Dipl. Designer ~ The Queen of Felt!
Mary-Ann Williams, born in Cape Town, South Africa, multi-award-winning designer and textile artist, studied Fashion-Design, Pattern-Design, Textile-Design, Interior-Design, Interior-Architecture und Hat-Design in Cape Town and Hamburg. In 1984 she started using felts (felting) for fashion and hats. After starting with her own fashion and hats collection she later specialized in the development of textile products in the HIGH END section of interior design. She creates home accessories, bowls, lights, table accessories, kitchen accessories, living accessories, greeting cards, bags, carpets, hats and fashion and she is advising in interior design solutions. Her innovative designs find international interest. She was named “The Queen of Felt” by a journalist and ID-Magazine referred to her work as the “Felted Empire”, endorsed by the astonishing amount of spectacular art work.
Her most recognized designs are the Flokati felt carpets, wall panels etc. which she invented. Those 3-D objects are easy to clean, biodegradable and single felt pieces can be renewed. They found acknowledgement through a long number of awards. She received FORM, IF PRODUCT DESIGN AWARD GOLD 2004, IF MATERIAL AWARD 2005, ID-MAGAZINE AWARD, ID-MAGAZINE BEST OF NOTABLES 2005/2006, over 10 Chicago GOOD DESIGN AWARDS and over 10 nominees for DESIGN AWARD OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY / German Design Award. She was member of the jury for the selection of the winners of Hessischer Staatspreis 2010 - 1st prize Unk Kraus, runner-up Peter de Vries.
She is known as the "acoustic guru" as her rugs and wall panels are as well art-objects as perfect sound-killers. The first and only objects where pieces can be changed (color), replaced or reshaped without tools at any time. Her designs are part of the Permanent Collection of the MAK (Museum of Applied Arts) Frankfurt. An international boost of recognition found her PLISSEE LAPTOP BAG which doesn't only look different to the mass of offered bags but also includes characteristics like perfect shock absorption although being made out of one single piece of material. The conscious lack of filling material makes this bag fully biodegradable.
She developed a chaise longue (SCONCIGLI daybed, rug, cushion, wallpanel...) made out of pure felt without any use of foam or filling material - interlocking and interlacing. (IF MATERIAL AWARD and Chicago GOOD DESIGN AWARD) She is the inventor of 3D felt greeting cards and 3D stand alone felt stars, trees, elks and other decorative 3D felt objects She uses materials like historic and innovative fabrics, wood, synthetics, rubber, metal or paper in her designs. Her collections are always developed under the background of raw materials, production, duration (cleaning or repairing) and ecological aspects. She loves minimalism but doesn't avoid pleasures of shapes and precious decorations. She brings structures and 3-dimensionality into the so far known 2-dimensionality (carpets etc.). The difference in her work appears in long term steps of testing and improvement which makes form, function, quality and ecology a simultaneous aspect in design.
Her hat designs are furious. She is an hat-architect. She has become cult object through her hats. ...as well as the hats. ZIP as an accessory: One of her Trademarks in Fashion Design was the ZIP sewn on the outside of the neck and waistline, turning tops, blouses and skirts into adjustable wearable jewellery. Another remarkable idea is using the ZIP on bags as a handle and opening (TIPSY WINEBAG). Her passion for PLEATS: Inspired by her school uniform she brought pleats from fashion to living-objects. Each of her fashion collections contained a design in pleats (as a striking accessory). Bags, pillows, coasters, runners, room divider, racks, rugs even lamp shades and 3D Acoustic Wall+Floor art... She developed the first 3-dimensional Felt Acoustic CRATE Collection (sound killer) to diffuse sounds to replace the egg-create-foam and received GOOD DESIGN AWARD 2011 and Nominee GERMAN DESIGN AWARD 2013.
Although some of her designs are laughed at by some people in the beginning, they turn out to be trendsetting after a short time. Mary-Ann has set up a previously not available standard in highest quality wool-felt. Without her there wouldn't have been such a development. She was one of the first designers working with dyed high quality wool felts. She invented the machine-washable pure new wool felt which was a big step towards quality improvement for the daily use. So far felt could only be dry-cleaned. She first came up with combinations of felt used together with other materials like metal, wood, glass or rubber etc.
A typical Capetonian figure of speech Mary-Ann uses is the word "stitching". Phrases like "without tools", "without glue", "without stitching" are symptomatic for her. Since using the words "Acoustic" and "inspired by..." in her descriptions many years ago it seems that lots of designer are inspired by her way of writing and also use the words "Acoustic" and "inspired by...". She realized that not just her art work has got such a big impact on other designers but as it seems her way of writing as well. ... which is typical for the "Generation Drag and Drop" ... and not cool at all! She prefers making trends instead of following them.
Special Thanks to… ...the Hessian State Minister mentioning Mary-Ann as pioneering and redrawing boundaries in German crafts receiving international acknowledgement approved last but not least through her numerous international Design Awards. ...Sam & Joe Pitcher from textileartist.org for featuring me in their outstanding book Textiles Re:imagined and the opportunity to give an insight into my creative mind in the interview Mary-Ann Williams interview: A textile system builder