Exploring textiles as materials for interaction design

Abstract: As computational technology and new materials enter the world of textiles, our view on textile materials is challenged. Textile interaction design suggests a new design space in which the fields of textile design and interaction design are merged. This work contributes to the introduction of textiles as material for interaction design and focuses on spatial and temporal design of the dynamic elements of textiles – the elements that enable interaction. The result is various interactive textile material examples which are meant to inspire new expressional uses of textile materials thought of as slow, interacting hardware able to inhabit our everyday environments through responsive light, tactile connections, and informative decorations etc. Design experiments conducted within this thesis are framed by a research programme, which is set up as an initial guideline to explore visual and tactile interactive properties of knitted textiles. Together with practical knowledge, the result is a theoretical framework that frames essential features of an interactive textile design where the defined design variables introduce a way to formulate what it is we design when we design for dynamic elements. By introducing notions such as the potential and precision of interaction, design variables relating to both physical and programming design are derived from the design of the dynamic elements of a material. A retrospective analysis of the experiments in relation to four acknowledged interaction design dimensions establish a link between the fields of interaction design and textile design. This work is based on the design experiments Electrical Burnouts, Costumes and Wall Hanging, Touching Loops, Designing with Heat, Functional Styling, Repetition and Stretching Loops, where the implemented structures are seen both as materials for further design and examples meant to provide inspiration in a more general sense.