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Textile, Horsehair Striae 001

This is a Textile. It was designed by Maharam Design Studio and produced by Maharam. It is dated 2009 and we acquired it in 2009. Its medium is cotton warp, horsehair weft and its technique is plain weave. 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.
Horsehair Striae 001 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 horsehair’s natural “high performance” characteristics.
Throughout the 19th century, horsehair was a popular, durable fabric for upholstery. At the time, horsehair had many uses, especially in the stuffing of mattresses, upholstered furniture, and millinery. When woven with a cotton warp, it forms an incredibly hard-wearing fabric. The width of the fabric is limited by the length of the horse hair, cropped from the tail, and the process is very labor-intensive, as the weft cannot be wound on a shuttle and machine-woven—each hair must be individually inserted into the weave. There are only a handful of horsehair weavers left in the world and, as there are far fewer work horses in use, most of the hair is sourced in China. In this textile, off-white horse hair is used end to end as the weft, with several inches left unwoven at each side. The panel itself has subtle variations in color created by slight differences in the shades of horse hair used.
Horsehair Striae 001 represents a strong example of the minimal approach to sustainable textile design and would be a welcome addition to the museum’s collection of eco-friendly textiles.

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

  • Weiss Brooch
  • porcelain, leather, silver, thread.
  • The Susan Grant Lewin Collection, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.
  • 2016-34-21

Its dimensions are

Warp x Weft: 341.6 x 66.7 cm (11 ft. 2 1/2 in. x 26 1/4 in.)

Cite this object as

Textile, Horsehair Striae 001; Designed by Maharam (United States); USA; cotton warp, horsehair weft; Warp x Weft: 341.6 x 66.7 cm (11 ft. 2 1/2 in. x 26 1/4 in.); Gift of Maharam; 2009-46-1

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Textile, Horsehair Striae 001 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=30 January 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>