Aalto ARTS Student Päivi Leino among the 20 finalists at the Dorothy Waxman Textile Design Prize

Aalto ARTS student Päivi Leino from the Master’s Programme in Fashion, Clothing and Textile Design has been shortlisted among the 20 finalists at the fifth annual Dorothy Waxman Textile Design Prize. Päivi Leino works on the intersection of fashion, textile and art. She utilises many techniques from textiles to photography in her work. She is intriqued by the uncanny, mysterious, supernatural and masquerade.

The Dorothy Waxman Textile Design Prize is part of Li Edelkoort and Philip Fimmano’s TALKING TEXTILES initiative that promotes textile education, creativity and awareness. The prize is awarded to a textile or fashion design student who exhibits innovative thinking and inspiring creativity in textiles. This year’s winner, Jacob Olmedo from Parson School of Design, was announced September 19th 2020. The prize is supported by America’s leading carpeting and flooring company MOHAWK.

Päivi Leino entered the competition with her Master’s Thesis project In The Hanging Garden.

A design from the collection In the Hanging Garden by Päivi Leino


These works investigate the multiplicity of gender representations for the feminine. Femininity and masquerade has been connected together by various scholars in psychology and social sciences. The inspiration for this work has been the many theories and artworks utilizing masquerade as their weapon of choice in discussing issues of femininity. These textile sculptures examine the rigid categories available for feminine representation of self and question the traditional image of womanliness. The cagey like structure paints a one sided picture of womanliness, but something spills over.

Rope as a rigid, strong material intertwines into a lace like structures, suggesting femininity and masculinity in connection to each other, merging those gendered features of personality into a whole and commenting that femininity and masculinity are both present in all of us as valuable building blocks of human existence.

As masculinity presents itself with having agency, as the subject, the maker and femininity as passive, suppressed to the state of an object, rebellion against it aims for widening the spectrum for these traits and avoids the binary oppositions of gender representations. These textile sculptures lure the viewer into addressing the themes of femininity and fake, but give no straight answers.


A design from the collection In the Hanging Garden by Päivi Leino

These textile surfaces are made by sewing thinner rope through sturdier one, which creates a rigid but moldable surface. This unique technique can be implemented to a wide spectrum of items, from decoration to furniture, but here this technique is used as a conceptual tool as well as a design choice. The fiber compositions include polypropylene and polyester, man made plasticine fibers, accentuating the unnatural “masquerade” aspect of the pieces. The materials are intertwined to construct a lace-looking surface, but with heavy materials, the ropes as yarns. I have named the material as “Heavy lace”, which creates an interesting counterplay of material and visual image. The works underline the “plasticity as a metaphor for fluid evolution of gendered features and their constant flux. The conceptual content defines the material choices of these textile sculptures.


Päivi Leino

Website: paivileino.com

Instagram: lu_minal

Photos: Päivi Leino