different enterprises and their local relationships" (Fortis 1998).
Today, the challenge lies in hybridizing with collaborative innovative processes that revitalize the system of values, and 'contextual knowledge'. It prefigures the territory as a field of cultural integration and economic cooperation; a landscape of relationships, characterized by productive and training activities, exchanges of productions and ideas. Example of multisectoral and integrated offer by establishing innovative practices founded on the contextual knowledge.

2. The design feeds contextual knowledge

The contexts talk to us and suggest us the vision that design has to summarize to transform and perform itself into meeting and exchange and it works if it acts as a coherent system of actions set up to make a concrete turning point in local development, promoting and implementing dynamics of accompaniment based on capabilities. In consideration of the social, economic sustainability project are characterized thanks to the networking of appropriately oriented resources use, giving completely autonomous results. Although, design contributes to the development of a thought related to local knowledge; sensitive and heterogeneous tacit knowledge with an indeterminate component that support system connections. A soft identifiable and adaptive model in opposition to the modernist cultures that tend to take on the lives of the territories and consequently of the people, consolidating existing imbalances and inequalities, focusing on models of development characterized by scarcity and deprivation.
The consideration of the vulnerability stages of social, economic and environmental systems undermines the structure of current cultural and economic thinking; the consequences still undervalued to be assessed the price of change in place in public and economic structures of specific realities. Alongside, local systems demonstrate low resilience, the design process supports and provides local action groups with the design tools able to visioning the change. The new way of local development productions contemplates an approach that imagines and promotes a new vision of the territory that recognizes its vulnerability; which gets local weak interactions to evolve and which believes in profitable relationships on the net. The design of territorial contexts considers resilience as an index of the complexity of the system; breaks into planning thinking as a critical factor to restore social spoilt capital, implementing forms of local productive development as an element of self-determination of communities. It happens that the interactions of the networks carried out by the local actors become a design activity that acts on the aspects of the material contexts; the value-creating process starts with local tacit-knowledge, but also acts on the network of economic and social structure of the territory, demonstrating how the different use of the capabilities is economically more useful and profitable.
The greatest benefit achieved is to translate the structure of the business network into a wider one due to the territory conversion into its physical-social dimension; creating a relational model that brings the exchange among stakeholders to discover unedited and locally scalable co-design forms. Design assures the role of mediator in social and productive relationships, a very complex activity that involves alongside designers, people who voluntarily connect with each other through various formulas and express their ability to become the 'community of sense '. The rebirth of communities is based on principles of reciprocity and on the layout of resilient local models. The Textile Design Course, under the title Textile Design Adoptions, is part of the valorization of silk fabric production, intends to develop a product and process innovation project for the creation of fabrics for clothing, fashion accessories and interior design. The aim is to translate the quality and the capabilities of historical manufactures, from traditional products mainly for furnishing (upholstery, wallpaper and curtains) to new types of merchandise with the objective of relaunch productions and placing themselves on other niches of high and market. 
The course took place partly in the company at the historical site of silk production of the Setificio Leuciano and partly in the design laboratories of the DICDEA, a department of the University of Campania.
The project focused on the product and its applications (clothing, accessories and interior design), creating capsule collections and a video-document presented during the event of results presentation.
The program has been developed following these stages:

1.    Valorization in the cultural sphere of San Leucio for its historical, social and productive value;
2.    Creation of textile products for clothing, accessories and furnishing in collaboration with the company  'Setificio Leuciano';
3.    Realization of paths of social and work inclusion through the production of ethical productions for the disposal and reuse of the textile warehouse of the 'Setificio Leuciano'.

4.    Realization of a territorial creative workshop on the 'San Leucio Cultural Project' project with a research partnership, high education, with social cooperatives and producers; 
5.     Promotion of research in the field of the advanced textile production chain through the creation of a network, research centers, universities and factories; 
6.    6. Implementation of textile labs with ethical-social relevance managed by cooperatives of the country in collaborative production with countries of international cooperation.

