textile structures
textile design
research on textile techniques

my collections

my library

personal history


2018/2019 CALENDAR

Download calendar here.


n.b. These texts are for private use only and cannot be used, reproduced or quoted for any commercial purpose.

A Short English-Italian Weaving and Textile Dictionary
by Paola Besana and Anna Ravano

A Short Italian-English Weaving and Textile Dictionary
by Paola Besana and Anna Ravano

January 2012
Cristiana di Nardo interviews Paola Besana (in Italian)

January 2012
Preparazione tecnica del tessitore (“Technical Grounding in Weaving”) (article, in Italian)
April 2010
Per un'ecologia della mente tessile: progettazione a km zero ("Toward an Ecology of the Weaver's Mind: Head-to-Loom") (article, in Italian)

Piccolo Formato
Fiber-Art Italiana
Genoa 1991 – Castellamonte 2016 - Este 2017 - Genoa 2017
Galleria Il Punto, Palazzo Cicala

Twenty-six years later… the 1991 exhibition is on once again, in the same gallery where it was first shown thanks to an idea of Paulette Peroni, affectionately remembered by all of us.
The gallery has a new venue, small but very central, next-door to the San Lorenzo Cathedral. I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

November 11- December 16, 2017
Tuesday through Saturday, 4-7pm


Arazzi e tappeti di artisti e manifatture italiane

12 September - 8 October 2017

The exhibition Intrecci del Novecento. Arazzi e tappeti di artisti e manifatture italiane (TWENTIETH-CENTURY INTERTEXTURES. Tapestries and Rugs by Italian Artists and Manufactures), curated by Galleria Moshe Tabibnia and Virginia Giuliano, will open to public on September 12, 2017, at theTriennale of Milan.

This exhibition brings together unique textile pieces coming from various manufactures with the aim of visually reviving the creative fervour which animated the Italian textile art scene in the 20th century.
Alongside the works with a painterly inspiration, there are a few more recent ones by individual artists, such as my own and that of Paola Bonfante, which grew out of experiments with the expressive capabilities of weaving techniques.

I will be there with my Distrazione lombarda (1971), a double weave structure which I created for the 5ème Biennale Internationale de la Tapisserie in Losanna, Switzerland.
At the time I lived in a cramped two-room flat with very low ceilings, and it thrilled me to think I was producing an almost 5-metre high work which would unfold for the whole height of one of the large rooms of the museum.

Paola Bonfante will exhibit two works woven in 1979: Kahala 1 and Kahala 2. They are independent of, yet complementing, one another, for their emphasis on the interplay of colours, thickness of materials and depths, all of which are the essence of traditional textile structures.

Distrazione lombarda, 1971

Piccolo formato
Fiber-Art Italiana
Genova 1991 – Castellamonte 2016

Piccolo Formato Fiber-Art Italiana Genova 1991 – Castellamonte 2016, a textile exhibition curated by Sandra Baruzzi, Loredana Seregni and Roberta Chioni, will be inaugurated on 5 November 2016 at Cantiere delle Arti of Castellamonte, near Turin.
The exhibition will bring together works shown in 1991 at the Galleria Il Punto of Genoa, in the first Italian exhibition of minitextiles curated by Paulette Peroni, and recent works by the same artists, who will also introduce a number of young artists and their own works: 29 artists will be present in all.

I will be there with my old piece “Scherzo” and two specially-created works, “Ciao Itten” and “Foresta per Roberta”.

5-26 November, 2016
Cantiere delle Arti
Castellamonte (Torino)
Via Pasquale Educ, 40
Friday-Saturday, 4-7 pm

Scherzo, 1993 (ph. Giacomo Artale)

Ciao Itten, 2016 (ph. Giacomo Artale)

Foresta per Roberta, 2016 (ph. Giacomo Artale)


Alcantara and 9 artists reinvent the Apartment of the Prince

20 September - 23 October 2016

The King and I exhibition will be inaugurated on September 19, 2016, at Palazzo Reale, Milan. The exhibition, which is curated by Davide Quadrio and Massimo Torrigiani, will include original works by Maurizio Anzeri, Arthur Arbesser, Gentucca Bini, Matthew Herbert, Taisuke Koyama, Francesco Simeti, Adrian Wrong, Shane Aspegren and myself.
The artists have been assigned one room each of the ten forming the Apartment of the Prince at Palazzo Reale and their works will be free interpretations of the features of the rooms and the theme of the exhibition.

I will be there with a work which merges a very dear personal memory of mine with my creative experience with pliant materials such as Alcantara.

