DSI Welcomes Inaugural Designer-In-Residence, Jason Truong

The Design Studies Institute (DSI) is delighted to announce that Jason Truong has joined as the institute’s inaugural designer-in-residence. The designer-in-residence role works to build a strong linkage between the teaching of design and the professional practice of design. Truong is a textile designer who specializes in tufting and rug making techniques. While in the role of designer-in-residence at DSI, he will teach continuing education workshops in his area of expertise and work as a student mentor.

“Design practice in textiles engages centuries old techniques of craftsmanship and design. Jason’s work bridges and integrates textiles in the most contemporary of ways,” said Dr. Jonathan Williams, Dean and Assistant Professor of Design Studies at DSI. “Having Jason contribute his talent and skill set for textiles is transformative for us as it establishes stronger links between our students and the surrounding professional design community working in this space.”

We asked Truong to share a bit about himself and his fascinating background in textiles.

Can you tell us a little about your background and how you got into textile design, specifically tufting?

During the Covid lockdown, everyone found themselves stuck at home, eagerly seeking new outlets to occupy time. It was during this period of exploration that I stumbled upon the craft of tufting. This craft had been making waves across social media platforms, its intricate demands catching my attention. As someone who thrives on meticulous tasks, I was immediately drawn to the precision required to bring unique designs to life. Witnessing the aesthetic patterns crafted by others was very inspiring, helping me fuel a passion for my creative journey. After watching numerous tutorial videos, I began my own rug-making journey. Starting out cautiously, I quickly was able to get the hang of the technique from each new rug I made. With more practice I was able to master tufting completely.

Can you explain the tufting technique?

Tufting requires precision and mastery of tools, requiring a firm yet delicate touch. A skilled tufter must maintain consistent pressure on the fabric, gauging the effectiveness of their technique by observing the tightness or looseness of the resulting braid pattern. Typically, a tighter braid yields a more resilient and durable rug, reflecting the craftsman’s expertise and attention to detail.

Can you walk us through your creative process when designing a tufted textile piece?
When conceptualizing a rug, my process begins with envisioning the shape or pattern I am bringing to life. Once satisfied with the silhouette, my focus shifts to selecting the perfect palette of colors. This stage is pivotal, because the selection of color is what impacts the visual aesthetic, mood, and identity of the rug.

Truong's tufting practice integrates digital and physical design.

What materials and equipment are typically used in tufting?
Crafting a top-tier rug requires the use of specialized tools, starting with either a cut & pile or loop & pile tufting gun. Tufters begin by securing their chosen design onto Monk’s cloth, providing the foundation for tufting the yarn. Once the design is carefully tufted, the final touches involve employing a range of shears and clippers, each carefully selected to guarantee precision in refining the intricate lines and details of the artwork.

What advice would you give to students or emerging designers interested in pursuing tufting as a textile technique? 
Using the equipment can be overwhelming at first, especially for me when I first started pursuing tufting. It took a couple days to get the correct technique down, so I would recommend being patient and trying it out in community with others.

Truong's residency at DSI promises to be an enriching experience for both students and the textile design community.