Interactive Sample Book (ISB) An Inspirational Tool for Smart Textiles

Elisabeth Heimdal, Torben A. Lenau, Michel Guglielmi and Hanne-Louise Johannessen.

Working paper for the 8th Nordcode workshop and seminar, Kolding Designskole, Kolding, Denmark, 27-29 May 2009

Which responsibilities do designers have? One could claim that designers have the responsibility of cooperating with persons from other fields, in order to create synergies, which can generate new product or service innovations, with high aesthetic as well as functional qualities. In this perspective, important aspects of the design process are the materials and technologies that are worked with. In relation to these, designers need to cooperate with experts from other fields, especially when working with new materials and technologies. Using new materials is a challenge, and one of the situations when cooperation with persons from other fields than the design field can be particularly fruitful. Another aspect that needs to be taken into consideration when working with new materials and technologies are environmental aspects. In relation to this, one could say that designers have the responsibility of minimizing the negative effects these could have on the environment, and of considering not only aesthetic and functional, but also environmental aspects when selecting materials and technologies.

The ISB project is an example of a cross-disciplinary project about new materials and technologies involving designers and engineers. It is carried out by Elisabeth Heimdal as her Master thesis from Design & Innovation, The Technical University of Denmark. Collaboration partners are the design bureau Diffus, textile designer Priya Mani, master student in medialogy at AAU Marija Andonovska and DTU supervisor Torben A. Lenau.

Inspiration to use smart materials Interactive textiles are still quite an unknown phenomenon to many. It is thus often difficult to communicate what kind of potentials lie within these materials. This is why the ISB project was started, as a practice based research project, with the aim of exploring and communicating some of the possibilities within interactive textiles. The applications for interactive textiles range from medical applications to architecture, and from the fashion industry to costume design. In relation to the sample book, focus will be on texture, lightning and senses in relation to integrated decoration and function primarily to indoor applications.

The result of the project will be a number of interactive textiles, to be gathered in an interactive sample book (ISB), in a similar way as the sample books of wallpapers one can take home from the shop and choose from. In other words, it is a kind of display material, which in a simple manner can illustrate how different techniques and smart materials work. The sample book should display a number of possibilities where sensor technology, smart materials and textiles are mixed to such an extent that the textile can react to different kinds of input from the surrounding world.