Amy Congdon


Country of origin

United Kingdom



Amy CongdonExploring ideas of ‘bespoke biological textiles’


Amy Congdon is a textile designer whose work revolves around the blurring of roles that is occurring between science and design.  Having completed a BA in Contemporary Textiles she went on to graduate in 2011 from the MA Textile Futures course at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London.

An embroiderer by training she has a particular research interest in the use of traditional textile techniques being re-appropriated into new areas, most specifically the use of digital embroidery to produce medical implants.  Amy’s practice falls within the category of critical design, in that it seeks to create work intended to provoke debate around the crafting of materials from living matter and whether we are reaching a stage where the body is becoming the ultimate luxury commodity.

Research Project

“Biological Bespoke”

Extract, grow, nurture, stitch, construct ... design?

Different textile techniques and structures are used because of their ability to mimic natural structures found within the human body.   Completely embroidered fabrics are used in medical implants; knitted bags help in supporting degenerative heart problems.  Using previous research knowledge and construction skills I hope to experiment with techniques of growing skin cells onto textile scaffolds, looking at fully integrating textiles and the body.

At some point in the future our bodies may become our most valuable assets. The human genome and stem cells are already patentable in certain circumstances.  Is this the start of a slippery slope?  If commercial profit is what is in the driving seat then new developments may indeed continue to break down the body into smaller more saleable pieces, creating truly disparate and constantly shifting bodies.  What will this mean for design?  When pieces are made from biological materials where does the ownership lie?  Do the perceived benefits outweigh the ethical uncertainties?  Using textile design as a vehicle to instigate debate I intend to explore these issues.

Bespoke is often considered the height of luxury, with pieces being individually made for a client.  What if in the future we are able to have biologically bespoke pieces made, would we want them, what form could they take and most importantly should we be allowed to have them?  Designers will have increasingly important roles to play, not only in their designs but also in their choice of materials.  Removed from their source do cells become the ultimate commodity?

The aim of my proposed project is to explore the idea of creating ‘bespoke biological textiles’.


Residency Period: August - November 2011