2. Contextual Design

Territorial development strategies at local level refer to third generation methodological tools, including  “visioning”, which represents the construction of long-term scenarios, and they are therefore "visionaries", in fact, support development strategies that can be remodeled over time and able to create consensus. The dynamics deployed to achieve these objectives have the following features: bottom-up processes that arise from local contexts and from listening to people's voice (through user-center and design paths); negotiating processes that include the complexity of the social and business stakeholders involved in the development process to increase the forms of participatory democracy; resource-enhancing processes that require cooperation between local development actors. The network approach, after priorities definition, shared the visioning, encourages the involved ecosystem of actors, converging on projects to realize investments and support the local social and business relationships. The first step, therefore, refers to the definition and configuration of a network of promoters of local development instances. 
The network promotes the coordination and the negotiation among various actors by sustaining an appropriate development, focused on the priorities and on the transformation of these into viable and financially suitable projects and actions. In this way, the heterogeneity of the actors in the network will focus on the territory, a central element, where the coherence assessment of the submitted projects is resumed, compared to the development shared strategy.
Checking vocations and investments in relation to the projects planned on the territory would be verified by the activity of the actors in the network, focusing on the following points: the validity of the planned investments and their effects on the obstacles to development; the ability to come with offers that reach the internal and external beneficiaries of the intervention; the coherence among the intervention strategy and the real territorial dynamics. 


3. Design of contextual tacit-knowledge

The project was born and developed in a context, where cooperation and collaboration are a fundamental part of the complex system of relationships, which make up and identify the territorial system.  Local systems express contextual tacit-knowledge and it’s generated knowledge that belongs to the communities, whose participants agree within a shared environment of experiences, language, and common culture. The meaning of places is given by the direct experience of the social actors who re-elaborate contents in relation to the context. Recovering this kind of knowledge derived from living the places according to the context of relationship, gives the design a role of listener of places that acts as a mediator of silent and uncodified knowledge.
Design, as an arrangement of skills, is able to intervene concretely in such mechanisms, making a contribution that becomes evident the dimension of 'how to do things' in terms of concrete solutions; on the other hand, by intervening on the terms of scenarios definition and future actions that promote the wider processes of local development.
Therefore, design can engage a 'strategic visioning', associated to the ability to imagine developmental trajectories and to prefigure new relational networks, innovative ways to experiment future actions such as scouting skills, useful to the territorial system. The design proposes specific operational solutions derived from forms of contextual design and clarifies the spreading participation as a form of co-design of the project development, through the cooperation between the proposers and users. If we also consider design tools available to designers, we can identify different categories:
1. methodological /organizational feature, project tools that support the analysis of territorial resources (territorial context, human activities, users ...);
2. information and communication and dissemination of information;
3. facilitation and involvement in the creative process;
4. visualization of project and activity solutions within the entire process.

The aim is the introduction of innovation on a territorial scale, restoring the connection among places and people, continuous learning, the enhancement of material elements such as contextual tacit- knowledge, culture and the recovery of traditions. Finally, it’s necessary to adopt an approach, which promotes a form of community sharing project, capable of acting with an integrated way on strategic, organizational and design levels concurrently.


4. Contextual design Methodology

Contextual design is a methodology that aims to develop innovation processes for territories and establishes context design practices by testing models of co-design among different activity systems through specific tools. The main issue of the methodology is the definition of a shared vision that steer people in their own business to improve the demand of innovation to create new concepts and testing them through co-design practices. Designers, researchers, businesses, users and contexts of life are the resources that are part of the creative ecosystem where the method develops. Contextual design practices and tools include 'collective' and 'connective' intelligence at all stages of the process to ensure a rich and complex interactions.
It starts with the Design Thinking approach, which identifies a series of actions to implement open practices of analysis of identity elements of life context, expressing a critical vision to the resources and contextual tacit-knowledge. This process offers the conditions to capture the creative, productive and economic opportunities offered by local ecosystems. The methodological approach establishes a dynamic equilibrium system, based on the principle of continuous transformation in relation to changes in environmental conditions; the model is the network, where competency-based relationships mix together in the nodes to develop connections; thus generating responses to specific needs. In the network economy, a fundamental role is played by the 'interferences' among the nodes that represent a random source of information; playing an action capable of implementing a radical change to the configuration of the network and thus the project. 


