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SprechenÜber: Craft


On January 17, 2024 we had our “SprechenÜber” event with guest Mina Mahouti, in which we discussed the meaning and definition of craft and the significance it holds in (our) design practices today. In a practical workshop we explored the ancient crafting technique of spinning yarn by building our own spindles and producing threads from sheep wool fibers.


Making a thread

First steps of producing yarn

The drop-spindle is one of the first methods used by humans to spin yarn from fibers. The clever use of a rotating rod with an attached weight made it possible to combine and process animal and plant fibers early on. Today, this simple and accessible principle offers the possibility of transforming local materials into thread.

In our workshop on 17th of January 2024 we first received an input lecture from Mina Mahouti. In her practice she works at the intersection of circular design, research and craft. She talked about her own projects as well as the textile network „Fibershed“ which connects farmers, designers and manufacturers in German-speaking countries.

Afterwards, we built drop spindles with the other students and gained some initial experience in spinning yarn. We provided them with a basic stock of raw wool and invited them also to bring materials that could be suitable for spinning (for example fibers, yarns, pieces of fabric and other natural materials). With a short hands-on introduction in the process everybody began to spin and produced their own threads.

Ideation and Concept

Our group connected over this topic because we were all interested in different kinds of areas of craft and the aspects of working with material in traditional and/or new ways.

Within our modern world there are a lot of opportunities when it comes to producing objects and material, but we agreed on traditional craft being an honest approach to work with material in its raw form and the aspect of working with your hands builds a stronger connection and appreciation to the end result.

But still there are challenges that craftsmanship faces, there are faster ways of creating for example woven rugs. Machines have taken over the role of human makers in production a long time ago and the expanse of labor would be enormous.

We thought it would be nice to have a discussion about how craft is implemented nowadays. Before the workshop, we thought about what is possible within the time limit of one and a half hours, because in our opinion a hands-on workshop would be more suitable for the topic of craft.

Nevertheless we still thought it would be great to have an initial input part from someone with expertise in a specific craft related topic.

So the idea of a short introduction from an expert and a following workshop was created.

About Mina Mahouti

Mina Mahouti works as a designer and creative consultant at the intersection of circular design, research and craft. Her work focuses on both an ecological understanding of material cycles and the social and geopolitical contexts of matter. Her design concepts are based on a visual, narrative approach and critical ecological thinking.

In collaboration with transdisciplinary partners, she aspires to raise awareness of the materials that surround us. Through various design formats, current phenomena are reflected upon and ideas for future scenarios are developed.

She holds a Master's degree in Eco Social Design from the Free University of Bolzano and worked as Creative Lead at 48 Stunden Neukölln, teaches in the Innovations Lab and greenlab at weißensee kunsthochschule berlin and supports the experimental lab at Matters of Activity at HU Berlin alongside her freelance design work.

Mina Mahouti’s work was the reason why we invited her to have the talk. In previous projects she worked with natural material in traditional and experimental ways and we wanted to know more about her work and design processes. Besides her own projects, she just started a position at khb as a greenlab lecturer, so it was nice to use this evening as an initial “get to know”.


About Fibershed

Fibershed DACH is a non-profit organization that develops regional fiber systems that build ecosystems and community health. Through their network they connect farmers, designers and manufacturers in German-speaking countries, aiming to bring end-users closer to the source of their fiber through education. They try to strengthen an international system of diverse textile communities that directly enhances regional economies for the purpose of generating permanent and lasting systems of localized fiber production. Fibershed’s goal is a world looking to rapidly mitigate the effects of climate change where consumers, manufacturers, designers, and ecologists collectively rethink and reimagine the lifecycle of garments.

As design students, we constantly face the challenge of trying to find and connect with (local) manufacturers, other designers or even farmers and get to the source of the material we are working with. Fibershed’s network poses as an excellent starting point for everyone wanting to work with natural fibers and materials as well as crafting techniques.

Execution (Preparation and Event)

As mentioned, first we collected ideas of who we know and who is connected to the topic, so we could invite somebody to tell us more about their certain design field and craft practice.

Throughout the whole planning we knew that our team wanted to have some kind of workshop, so we brainstormed and landed on ideas like embroidery, working with ceramic or flax, but also making threads. Sara, one of our team members, already had some experience with drop spindles, so she knew that they are a quite easy way for beginners to work with raw fibers. Because of this knowledge we decided to stick with this idea, so the students could learn and experience an ancient craft in a rather quick and simple way.

After organizing a room for the event (the Prof. Mensa), we discussed what was needed for the participants to join the planned workshop. For the DIY-spindles we needed some sort of wood (round bottom part and a stick), rubber bands and hooks to secure the raw wool, which we already had. The wood had to be cut with the laser cutter and after that we assembled a few as a tryout, so we had an overview of the time and challenge the students would need during the workshop. 

(tutorial for the drop spindles can be found here:


For the event itself: it started with an introduction from Mina about who she is, where she sees the potential of craft nowadays and she gave us some insides of her way of creating. After a Q&A round, the group started to assemble the spindles with our help and we started to create threads together. The main key to the process with the spindle and the wool is to have the right amount of spin, so it turns itself into a piece of thread. Overall the group did a very good job with the spindles and were also fascinated that it can be so simple, only using a specific type of movement to create something.

Some questions, which came up during the Q&A with Mina:

Why are you into craft?

Where do you see the benefits of craft compared to using machines/technology?

You have a wide portfolio, showing works with different materials, such as Linen / Bottom ash/ Fungi… How do you find the subjects you are doing research about?

Are you following specific interests or questions, which connect the different projects?

Are the projects in your current portfolio from your time in university, or are they self-initiated? 

And how do you find the time to work on self-initiated projects?

What advice would you give us, as students and future designers?



Evaluation & Conclusion

Material research, in which craftsmanship, conventional manufacturing processes and cultivated knowledge are of vital importance, is a main part of many of the different design fields in which we operate. A craft approach to design leads to a more in-depth understanding of the process and the materials. We see craft and craft-based research as having the potential for contributing to contemporary manufacturing as well as potential strategies towards designing for sustainability.Experiencing a craft first hand and entering a sort of reflective practice during the making, leads the maker to consider different and sometimes unexpected perspectives and contexts and generally allows for more informed decision-making.

The feedback from the participants was very appreciative and positive as we were able to build on Mina's input with the practical part of our event. Using a spindle and making threads was new for all of the students.



Art des Projekts

Studienarbeit im Masterstudium


foto: Sandra Stark foto: Josua Josua

Zugehöriger Workspace

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Wintersemester 2023 / 2024