Vicki Clough Curates

Musings on art and life.

New Lace: The Industrial Revolution

New Lace, the industrial revolution

Stuffy, frilly, flowery. Lace has some pretty old fashioned connotations associated with its inherent traditional and feminine nature. Usually delicate and fine, contemporary lace design is not only facing a re-emergence and reinvention in the fashion world, but also in the gallery. Artist, designers and architects have begun to explore the folklore, customs and fashions of lace and reinterpret them for public audiences in new an innovative ways. While the traditional and delicate nature of lace remains intact, new methods of making are emerging; laser cutting, soldering, drilling and bolting are terms seldom used in the description of lace design and manufacture, in the same way that concrete, wire fences, plaster board and metals would not be the usual medium.

Here I aim to create a snapshot of lace being used to create fashionable clothing, interior design ideas, industrial scale ‘lace’, as well as artwork inspired by this fine fabric.

I have included the work of designers, architects and artists who have pushed the boundaries of traditional lace, either through the industrial methods of making, materials or ideas presented in their work. They bring a whole new meaning to the term ‘lace industry’. Today’s lace is big and bold, but just as delicate and beautiful as always.

Current fashion trends are demonstrating the staying power of this versatile fabric. The catwalks of Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Dolce and Gabbana all feature modern lace designs with fresh new elements. Louse Vuitton maintained the delicacy and femininity of lace while exploiting the lacy structure with exaggerated broderie anglaise holes accompanied by sheer white or subtley coloured layers. 2012 also sees the rise of the hottest new lace trend- shorts! This new take on an already favourite trend is bound to be a hit in hot summer weather.

Louse Vuitton s/s 2012


Louise Vuitton s/s 2012


Dolce & Gabana s/s 2011


Anna Sui s/s 2011.


The lace motif has seen some revival in the making of fashion accessories. Gucci and Alexander McQueen are just two designers using lace as a print design for handbags, phone covers and purses.

Alexander McQueen s/s 2012


Caterins Lucchi s/s 2012


The popularity of trendy wearable lace is not confined to clothing items. Lace shoes come in an incredibly wide range of styles, colours and indeed shapes.

These Valentino heels by Philip Treacy are just one, albeit less reserved example of the lace shoe readily available on the high street.


The possibilities presented by the nature of lace have led to many interesting materials and applications being developed in the manufacturing of lace like objects..

Urban Jewellery is a company that makes use of scrap inner bicycle tubes to create interesting jewellery or ‘wearable art’. Rubber tubing gets a laser cut make over into lacy necklaces, cuffs, ear rings and masks. Originally started as an inexpensive way of making gifts for her family and friends Barbi Touron now has a thriving business, based on the socially responsible recycling of rubber tubes.


Ear rings

High Street fashion is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of lace design innovation. This sheer, fine fabric has commonly been used in the home for centuries. Handmade doilies, curtains and table cloths often have a dated feel and can give the impression of accessories dug out from Granny’s attic. Modern lace interior design is far more edgy; lampshades made from perspex and paper, screen printed large scale lace headboards and quirky glass jars podged with doilies give a fresh and modern feel to romantic lace imagery.

Indeed, even the bowls we eat out of have undergone a lacy revamp.

Hideminy is an online shop specialising in contemporary porcelain tableware and here we see an example of the lace design bowls produced for sale on


Glass is another new material to undergo the lace transformation, Katherine Wightman used a lace motif for a piece entered in to the 2010 British Glass Biennale.


Interior lighting always helps to set a mood. New materials and processes have expanded the possibilities of providing the ultimate in romantic and beautiful lighting and many designers are using lace to create exactly that.

McCollin Bryan create these intimate lace cubes.


Here’s a large standing design by design by Rodolfo Bianchi for design house Fiorentino


Gilles Eichenbaum creates “Garbage”, beautiful, quirky home lighting from old metal tea and coffee pots and kettles.


There is little in this world that is as satisfying as owning a beautiful piece of furniture or artwork, and as far as lace chairs are concerned they epitomise the best of both worlds.

These exquisite chairs are from


And these are designed by Dutch designer Marcel Wanders. They are not only beautiful, but look comfy too.


If you were to go a step further whilst decorating your home, you could potentially have full on lace wall paper. Wallpaper has also seen a re-surge in popularity in recent years and is available an any and most conceivable designs, including lacy variations and various textures and tones.

Vivienne Westwood has designed a range of lace inspired wallpaper.


The current popularity of lace design spans many, many areas, not just the interior and fashion worlds.

Artists all over the world are exploring the realms of possibility with regard to lace products and design. Scale is undergoing a serious overhaul and lace is being blown and brightened up. Materials, as we’ve seen, are becoming less and less fragile in some cases and more so in others. Paper has long been used in the design of needle lace, and now we see it being used to become lace itself.