5. Stages of the methodology

The contextual design methodology is structured in several stages: Open Context, Contextual Narratives, Create Visions, Concept Prototypes, Final Prototyping. Opening Contexts, Open Context, is the reception of the environment, the life-context, with specific actions and tools, and is the central element of the methodology. By involving different types of actors (researchers, designers, businesses) dynamically (users, trainer and local developers), they define relationships among the parties and distribute the essential information helping to identify the demand for innovation. Contextual practices adopt modalities that take shape in the actions of watching, listening, talking, experimenting, contacting family and neighborhood ties networks, etc., actions that are able to identify data and sensitive information. These data create the life-context narrative, so the data collected during the meetings are shared with all the actors involved in the development of the projects. The interaction among the subjects involved would be transferred to the communication, which helps to define Contextual Narratives; whose goal is to produce the conceptual maps of conversations, the tales of local knowledge, by implementing a database of narrative content for every design focus. The results converge into a mixed group, where the design inputs are discussed and selected to process in the next step.  The mixed group collects the stresses and recommendations, transferring them to a stakeholders group, ensuring the widest possible participation, according to a network-oriented approach to share ideas. The activities focus on networking skills that establish an horizontal coordination thanks to the group meetings for open integration and sharing. The objectives of the meetings are: promoting functional interaction among actors; equality among sectors and specific skills and equal opportunities, through accessible, adaptable and efficient systems of engagement in the creative and manufacturing processes.  Narrative analysis, through multimedia (audio-visual, etc.), generates additional information that meets the specific needs of the research group. After being shared with all members of the actors network, these results contribute to the production of Contextual Narratives models in the form of documents, diagrams, drawings and 3D images that are made available to the network to discuss the appropriateness of the solutions. The next stage of the creative process - Create Visions - generates advanced visions of possible development of new products and services and redefines the contexts of action. The disciplines involved, such as design, technology, marketing and sociology, are fundamental to foster the scenario. Other disciplines converge according to the type of project under development. Contributions made at this stage are collected in a document called Concept Prototypes, to be shared with the entire manufacturing network so that everyone can be informed about product and process innovation. 
The last stage of product-service concept development is based on the principles of co-design, in this case, the interaction takes place among production and packaging laboratories, companies, university labs and research centers. After defining a number of concepts, the network of actors, decides to elaborate a summary of the proposals to define the timing for the working prototypes realization, this stage is called Final Prototyping. All stages of the method can be continually adapted to the variations generated by indefinite external factors that interfere with the stakeholders ecosystem; these are unexpected elements that can influence the development of some stages of the project. The final phase is realized in the company's laboratories of the network: there is the production of textile materials; meeting-point access at packaging labs for clothing, shoe accessories and handbags. Then, together with the design team and the company, the location for final shooting is set up with the photographer and the model. The presentation phase of the results is the subject of a procedure that requires: validation of prototypes.


Fig. 1 – Meetings in Setificio Leuciano factory.



6. Capsule collection e Interior design prototypes

During the meetings at the Setificio Leuciano, the students of Fashion and Product Design, together with the teacher staff of the University and researchers of the CNR, discussed about the submitted projects and then the issues related to the realization of textile materials and their implementation, this stage is defined as Final Prototyping.


Fig. 2 – Stages of presentation project and first experimentations


After a careful evaluation, two projects of interior design, one capsule collection project, and three shoe accessories projects were chosen.
Interior design projects have been inspired by wallpaper with thermo-acoustic insulation performance.


Fig. 3 – Stages of final prototyping


The Composite Wall project consists of square modules made up of triangles, the weaving structure has allowed the various modules to be rigid enough to create free and editable structures using for the creation of curtains, wallpapers or partitions with a three-dimensional effect. Modular, organic and flexible objects with the ability to be manipulated and personalized; the user got modules such as sound absorbing wall, the assembly is made by small plastic clips and each module has a pyramidal shape. There is a functional thermo-acoustic insulation panel that can be configured in infinite combinations, stimulating everyone's creativity.


Fig. 4 – Presentation of the results of Composite Wall project during the exposition event in Setificio Leuciano factory, 2006


The Soul Silk Paper project provide for the creation of a new type of thermo-acoustic insulation wallpaper, reinterpreting contemporary decorations typical of San Leucio's eighteenth-century silks production. The study of textures, complex and articulated, has made possible the creation of new shapes to adopt the new function, and also the type of weaving silk chosen, called the liseré, makes it easier to use thanks to its “pocket structure”. The structures, made with communicating channels, provide for the release of a composite made of polylaminate cardboard (commonly known as "Tetrapack") capable of making the wallpaper sound absorbing. The choice of tetrapack is not casual, as it is a material made up of elements of a different nature (cellulose, polymer, aluminum) that results challenging to disposal. The goal is to give to the material a new use in an unusual scenario compared to its primary use. The project is innovative because provides for the creation of a single-layered wallpaper, unlike the existing ones composed of multiple layers (fabric and sound-absorbing material).


