Object of the Week – ‘Brocaded Weave Lamba’, 2009

30 September 2021
The Design Edit

THIS SHIMMERING SHAWL, with its bright yellow hue, calls to mind the sun, gold and Chinese Emperors, whilst giving the impression of great age. The revelation about this piece, however, on view at Oliver Hoare Ltd, is that it’s brand new and made from an un-dyed naturally-occurring material – spider silk. Handwoven in Madagascar from the protein fibre milked from millions of female Golden Orb spiders, this fabric is the culmination of a twenty year project, driven by a dream to achieve the impossible.

The indefatigable designer behind the piece is Simon Peers, a British art historian and textile expert. Ever since he settled in Madagascar, thirty-odd years ago, he has been fascinated by the indigenous textile tradition. The island, lying off the coast of East Africa, has always been the natural trading hub of the Indian Ocean, and so its peoples and culture are a unique blend of South-East Asian and East African. Peers noticed that whilst many international museums had collections on African or Asian textiles, the Madagascan tradition was barely covered. This prompted him to start an archive of traditional designs and motifs.

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