The creation of textiles includes both traditional skills and new digital technology regarding materials and production processes. Although the catalyst for the design process is naturally a user-centred way of thinking and problem-solving orientation, we also consider an artist-centred creative process equally important.

The utilisation for textiles has expanded into electronics and other high-tech fields. Advances in technology have introduced revolutionary changes in the design and finishing of textiles. This simultaneously implies a great challenge to designers. 
In the modern world, social design as well as niche products designed for smaller consumer groups have become important. By working on projects that deal with raising awareness of problems and searching for solutions, the students learn how to be useful as a designer. 


Textiles retain knowledge, traditions, stories and inherited working methods throughout centuries. Textiles have multiple cultural, economic and symbolic meanings. A new and interesting use of textiles is often a modification of an old skill that has been forgotten.

Therefore, it is not possible to be a professional textile designer and to create contemporary designs and works of art without a profound understanding of textiles processes available. Communications at various levels help one to participate in both design and art cultures. This is the credo of the Department of Textile Design.



The Department provides broad skills in the development of ideas and textile designs and technical knowledge of textile productions so that final textile conclusions can be produced.

The curriculum includes theoretical and practical subjects, some of which are elective and optional subjects. The small group size of students ensures that each student gets individual instruction and direct feedback throughout her studies. Students learn not only specialised textile technologies and textile development processes from an idea or concept to finished outcomes, but also various computer skills (Adobe Creative Suite, Weave Point, Kaledo) and visualising and presenting skills.

In addition to textile specialists, interior architects, visual artists, designers and fashion designers are involved in the teaching. There are often projects that are carried out in cooperation with other departments and companies. These collaborative projects provide students with necessary problem-solving skills, on-the-job experience and an opportunity to see their work as completed products. Participating in such projects also provides students with experience in teamwork.


The Tallinn Industrial Art School, which was founded by the Estonian Art Society in 1914, was the direct predecessor of the Estonian Academy of Arts. The women’s handicraft workshop (directed by E. Paullberg) was one of the first to be established by the school’s new status in 1917. Embroidery was the main skill that was taught. 

The graduates of the textile speciality at the State Industrial Art School who have gone down in history include Mari Adamson, Leesi Erm and Ellen Hansen.

After the war, between 1944 and 1951, the provision of systematic higher education for textile artists was established in Estonia. Professor Mari Adamson, an outstanding individual and textile artist, who was educated at the Pallas Art School, in Paris and studied weaving at the Jaan Koort State Applied Art School, has worked for the department since 1940 and remained there for over 30 years. The studies in the applied arts lasted for six years. For education in the textile arts, the 1950s were years of searching. The emphasis was on ornamental and figurative composition (often with Soviet themes). Cooperation existed with several enterprises (Punane Koit, Sindi December 1st Textile Factory, Pärnu Linen Factory), where industrial internships took place in the summers. 

During the “thaw” of the 1960s, the Art Institute of the Estonian S.S.R. started to cooperate with schools of higher education in the socialist countries. The main emphasis was on the design of consumer textiles. The curriculum primarily included decorative textiles for interiors — from individual items to sets. The creative freedom based provided by tapestry techniques inspired the topics of theses of future faculty members Anu Raud and Maasike Maasik.

In the 1970s, the emphasis in textile art turned to monumentality and content, and therefore, student organised the popular ERKI fashion shows; and many textile students participated in Kaljo Põllu’s study trips to visit other Finno-Ugric people. In the summer, Anu Raud took the studies to Kihnu Island for practical training in ethnography.

In the mid-1980s, the study process became more creative and freer; deeper analysis was introduced into the studies. In the 1990s, collaboration with the University of Industrial Art Helsinki was begun. Specialised computer studies were initiated, along with specialised electives and experimentation with various artists’ techniques. Ties were created with the Estonian textile industry. Participation at the Heimtextil Fair in Frankfurt with a collection of design fabrics for interiors. 
In 1998, the Mari Adamson award for the best textile student was established.