architecture · children · creativity · design · play

Playground Crochet by Toshiko Horiuchi

This is from last November, but still amazing!

Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam, who orders yarn by the ton for her creations, is the textile artist behind the oft photographed net constructions at the Hakone sculpture park in Sapporo Japan.

I love the story of how she came to be engaged with children’s play:  “It all happened quite by accident. Two children had entered the gallery where she was exhibiting ‘Multiple Hammock No. 1’ and, blissfully unaware of the usual polite protocols that govern the display of fine art, asked to use it. She watched nervously as they climbed into the structure, but then was thrilled to find that the work suddenly came alive in ways she had never really anticipated. She noticed that the fabric took on new life – swinging and stretching with the weight of the small bodies, forming pouches and other unexpected transformations, and above all there were the sounds of the undisguised delight of children exploring a new play space.”

From that point, her work shifted out of the gallery and a subdued, monochromatic pallet into a riotous rainbow of colors for children’s playscapes.

Rainbow Net was produced in close collaboration with structural engineers TIS & Partners and landscape architects Takano Landscape Planning and opened in July of 2000 after three years of planning, testing, and building.

Note that the project began with a brief not for a playground, but simply for ‘public art‘.   Wouldn’t it be great if when we heard ‘public art’ we automatically thought ‘play’?

But innovative playscapes require an enormous commitment: “…endless cycles of discussion and approval, with meticulous attention to detail…[including] an actual scale wooden replica of the space in Horiuchi’s studio and accurately scaled crocheted nets using fine cotton thread. Even then, it was difficult to assess many things. What difference, for instance, would the weight of the real yarn make when everything increased in scale? All of these factors had to be calculated in order to arrive at a scientific methodology that could eradicate any risk of unacceptable danger.”During final assembly, Toshiko crocheted ten hours a day, often on her knees, until the installation was complete.”

With the current revival of the textile arts and yarn bombings everywhere, I’d love to see more crochet on the playground!

More at: Playground Crochet by Toshiko Horiuchi.

What an amazing use of fabric to create an original, creative play space.

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