Ninth edition

2 April 2016 - 19 February 2017

On 1 April the exhibition W. Women in Italian Design will have its official opening at the Triennale Design Museum, as part of Triennale’s XXI Esposizione Internazionale. Its curator is Silvana Annichiarico, installation design by Margherita Palli, graphic project by Irene Bacchi. The exhibition addresses the theme of Italian design in the light of one of its most delicate, most problematic and at the same time most vibrant and stimulating issues, that of gender.

I will be there with two works: Albero ai ferri (1974), which humorously exploits a traditional textile technique, and the four-warp Quel chiodo fisso (1979), representing the tension running through three women at work.

Albero ai ferri, 1974

Quel chiodo fisso, 1979

HAPPY 2016


From now on all the Studio’s activities will take place within the newly established Associazione Studio di Tessitura Paola Besana, whose aim is to promote not only Paola Besana’s work, but also various aspects of textile culture and design. The Association will organize courses held by Paola Besana and her assistants, and events promoting the works of Paola Besana and other textile artists and Paola’s textile collections. It will also manage Paola’s textile library and make it available to public consultation.



I am thrilled to announce that I have been awarded by the Regional Secretariat for Apulia of the Italian Ministry of Culture a resident fellowship for the whole month of June at the Fondazione “Le Costantine” di Casamassella at Uggiano la Chiesa, in the Lecce province. I will be working with a group of Salento weavers with a view to promoting the Apulia weaving traditions and at the same time exploiting them in a contemporary and personal way.

You will be able to follow our work on the Facebook page of Made in Loco and on the Regional Secretariat for Apulia pages.

Opening 25 June

27 June - 2 August 2015

Museo del Costume e del Tessuto di Spoleto /
“Officina d’Arte &Tessuti”
Via Plinio il Giovane, 6-8

I have been invited to take part in the “Fiber Art” exhibition to be held in Spoleto at the Museo del Costume e del Tessuto and at the “Officina d’Arte &Tessuti” gallery, Via Plinio il Giovane, 6-8. The exhibition is under the aegis of the Spoleto Municipality and Regione Umbria and will be included among the exhibitions connected to the Spoleto Festival of 2Worlds. Its curators are Lydia Predominato and Bianca Lami, who together with Marta Picciau have recently curated the “Off Loom II” exhibition in Rome, and Giuseppina Caldarola, director of “Officina d’Arte &Tessuti”.

The exhibition will be inaugurated on Saturday June 25, 2015, and will close on Sunday August 2 (unless extended). My exhibit will be a wall-hanging with blocks of overshot entitled Coded Message (80x140 cm), which a panel placed underneath will help decode.

Messaggio in codice (Coded Message), 2015 (photographer Giacomo Artale)


The design of surfaces by connecting warp and weft is a fascinating play of infinite variables in technique, shape and colour. Several recent projects demonstrate the strong architectural character of the work of one of Italy’s most important exponents in the craft of weaving.

Tile carpet, 1989 (photographer Andrea Martiradonna)

HAPPY 2015

Paola's wishes: may the same little bird, made in different techniques and for different uses, joyfully fly by your side for the next twelve months.


Fiber Art. Contemporary Textile Art in Italy

Tre Entità, 1988 (photographer Giacomo Artale)

Albero ai ferri, 1974

I am very glad to announce my participation in an important exhibit of textile artists, which shall open in Rome on January 22, 2015, and shall last until April the 12th. Click here to read and download the press release.

30-31 May - 1 June

A teacher goes to school.

Kasuri is an ancient technique which is found in several countries, especially Asian ones. Here's my first little kasuri sample, dyed and woven at a wonderful course held by two excellent teachers,Tazuko Saitoh, a Japanese weaver, and Stefano Panconesi, a Tuscan dyer. The venue was Casa Clementina, a wonderful meeting place of weaving and dyeing traditions from far and wide.

PAOLA BESANA - Twining, a versatile technique

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - at 6:30pm

Associazione Tessere Incontri
Via F. Lippi, 26
20131 Milano
Download the program as PDF here

On Tuesday, May 20, 2014 at Associazione Tessere Incontri I will present my research on twining. I will introduce its technique and illustrate some of its variants. I will also show ethnic artefacts from my collection and a series of related ethnic looms.

As well offering the chance of discovering the twining technique, I think that for those of you who do not yet know “Tessere Incontri” it will also be an excellent opportunity to get to know this small vibrant Milanese cultural center.

Seventh Edition

Italian Design Beyond the Crisis
Autarky, Austerity, Autonomy

April 4, 2014 - February 22, 2015

The seventh edition of the Triennale Design Museum, entitled Italian Design Beyond the Crisis. Autarky, Austerity, Autonomy, will officially open on April 3rd. Curator: Beppe Finessi. Organization: Philippe Nigro. Graphic project: Italo Lupi. Catalog: Corradini Edizioni.

