Elaine Ng Yan Ling, Techno Naturology: The Velcro Chain, 2011. Shape Memory Polymer, various veneer, polyester fabric, woven cane, reflective pigment, SPMV (metallic yarn), cotton and latex. Photography: Shanghoon.

Material Explorations: The Investigation of New Materials in Craft & Design

Joy Charbonneau & Derek McLeod, Cristina Covello, Jennifer Graham, Siwen Huang, Katherine Morley, Elaine Ng Yan Ling, Jonathan Sabine, Naomi Yasui

October 1–December 31, 2011

Curated by Jessica Lertvilai


An exhibition exploring new materials through the methodologies of craft, architecture and design.

Vest is a creative design practice run by Jessica Lertvilai which explores the interrelation of craft, art and design. Vest invited a group of design and craft practitioners to spend one year experimenting with innovative materials that are recent to the market or that have been previously identified to a specific region or culture. Vest aims to inspire makers to look beyond convention and to embrace a different approach through playful interactions with new tools and materials. The resulting work reflects how each participant was challenged to think critically and creatively about the impact of a new material on their working practice.

Some of the materials highlighted in this show include:
Concrete Fabric (cement impregnated fabric that hardens upon contact with water)
Black Pigment (pigments that change colour in UV light)
Photochromic Pigment (pigments that change colour in sunlight or UV light)
Porcelain Paper (porcelain that can fold like origami)
Shape Memory Alloy and Polymer (property possessed by certain alloys/polymers that allows them to return, when heated, to their original shape after having been deformed)
Sugru (moldable air cure silicone)
Tagua Nuts (often referred to as “Vegetable Ivory” because it resembles elephant ivory)
Nettle Yarn (yarn made from the Himalayan giant stinging nettle)
Veluna Glass (luminescent glass material that glows in the dark)

For further details:


Joy Charbonneau & Derek McLeod

Concrete Side Tables

These concrete tables utilize a material called “Concrete Cloth”, a flexible cement impregnated fabric which mainly has uses in military and civil engineering projects. The tables demonstrate the remarkable thinness and malleability inherit to the fabric, which can form functional, weatherproof surfaces when cured. The tables are small in scale, perfect for outdoor entertaining.

Joy Charbonneau aims to create intelligent architecture and design. Her work is thoughtful and inventive; she delights in provoking our curiosity. Charbonneau has lived and worked in Germany and Holland and now resides in Toronto. Her work has been showcased in various publications including *Wallpaper and Azure magazine. She works with Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects in Toronto and frequently collaborates with Derek McLeod Design.


Derek McLeod creates furniture and objects for people who like to live with quality. The pieces can be described as archetypal, comfortable and usable – things which make life better by looking and performing well. A reduction occurs in the design process which strips away unnecessary elements to arrive at a clear and obvious result.

McLeod graduated from the Industrial Design program at OCAD in 2003 with a Bachelor of Design and has exhibited internationally, in Milan, New York and London, UK. He currently has his own Derek McLeod Design practice based in Toronto.


Cristina Covello

Foraged Light

One of the earliest pieces of fibre discovered is a Spranged hairnet made of nettle, belonging to a girl from the Bronze Age. In this pre-agricultural society, it is likely that women and children foraged for food and other daily necessities, including nettle. Imagining myself as a Bronze Age forager, I have gathered natural materials from various Vancouver forests and beaches.

Foraged Light uses the ancient Sprang technique of making fabric, which is essentially weaving without a weft, combined with found natural objects.

By placing natural materials and ancient techniques in a contemporary context, I hope to spark a connection to, and curiosity about, our collective past.

– Cristina Covello

Cristina Covello is a designer and maker interested in culture, craft and material. She designs products that address sustainable design in terms of both environmental and social impact. Covello has lived and worked internationally. Her work has been presented in various local and international exhibitions and featured in publications such as Metropolis (US), Azure magazine (Canada), Casa e Jardim (Brazil) and Pen (Japan). She currently resides in Vancouver, Canada.


Jennifer Graham


Paper becomes porcelain.
The forms and techniques of paper craft transformed into porcelain vessels
Impermanence becomes permanent
Simple. Delicate. White.

Jennifer Graham is a ceramic designer and artist. Her ceramics are an inspired union of traditional textile structures and the porcelain object. Graham simulates elements of pattern, stitching and texture in the delicate shapes and raw edges of her work which echo the sensual qualities of fabric. These hand-built forms evoke an organic sense of rhythm and movement and her controlled palette and bold forms help to create clean lined studio pieces. Graham graduated from the Sheridan College Craft and Design Programme where she received the William and Mary Corcoran Craft Award.


