TaDA – Textile and Design Alliance is a cultural promotion programme jointly launched by the Cantons of Appenzell Ausserrhoden, St.Gallen and Thurgau. The trusteeship members are the three Offices for Culture. The goal of the programme is to promote artistic discussion with the eastern Swiss textile and design culture and thus strengthen the regional identity. A connection to practice and to the textile companies established in the region is a central component and fruitful for both sides. TaDA offers on an annual basis a work stay in Switzerland to six national and international personalities. The residents develop innovative projects in the fields of art, design, architecture, literature, the performing arts or in transdisciplinary contexts. As programme partners textile and design companies in Eastern Switzerland make their know-how and technology available to the artists, thus giving the residents an opportunity to do practical and artistic work and carry out applied research. On their part the partners benefit from the creative exchange with the art practitioners invited. On the occasion of the annual event "TaDA Spinnerei" the work results are presented to the public and discussed.
From the late 16th century the textile industry developed into the key economic driver in the areas of today’s cantons of St.Gallen, Thurgau, Appenzell Ausserrhoden and Innerrhoden. It reached its high point in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Initially, spreading from the city of St.Gallen, the production of fabrics in the form of home weaving spread from the city of St.Gallen into the surrounding countryside, mainly to Ausserrhoden and the Toggenburg. With hand embroidery, Innerrhoden and parts of Vorarlberg were included from 1780 onwards, and with the mechanisation of embroidery parts of Thurgau from 1865. In the early 20th century St.Gallen Spitzen (embroidery) represented the most important Swiss export product. Lack of demand for embroidery after the First World War caused Eastern Switzerland to lapse into a severe economic crisis. With new production techniques, especially in knitting and hosiery, as well as textile finishing and technical textiles, the industry maintained its importance until around 1970. In the globalisation that followed certain Swiss companies have managed to hold their ground, thanks to their quality and spirit of innovation.
Following his apprenticeship as an embroidery designer, Martin joined the textile company Jakob Schlaepfer in 1973. From 1989 to 2018, he was Creative Director and a member of the management board at Schlaepfer, where he and his team designed over 1,000 fabrics for the fashion world every year. With his exclusive fabric creations, he plays a decisive role in determining what will be considered a new fashion trend tomorrow. In 2004 he designed the exhibition “Bling Bling” in the Landesmuseum Zurich for the 100th anniversary of the company. He has been awarded countless prizes for his work, including the Swiss Grand Prix of Design from the Federal Office of Culture and the renowned American Cotton Design Award. Today, he works in his private studio.
Sandra Mbanefo Obiago is a curator and creative industry expert, with over 30 years of experience in art, development, and edutainment. She is Founder and Artistic Director of SMO Contemporary Art, which curates exhibitions on artists of African descent, and documents and manages public, private, and corporate art collections. She started her career in 1988 at the European Business Channel in Zurich, before joining the environmental group, WWF International, where she was responsible for communications and photo-journalism across Sub-Saharan Africa for eight years. In 1998 she founded Communicating for Change (CFC), a media for development social enterprise based in Lagos, Nigeria. Her award winning films, radio programs, and campaigns focused on creativity and sustainable development; her film, For Love of Indigo, celebrating the legendary Nigerian textile artist Nike Okundaye, showed how art can foster socio-economic growth, enhance cultural pride & strengthen identity. Obiago is a Fellow of the Aspen Institute’s African Leadership Initiative for West Africa (ALIWA) and her creative projects have received grants from many global institution including the Ford Foundation, UBS, Deutsche Bank, Access Bank and others. She has a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Manitoba in Canada, and a Masters of Arts degree in Telecommunications from Michigan State University, USA.
Prof. Dr. Claudia Mareis is a Swiss design researcher and cultural historian. After initial training in Graphic Design, she studied Design, Art and Cultural Studies in Zurich, Berlin and Linz. Since 2021, she has been Professor of Design and History of Knowledge at the Department of Cultural History and Theory at the Humboldt University of Berlin and the co-director of the Cluster of Excellence »Matters of Activity. Image Space Material«. Besides she is a lecturer at the Institute for Experimental Design and Media Cultures at the FHNW Academy of Art and Design in Basel. Her research interests include history, theory and methodology of design in the 20th century, knowledge cultures in design, experimental design and media practices, cultural history of creativity, design and material politics.
