From we are born and until we die, we are surrounded by textiles that
are directly in contact with our skin as clothing, part of the interior
environment in our homes, at work, in hospitals, in cars and in public
transportation, or part of the outdoor environment as geotextiles. Many
of these textiles are designed from aesthetic and functional requirements;
some are designed for only one of the two kinds of requirements.
Compared to most other (stiff) materials, textiles have unique properties:
they are stretchable and flexible; this partially explains the versatility
of applications where they are used. Furthermore, their nature is changing,
as they are given new properties and functionalities. Many responsive
materials and textiles have in fact been developed since the 1970s, mainly
for applications such as aerospace and the military.
However, the potentials within these responsive materials and textiles
are unknown to many. That is why the design company Diffus started the
Interactive Sample Book (ISB) project, in order to explore and communicate
some of these possibilities to designers; companies and institutions that
desire to start working with these materials.
Hence, this thesis investigates how examples of responsive textiles, made
of a combination of responsive materials, electronics and sensor technology,
can be used as inspirational tools in a design process. More generally,
it addresses the following research questions:
1. What role does the presentation of physical objects play in creative
2. How can physical objects be introduced and integrated in a design process
to stimulate inspiration?
3. What characterizes physical objects used to stimulate inspiration?
The project team is interdisciplinary, involving persons with varied educational
and professional backgrounds, as the field of responsive textiles is interdisciplinary
in its very nature. This has largely influenced the character of the design
process, which was event-driven, and characterized by communication challenges
and a well thought out use of representations.
Concepts for five responsive textiles have been developed; two prototypes,
and several intermediary materials have been produced. Technical and aesthetic
aspects of the used materials have been investigated. Tests have been
made to investigate the inspirational quality of the produced physical
objects, and to see how they can be part of a design process.
These reveal how physical objects can be used as triggers for idea generation,
or as solution inputs in an already ongoing design process with defined
requirements. They also reveal the importance of a certain generic character
of the inspirational physical objects, and how the objectís complexity
affects its inspirational qualities. Finally, they show how the influence
created by an inspirational object can take place in different ways.
(Smart) Materials and Textiles, Material Innovation, Physical Objects,
Inspirational Tools and Textile Design.