Fig. 5 – Presentation of the results of Soul Silk Paper project during the exposition event in Setificio Leuciano factory, 2006


The TWINE Capsule Collection is based on the reinterpretation of the decorative motifs of eighteenth century silk by magnifying some details to alter the size. The details of the fabric are re-interpreted discovering shapes, colors, textures, different from the original while remaining in the same production logic. This is inspired by textile materials that alternate with transparencies, types of jackard weave of different weight with complex patterns and colors created with special dyes made in the tintors of the silk factory of Como (Northern Italy).


Fig. 6 – Shooting of the results of capsule collection TWINE and sketches


Fig. 7 – Shooting of the results of capsule collection TWINE and sketches


Fig. 8 – Shooting of the results of capsule collection TWINE in the Setificio Leuciano factory


Fig. 9 – Shooting of the results of capsule collection TWINE in the Setificio Leuciano factory


Fig. 10 – Shooting of the results of capsule collection TWINE in the Setificio Leuciano factory


Fig. 11 Presentation of shoes collection and exposition of the results in the Setificio Leuciano factory, 2016


Fig. 12 Presentation of shoes collection and exposition of the results in the Setificio Leuciano factory, 2016



7. Conclusions

Design in the experience described has worked as a system of actions put in place to give a realistic breakthrough to the reality of the facts by proposing a possible local sustainable development strategy, characterizing projects that have been made from a cultural, creative, social and economic point of view. Then, design has helped to develop a soft metaphor in contrast to traditional cultures that tend to immobilize the productivity of territories and consequently the lives of businesses and people, consolidating existing equilibrium increasingly managed by the establishments. The design experiences developed for the San Leucio silk, have brought new lymph into the local production environment and give us a chance to see a new way. The design process has supported and provided a mixed group of stakeholders with a contemporary approach to traditional silk fabric production, imagining and promoting a new vision in their use and marketing. Design, based on contextual tacit-knowledge, is a natural way to deal with local issues as a essential critical factor for the environmental, productive and human quality of the territories. The activities of the networks set up by small businesses, are a strategic design activities that are not only concerned with the material aspects of production, production processes, manufacturing products, but also influence the structure of the economic and social thinking of the territory; showing how a different way of living, working, relating to the economy, is possible and sustainable. It’s a way of thinking and designing with an emphasis on social relationships and the expression of local cultures. Next to the designers there are the entrepreneurs, the researchers, the students who put themselves out there and with their skills and sensibility they have imagined to rebuild together a "sense community". The aims given are the input to recreate the bases for regaining production autonomy by setting up a microeconomy that will gradually expand and consolidate. These are a strong expression of a wider emerging phenomenon, whereby individuals and groups, establishing the inability of existing institutional structures, to solve complex problems, seek solutions from the bottom, rediscovering opportunities to join, to do things together, to exploit the capacity, which is also intrinsic in human nature, to associate, to live and to work together. The experience of San Leucio provides a narrative report by people, entrepreneurs, researchers, students, etc. who first met to discuss about rules based on a project to be shared, in opposition to local logic. The reason to make a sustainable production environment is the result of co-operation between people who have organized and co-designed.
The subjects that hold together people's projects and public and private institutions, have a meaning that goes beyond the specific experience. The network with its soft structures, is based on the principles of belonging to a place where the sense has developed through personal and familiar knowledge, mutual trust and the construction of a common view. The diffusion of this model of territorial experience is desirable and its replicability will definitely bring greater awareness of the choices and mechanisms to achieve its full realization.



This paper was presented at 6th EIMAD – Meeting of Research in Music, Art and Design, and published exclusively at Convergences.


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Reference According to APA Style, 5th edition:
Sbordone, M. ; (2018) Textile Design Adoptions. Adopting silk production from San Leucio to innovate. Convergências - Revista de Investigação e Ensino das Artes , VOL XI (21) Retrieved from journal URL: http://convergencias.ipcb.pt