Designing for changeability in textiles

Abstract: The tendency to wear out and change is inherent in most materials, yet textiles are usually designed to retain a single expression. Within an experimental, practical work, materials that are inherently changeable were used to create woven and knitted structures in order to approach textiles from the perspective of changeability and explore what this might mean for the field of textile design. This was undertaken in order to improve our understanding of what designing textiles that change over time means for the practice of designing textiles.The experiments explored changes in colour, texture, and structure within single textiles, and used textural changes to create form based on three variables: material, textile structure, and the stimuli textiles were exposed to. Further experiments explored the potential applications of these textiles in the context of fashion and interiors. The outcomes of the experiments showed that how materials are treated and used influences a textile’s expression and properties and how these change over time. The research presented in this thesis suggests an alternative way of perceiving and designing textiles: as things that are changeable. The changes in the properties, expressions, aesthetics, and uses of textiles could be embedded during the design process through three interconnected variables: time, change, and context of use. This further suggests an alternative conception of quality for textiles which is based on the aesthetics of change, in terms of when, how, and as a result of what a textile changes. Such a perspective could even encourage an increased acceptance of changes occurring in textiles, and help to re-establish a connection between people, the textiles that surround them, and the materials that textiles are made of.