What will the work process of the future look like for designers, artists and craftsmen working with smart textiles? Which skills will be in demand and how is one to go about passing on one’s competencies and knowledge? These were some of the questions for the participants of Summer Camp Rydal to work with for during a week in June 2011.

Summer Camp Rydal was organized by the Smart Textiles Design Lab (STDL) and for five days designers, artists, craftsmen and researchers lived together at Rydal Design Center. The goal was to experiment and examine textile materials and processes in different kinds of workshops, all under the slogan “Future master E-textile craftsmanship”.

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Mika Satomi is a visiting researcher at the Swedish School of Textiles and the person behind this year’s Summer Camp.
– The idea was that the workshops would be “hands on” and not theoretical, says Mika Satomi. Much of the time, our discussions revolved around the future of handicraft and the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) aspect and all participants have learned from one another. It is important that we begin talking about how we are going to work in the future and what that work will demand of us then, even if we do not reach any solutions in five days.

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The week was made up of various workshops where the 20 participants were divided into groups. On Friday, a presentation was held of the projects and their connection to the theme of the week. One aspect of smart textiles is the many differing competencies required to create products and how to collaborate and learn from one another in order to cover all knowledge needed. Perhaps the future climate for the handicraft will return to a master and apprentice system, like in the old days, where skills are taught to the next generation of craftsmen.

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Rydal Design Center resides in the factory buildings of the old spinning mill and works to support new businesses through, among other things, a business incubator which is now under development. In one of the beautiful factory buildings, tents had been temporarily erected to house most of the Summer Camp participants.

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One of the groups explored a working method where the participants shared their projects before they were finished. Someone began to make something and then either the idea or the material was handed over to someone else in the group. One of the results was flowers that acted as loudspeakers to set the atmosphere for a first date.

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One of the groups, consisting of participants who all shared a background in textile design, pondered the ultimate way of working in the future. During the group presentation, Linda Worbin, researcher at The Swedish School of Textiles, explained the demand for a loom that weaves interactive textiles and has all the functions required to avoid having to separate the textile work from the digital work.

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– It has been pure luxury to stay here for five days and focus exclusively on these projects. We have worked with topics such as how to connect the DIY culture to research and how we go about education in smart textiles in the future, says Anna Vallgårda, researcher at the Swedish School of Textiles.

Text: Ida Borenstein
Foto: Therése Svenberg