Siwen Huang

Day and Night

Two pieces of fabric, one made of silver film and the other a woollen fabric, are placed together. These fabrics are designed and printed with black light (UV) and Photochromic pigments. Hexagons are laser-cut into their surface, though each shape retains a link to the fabric by remaining uncut on one edge. The two pieces of fabric are overlapped. The fabrics will be in a constant state of change as they react to different light levels present to dictate the patterns that are visible.

Siwen Huang is a textile designer who plays with concepts of surface and scale, creating new ways for people to encounter and experience spatial environments. Specializing in collecting and redirecting light for pattern creation, she has extensive experience in creating dynamic patterns by changing the shape of a material.

Huang graduated from MA Design for Textile Futures at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Her work has been shown in various international exhibitions and appeared in websites and magazines such as Frame, Icon and Onoffice. She has recently formed her own design studio in Birmingham, UK.


Katherine Morley

Don’t Mind if I Sugru

This is a series of generic porcelain vases that have been reconstructed, enhanced or repurposed from their original forms using Sugru. The Surgu allows for personalization of the mass produced forms and also provides a second or third life to an object that might otherwise be disposed of.

Each object will explore a different use of the Surgu by piecing together a broken vase, filling holes or cracks or applying intricate patterns or illustrations to the surface.

Katherine Morley is a Toronto-based Industrial Designer, working primarily in textiles and ceramics. Using design as a tool for discussion, she strives to create objects that honour content above aesthetics, and self-awareness above mass consumerism. Graduating from Ontario College of Art and Design in 2007, she has been featured in national and international design publications, exhibited in shows across Canada and is the co-founder and co-curator of Capacity, an annual exhibit showcasing women in design. A proud Canadian, Morley is continually searching ways to elevate Canadian culture in the global arena.



Elaine Ng Yan Ling

Techno Naturology: The Velcro Chain

“Naturology” embodies hybrid materials that combine the micro structure of wood veneer (with the directional strengths of the wood grain) with shape memory polymer. When combined with a natural material, an artificial smart material like shape memory polymer, extenuates its material properties. This helps to create a “Velcro Chained System”, a flexible modular system that reacts to various light, heat and humidity change conditions. The “Velcro Chained System” explores growth and change in real time. This structure pushes the boundaries of future textile construction, as these materials can adapt their appearance and they can respond to a natural lifecycle.

Elaine Ng Yan Ling is a UK based textile designer. Her design principle is based on Bio-mimicry, focusing on hybrid materialization of craft and technology to enhance modern architecture and interior design. By programming shape memory materials she explores how tectonic movement can be achieved through natural responses to heat, light and electricity. In May 2010, Ng graduated with a distinction from the MA Design for Textile Futures at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. In May, she exhibited her latest collection Techno – Naturology, and gave a presentation at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London England, showcasing the future influence that shape memory materials may have on design.


Jonathan Sabine

Tagua Swatch

This swatch is made of Tagua, the dried endosperm of a type of South American palm tree, that has been sliced thinly, polished and fastened to a piece of cloth to form a sort of scaled fabric.

Jonathan Sabine studied furniture design at the Sheridan Institute. He has since worked variously as a furniture maker, design engineer and product designer. He currently runs the design partnership, Chromoly, with art director, Adam Pickard, and his own Toronto-based studio, MatCult. His work sells internationally and has appeared in publications such as I.D., Playboy and *Wallpaper.


Naomi Yasui

Minton Glow

Veluna glass is a luminescent material that radiates once in darkness. With 20 minutes of exposure to light, this material will glow for approximately an hour. Minton Glow uses this phosphorescent technology in a tile design that could function as an indoor or outdoor wall, window, floor or ground feature.

Using manufacturing techniques from early industrial ceramic tile production, Minton Glow references an encaustic tile pattern from Mintons Ltd (1793-1968). These tiles were originally created using inlaid clay of different colours instead of glaze, which allowed the pattern to remain intact as the tiles wore down. Herbert Minton popularized encaustic tiles during the mid 18th – early 19th Century Gothic revival in England. However, this technique dates back to the medieval period and was also in favour between the 13th and 16th centuries in Europe.

Naomi Yasui graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design with a BDes in Material Art & Design. As a ceramicist, working within a sculpture installation context, she explores the historical origin of porcelain, pseudo-sciences and early industrial craft practices. Yasui currently lives and works in Toronto.