This textile collection, titled BADEHAUS GABER, was based on an inspiring family of five from Ljubljana; I took their interests, hobbies and historic periods, which mostly influenced their existing interior design, and used that as inspiration for six textile pieces, that is: two tapestries, a decorative table cloth, a merino wool blanket and two decorative velvet cushions. The collection combines influences of Bauhaus, Art Nouveau, ballet, golf and textile arts of the Middle East. Different textile techniques were introduced when making this collection: jacquard weaving for both tapestries, blanket and table cloth, digital print on velvet cushions, as well as embroidery and appliqué. Such objects can enrich our daily lives in both a practical and aesthetic way and can be passed down through generations as pieces of art; they are sustainable, fair trade and completely made-to-measure which enhances their emotional value.
The entire collection is very personal, and it can only truly come to life when exhibited in the Gaber family home in Ljubljana’s famed Nebotičnik.
Text & Designs: Uroš Topič
Photos: Sara Rman
Inpsiration credit: Valeska Gaber, Elena Gaber, Hana Gaber, Mateja Gaber, Rudi Branko Gaber.
Dimensions: 73,5 cm x 183 cm
Taken from the sketches of Oscar Schlemmer, the curb on the tapestry is formed by an arch, the top of which is an ornamental “pediment”. The face-like joint, bearing the initials G (for Gaber), is the central part of the forehead of the arch, and on each side of the forehead there is an identical depiction of the profile of a human figure, also taken from a sketch by Oscar Schlemmer. The space between the profiles and the joint is filled with decorations that often appeared on Oriental rugs. The decorative pediment is supported by a ribbed pillar on each side.
The central motif of the tapestry is a hybrid between a human and a dog (breed saluki or Persian hound), wearing a blue striped three-piece suit that can be historically referenced to the time of the Bauhaus school. He wears a corset over his jacket, which references him further to a canine figure on the merino wool blanket, while giving him an impeccable posture, typical of ballerinas. He has a modest turban on his head, stylistically connecting the figures with the Middle East and the eunuchs who once guarded the entrances to the harems of the Ottoman sultans.
Dimensions: 50 cm x 246 cm
As the other three jacquard fabrics in the collection (the tapestry in the hallway, the tapestry in the bathroom and the woollen blanket) feature an arch-like frame in their design, I decided to include it in tablecloth as well, and fill the central part with an original repeat pattern, featuring curves, dots and figurines, drawn from Oscar Schlemmer’s sketches; I later used the same repeat pattern as print on silk satin for lining the wool blanket and the velvet decorative cushions. Thus, a black and white design was created which captures the aesthetics of oriental rugs in a holistic view, while conveying the influence of Art Nouveau and the clear aesthetics of Bauhaus. The tablecloth is finished in fringes at the upper and lower ends.
MERINO WOOL BLANKET:
Dimensions: 150 cm x 210 cm
As is the case with Oriental rugs, which are a typical component in the interior of the Gaber family home, a decorative frame was also crucial to include on the blanket. In the middle upper part, we see a decoration, a robot-like construction with pointed ballerina feet sticking out on three ends. With an emphasis on mechanical aesthetics and ballet, the construction relates to Schlemmer’s philosophy on the human body and mechanical choreography, taken from the Triadic Ballet. The construction is, on its far left and right, embedded in a frame with five parallel lines; the frame bears an ornamental rosette at each upper corner. Parallel contours also form the sides of the frame; these, in a slope of the curve at the lower part, turn towards the centre, where they flow out into the decoration, surrounding the central joint. The upper half adheres to the symmetrical base on which the main figures of the picture stand.
Wearing a tight corset and with a cinched waist, the Persian hounds bow to the machine-like construction and the GABER inscription above. Dogs are mirror images of each other. The pedestal on which they stand bears a large DAS KORSETT (German: corset) inscription in a typography typical of the Art Nouveau period. To the left and right of the inscription are the initials G, which are mirror images of each other, and the space between them and between the central inscription is filled with decorative elements taken from old Oriental rugs.
Dimensions: 50 cm x 60 cm
While the central pieces of the textile collection are dimensionally the smallest, their emotional value is all the more important as they are very personal for the Gaber family. The cushions depict the family’s Persian hounds Soraya and Dimni. They are presented as members of the Ottoman royal family, who rule over not only the textile collections in question, but also in the Gaber home in general.
The female Soraya is livelier in character and is a true guardian of her home, so she wears a sultan’s turban, decorated by a large ostrich feather and a precious stone just above her forehead. Her snout and neck are adorned with a glittering pearl bridle with gold buckles and rings; as all kings and sultans of great empires, Soraya too wears an ostentatious ermine mantle. Her portrait lays on a blue background, and the pillow’s edges are finished with fringes in a light cream color; the corners of the pillow are decorated with tassels of the same color. The back of the pillow is made of a silk fabric with an original repeat-pattern print.
The male Dimni, Soraya’s brother, is surprisingly timid and quiet. For this reason, I decided to portray him on the diptych of the pillows as the gentler sex of the ruling couple. He is dressed as the Queen Mother or “Valide Sultan”; he wears a glossy golden tiara, adorned with decorative elements from oriental rugs. He is wrapped in a gray silk hijab, which further softens his delicate nature, and he is dressed in a luxurious robe, with gold jewelry shimmering on his décolletage area. His portrait lays on a blue background, and the pillow is finished with decorative fringes and tassels. Here, too, the back is made of a silk fabric with an original print.
Dimensions: 139 cm x 204 cm
As the final piece of the textile collection, the bathroom tapestry is also spatially positioned to symbolize the final step in a metaphorical walk through the Gaber bath house.
Hanging above the bathtub in the bathroom, which mimic the traditional style of Turkish baths, the tapestry both follows the bathroom’s design and retreats from it. The monumental arch that dominates the central figures of the tapestry is designed to mimic the arch from the tapestry in the hallway. Here, too, the central part is the ornamental pediment, which is adorned with the emblem of the textile collection: Badehaus Gaber (Gaber Bath house). At the far left and right of the decorative pediment are mirrored images of figures drawn from Oscar Schlemmer’s sketches. The space between the figures and the centerpiece is filled by the inscription BADEHAUS GABER in typography typical of the Art Nouveau period. The gaps around the inscription and in the corners above the pediment are filled with decorative elements, taken from Oriental rugs. The pediment is supported by a ribbed pillar on each side.
In the lower part of the tapestry we see a base bearing the contents of the image. In the middle of the brown field of the base stands a figurine, also modeled after Schlemmer’s sketches, which is at the same time reminiscent of brass jugs, used to fill bath tubs with hot water. To the left and right of the figurine, five parallel lines are drawn horizontally into the edge of the fabric – a decorative element still found today on Turkish peshtemals.
Just above the brown field stand mirror images of a mogul miniature-styled horse. They are both wearing festive parade fittings with gold-plated rivets on leather belts and rich embroidery on their saddles. A series of ornamental rosettes, drawn from elements of old oriental rugs, hang between the horses heading towards each other.
Above the the horses, and just below the great arch, hovers a figure of a hybrid; again, as seen in the tapestry in the hallway, the theme of the intersection between the human and animal body arises. This time we see a crossbreed between a peacock’s torso and a ballerina’s legs, and instead of a peacock’s feather, the hybrid’s tail is made of fan-spread golf clubs. With his unusual physicality and reference to ballet, this hybrid reconnects with the philosophy of Oscar Schlemmer and his aspiration to achieve impeccable movement – as with theater puppets.
The horse figures and the hybrid lie on a golden background, covered by the contour outline of traditional mosaic floors from the palaces and public institutions of the Islamic world.