The Glossary

Exploring the tactile and synesthetic dimensions of textile design through a curated visual glossary.

Designed and written as a brief dictionary that holds that which is in ‘need of explanation,’ The Glossary exercises transparency and gives meaning to the part of a designer’s process that lives outside the bounds of conscious reasoning.

The Glossary is the second document of my RISD Textiles Degree Project and Brown Contemplative Studies Honors Thesis—the body of which received theCollaborative Work Award for Fine Arts in Textiles and theCatherine Kerr Award for Best Capstone.

    “The meaning of our work is connected to how it is made, not just ‘concepted’.”  

    — Malcolm McCullough

    Color is an overwhelming part of the human experience—with the visual-perceptual system comprising up to eighty percent of our sensory interactions with the world. As textile designers, our conversation with color becomes more complex. To experience a fabric is always an act of tactile-visual synesthesia. Whether it is touched or seen in isolation from the other: the two always engage in some symbiotic dialogue. How do we begin to approach color as a medium that intrinsically interacts with form, structure, and a textile’s collateral from the inception of any work?


    Tantra is an esoteric, multi-sensorial, and often synesthetic meditation tradition that originated from the South Asian subcontinent. It is an embodied practice that activates and calms the mind, body, and being. The word tantra comes from the root word tan which means ‘expansion’ or ‘warp,’ and the suffix tra refers to an ‘instrument’ or ‘loom.’ By extension—tantrareferences an ‘instrument for expansion’ that is said to align the body’s focal points that are metaphorically described as spinning wheels—the cakras—centered along an internal axis. The word tan also means ‘body.’ Tantric practices are inextricably connected to the body, and the body to the apparatus of the loom itself. In the space of tantra, the body is accessed through the modality of the senses.


    The most exceptional quality of a knitted fabric is its great degree of stretchability. Unlike wovens, the relatively new invention of the knitted fabric can morph to hold and envelope a great multitude of shapes and forms. The mutability of the knit makes it a diverse textile. The human body is always held in the arms of a textile—with knits, it is a tailored experience of feeling hugged and cocooned. While knits naturally make outstanding garments, they also lend to creating unique interior and exterior space interventions. Textiles in space are one layer removed from the body. To alter what Issey Miyake said: I would say, my fascination is with the interaction between the body and cloth in space. The form of the knit complicates and gives nuance to this relationship. How can a knit, if suspended in space, still hold the body?

    The Glossary, 2023

    Honors Thesis, 4 weeks
    Textile development, cataloging, documentation, visual identity, book design, content writing

    Awarded theCatherine Kerr Award for Best Capstone and Collaborative Work Award for Fine Arts in Textile

    Advised by Salem van der Swaagh and Anna Gitelson-Kahn

    The Glossary