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2009

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Color Blanket, Alpaca Velvet, 2009

This is a Color blanket. It was designed by Maharam Design Studio and produced by Maharam. It is dated 2009 and we acquired it in 2009. Its medium is undyed alpaca wool, cotton and its technique is supplementary warp cut pile in a plain weave foundation (velvet). It is a part of the Textiles department.

Even before the industrial revolution, the textile industry was a major source of environmental pollution. The substances used to bleach fibers or make colors fast polluted the rivers and streams where textile production took place. The development of petroleum based synthetic dyes and fibers, along with surface treatments such as flame retardants and stain resistant finishes, has exponentially increased the toxicity of textile production, and has added to concerns about post consumer disposal. Many “green” or sustainable textiles are based on new fiber technologies, such as producing fiber from rapidly renewable sources like bamboo or corn, or from recycled materials, like post consumer polyester. These technologies, however, often require significant energy and/or chemical processing. Another approach is simply to do less.
Alpaca Velvet is one example of this sort of minimal production. This textile, designed by Maharam, is made from minimally processed fibers with no dyes or applied surface finishes. It exploits the natural color variation found in animal hair color to rich visual effect and takes advantage of alpaca wool’s natural “high performance” characteristics.
The velvet is created by an alpaca wool and cotton plain weave foundation and a supplementary warp cut pile. This wool is available in a variety of black, brown, gray, caramel, and off-white shades, which are the natural colors of alpaca. The pattern of the textile is created by stripes in nine different shades of these naturally-occurring hues. The soft and lustrous fiber is stronger than sheep’s wool and yet its strength does not diminish with the fineness of the yarn. The center of the alpaca textile industry has always been Peru. The country has 3.5 million alpacas and alpaca production plays a significant part in the developing economy of the Andean region.
Alpaca Velvet represents a strong example of the minimal approach to sustainable textile design and would be a welcome add

This object was donated by Maharam. It is credited Gift of Maharam.

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Its dimensions are

H x W: 211.5 × 139.7 cm (6 ft. 11 1/4 in. × 55 in.)

Cite this object as

Color Blanket, Alpaca Velvet, 2009; Designed by Maharam (United States); USA; undyed alpaca wool, cotton; H x W: 211.5 × 139.7 cm (6 ft. 11 1/4 in. × 55 in.); Gift of Maharam; 2009-46-2

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition National Design Triennial: Why Design Now?.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18732713/ |title=Color Blanket, Alpaca Velvet, 2009 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=22 August 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>