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Changeable textiles – that is the foundation of Linda Worbin’s research. She is fascinated by new materials that demands a different kind of design process. However, she is also fascinated by traditional techniques and how one can use the textile legacy creatively.
– It has resulted in an experiment involving vegetable dyes aimed at finding textiles in constant change, she says.

Linda Worbin is a teacher and researcher at the Swedish School of Textiles. Following her thesis, Designing dynamic textile patterns published in 2010, she became Head of the Smart Textiles Design Lab, a centre for research and development of the next generation of textile products. Today, she is involved in the “Involving the machines” project where she, Hannah Perner-Wilson and Mika Satomai explore a combination of automated processes and handicraft techniques in the production of electronic textiles, so-called E-textiles. One of the guiding ideas is that together, handicraft skills and automation will make it possible to create more unique products.

Currently, Linda Worbin tries out new ideas and has identified two tracks she wishes to continue to explore. Under the headline “A textile underwater garden” she investigates the possibility of bringing the chemicals left behind by the earlier textile industry in Borås up from the bottom of the river Viskan and use them to create new textile expressions.
– It’s our textile legacy resting down there, Linda Worbin says. Imagine how exciting it’d be if we were able to reuse the waste created by the dyeing process. Plants may be able to absorb the dyes. And we would be able to use the plants to dye new textiles.

This is primarily an artistic project, but it also concerns efficient use of resources and increased awareness of an industrial process that causes a severe impact on the environment and which is still in use in many parts of the world.

It was when she began taking water and plants home with her to test her theory that her second project idea took shape. Designing for change and sustainability are not limited to physical sustainability and reusable materials. People are also in need of change. A garment that is changeable in itself lasts longer from an aesthetic point of view as well.
– Traditional design starts out with a static expression, whereas with new materials, we are able to create textile products that change according to how they are used. I want to take this idea further and find out if we are able to construct textiles that exist in a state of constant change, for example by using only natural dyes.

In her own garden, the greenhouse has been set up to perform dyeing experiments; there, dyes made from various plants are tested on textiles and changes in the colours are evaluated over time.
– It feels as if I’m back where I started, only with a different perspective on what it is I do, Linda Worbin says.

Text: Florence Oppenheim
Photo: Ulf Nilsson

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This article was originally published in Högskolan i Borås magasin 1866 (University of Borås Magazine 1866) Click here for a full version of the magazine