Born in 1968 in the state of Hessen in Central Germany. Mother a trained weaver, father a trained wheel wright who earned a living by driving a forklift at the local wood processing plant. Common in those days, our family supported itself with a small hold farm. With three generations under one roof, every family member did their part to run the farm. Crops were used for our own consumption and for feeding the animals throughout the winter. Milk was sold to the local dairy plant and surplus grain to a local brewery.
In 1985 I started my apprenticeship at a local knitting factory to become a Textile Mechanic. After a three-year apprenticeship and two years of work experience, I studied at the world renowned Otto-Johansen-Technikum in Reutlingen/Germany. Successfully completing the two-year-course, graduating as ‘Staatlich geprüfter Textiltechniker, Schwerpunkt Maschentechnik’ (Government Approved Textile Technician, Major in Stitch Constructions). My former company could only offer a position as a mechanic…
Working worldwide as a knitwear engineer began: Çankırı/Turkey (6 months), Urumqi/China (2 months), New York/USA (3 months), Hong Kong (2 months), Toronto/Canada (1 month), England/meeting wife Sue (3 years), San Francisco/USA (3 years), Los Angeles/USA (3 years), Shanghai/China (1 year), Mauritius (1 year), Hong Kong (18 months) and back to England in 2008.
Over the years my knowledge of the Textile Industry expanded immensely. Working together with a broad spectrum of companies and individuals. From collaborations with artist Brian Janusiak in California to technical knit developments in Nottingham. From streamlining production in Mauritius to managing companies in Hong Kong.
Since returning to England, I develop industrial knit-designs with various designers, companies and colleges. Especially my collaboration with the Master’s programme at the London College of Fashion produces amazing results. Projects with Professor Sand Black were on exhibition at the London Science Museum. My technical development of unusual seamless knit-pieces are part of Doctor Catarina Radvan’s PhD research. The collaboration with Anke Loh, was featured in Sabine Seymour’s book: Functional Aesthetics: Visions in Fashionable Technology.
It was the collaboration with Professor Sandy Black which encouraged me to finally start my doctorate. The PhD support network and the vast amount of creative stimulus at London College of Fashion/University of the Arts London provides a perfect platform for my research. From the beginning it was clear to me that I wanted my research topic to be based on industrial knitting. Expanding it from there into other areas. The ability of fibres to harvest water from air is fascinating. Combining this with my acquired skill-set and my background of growing up on a small farm formed the core of my PhD research: Development of a self-sufficient Textile Greenhouse for dry areas. Learning about the expected increase of the global population and the resulting food shortage, encouraged me even further to use my know-how to be part of a solution.
Reiner Rockel: PhD researcher since 2014.
Rothamsted Research/Harpenden: Julian Franklin
Eden Project/Cornwall: Catherine Cutler, Michael Cutler
Trax Ghana NGO/Northern Ghana: Vincent Subbey
Semi-finalist 2016 Ashoka/C&A challenge: ‘Fabric of Change’