My name is Mia Madrid and I am in my first year of the Master’s of Science in Textile Design program at Thomas Jefferson University. I am thrilled to be starting a Graduate Assistantship here at the Design Center because it is allowing me to interact with stunning pieces, artifacts, and garments that offer a ceaseless stream of inspiration. I started knitting when I was 7 years old, and have been an avid hand-knitter ever since. I finished my undergraduate degree in sociology in 2015, entered the workforce, and have since decided to change paths, return to school, and pursue my most creative interests as a career. So far, concentrating in knit for my master’s program has been a thrilling endeavor into the world of machine-knitting, a steep learning curve, and a new world of possibilities.
My first project at the TJU Design Center has been to re-size and organize a large collection of mounted swatches by iconic weave-designer Dorothy Liebes. Considered to be one of the great innovators of the textile design industry, Liebes was ahead of her time and collaborated extensively with a wide range of interior designers and architects, Frank Lloyd Wright among them. She had a skill for successfully combining vibrant and unexpected colors, experimented broadly with texture, and helped develop machinery and synthetic materials to bring mass-produced textiles to a broader audience at a lower price (“Dorothy” 2022). I am honored to be sorting through her swatches because it’s given me an insight into her development process, and I have really gotten a sense for how vast her experimentation was.
I look forward to exploring the many collections being cared for at the Design Center, and sharing future projects so that others can enjoy this incredible resource along with me. When I’m not at school or working, I fill my time wandering around Philadelphia, cooking, attempting to roller-skate, and hiking. I hope to use this degree, as well as the invaluable experience I am gaining at the Design Center, to develop sustainable textiles for outerwear and outdoors companies.
“Dorothy Liebes.” Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, 3 May 2022, https://www.cooperhewitt.org/dorothy-liebes/.