Tablecloths for and by people with dementia

Sanne van de Goor

Fashion & Textile | Craft | Material | Social design

What do the hands still know when the head no longer cooperates? What memory runs through your hands? Based on these questions, designer Sanne van de Goor went to nursing homes with demented people to work with clay, painting, drawing and making collages. In small groups and with a different composition each time, she worked with the elderly on creative activities. Sometimes they grumbled, sometimes they talked actively and sometimes it all came naturally. But one thing stood out; all the time the hands went on unconsciously. If not in a visual way, then by fidgeting and fiddling.

Sanne processed the shapes that came out of these sessions into sheets for the table. The place where a lot of time is spent in care homes. Time in which the hands are busy without the mind coming into play. In designs based on archetypal checked patterns, Sanne has incorporated tactile surprises: beads that you can move under the fabric, creaking foil, a line pattern of high-pile wool. Scientific research shows that working with your hands stimulates your brain and you live longer by moving your hands. The tablecloths give the hands a chance to intuitively rediscover and repeat ingrained habits.

The tablecloths ‘Naderhand’ are on display until June in OBA de Banne in Amsterdam-Noord.

Photography: Michiel Landeweerd

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