Unexplored territory, provided it stays that way, hides it secrets and resources and, above all, doesn’t allow its potential to be developed. Textile samples constitute territory that’s largely unexplored. The Biella area, world capital of top quality woolen production, has an inestimably valuable heritage consisting of thousands and thousands of textile samples, most of which waiting to be made physically accessible and, more importantly, virtually “searchable”.
In the rich context of the round table organized by Museimpresa on 22 November during Enterprise Culture Week, Ermenegildo Zegna Group presented a standard archive data sheet designed specifically for textile samples. Its initiative also drew on experience accumulated at the Fabbrica della Ruota (DocBi Centro Studi Biellesi). This is not, however, a descriptive system for fabrics (which would merely have mirrored existing models) but a functional instrument (as much cultural as technical) for creatives and technical experts for cataloguing and researching fabric samples in their own right. An effective tool for exploring the territory in different ways on the basis of different needs and following various unpredictable learning paths. The descriptions can also be tied in with images of samples. All of which considering that the term “textiles” doesn’t only mean fabrics but also raw materials, yarns and semi-finished products, not to mention a whole universe of finished products and categories.
Ermenegildo Zegna Group has been able to design, test and perfect the data sheet using its own formidable, indeed unique and diversified textile sample archives (from the first cloths made in 1910 to the very latest new fabrics, from the 19th century fashion collections of Parisian Claude Frères to the Heberlein prints and the women’s fashion world documented by the Agnona collections). To do so it used a procedure devised at Fabbrica della Ruota (another inexhaustible mine of historical material on Biella textiles).
Thanks to the opportunity offered by Museimpresa (backed up by Regione Piemonte) and vital contributions from the other partners in the “Textiles Samples Group”, the template may now be considered as nearing perfection (improvable but already fully usable). It’s an effective tool for academics and other specialists but also (above all!) for designers and stylists, communicators and all sorts of creatives.
Exploration will now be more engaging, easy and rewarding. The “Zegna” data sheet is like a compass designed to guide those venturing into the vast region of textile samples, an ancient territory rich in memories but even richer in ideas for the future.
Danilo Craveia, scientific consultant, Casa Zegna