Luba Nurse is a textile historian and conservator with MAs from the Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton. In a career spanning over 20 years, Luba has worked in the USA, Europe and the Middle East and was the Andrew W. Mellon Conservation Research Fellow at the National Museum of the American Indian, Washington D.C. and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Most recently she has lectured on ‘Complex Materials’ at the Institute for Conservation at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna and is researching early techniques of sewing and embroidery on parchment in medieval manuscripts. Her interests are cross-disciplinary approaches to object-based research in collections, and innovations in collection documentation. From September 2023, Luba is Head of Collections at the Textilmuseum St. Gallen.
René Rossi has been working for over 25 years as a researcher at Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology. He studied applied physics and was awarded his PhD in Technical Sciences at ETH Zurich. Since 2003, René Rossi has been leading the Laboratory for Biomimetic Membranes and Textiles at Empa, an interdisciplinary group of around 40 researchers. He is lecturer for Thermal Physiology and Sports Textiles at ETH Zurich and Guest Professor at the University of Haute-Alsace in Mulhouse, France. His research focus is smart textiles, in particular fibre-based sensors for body monitoring as well as hybrid fibres for controlled substance release.
Barbara Signer works as an artist and in her artistic work deals with the emergence of realities and tries to get hold of the incomprehensible, the uncertain. In her works, the imaginary and the real merge into fiction. Since a high school exchange year in 1999, the artist has repeatedly spent time in Japan and later also in China. After a year at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), she studied Japanese Studies at the University of Zurich from 2004 to 2014. In the meantime, she attended Kansai University in Osaka from 2005 to 2006 and completed an internship at the Tomio Koyama Gallery in Tokyo in 2008. In the following years, she spent time abroad in Beijing, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome, among other places.
lic.phil. Ursula Steinhauser studied prehistory and early history, medieval archaeology and paleontology at the University of Zurich. She later completed postgraduate studies at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Communication, Management and Leadership. After working for many years as a cultural mediator in various museums and as a freelance archaeologist, she headed the Seemuseum Kreuzlingen from 2015 to 2020. Since July 2020, she has headed the Office of Culture of the Canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden.
Domenica Tischhauser is a trained dressmaker and designed wedding dresses and evening wear for women. After her initial training, she continued her education to become a textile engineer and after graduation worked for Jakob Schläpfer AG St.Gallen. There she took on the responsibility of purchasing fabrics and raw materials and for 5 years as product manager she coordinated sales and production at Boller Textiles. She was also part of the Collection Development team of "HUGO Man and Woman" at Hugo Boss in Coldrerio. From 2008 - 2017, Domenica Tischhauser was responsible for the management and further development of the business unit Mira X Fabrics in Bühler as a member of the management board. Since 2017, she is responsible for the "Product Development Carpets and Fabrics" of Tisca Tischhauser AG.
Empa is the interdisciplinary Swiss research institute of the ETH Division for Material Sciences and Technology. As a bridge between research and practical application, it develops innovative solutions in the fields of nano-structured, “smart” materials, environmental, energy and sustainable building technologies, biotechnologies and medical technologies. Together with industry partners, Empa turns research findings into marketable innovations.
Established in 1919, Filtex AG remains in the hands of the founding family. As a leading retail and production company, the tradition-rich firm supplies its customers worldwide with fine cotton goods, novelties, embroidery, home textiles and raw materials. The company’s core values are exceptional aesthetics, outstanding quality and innovative design.
Since the beginning, Lässer has been more than just a machine manufacturer. The Swiss company, which has shaped shuttle embroidery like no other, is still the driving force of the embroidery industry today. From the first embroidery machine in 1982 to the latest MVD75 developments, Lässer AG provides designers, punchers and embroiderers with the tools to breathe life into their creations. With intelligent solutions for improved production processes and creative designs, Lässer shows forward-looking perspectives for the embroidery industry.
As a small business in Thal, Lobra AG specialises in the refining and manufacture of a great variety of films and sheeting. Using a wide range of basic films, all kinds of sequins can be punched out and overprinted using dye sublimation printing.
