In the design and making of furnishings, a term with various uses:

* Applied to textiles when no artificial means have been used in the making process, from plant to finished cloth.

Cotton, our mostly widely used fabric, for instance, is one of the most environmentally harmful fibres to grow and finish. Organic cotton, however is farmed and woven with due care and diligence for the land and for the workers involved, at every step. At the time of writing the organic production of cotton amounts to around 1%.

Until the last century or so, all fibre production was organic. Although it is difficult to turn such a tide, global awareness of the consequent damage is growing and we witness a return of traditionally manufactured, organic fibres onto the market. In addition to a big move to change the methods of cotton production, there is the Ahimsa silk banner, that of linen and many of the new vegetal fibres and of wool spun from organically reared sheep, ( Most sheep are naturally organically reared–they live happily in hill country and on the least valuable farming land. And fleece grows at its own rate according to the breed. The last thing a farmer wants to do is to spend money needlessly – for either fertiliser or medication. )

Bamboo, banana and kenaf are all organic fibres, requiring only low grade land and water for production.

* Used to describe curved shapes, forms that flow without following a symmetrical or clear geometric pattern; hand cut following the mind rather than the set square.

* Refers to the natural look: a colour-scheme of paints, papers and textiles that recreate or are strongly influenced by the natural world; for furnishing schemes, embrace the colours and forms of the earth: charcoal, stones, sand, lichen, logs, etc.

* In weaving and printing, it describes shapes of flora and fauna, which undulate, follow contour lines, or meander figuratively.

* Textiles woven from natural, organic fibres are gentle, soft and pleasing–the colours are soft whites–not bleached, and the fibres are often knobbly and a little uneven. Some of these are : country wool, muga, eri, ahimsa and tussah silk, then the vegetal fibres – grasses, bamboo, hemp etc.

* Ghandi’s well documented khadi cloth is truly organic in the widest sense of the word – it is grown, prepared, spun, woven, made up and worn within a single community, or even within one household. The whole process taking place within a few metres of home.

* The organic way of working – that is, with minimal intervention by the artisan or deigner – maker, who allows the material, whatever it is, to tell its own story, show it’s own hand, even to suggest how it might be fashioned.

* Describes hand-made items born of a slight imperfection, which infinitely surpasses anything that can or has been made by machine. The Japanese expression wabi-sabi fully encompasses the philosophy of organic imperfection

* Said of natural dyes created from minerals or vegetal matter, used since the beginning of time, and with a quality, a life and an energy quite different from the recent chemical dyes, which by comparison are even and sterile.


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