Craft Tech Workshop
The fast-evolving nature of contemporary lifestyles means an increasing demand for smart materials that can adapt to the changing needs of consumers. While the market for smart materials is forecast to be worth USD $80 billion by 2020 (Housely, 2016), to date there has been little research on fundamental design processes for smart materials. Studies focus on technical application and functionality but neglect the integral development process. The tendency to skew research and development towards a technology focus might have resulted in unsuitable products that are not readily adopted by the mass market. As noted by Dunne (2015), many existing smart wearables show little regard for aesthetics and are inconvenient to maintain, so consumers are unlikely to utilise them in their everyday lives.
Within the context of smart textiles, it is important to note that while technology is relatively new, the methods for textile making and construction have fundamentally remained unchanged since the mechanisation of sewing and the introduction of weaving looms in the 1800s. There has been little discussion about how fashion and textile techniques accommodate technological functions in their components and how the technology affects the ways that smart materials are designed and created.
Utilising photonic textiles and polymeric optical fibres (POFs) as mediums, this research explores hybrid design frameworks that utilise interdisciplinary approaches. The process of ‘making’ is critical to this practice based research. It involves explicitly studying the practitioner’s perspective when synergising design and technology.
This book and exhibition are part of a body of work (comprising publications, exhibitions, sketchbooks and videos) that explores how interdisciplinary design processes affect the creation of smart materials that are used as alternative communication platforms. The showcased research is based on studies conducted in two international collaborative workshops that brought together practitioners across many disciplines (textiles, fashion, millinery, electronic engineering and textile technology) to experiment, develop and create. The research investigates how hybrid design processes adapt, refine and improve new technology and vice versa. This research documents and studies the balance of interdisciplinary methods and processes via design practice conducted in two workshops at the Institute of Textiles and Clothing, Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the Royal College of Art in London on 11-15 September 2017 and 24-27 November 2017, respectively.