DIGIKNIT. The digitised MF1 historical archive

Giovanni Maria Conti

I am an Associate Professor at the Department of Design. My field of interest is Knitwear Design and I am the director of the Specializing Master in Fiber Design and Textile Processes, in collaboration with Città Studi Biella.

DIGIKNIT is a project for the digitisation of the most important historical collection of knitted garments Made in Italy, for the development of innovative digital services able to foster the creative process and breathe new life into manufacturing in the knitwear sector.

The main objective of the project was to preserve and preserve the heritage of technical and stylistic knowledge of the MF1 archive, consisting of approximately 7,500 garments, through its digitisation, in order to transform it into an active resource in the conception of an innovative service and tool for education and updating for all fashion stakeholders, with particular attention to the younger generations of designers. The end result was the development of a web-based platform not only for the digital cataloguing of knitwear garments, but for the use of digital products for the stylistic and creative process for the new generations of knitwear designers.

DIGIKNIT has had a positive impact on the "way of" doing research in the field of Knitwear Design, in which tradition becomes a very large pool for the creation of innovative contemporary products, in which technique, although traditional, is updated and responds to the contemporary logic of industrial production.

The project was co-funded by the Lombardy Region within the Call "SMART FASHION AND DESIGN ", and involved the Department of Design, Power App and the knitwear factory MF1 for the development of a digital visualisation tool for the re-use of the MF1 archive.

Activities and results to date have been, therefore, the cataloguing of garments in the archive, the creation and compilation of product sheets, the recognition of products by Shapes, Materials, Stitches and Processing, and participation in the creation of the application.

DIGIKNIT

A research project aimed at the digitisation of the most important historical collection of knitted garments Made in Italy, for the development of innovative digital services able to foster the creative process and breathe new life into manufacturing in the knitwear sector. One of the final stages involved the organisation of an exhibition that could highlight the cultural value of the MF1 knitwear archive.

Thus was born the exhibition project 'Knit, Stitch. Forty years of hidden treasures from the MF1 archive ", which presented part of the results of the research carried out in collaboration between the Design Department of the Politecnico di Milano, the MF1 knitwear factory and Power App in order to promote the use, knowledge and accessibility of the archive, as well as to capture all those design, production and research aspects that the MF1 knitwear factory has made available to the most important Italian-made brands, and not only.

During the exhibition tour, which showcased 70 of MF1's approximately 7500 garments, visitors were able to interact with the digitised archive, accessible both via web and mobile, containing the photos and processing details of the garments in the archive. An important part of the research was in fact the process of digitising all the material present in the company so that it could be more easily consulted both by insiders and by young designers, consultants, journalists, and students interested in the knitwear sector either professionally or for simple passion.

Thanks to the multimedia platform, it is possible to obtain information in real time on the garments in the archive, simply by searching for the garment code within the application, to consult the technical data sheets explaining each garment, and then to create a gallery of 'favourite' products so that everyone can use what the archive holds in a contemporary and innovative way.

Digitisation bears witness to how the realisation and development of innovative digital services enables the user to understand the historical, cultural, as well as technical value of the products preserved within a company and use history as a tool for contemporary and innovative product creation.

Text taken from the Exhibition Catalogue 'Knit, stitch. Forty years of hidden treasures from the MF1 archive', published by Silvana Editoriale, edited by Giovanni Maria Conti.

The project was realised by Knitlab, a research group of the Department of Design, which deals with knitwear design projects. On the knitlab.org platform, it is possible to find information on knitwear, the technical characteristics of yarns, knitting needles, and everything related to the world of contemporary knitwear. Students' work is regularly published and for us it is a place where you can understand how contemporary knitwear design is progressing.

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