Author Archives: Silknow

Covid-19 Statement

Stay Safe

In front of COVID-19 pandemic, the whole SILKNOW team wishes to express its solidarity with all those who have lost loved ones or have been directly affected. We also want to express our support and gratitude with all those who are on the front-line fighting to contain this outbreak.  
This pandemic is having dramatic consequences on our daily life, economy, health and personal relationships, but it is also showing the strength of humankind and our capacity to overcome any challenge if we remain united. It is giving rise to creativity, solidarity and courage. Cultural heritage is no stranger to these displays of emotion: balconies are filling up with music, plays are coming into our homes, museums are opening their collections from the safety of our coaches… proving once again that culture is a territory where we can all be united.
SILKNOW will continue working from our homes to ensure our safety and will endeavour to maintain our activities as best possible. Now, more than ever, we will keep weaving our past into the future.

SILKNOW’s technical meeting

SILKNOW held a technical meeting, in Ljubljana, on the 10 of February. The meeting was attended by our partners from Institut Jozef Stefan, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universitaet Hannover, EURECOM, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, and Universita degli Studi di Palermo (remotely). 

The main topics discussed concerned technical work in progress involving multiple partners such as multimodal prediction, integration of predictions into the knowledge graph,  mappings between the thesaurus and the knowledge graph, and finally, validation scenarios for the technical tools. SilkNOW technical video presentations were recorded.

Special Issue “Silk Heritage in the Knowledge Society”

Silk was a major factor for progress in Europe, mostly along the Western Silk Road’s network of production and market centres. Silk trade also allowed for the exchange of ideas and innovations. Punched cards were first used in Jacquard silk looms, long before modern computers were even imagined. Today, too, fashion and high-end textile industries have a huge impact on the EU, reaching €525 billion in annual turnover. Nowadays, however, silk textiles have become a seriously endangered heritage. One reason lies in its very physical nature, more fragile than other, more conventional cultural assets (painting, architecture, sculpture, etc.). Although many European specialized institutions are in operation, they usually are small or medium in size, and lack resources to develop state-of-the-art digital resources. Additionally, intangible heritage such as the old weaving techniques is in danger of disappearing with the imminent closure of the very few companies that still make use of these ancient machines. Nonetheless, their holdings remain relevant for audiences that experience vivid, personal and social connections to this heritage, linked to so many life stories and collective narratives.

These heritage institutions have been producing large amounts of digital data: poorly tagged, variously formatted, in different languages, of random quality and usually inaccessible for the broader public. New methods and tools are required to automatically extract meaning (semantics) from these huge and heterogeneous digital databases (big data) and to establish connections among them in order to preserve this fragile cultural heritage (tangible: textiles; intangible: weaving techniques), allowing its re-use for the future generations. Additionally, new ways of access to these data are required to make them more meaningful for prospective end-users. ICT provides researchers with powerful tools in order to preserve, analyze and exploit digital information.

This Special Issue invites papers and reviews dealing with silk heritage, silk history, silk diplomatic relations, silk living heritage, silk design, silk heritage preservation strategies, data visualization, 3D fabrics, vocabularies, thesauri, metadata schemas, and ontologies, fashion and tradition within silk heritage, looms and the potential offered by the ICT in the textile heritage sector, and creative industries and innovation applied to silk heritage. Papers going beyond the state-of-the-art are encouraged. Case studies using modern analytical techniques and new methodological approaches which contribute to the domain of safeguard and textile heritage protection will be considered.

Click here for more information

SILKNOW, fashion and tradition

SILKNOW is a European project that unites humanities and technology to study, conserve and disseminate silk heritage in Europe between the 15th and 19th centuries and its projection in culture, arts, design and today’s fashion.
European history is woven in silk. Silk trade was a vehicle of economic, industrial and cultural development in Europe, transmitting designs, fabrics, fashions and, above all, knowledge and progress, all universally captured in just one piece. Since the 15th century, silk has been more than a social code of fashion and design; it has been a vehicle for bringing people, places and ideas together. Today silk is alive in the current culture, art and fashion that still are experimenting with this inheritance.

SILKNOW Hannover meeting

On the 11th and 12th of December, the SILKNOW team gathered at the LUH HQ in Hannover, Germany.  The session was opened with a short meeting with the SILKNOW EEAB, where the project advancements where showed.

