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Textile, Crocodile

This is a Textile. It is dated 2007 and we acquired it in 2007. Its medium is pps (polyphenylene sulfide), wool and its technique is melt-off, shibori-dyed, and felted. It is a part of the Textiles department.

Crocodile represents Junichi Arai’s experimentation with polyphenylene sulfide (PPS), a highly flame-resistant cloth. The textile is composed of not only PPS, but also wool. The surface texture, which looks similar to the skin of a crocodile, is achieved by combining a melt-off technique with shibori (tie-dye) and felting. Arai has been working with PPS since the late 1980s, but it was only in 2004 that he completed his experimentation and filed for a patent. The stainless steel color of PPS in Crocodile, however, was developed in 2006.
Arai is one of the most important innovators in 20th- and early 21st-century textiles. He has expanded the potential of a Jacquard loom, explored reflective surfaces using polyester slit yarn, developed new interpretations of age-old techniques such as ikat and shibori, and exploited the thermoplastic memories of synthetic fibers to give flat fabrics a third dimension. Arai currently holds patents on 36 processes. In 1984, he and Reiko Sudo co-founded NUNO, a company and retail store that produces and sells innovative functional fabrics. Arai has taught textile workshops all over the world and his works are included in the collections of major museums.
Arai was born in 1932 in Kiryu, a city that has been an important center for textile production in Japan for four centuries. As the sixth generation of a mill-owning family, Arai grew up with fabrics being woven for obis and kimonos. He maintains a deep reverence for traditional weaving techniques and the capabilities that only the hand can provide in the craft of making fabrics. Even today, Arai takes a traditional approach with his company by employing local craftspeople to help create his work.
The museum’s holdings represent some of Arai’s most important experimental work. Crocodile brings his experimentation up to date as our collection becomes an important documentation of his career.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled Crocodile.

It is credited Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund.

Its dimensions are

H x W: 480.1 x 98.4 cm (15 ft. 9 in. x 38 3/4 in.)

Cite this object as

Textile, Crocodile; Japan; pps (polyphenylene sulfide), wool; H x W: 480.1 x 98.4 cm (15 ft. 9 in. x 38 3/4 in.); Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund; 2007-44-1

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Textile, Crocodile |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=20 March 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>