Dispatches From the World of E-Textiles and Education
13 E-Textile Technologies in Design, Research and Pedagogy
Electronic textiles, in the form of illuminating costumes and transformable garments, have infiltrated the mainstream through various high-profile products and media personalities. They have emerged from decades of research that were rooted in military, medical, and sports performance arenas to engage the collective imaginations of a new generation of students, artists, and designers. The term “smart textile” is gaining recognition in popular media and refers to a wide range of textiles or wearable materials with new, unexpected, or complex appearance and behavior. This allows the materials to respond, to adapt, and to change according to various physical interactions and to the environment. These characteristics of new materials present new opportunities and possibilities for design, research, and pedagogy.
Within a design research environment, innovation often involves the development of new materials and the use of emerging technologies. Material and technological innovation, in turn, entails the investigation of new forms and processes, so as to test the boundaries of visual expression and interaction design. The creative process itself adapts, changes, and evolves in response to the experimental fibers and electronic components of wearable artifacts. The material qualities of those new components affect the process in complex ways, necessitating an iterative approach that can breach the boundaries between the research lab, the classroom, and the design studio.
I founded the XS Labs design research studio shortly after I joined Concordia University in 2002 to focus on innovation in electronic textiles and reactive garments. My interest in this...
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