My The Magnificent (Rector), 1968, will be present in the first section, From autarchy to autonomy. The section From austerity to participation will host a series a photos of my “Human Looms” (1977 and 1980).

Il Magnifico (Rettore), 1968

Telaio Umano, 1977-1980

Happy 2014

To all weaving and non-weaving friends a merry christmas and a happy new year!


Tuesday, October 8 2013, at 6pm
Paola Besana: The Daberti sisters' hope chest

Associazione Tessere Incontri
Via F. Lippi, 26
20131 Milano
Click here to read and download the PDF

On Tuesday, October 8, at the Associazione Tessere Incontri I will talk about my research on the Daberti hope chest, which I inherited from Silvia Maffi, my beloved Swiss aunt, niece to the Daberti sisters. This hope chest is only a small part of the large collection of textiles I have gathered during my long professional life, which I’m busy cataloging while I decide what to do with it.
The evening will also be an opportunity to introduce a very special new Milanese association, a place where to meet, and talk of and compare textile things and experiences. Do join me at this interesting new place and learn about its future activities.


To friends, weavers and fellow travellers in celebration of my 55-year-long journey in weaving:

Finland and Sweden,
July-August 1968
Milano, July-August 2013

May 10 -12, 2013

This new spring course will be held at Casa Clementina. Twining is a very old technique which lends itself to a wide variety of modern interpretations.

For further information and enrolments, contact Casa Clementina

Click here to download the program (PDF)

Associazione Casa Clementina
via Italia, 6
13843 Pettinengo (BI)

DONNE IN BOTTEGA ("Women in workshops")
Opening March 14, 6pm

An exhibition at
Palazzo Morando
Via Sant'Andrea 6
20121 Milano
More information qui

March 15 - April 21, 2013

Part of the European Artistic Crafts Days 2013 (see here)

My contribution to this exhibition will be my “Ombre” (Shadows) panels that can be differently arranged, in an interplay of positive-and- negative, transparency-and-opaqueness, light-and-dark.


ARTE / CANAPA / DESIGN - Artists and designers and the Champorcher design tradition

July - August 2012

A collective exhibition at Champorcher, Gressoney St. Jean, and Courmayeur. Click here for the press release.


March 30 - April 1, 2012
A seminar at Casa Clementina, Pettinengo, in the Piedmontese Alps.

In this seminar I will explain how pre-Columbian backstrap looms are assembled and operated. I will also offer an overview of the archaeological findings on old Peruvian weaving techniques. We will then experiment on various types of gauzes and open weaves. Technical hand-outs will help participants pursue their own research and experiment after the seminar. We will also visit one of the finest Chancay gauzes collection in nearby Biella.
Teaching in English and French available on request.


Design: Paola Besana and Eugenia Pinna

Manta are blankets to wrap around your shoulders or to keep your feet warm. Made of pure Sardinian wool, they come with different patterns, and measure 80x230 cm. They are woven in plain weave, but the natural twist of the yarn gives them a distinct twill look. They are available in the natural colors of Sardinian sheep (white, grey, brown) and in the lively colors of the traditional Sardinian rugs.


E-mail: eugenia.pinna[at]

QUEL CHIODO FISSO ("One-Track Mind")
On show from June 27th to July 31st, 2011 at the Vetrina 133, Archivio Crispolti Arte Contemporanea, Via Ripetta 132, Rome.

June 17-19, 2011, Villa Piazzo, Pettinengo, Biella
Italy’s 150th Anniversary: Women Embroidering Unity. Textile masterpieces at Pettinengo
Talk with Paola Besana, Luigi Spina, and Marco Tonon
Piccola Fata’s textile collections: research and conservation.
Round table with Paola Besana, Marco Tonon, and Luigi Spina.
The Daberti Trusseau

April 2011
"... Paola Besana, a weaver since 1958 and an an authority in her field, offers full-immersion seminars of 30 hours per week at her studio, which is also a research centre full of rare books and ancient looms from all over the world. Each seminar is dedicated to a specific weaving technique”.

August 2010

PER UN'ECOLOGIA DELLA MENTE TESSILE: PROGETTAZIONE A KM ZERO ("Towards an Ecology of the Weaver's Mind: Head-to-Loom Design”)

April 2010

A paper given by Paola Besana, weaver, designer and teacher, at the conference “Cuore menti mani. Tessuti e feltri etici, sostenibili: da sempre patrimonio degli artigiani” held at Villaggio Leumann, Collegno (Turin), September 2010.