Next, each Work Package leader explained the progress report and cross-work packages discussions were held, especially regarding the impact of the extension of the ontology. It was the time to talk about how to connect the Thesaurus with the Virtual Loom, CIDOC-CRM and the Ontology.  Many philosophical and technical discussions were conducted, the interdisciplinarity of the team was key to address the problems we found on our way. Textiles in general, and silk in particular, have an extra difficulty to understand their materiality, their construction and their evolution in time, that is why, SILKNOW has art historians, artisans, textile engineers, ICT engineers and digital savvy’s in their team.

Finally, the next face-to-face meeting was scheduled, it will take place in May in Nice.

Patryk Wojciechowski visits SILKNOW

On the 26th November, SILKNOW received the visit from the Polish fashion designer Patryk Wojciechowski who had a tour at our Garin’s HQ . There, he had the chance to discover how they are still weaving with historical Jacquard looms and some astonishing designs. Not only that, but he was witness of the most well-kept secret from all Valencia.  Later, he visited our coordinators (UVEG) to discuss the next steps on his creations and where he will show them.

Patryk will get inspired by historical designs, techniques, fashions and he will produce a SILKNOW collection based on them, moreover, he will use Monkeyfab’s 3D printers to innovate on textiles. 

This visit was a great opportunity to put in touch silk traditional industry with modern fashion design, as well as with academic research and the latest technology in image recognition (our Virtual Loom) and in 3D printing. This demonstrates that silk heritage weaves creativity, tradition and innovation in a single fabric.

Hannover meeting

On the 11th and 12th of December, the SILKNOW team will gather in LUH HQ in Hannover, Germany. There we will discuss the evolution of the Work Packages, including how our Virtual Loom, thesaurus and Ontology are being done. And it will mark the beginning of the WP7, which is the evaluation of the overall SILKNOW tools.

Silk & Design

We have visited the Hochshule Luzern – Design & Kunst, also known as Lucerne University of Applied Arts and Sciences. There, and over the last years, a great team of designers, historians, textile specialists and web designers has developed silkmemory.ch, a web portal that offers abundant information about the legacy of Zurich silk industry. Their work and ours in SILKNOW has many aspects in common, so we took the opportunity to visit their new school and learn more about their project. We also studied some avenues for future collaboration, and ongoing mutual learning. Corporate archives of companies involved in silk textile manufacture, teaching materials for design schools, user experience of online catalogs, digital modeling of traditional weaving techniques… these issues and some others provided food for thought during a very useful workshop.

In the photograph: Andrea Weber Marin, Alexis Schwarzenbach, Tina Tomovic, Claudia Schmid from Hochshule Luzern – Design & Kunst and from Universitat de València: Cristina Portales and Jorge Sebastián.

Thanks to all of them for a warm welcome and many smart insights.

Inspiring young designers

On the 24th September, our project coordinators visited the EASD (School of Arts and Design) in Valencia, Spain, and presented the project to students of last semester Fashion Design Course led by Prof. Mar Moya.

The team was composed by members from the SSH team: Ester Alba, Jorge Sebastián and Mar Gaitán introduced the project and explained to young designers the importance of silk heritage and the evolution of designs in silk along European history. Later, Cristina Portalés from the ICT team, showed our Virtual Loom and how it can be used to preserve historical weaving techniques but also to get inspired and boost creativity.


They will apply all this knowledge in an amazing fashion collection that they will present at the beginning of 2020.

2019 General Assembly of the Silk Road Universities Network

From the 18th to the 21st September, Dr. Ester Alba, our Dissemination and Exploitation manager travelled to Kazakhstan in order to attend the 2019 General Assembly of the Silk Road Universities Network. This year’s theme was the “Role of Universities for Transforming Silk Roads into Peace Roads with Prominent Human Heritages” As Sungdon Hwang, SUN’s Secretary-General, said: “The most valuable lesson from the history of the Silk Road is that the key to peaceful coexistence and collective prosperity is to treat individual differences as a cause for celebration rather than segregation, best captured in Silkroadia-the spirit of ancient Silk Road.”

SILKNOW was also disseminated at the QS Worldwide International Education Forum: “Journey to Global Prominence: Harmony of Human Heritage and Advanced Technology” held at the Al-Farabi Kazakh National University. There, Ester Alba presented SILKNOW and how it will impact on civil society by preserving historical weaving techniques and bringing them to the future. She also introduced some of our Open Access publications and some research done by our coordinators, Universitat de València, regarding the Silk Road project.

In SILKNWOW we believe in learning from each other and protecting silk heritage as it is a unique example of heritage. It is a link of union between different places, peoples and ideas.

Let’s keep this spirit alive by realizing how precious cultural diversity can be and how we can learn from each other, and from ancient and traditional ways of living.