Tape Measure Project by Debbie Smyth



Young Irish artist Debbie Smyth has created a series of objects by weaving tape measures.

Smyth was one of the winners of Dezeen's competition to show work at Talent Zone at Tent London last month, where she also showed her Pins & Thread project. See our earlier story.


Debbie, who graduated in textile design this year, uses techniques like knitting, knotting, basket making and origami. The following is from Debbie Smyth:


Debbie Smyth’s work rises to the challenge of employing a variety of skills and techniques to transform unusual and unorthodox materials and objects into playful yet sophisticated pieces. Employing an array of mechanisms, she folds, collapses, inflates and interlocks her materials to transform two dimensional lines and planes into three-dimensional shapes and space.


The designs are the result of detailed explorations both in terms of visual inspirations and material qualities. The processes and mechanisms are seldom hidden but openly displayed to reveal the story of their transformation.


Drawing upon traditional techniques, which include knitting, knotting, basket making and origami, combined with exciting new technologies such as laser welding, she conjures up structures that reside on the imagined boundary between sculpture and constructed textiles.


Precise folds, calculated angles and measured lengths combine in multiples of interlocking knots to transform the familiar builder’s tape measure into an alien three-dimensional form.

Myriad pins and lines of thread are given a new lease of life as floating linear structures. Each one plotted and measured accurately to depict the hated obtrusion of the electricity pylon which themselves are floating lines in space. Suspended interlocking stitched and printed units are mechanisms of movement and change as they play with power of pattern to emerge as light and shadow.

The newly created forms can then take on a life of their own, as happy decorating 21st century interiors as featuring in fashion shoots; unique gifts at one scale, gallery installations at another.

Posted on Saturday October 18th 2008 at 8:36 am by Matylda Krzykowski. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • zuy

    i dunnot see art in the categories, it’s not an object

  • zuy

    see in wikimedia “Measurement is fundamental in science; it is one of the things that distinguish science from pseudoscience. It is easy to come up with a theory about nature, hard to come up with a scientific theory that predicts measurements with great accuracy. Measurement is also essential in industry, commerce, engineering, construction, manufacturing, pharmaceutical production, and electronics.”
    I must also say it’s fundamental in design even if design is not a science …
    On photo and post we dunnot have the sizes , it’s important because design consumer are more in cities than in the country

  • cpcp

    these are awesome!
    love the symmetry

  • The research with this kind of material is interesting, but what comes next? New fibre?

  • zuy

    To all the designers, I am sorry I am such a wanker in my comments,
    therefore, I wil stop giving comments !!
    Now I can get a life, and start making some things on my own,
    so I can understand the design process completely !
    thx all !!

  • zuy

    False comment (above) is the best way to go on in a virtual second life design world …I know a lot of young designers that use a lot of friends to write positive comments on web and it’s terrible for them because it’s the only positive comments …
    I said only there is no art category as in the other art design interior archi blogs…
    Mesure is key factor in design and some real designers get awards ed red dot with product with clever use of mesurement

  • zuy

    an example of real design : use of mesure in kitchenware design (red dot 06)

  • xtiaan

    hey zuy didnt you just say

    To all the designers, I am sorry I am such a wanker in my comments,
    therefore, I wil stop giving comments !!
    Now I can get a life, and start making some things on my own,
    so I can understand the design process completely !
    thx all !!

    why dont you do what you said you would, instead of leaving inane, and largely illegible comments all over the forum, I mean at least learn to string a sentence together, you sound a little retarded. Go get a life like you promised us.

  • zuy

    I comment in measured words but design selected by a lot of design blogs are catching eyes and provocative to increase the number of negative and positives comments but it’s not a real design debate because a comment need 4 or 5 hours to be published here.
    The design is evolving with the crisis and the gap between happy few design and democratic design , green design , users oriented design will be more and more important. Milan 07 was a dead end of overdecoration in design.Milan 09 will be much more simple and i hope with more innovation.

  • Simon

    Unfortunately there still is no Zuy project post so instead of commenting on this project, which although may employ the art of science does not have to employ the science of science to make it art!

    And as Zuy incorrectly states, this is an object (taken from http://www.dictionary.com)


    1. anything that is visible or tangible and is relatively stable in form.
    2. a thing, person, or matter to which thought or action is directed: an object of medical investigation.
    3. the end toward which effort or action is directed; goal; purpose: Profit is the object of business.
    4. a person or thing with reference to the impression made on the mind or the feeling or emotion elicited in an observer: an object of curiosity and pity.
    5. anything that may be apprehended intellectually

    Zuy, has in fact made it an object just by commenting and bases on his comment It must mean that it is ART!

    From this post I have decided to create my own piece of art. Titled “The Zoo of Zuy”.

    It is an informative text based artwork on the comments of a person (Zuy) and their visual knowledge of others work, and the criticism generated by many informed thinkers and designers about the comments of Zuy. This is not a homage to Zuy, but in fact an applaud of rapture to these designers and thinkers that challenge the thought of others in the process of their creation and comment. Is this art for art’s sake or a piece challenging the thought of all that look in depth?

    I am hoping that Dezeen will publish the collection in any of their future print publications

  • zuy

    mesure is a key in the future of design. A sciences Nobel price said a majority of students have no idea of scale ….

  • zuy
  • Architecture Nowadays…

    What zuy means is that this object has no aparent utility. As it seems that way it should be in an art blog and not on a design blog.

    What I ask is why shouldn’t dezeen publish art that touches the fringe of design? Design can or should always be related to art? What I think zuy is interested about is not the art “role” in design but what is there in design that makes it different from art.

    If I interpreted right I think its an interesting point of view. Even though I think the more art as to do with design, the better.

  • this is called creativity with purpose. When creativity blends with invention its grabs the attention completely there is nothing new used is this work but the presentation is new and impressive.
    These kind of ideas are source of inspiration for all designers specially the last image is smashing .

  • these are awesome!love the symmetry

  • AndrewH

    Wish she'd give credit to the origami designers who came up with these shapes– the techniques used are *not* traditional. The first sculpture is clearly based on Heinz Strobl's "Sphere 94", and the second sculpture is pretty much a copy of Thomas Hull's "Phizz Icosahedron"