Andrea Aranow’s travels have taken her to London, the Peruvian highlands, and remote districts of China. She has worked with the British Museum and alongside designers at Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Ralph Lauren. The common thread in her global journey? Textiles. For over 45 years, Aranow has collected, catalogued, studied, and sold tens of thousands of patterned fabrics, now available to the masses through the Textile Hive database.
Currently the world’s largest digitized independent textile collection, Textile Hive came about when Aranow’s son, Caleb Sayan, decided to bring his mother’s collection into the digital age. Drawn to the West Coast, he relocated to Portland in 2009, bringing thousands of textile samples with him, while Aranow focused on her ethnographic collection in New York.
Today, the Textile Hive database includes high-resolution photos of 40,000 fabrics, sourced from 50 countries and dating back as far as 200 years. Individuals, schools, or businesses can purchase a membership that allows them to search by 2,300 terms and 19 categories, a detailed colour map, or even a schematic of Textile Hive’s headquarters.
Aranow’s collection has always been something of a hidden resource benefiting industry professionals, Sayan notes, but now it’s not just employees of major companies who are able to comb through woollen European paisleys, woven Japanese mattress covers, and 1950s Americana aprons. Fashion enthusiasts around the world can scour the textile archive to find exactly what they’re looking for—or didn’t know they were looking for. Visitors can also make the pilgrimage and visit the Portland studio themselves. “It’s a tool for exploration,” Sayan says. “It puts the information at people’s fingertips.”
Textile Hive, 133 SW Second Avenue Suite 430, Portland OR, 97204.
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