Tomoko Shioyasu is an artist who embraces the delicacy of lacy motifs and explores the possibility of greater scale while maintaing that delicacy. Large sheets of paper, hand cut into intricate, swirling patterns are hung in such a way as to emphasise the conceal and reveal nature of lace. An added highlight of this work is the fascinating way that light and space play such an integral part, creating intimate patterned spaces between the works themselves.

“Blessing Wall” detail

“Blessing Wall”

All images for Tomoko Shioyasu

Another artist who employs similar practice to Shioyasu is Lizz Aston. Her practice centres around paper burn-outs and fibre manipulation, however for the exhibition LOOKout, currently being held in Toronto’s Harbourfront Center artist in residence program, she has taken images of her own quite lacy work and manipulated it in to this “Exploding Lace” wall piece. Scale and indeed the viewpoint and context of the original motif are challenged here, to create modern lace.

“Exploding Lace”


Paper Burnout Art


Piper Shepard has a history for working with lacy motifs in her work. She has long been a practitioner of laser cutting large scale lace. Often her work creates a space and atmosphere within the gallery that encourages awe whilst simultaneously drawing the viewer in to inspect the detail. Shepard’s recent work for the Lost in Lace exhibition in Birmingham can be seen below. The work was based on the architecture of the exhibition space (the Gas house) itself and is reminiscent of an arch way one might find in a grand house or estate.

“Lacing Space”


“Lacing Space” detailed image

Staying in the gallery, the work of Barnabeifreeman has a classic rose style motif here, that makes the scale feel like a contrasting aspect of the work. The duo work predominantly in interior design, so it’s no surprise that this piece produced for the Love Lace Exhibition in the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney is actually a very beautiful ‘metal and shadow wallpaper for the contemporary interior’

The manufacture of such a piece is somewhat industrial, being made of sheet metal. But that doesn’t make it any less lacy.

“Garden Party”


“Garden Party” detail


Laura Splan is another textile artist dealing with the concept of dualities. For her lace project ‘Doilies’ she uses an industrial method to create delicate, intricate artwork for exhibition. The artwork is created using a computerised machine made method and depicts the cell structures of various viruses, Splan succeeds in creating unease in the viewer in that something so potentially lethal is depicted in a method that is usually considered an inheritable heirloom.

“SARS, HIV, Herpes, Influenza, Hepadna.” Installation view.


A final artist dealing with work in the gallery space is Cal Lane. Cal is interested in comparing and contrasting ideas such as “industrial and domestic, strong and delicate, masculine and feminine, and ornament and function.” In her work Cal uses lacy motifs and patterning in a typically industrial way by plasma cutting tools into lacy motifs. The result is a finely balanced display of juxtaposing elements, simultaneously strong, yet delicate.




Belgian artist Elodie Antoine uses traditional lace making techniques to create decidedly industrial, but beautiful looking art work. Pile ons, smoke stacks and fences sketched in delicate bobbin lace create an interesting tension between traditional lace and modern landscape.

Contemporary artists and designers are also taking their work out into the public realm and even attempting to create a new,decorative method of enclosure. Gates and fences have often possessed a little ornamentation to allow some semblance of decoration whilst simultaneously keeping outside and inside decidedly separate. The work of the Dutch design company Demakersvan, however, has shown that the old wire fence can benefit from a lacy themed makeover. They aim to combine the industrial and crafty, as well as hostility and kindness.

“Lace Fence”

Lace Fence


While the work of Demakersvan is providing the world with controlled and intentional remodelling of both lace and public space, the artist Nespoon has taken her art to the streets and beaches of Europe in a more guerilla type way. Nespoon creates public art that blurs the definitions of the words graffiti and lace simultaneously. Spray paint is her primary medium, and the result is somewhat similar in style to the artist previously mentioned; Lizz Aston, but the intention is far from the same. She also creates site specific ceramic lace pieces, often inserting them in to the hollows of trees or attaching them to the outside of a building. Nespoon aims to add her work to the realm of graffiti art, using her feminine motifs to beautify and decorate dismal looking public spaces.



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This entry was posted on April 18, 2012 by in Art and tagged , , .


Vicki Clough

Vicki Clough

Vicki is an independent curator and craftsperson with a focus on socially engaged and participatory art and events. In January 2016 she helped launch Reconstructing Resilience, a research and curatorial project that explored various forms of sustainable practice. As a freelance curator she has worked with the Riverdale Hub, Myseum of Totonto/Art Spin and was the Curatorial Director of Figment Toronto from 2014 to 2017. She has also co-curated exhibitions including JAYU's iAM photography project (2016 & 2017), Move to Stillness, for the Harbourfront Centre's Kick Up Your Heels Festival (2015), The Duel, AGO First Thursdays (2014), and What Are You Made Of? OCAD U Graduate Gallery (2013). She initiated the Toronto based workshop model and website Polymers in Action: Socially Engaged Art and the Environment as part of her studies at OCAD University, where she obtained her Master of Fine Arts degree in Criticism and Curatorial Practice. She publishes on anything that interests her deeply and moves her to the point of lengthy verbal expression.

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