The opening of the Smart Textiles exhibition at Galleri KG52 in Stockholm on the 2nd of February attracted a great deal of interest. Textiles that among other things emit sounds, measure body composition and stimulate muscles were exhibited as samples of what the Initiative has achieved since it was founded four years ago.

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Many wanted to explore the different properties of the textiles on the opening night and Galleri KG52 in Kammargatan soon bristled with visitors.

– One way of viewing this is as a form of check point, a way to present the journey of Smart Textiles and where we stand today. I think there’s a lot of pent-up curiosity about what happens in field and that’s why we take this opportunity to exhibit here in Stockholm, between the fashion week and the furniture fair, Process Manager Erik Bresky says.

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It is not always easy for a layman to understand what the Smart Textiles Initiative does. Erik Bresky compares it to a spice-rack.

– We create ingredients or spices and then it’s up to the cook to add them together to make a dish. What may be difficult to understand is that we don’t work with finished products but more with expressions. We show what can be done with textiles, ideas that may then be used in applications by for example the medical industry or the interior decoration business.

Vague and concrete at the same time

However, finished products ready for market introductions have been developed together with businesses within the Smart Textiles Initiative and have been put on display at the exhibition.  One example is an ultra-high protection safety garment developed by TST Sweden AB which is available on the global market today.

– We want to show the entire breadth of what we do: everything from ideas and expressions to finished products. Smart Textiles is both vague and concrete at the same time.

Caring environment of the future

Process Manager Erik Bresky likes to talk about visions. One of the visions concerns the caring environments of the future – which is an excellent display of the opportunities Smart Textiles presents.

– Smart Textiles may be inside the body, such as a textile blood vessel serving patients who undergo cardiac surgery. We may work on the outside of the body in different ways, using textiles to make wounds heal faster or taking ECG or EEG readings, measuring body composition, etc. We also work with the room that surrounds the body: for example through a mattress that detects moisture or if the patient has fallen out of bed. The patient may be surrounded by textiles changing colours depending on the time of day and so on. In these different ways, Smart Textiles is able to improve the quality of life of patients at hospitals and people who receive health care in their homes.

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Mili John Tharakan and Erik Bresky make the textiles emit sounds.

Textile Resistance

The Textile Resistance project is a collaboration between the Smart Textiles Design Lab and Syjuntan. The project explores design opportunities in using of “raw” textile materials as textile musical instruments.

Mili John Tharakan is a visiting researcher from India and she explains the table with the various textile objects, each connected to a small amplifier of its own. When someone squeezes or pulls the fabrics, the room is immediately filled with sounds.

– We explore ways to produce sounds using textiles. We have only just started researching possible new functions with which to equip textiles.

Protective clothing 15 times stronger than steel

The protective clothing has been developed to provide maximum comfort while protecting the wearer from water jets with pressures of up to 3000 bar. The surface material is made in laminated polyamide. The lining is made in a polyester mesh. The protective material contains Dyneema®-fibres, which are the most durable fibres in the world (fifteen times stronger than steel).

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Heat sensitive coat and talking chair

Fashion design student Jesper Danielsson presented his idea to Smart Textiles and received funding for a project – the Seebright coat.

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– The coat is made in a Gore-Tex material coated all over with a mixture of thermochromic (heat sensitive) and fluorescent pigments. The fabric changes colours at a temperature of 27oC. The coat is not sown but welded together with an ultrasonic welder, says Therese Rosenblad, Communications Officer at Smart Textiles.

Researcher Mika Satomi’s project Chair of Paradise consists of a used chair that has been modified to imitate the motions of a bird. The technology with which the chair has been equipped allows it to imitate the sequence of motions performed by a special kind of bird, the bird-of-paradise, when encountering a potential partner. The motions and sounds are triggered into action when a human passes close to the chair and also causes the coloured pattern to break through in the upholstery of the chair.

Where and when?

When? The Smart Textiles exhibition is open until Saturday the 11th of February.
Where? Galleri KG52, 52 Kammakargatan, Stockholm. To view the opening hours of the gallery, please refer to: www.kg52.se.

Text: Ida Borenstein
Photo: Håkan Lindgren