The Intuitive Weave
The daughter of a textile artist, and granddaughter of a skilled craftswoman, designer Helmi Liikanen grew up watching her mother and grandmother experimenting with different weaves, dyes and materials. The valuable tradition of textile craftmanship passed on to the next generation as she became a textile designer.
“One of my most precious items is my grandmother’s vividly illustrated notebook from 1941, where she documents her remarks on weaves and weaving techniques”, Helmi says. “The notebook also became an essential part of my master’s theses, where I focused on developing new woven structures on linen material by means of hand-weaving.”
Helmi started co-operating with Lapuan Kankurit when she was still studying at the MA programme for Fashion, Clothing and Textile Design at the Aalto University.
“I trust my intuition when it comes to design. When studying, we students were constantly encouraged to try new things and to experiment with materials,” Helmi says. “To me this kind of learning-by-doing method was the best way to understand what weaving is really about. I think that skills are best learned through practice.” Lapuan Kankurit shares this point of view. “We’ve been admiring her weaving skills since the very beginning,” says Esko Hjelt, CEO of Lapuan Kankurit. “She works wonders with weaves and materials. It’s easy for us to work with a designer who understands the reality of industrial jacquard weaving, and not only the design side of it.”
Weaving as an experience is something that Helmi feels strongly about. “To me hand-weaving is an overall physical experience. Through the hands-on connection with my tools and materials, I can intuitively transform my ideas into new woven structures. It’s both interpreting tradition and creating something new at the same time,” Helmi describes. “It was stunning to witness how Lapuan Kankurit actually manages to maintain that same weaving magic even though they operate on a much larger scale.”
Helmi’s designs for Lapuan Kankurit, LEHTI and TULPPAANI, are both part of her studies at Aalto University. LEHTI, leaf in English, is a delicate design based on traditional honeycomb weave. TULPPAANI, tulip, is a fun and more experimental combination of different weaves and warp densities. “Designing shouldn’t be taken too seriously,” Helmi laughs. “Tulppaani was born out of the joy of playing around with weaves and materials.” Helmi is specific when it comes to materials too. “To me it’s important to create designs that not only look but also feel good. Touch is one of our most powerful senses – the physical connection also matters in design.”
As a designer, Helmi is inspired by nature and emotions. “Designing and being in nature have many things in common. In both it’s important to experience, observe and enjoy what you’re doing,” Helmi says. “To me, it’s all about the feeling.”
Text and Photo Katja Lösönen