Project author (concept and design): Azra Akšamija

Azra Akšamija is the Class of 1922 Career Development Professor and Assistant Professor of the Arts at MIT's Art, Culture and Technology Program. As an artist and architectural historian, Akšamija investigates the politics of identity and memory through clothing and wearable technologies, through civic scale cultural forms, such as religious architecture and museums, and within the context of history and global cultural flows. Her recent work focuses on the representation of Islam in the West, post-socialist.

She holds graduate degrees from the Technical University Graz, Austria (Dipl.Ing.) and Princeton University (M.Arch.), and received her Ph.D. from MIT (History Theory and Criticism of Art and Architecture / Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture) in 2011. Her work has been published and exhibited in leading international venues such as at the Generali Foundation Vienna, Valencia Biennial, Gallery for Contemporary Art Leipzig, Liverpool Biennial, Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb, Sculpture Center New York, Secession Vienna, Manifesta 7, Stroom The Hague, the Royal Academy of Arts London, Jewish Museum Berlin, Queens Museum of Art in New York, and the Fondazione Giorgio Cini as a part of the 54th Art Biennale in Venice. She is recipient of the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2013.

Project team: Andrea Boit, Lillian Harden and Karinar

Conceptual contributions: Regina Möller

Fabrication help: Seth Avecilla

Textiles donated: Ahmed Mater, Arwa Alneami, Arthur Tres, Katrina Weber Ashour, Matthew Mazzotta, Regina Möller, Ziad El Sayed


Yarn·dez·vous is a growing wearable quilt featuring textiles from the Middle East and the United States. This cultural fabric is designed to map identities, migration and cultural encounters of its participants. Hexagons and stars of the quilt can be transformed into individual letterman's jackets and vice versa: the jackets unzip flat into geometric elements that form the larger quilt. The project name is a hybrid of the words "yarn" and "ran-dez-vous".

"Yarn" refers both to a thread used for making fabrics, as well as to storytelling (yarn can also mean an exciting story) – while "ran-dez-vous" refers to a place for a meeting or a romance. The project is meant to represent an interviewing of cultural territories and histories between the Middle East and United States.

CULTURUNNERS artists were asked to bring textiles from the places of their residence featuring the color code of the Sadu (Arabic weaving), which were combined with textiles from Boston. The first phase of the project encompasses 12 jackets completed with these hybrid textiles. The project is in the state of an ongoing transformation and customization. Some jackets may be further transformed into variations on tunics, kaftans, abayas, dresses and shirts, inspired from East and West. Over time, as more and more textiles are collected from project participants, the Yarn-dez-vous will change its color and patterns, becoming a map of the growing CULTURUNNERS community.

"Some jackets may be further transformed into variations on tunics, kaftans, abayas, dresses and shirts, inspired from East and West."

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