For over 20 years, Rigotex AG in Toggenburg with its some twenty employees has been developing, producing and selling high-quality gastronomy and home textiles. They are produced in the company’s own factory on eight Sulzer Rüti looms. In addition to durable, affordable products for customers in the catering sector, rigotex also offers customised home and decor textiles.
Saurer Museum, located in picturesque Arbon on Lake Constance in Switzerland, displays commercial vehicles, engines and embroidery and weaving machines of all generations that were manufactured in Arbon. You will see around 20 historic vehicles (all categories; trucks, buses, military vehicles, fire engines and post buses), starting with the oldest Saurer truck ever, through the Caminhao 1911 to vehicles of the D generation, as well as a comprehensive engine exhibition. Saurer vehicles, which are still frequently encountered on the roads in Switzerland, were famous for their power, their durability, their sophisticated technology and also for their convincing design. In the textile machinery section, we show embroidery machines of the three pioneer generations, as well as weaving machines of various types. The textile machines are all set up ready for operation and are selectively put into operation during guided tours.
In 1868, Rudolph Schoeller established one of Switzerland's first worsted yarn spinning mills in Schaffhausen. A few years later, he bought another cloth mill in Sevelen. Innovative fabrics like polyamide and elastane arrived in Europe from the US in the 1930s; Schoeller embraced this trend and began to manufacture the first stretch fabrics himself. Since then, Schoeller has been developing and producing extremely functional textiles and innovative textile technologies. In addition to textiles used in sportswear, workwear and leisurewear, these also include protective textiles and textiles used for medical and technical applications.
The Sitterwerk Foundation, which houses an art library, materials archive and studio house, is located on an industrial site in the Sitter Valley near St.Gallen and in direct proximity to the Kesselhaus Josephsohn, Kunstgiesserei St.Gallen AG and the photo laboratory. This closely knit network is further enriched by the production of art and craft and by the related research, preservation and educational activities conducted here.
Switzerland Innovation Park Ost is the network for innovations and start-ups around Säntis. In all phases of innovation, Switzerland Innovation Park Ost supports ambitious founders as well as established SMEs that are open to impulses and drive new things forward. Visionary founders benefit from a comprehensive support programme at Switzerland Innovation Park Ost - from free initial advice to financing. At Switzerland Innovation Park Ost, innovative ideas are given a real chance. To this end, they make their network available and support start-ups with sound know-how.
Founded in 1978, Textilcolor AG is based in Sevelen in St.Gallen’s Rhine Valley. As a specialist in textile chemistry, Textilcolor is a byword for the development, manufacture and sale of textile auxiliaries, textile dyes, pigments and optical brighteners. With its expertise and technical advice the company supports its customers in all fields of textile manufacturing and finishing.
As one of the last manual screen printing companies in Switzerland, Textildruckerei Arbon has been producing premium-quality hand- and flat-film prints on its 50-metre print tables since 1903. This micro business is dedicated almost entirely to the manufacture of niche products, whether these are the renowned traditional Swiss linen calendars or the handcrafted fabrics for international catwalks. The textile printing company also has an archive of approximately 3,000 screens.
Founded in 1878, the Textile Museum of St.Gallen houses one of Switzerland’s most important textile collections. Woven materials and embroideries from every corner of the globe, sample books, sketches and photographs illustrate the history of the Swiss textile industry, shaped by regional pride and international influence. In addition to the show “Fabrikanten & Manipulanten” about the history of textiles in Eastern Switzerland, the Textile Museum regularly presents special exhibitions on selected topics from the fields of textile history, fashion and design.
Tisca, a family firm founded in 1940 and still located in the village of Bühler, is today a group that operates internationally. It develops high-quality textiles for exterior and interior furnishings, especially carpet flooring, sports flooring and textiles for the transport sector. In so doing the manifold possibilities of textiles, such as impact on air humidity, dust and bacteria cushioning effect, or heat and sound insulation are constantly exploited and developed.
Thanks for the support
Dr. Fred Styger Stiftung
Else v. Sick Stiftung
Ernst Göhner Stiftung
Ikea Stiftung Schweiz
Susanne und Martin Knechtli-Kradolfer-Stiftung