Textiles change expressions over time depending on how they are used and exposure to sunlight, moisture, etc. The expression of the textile material in these pouffes change when they are used. A colourful pattern gradually emerge when someone sits in the piece of furniture and fade away the pouffe is not used. In other words, the pattern change over time but also in relation to what occurs in the immediate vicinity of the textile.
This is only one example of what we can do with this kind of technology. The patterns of the programmable textiles can be made to fade, dissolve, change colours or disappear entirely, over and over again. Changes may be initiated by events far from the textile or when someone comes close to the surface. It is also possible to program the fabric to undergo independent changes in a special pattern over a period of time.
With these two pouffes, we show some of the possibilities of this technology. One of the patterns is based on an enlarged, knitted structure that is partly dissolved and changes colour from grey to light blue in a recurring pattern. The idea behind this example was to perform an experiment in order to find out how a pattern with a clear structure changes when parts of the structure disappears. In the other pattern, there is a collection of geometrical patterns that changes colour in different ways from nuances of grey to bright yellow and blue ones. With this pattern, we wanted to show examples of how to work with contrasting colours when changing a pattern.
These prototypes are part of a larger project within the Smart Textiles Design Lab, where we explore how to use programmable textile expressions in design. For example, what does it mean to design with expressions that change with the context over time? How do these changeable patterns influence the use of furniture? What new types of furniture can we imagine with this kind of material?
The “fabrics” used in the prototypes consist of four parts: one cotton fabric with conductive threads woven into its backside, a pattern printed in a combination of pigment dyes and thermochromic pigments (altering colour at 27oC), pressure sensors to detect when someone sits on the fabric, a micro controller programmed to control which threads are to be heated, when and for how long. (When threads are heated, the pattern changes.)
This is a collaborative project between the furniture company Ire, the Smart Textiles Design Lab at the Swedish School of Textiles (University of Borås) and the Smart Textiles innovation system.
Researchers and designers working in the project: Linnéa Nilsson, Mika Satomi, Anna Vallgårda, and Linda Worbin