“I was drawn to the Elsden print. Using such vibrant colors makes me feel energized.”
Born in Berlin and raised in Turkey, 27-year-old Desire Moheb-Zandi now lives in Brooklyn, where she makes arresting and all-consuming wall hangings that combine traditional weaving and materials with severely unconventional found items and techniques. “In my work, I try to juxtapose natural textiles with more severe, urban materials. It’s a way for me to break from traditional textile art techniques and provoke a wide range of emotions in the viewer,” she says.
Growing up in the Middle East in an all-female household, Desire has always questioned gender roles and the often-stifling expectations of women. After a childhood spent watching her grandmother weaving at home, she studied in Boston, and then Miami, and eventually decided to take up the practice herself when she moved to New York aged 22. Through her newfound skill, she began to explore and attempt to communicate ideas of gender roles and societal norms connected to domesticity.
To celebrate New York Textile Month 2017, DVF commissioned Desire to make two wall hangings that incorporate textiles from the Fall 17 collection. “I was drawn to the Elsden print, it has a background of light salmon pink, with this bright clear ocean blue. With the accents of coral, it’s like a sunset and the ocean.” For her weavings she interwove collection fabrics, including silk twill, paillettes, and faux fur, with customary noble yarns and atypical materials such as rubber and plastic.
“In my work, I incorporate a lot of found materials. I get really inspired by hardware shops, and the rubber and plastic stores on Canal Street. I also like to upcycle other peoples’ trash, and integrate it into my weaving. With regards to the softer pieces and sculptures in my work, I like to use an everyday material or object in a woman’s life, like stockings, and then fill it and kind of manipulate it, going off my instincts. It’s a more raw process.”
“I like to explore gender and domesticity in my weaving. There are certain goals and norms that are expected of women in most Middle Eastern countries, and even today in the United States, and as someone who has a voice and a platform, I feel that I have a responsibility to challenge these traditional norms and what we consider to be right and wrong. I feel very lucky to be able to express myself through my art.”
On New York City
“Living in New York City, you’re surrounded by so much industrialization and pollution, yet there is little awareness of how we use and consume all of this. I’m quite concerned about the future of our world and our oceans. Taking an untraditional route to weaving by using upcycled materials provokes a strong reaction in people; some people hate it, but I think any type of strong reaction to my work is a good reaction.”
“It feels natural to be working with patterns designed by Jonathan, as we both share a love for textiles, and his tendency to use an eclectic mix of materials and clashing colors feels similar to the antagonism I try to create in my work. As a feminist, I have always admired the Diane von Furstenberg brand and its commitment to empowering women through fashion as well as philanthropy and mentorship.”
"Weaving is very meditative, but at the same time it's very rewarding and fulfilling because you are creating something with your hands.”